Some Americans got all twisted over the recent Cartoon Or Not To Cartoon madness of the last week or so, but the raging paranoia here at home is gaining strength with equal madness. In one case at a public Missouri High School, three e-mails from some church members successfully terrorized a high school drama class production of the musical "Grease" - even though those who complained never actually saw the production. Oh, the vile wickedness of a musical about the 1950s.
The drama teacher will likely lose her job and the school is so terrified now of offending anyone they have also decided not to attempt the planned production of the classic play "The Crucible" - even though the play itself is still required reading in the school. The school's superintendent Mark Enderle admits he was acting in a "McCarthy" fashion and the decision to cancel it was to prevent the school from being "mired in controversy" all through the Spring.
It appears that Miller's play - which shows how rampant and mindless fear makes a small community turn to murder in the name of "self-protection" - might give students and other audience members the thought that hysteria is a destructive force. Some fear the mindless murders of the Salem witch trials shows Christians in "a bad light." I suppose hysteria should never be questioned.
The new law of the land is - if it scares you, destroy it and destroy it quickly.
Another recent case (hat tip to Julie and Cherokee Sage Woman), cited in Editor and Publsiher, reports that a nurse at a VA hospital got investigated after she wrote a letter to the editor in Albuquerque expressing her unhappiness with the current Bush administration. Her office computer was confiscated, began investigating accusations she was causing "sedition" and she too fears her 15-year job status to be in jeopardy. Her congressman is looking into the case, but once letter writers are accused of a potential crime, how long before the Fear of expressing an opinion outweighs any other concerns?
Right here in good ol' Tennessee one mother in Williamson County has been waging a war to stop children in school from reading "To Kill A Mockingbird" by Harper Lee (HEY WILLIAMSON COUNTY KIDS - order your own copy at this link for only seventy-five cents!!)
The mother claimed she did not like "the profanity in the book, of how people talked in that time and in that society." Read more about this poor deluded case here.
All this reminds me of the old Robert Heinlein story called "If This Goes On" where in some future America, led by a theocracy, free thought is forbidden and fear is the key to controlling the population. Maybe it isn't science-fiction after all.