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"The Principal of a New Jersey Elementary School "

 

where young students were videotaped singing the praises of President Obama is making no apologies for the videotape and says she would allow the performance again if she could, according to [three] parents who spoke with her Thursday night....

Parent Jim Angelillo said [Principal Denise] King told him the lesson was merely part of Black History month, and not an attempt to indoctrinate students, as critics have charged....

King has long been a fan of Obama, hanging pictures of the president in her school's hallways and touting her trip to his inauguration in the school yearbook.

Included in the full-page yearbook spread were Obama campaign slogans ("Yes we can! Yes we did!") and photos King took in Washington on Jan. 20, when she attended the inauguration.

There also were photos taken at the school depicting students doing Obama-themed activities about their "hopes for the future," featuring posters of Obama....

Attempts to reach King on Friday were unsuccessful....

I should stress that one should always be cautious about second-hand accounts of oral conversations; it may be that the parents misunderstood the principal, or that important context was omitted. That's why I hope that the principal, who is after all a public servant, does indeed publicly explain her position herself.

Angus:
This minor story is now worthy of three posts? Really?
9.25.2009 2:12pm
AbleBaker:
Three in a row! I am beginning to think someone (Glenn Beck?) has hacked into Eugene's blog and is posting under his name. What is going on here?
9.25.2009 2:16pm
AndyinNc (mail):
For the sake of being thorough, you might want to mention that the principal has been receiving death threats about this.
9.25.2009 2:19pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
A blogger blogging about what he wants to blog about?
9.25.2009 2:19pm
ChrisHo (mail):
The United States and its people are not served by a "Cult of Personality" effect. School officials should not be able to use their position to effect their political or religious views upon those they are in charge of, especially those of very young age.
9.25.2009 2:20pm
RPT (mail):
Wait until Prof. Lindgren arrives to see just how silly the VC can get.

In the meantime, this is only the tip of the iceberg. I have seen Obama's picture on the walls in federal offices such as the United States Trustee and the local DOJ/USA's office here in Los Angeles.

This has never happened before! Right?
9.25.2009 2:20pm
AndyinNc (mail):
Oh, I see you had in the early posts. But the sentence, "Attempts to reach King on Friday were unsuccessful...." is a little strange without that context.
9.25.2009 2:21pm
Angus:
Eugene,
It's your blog, no question, and you can blog about whatever you wish. I'm just raising the possibility that you might be getting a bit too worked up about what is a pretty minor story.
9.25.2009 2:22pm
gab:

That's why I hope that the principal, who is after all a public servant, does indeed publicly explain her position herself.


One would think EV, who is after all a public servant, would have something better to do with his time.
9.25.2009 2:24pm
ShelbyC:
I'm starting to hope EV posts on this topic a couple more times just to piss some of these guys off.
9.25.2009 2:32pm
Recovering Law Grad:
Prof. Volokh -

Why are you so disturbed by the criticism that readers don't find this series of posts interesting? Isn't the point of the comment section to discuss the topic, a notion that, assumedly, encompasses discussing whether the topic itself is relevant, interesting, etc.?
9.25.2009 2:35pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):

principal has been receiving death threats about this


SOP.

Idiots make death threats. They never actually do anything.

Other idiots say they receive death threats to take some of the heat off the stupid thing they did.
9.25.2009 2:35pm
AbleBaker:

A blogger blogging about what he wants to blog about?


I've no doubt the blogger is blogging about what he wants to blog about, but is that blogger really Eugene?
9.25.2009 2:36pm
ShelbyC:

Isn't the point of the comment section to discuss the topic, a notion that, assumedly, encompasses discussing whether the topic itself is relevant, interesting, etc.?


The vast majority of topics are uninteresting to the vast majority of people. If you find something uninteresting, whether it's a blog post or a topic of conversation, it's better to politely move along than to say you find the topic uninteresting.
9.25.2009 2:39pm
piggej (mail):
Let's see: inner city school; likely has a significant minority population; celebrating Black History Month; wanting to inspire children to aspire to something more than maybe their surroundings might positively reinforce; celebrating the very recent inauguation of the first Black President----yes, sounds very strange and sinister and scary; not a lot different then when my histoy book honored the first president for never telling a lie, for throwing a silver dollar a long way, and for his ability to chop down cherry trees---that was pretty strange, sinister and scary, too!!!
9.25.2009 2:42pm
Recovering Law Grad:
ShelbyC -

It's "better" for whom?

It seems better for me to express my opinion - as a consumer of what this blog offers - and hope that, in the future, I get more of what I like and less of what I don't.

You would have me stop at clicking or not clicking. Why is that "better"?
9.25.2009 2:43pm
Houston Lawyer:
SHUT UP, they explained.
9.25.2009 2:44pm
AbleBaker:

The vast majority of topics are uninteresting to the vast majority of people. If you find something uninteresting, whether it's a blog post or a topic of conversation, it's better to politely move along than to say you find the topic uninteresting.


You may have a point there. I can't help, though, finding it interesting that Eugene found this topic this interesting.
9.25.2009 2:47pm
Seamus (mail):

In the meantime, this is only the tip of the iceberg. I have seen Obama's picture on the walls in federal offices such as the United States Trustee and the local DOJ/USA's office here in Los Angeles.



And I'm sure the United States Trustee's office and the local DOJ/USA's office call meetings for the employees to gather and sing songs about the greatness of the incumbent president. I mean, how could anyone object to that? Happened all the time under Bush, I understand, and no one objected then, did they?
9.25.2009 2:50pm
pete (mail) (www):
I was actually wondering why no members of the Volokh Conspiracy had written about this incident this morning before these posts came up. It seems right up Eugene's ally since this is a speech/government issue that got a lot of attention yesterday in the media, which seems to be his area of expertise.

Keep up the good work and I look forward to seeing more posts like this!
9.25.2009 2:52pm
Disintelligentsia (mail):
Can't we get off this fixation with EV's choice of posts and talk about this issue at hand - why would a principal think it's OK to worship BHO and, what's more, think it's OK to do so after so many parents in the school have objected to the whole exercise? From the face of it she appears to be a petty tyrant who thinks that the children are her personal possessions when their at school and parents should just shut up because she knows more than they about what's best for their kids.
9.25.2009 2:59pm
Disintelligentsia (mail):
Damn. I have to read my posts before clicking that "post comment" button. Corrected:

Can't we get off this fixation with EV's choice of posts and talk about this the issue at hand - why would a principal think it's OK to worship BHO and, what's more, think it's OKfine to do so after so many parents in the school have objected to the whole exercise?

From the face of it she appears to be a petty tyrant who thinks that the children are her personal possessions when theirthey're at school and parents should just shut up because she knows more than they about what's best for their kids.
9.25.2009 3:02pm
Guest12345:
Recovering Law Grad:

It seems better for me to express my opinion - as a consumer of what this blog offers - and hope that, in the future, I get more of what I like and less of what I don't.


First, why do you think your opinion matters on this particular aspect of the blog? Second, what do you suppose this blog would look like if -- as you, David Welker, Angus, martinned have done -- all of the thousands of visitors posted two or three comments in every entry expressing their opinion as to whether that particular entry was worthy of being blogged about?

I personally think this is an important topic, but before I saw the numerous posts criticizing EV's decision to blog about it I didn't feel a need to cast my vote on the subject.

Regardless of whether those kids grow up to want to hump Obama's leg or deny his very existence, it's important that they reach that conclusion because they learned to evaluate the world on their own. This country needs citizens who are capable of thinking for themselves and making their own decisions. That is what our schools should be giving us, not a bunch of indoctrinated drones parroting back whatever "the government" tells them is good.
9.25.2009 3:03pm
RPT (mail):
"Seamus:

And I'm sure the United States Trustee's office and the local DOJ/USA's office call meetings for the employees to gather and sing songs about the greatness of the incumbent president."

I'm sure that you can find Monica Goodling's House testimony archived somewhere on the web. Isn't that how the DOJ recruited into the Honors Program? or from Regent Law School? There is a history here.....
9.25.2009 3:08pm
AbleBaker:

Regardless of whether those kids grow up to want to hump Obama's leg or deny his very existence, it's important that they reach that conclusion because they learned to evaluate the world on their own.


I would think we could all agree it would be somewhat important that they not reach either of those particular conclusions.
9.25.2009 3:11pm
Ryan Waxx (mail):
Can't we get off this fixation with EV's choice of posts and talk about this issue at hand


Don't be silly. That carries the danger of logical debate rather than petty sniping based on the ideological stance of the whiner in question.
9.25.2009 3:12pm
Constantin:
why would a principal think it's OK to worship BHO

The fact that BHO worships BHO might have something to do with it. I've not met too many self-hating politicians, but this guy's regard for himself is staggering. That pose he likes to strike with his chin in the air is no accident.

Moreover, have you seen or heard clips of this principal speaking? I'm pretty sure she doesn't know Barack from Harvard Law. I think it's pretty lame and similarly creepy that she had kids singing praises of her Messiah, but were I a parent with a student in that school, I'd be more worried about the spelling and math and science instruction my kid was getting under this lady's supervision. She's barely literate.
9.25.2009 3:16pm
BGates:
Recovering law grad - where on earth are you getting the idea that Eugene is "disturbed"? If you had a choice whether to send your children to a school that worshiped the president, would you think that was a good idea, a bad idea, or would you have to see who was in office to decide? I'd choose (B).
9.25.2009 3:18pm
PJens:
I see the issue as why are school children singing the praises of a political figure? Yes, Beck and others may take the issue to extreme, and others support the practice and want more of it. Really now, is it wise for a public school to be teaching children to worship a public figure? I think Prof Volokh is very helpful in bringing this to light and discussion.

If my kid went to that school I would be in attendance of the next school board meeting to ask what the heck is going on.
9.25.2009 3:18pm
David Welker (www):
Eugene Volokh


A blogger blogging about what he wants to blog about?


Wow. First of all, this is an especially lame response coming from a First Amendment scholar. You can blog about what you want, but don't expect to not be criticized for your choices, either in the comments or other forums.

Glenn Beck can also say whatever he want on his television program. But Glenn Beck is a nutcase and people are right to criticize him for what he says.

I think you are showing very poor judgment indeed in obsessing over this incident. You have just gone down a notch in my mind, in terms of credibility.

You can blog about what you want. But don't think that what you blog about will not affect your credibility. I think I have noticed a pattern of you becoming less reasonable over time.

Three posts in a row on this topic is a little much, and I think somewhat indicative of you being drawn closer to the fringe. That is too bad.
9.25.2009 3:27pm
Public Servant:
Repeatedly saying that you find a certain series of posts uninteresting is, itself, uninteresting. And annoying to those actually interested in the posts.

As to the importance of the issue, as long as it's just this one school it's not very important, but this may well be the tip of the iceberg. Remember the ACORN defense: this was an aberration that happened one time only in one office in one city. Until, of course, it was revealed that it happened repeatedly in other offices in other cities.
9.25.2009 3:31pm
Disintelligentsia (mail):
Constantin

Moreover, have you seen or heard clips of this principal speaking? I'm pretty sure she doesn't know Barack from Harvard Law.


To defend Harvard Law just a little (I presume associating the principal with Harvard would be defamatory), it was the author of the Obama themed children's book who said she went to Harvard with BHO, not the principal of the school.
9.25.2009 3:32pm
doubt this is unique:
I actually rather doubt this incident is unique, especially in the immediate after-glow of the election. Sotomayor got a bit carried away with her own cheerleading, despite her position at the time, and there are plenty of classroom teachers and principals out there (including my kid's) who have less judgment, have little sense that anyone would disagree with them about political or other issues, and have a strong sense of their own authority to uplift their charges with political and moral teaching. And add to that that in many school districts, administrators are effectively the appointees of political machines and . . .
9.25.2009 3:34pm
mrcausality:
This thread is devolving into a bunch of braying bogeymen of blasphemous brambles.
9.25.2009 3:39pm
PlugInMonster:
the libs braying about how dare Eugene blog about this would be up in arms if it were "mmm mmm mmmm George W Bush mmm mmm mm" song.
9.25.2009 3:40pm
David Welker (www):

If my kid went to that school I would be in attendance of the next school board meeting to ask what the heck is going on.


And here is illustrated the power of propaganda. Here we have an anecdote where a minor incident has occurred, and now we have the assumption that this must be occurring in your very own school to.

I wish I could be there when you ask "what the heck is going on" with all these pro-Obama speeches at the next board meeting and you get these puzzled looks because no one knows what you are talking about.

The essence of much propaganda is taking an isolated incident and trying to characterize it as the general case.
9.25.2009 3:42pm
David Welker (www):
Oops. I am going to have to retract my last comment. I misread the person commenting as referring to their own school.

Obviously, if your student went to the school where the incident occurred, you would be right to be concerned and inquire about what was going on.
9.25.2009 3:44pm
Sarcastro (www):
I wish the liberals would stop secretly supporting this sort of worship and then pretending like they don't like it!

I can see through all your lies and protestations of this not being a big deal. Unless you protest how Obama-songs are bad for children on at least every thread, I'll know all about your secret support.

And if you do post a lot, I'll know you're scared cause we're on to your true agenda.

Not only that, but this fits right into my narrative about Obama being worshiped, so Ima gonna bring it up all the time.
9.25.2009 3:45pm
PlugInMonster:
Sarcastro - your sarcasm has been flagging lately. You need to take a rest, and come back in better form. Maybe in 2013.
9.25.2009 3:47pm
Sarcastro (www):
I often enjoy considering an alternate reality where Bush is still in charge. I have no doubt how liberals and the MSM would react in ways that make them seem super hypocritical when compared to reality.

I thank PlugInMonster for his tip, and take it under advisement.
9.25.2009 3:53pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Angus:

"This minor story is now worthy of three posts? Really?"


mmm mmm mmm

Three whole posts. How about the all those stories the New York Times wrote on the Augusta National Golf Club?

From The American Journalism Review
The New York Times has heavily covered the refusal of the Augusta National Golf Club to admit women, playing four stories on the subject on page one. Other news organizations also have weighed in, although few have been as aggressive as the paper Howell Raines runs. Does a story affecting only an elite few deserve so much attention, or is this an equal rights struggle that belongs in the spotlight?
9.25.2009 4:16pm
ShelbyC:

Wow. First of all, this is an especially lame response coming from a First Amendment scholar. You can blog about what you want, but don't expect to not be criticized for your choices, either in the comments or other forums.

Glenn Beck can also say whatever he want on his television program. But Glenn Beck is a nutcase and people are right to criticize him for what he says.


Wow. So if I run into you at a party, and I'm talking about my hummingbird feeder, and I bring it up two or three times, you think it's OK to say, "that's boring, talk about something else"? You move along and find some conversation that interests you. Telling people that you're not interested in what they're saying is rude, especially, as in this case, when it's their party.
9.25.2009 4:18pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):

First of all, this is an especially lame response coming from a First Amendment scholar.


"You, a law professor!" is pretty lame itself.
9.25.2009 4:25pm
Suzy (mail):
To be honest, what disturbs me most about the whole thing is that they rewrote a very common Christian children's song and inserted Obama's name where Jesus should be. I find that actually offensive.

Back in the dark ages when I was a schoolaged girl, we used to do all sorts of humdrum glorifying of elected leaders. The more humdrum it is, the more acceptable I find it. But to rewrite a religious song this way? Ick, that's very bad taste. However, it does give the lie to the suggestion that the Principal and others at the school are anti-Christian. I'm guessing they used that hymn precisely because they're Christians.
9.25.2009 4:40pm
TCSquare (mail):
piggej,
Just goes to show ya, race matters.
9.25.2009 4:59pm
Constantin:

Let's see: inner city school; likely has a significant minority population; celebrating Black History Month; wanting to inspire children to aspire to something more than maybe their surroundings might positively reinforce; celebrating the very recent inauguation of the first Black President----yes, sounds very strange and sinister and scary; not a lot different then when my histoy book honored the first president for never telling a lie, for throwing a silver dollar a long way, and for his ability to chop down cherry trees---that was pretty strange, sinister and scary, too!!!


You'd be right, assuming you were in school between 1789 and 1797.
9.25.2009 5:11pm
RPT (mail):
I think it's over the top but, as noted earlier, not that much different that the "loyal Bushie" worship that was mandated in portions of the prior administration.

You might also compare this incident to the near-canonization of Gingrich, Schafly, et al, that is being pushed in the Texas textbook hearings in anticipation of conservative-only texts that, because of the quirks of the book market, will be adopted nearly nationwide.
9.25.2009 5:29pm
Law Dem (mail):
9.25.2009 5:37pm
dr:

the libs braying about how dare Eugene blog about this would be up in arms if it were "mmm mmm mmmm George W Bush mmm mmm mm" song.


Keep sayin' it, eventually it gets true.
9.25.2009 5:46pm
Law Dem (mail):
Yeah but George BUsh did do this!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ 2009/09/25/flashback-students-sang-b_n_300372.html
9.25.2009 5:53pm
ArthurKirkland:

I should stress that one should always be cautious about second-hand accounts of oral conversations;


' . . . and that is why I republish this second-hand account of an oral conversation without the apparent expenditure of 10 seconds' effort to attempt to authenticate such a second-hand account from a source whose credibility is a complete mystery . . . '

This is the perfect complement to the swipe at 'real journalists' by another Conspirator in another thread.
9.25.2009 5:56pm
ShelbyC:

' . . . and that is why I republish this second-hand account of an oral conversation without the apparent expenditure of 10 seconds' effort to attempt to authenticate such a second-hand account from a source whose credibility is a complete mystery . . . '


There are many ways to be cautions. Including such a disclaimer is one.
9.25.2009 6:18pm
yankee (mail):
Is the teacher still employed there? She had better not be. Same goes for the principal, if this parent's account is accurate.

I'm an Obama supporter and a liberal, but this is completely unacceptable behavior.
9.25.2009 6:38pm
PersonFromPorlock:
Suzy:

However, it does give the lie to the suggestion that the Principal and others at the school are anti-Christian. I'm guessing they used that hymn precisely because they're Christians.

Not necessarily. New religions colonise older religions' forms, for instance the pagan midwinter festival that was taken over as Christmas. Lifting up Jesus and sliding Obama underneath may be neither inadvertent nor benign.
9.25.2009 7:07pm
ArthurKirkland:

New religions colonise older religions' forms, for instance the pagan midwinter festival that was taken over as Christmas.


Emulation is high praise indeed. And, in the case, smart. The derivative work was a bestseller for Jesus.
9.25.2009 7:14pm
Brooks Lyman (mail):
Well, as for why Eugene Volokh is so interested in this incident, perhaps it's because he comes from a place where they had well-developed personality cults (with all the trimmings)and he doesn't want to see that happen here....
9.25.2009 8:51pm
Rich Rostrom (mail):
OK, it's Black History Month, Obama's election is historically significant, and there are lots of black student in the school. I can see holding a sort of celebration of that.

But if it was me, I'd be bending over backwards to avoid any implication of praise or support for Obama as an individual, or for any of his policies.

Rather obviously that did not happen here. The teacher in question and the school principal are both unabashed partisans of Obama and his policies, and they are using their positions to teach children to support Obama and his policies. On top of that, they don't even see that this is improper.

That is scary.

When a key institution of a society becomes partisan, one that is central to knowledge, to thinking and understanding, that society is on its way to totalitarianism. When such partisanship is open and unabashed, things are getting really dangerous.
9.25.2009 9:39pm
NickM (mail) (www):
The principal is an Obama groupie. She put 2 pages of pictures of her own trip to the inauguration in the school yearbook.

I don't think she understands that there are limits on her political activity in the school setting.

Nick
9.25.2009 10:14pm
PlugInMonster:

Keep sayin' it, eventually it gets true.


Oh yeah because liberal hypocrisy is a non-existent entity?
9.26.2009 4:45am
neurodoc:
David Welker: I think you are showing very poor judgment indeed in obsessing over this incident. You have just gone down a notch in my mind, in terms of credibility.

You can blog about what you want. But don't think that what you blog about will not affect your credibility. I think I have noticed a pattern of you becoming less reasonable over time.
Wow, that's about as brutally frank as it gets. Professor Volokh must be crushed to know that David Welker believes he has been "showing very poor judgment indeed in obsessing over this incident," and that (Professor Volokh) has "just gone down a notch in (David Welker's) mind, in terms of credibility." Moreover, David Welker has "noticed a pattern of (Professor Volokh) becoming less reasonable over time." Professor Volokh must be beside himself with worry that David Welker, having come to find him less credible than he was formerly and "becoming less reasonable over time," will not return here to share.

Personally, neurodoc thinks David Welker deserves a special prize for these comments of his. neurodoc is just trying to figure out the category in which such remarkable comments belong.
9.26.2009 8:29pm

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