Faust Made Me Do It!

Won’t somebody please think of the children?

Some parents in this prairie town [Bennett, Colorado] are angry with an elementary school music teacher for showing pupils a video about the opera "Faust," whose title character sells his soul to the devil in exchange for being young again.

"Any adult with common sense would not think that video was appropriate for a young person to see. I'm not sure it's appropriate for a high school student," Robby Warner said after two of her children saw the video.

Another parent, Casey Goodwin, said, "I think it glorifies Satan in some way."
This zany, Satan-glorifying video, “Who’s Afraid of Opera,” consisted of operatic soprano Dame Joan Sutherland and “three puppet friends” discussing Gounod's "Faust."

Her critics questioned the decision to show children a portrayal of the devil, Mephistopheles, along with a scene showing a man being killed by a sword and a reference to suicide.
While this sounds nice and inflammatory, is it possible that perhaps her critics are braindead reactionaries? I mean, it’s puppets. The video is clearly for kids. Something tells me “a scene showing a man being killed by a sword” is a slight exaggeration. Of course, I have no idea, since the article doesn’t see fit to explain what’s actually on the video; just how the teacher’s “critics” categorized it.

The teacher was required to send a letter of apology to all elementary school parents.

"I was definitely not sensitive to the conservative nature of the community, and I've learned that," Waggoner said in Sunday's editions of The Denver Post. "However, from what has been said about me, that I'm a Satan worshipper, my character, I can't believe all of this. My intention was just to expose the kids to opera."

Waggoner, who is in her first year teaching vocal music in Bennett, said she doesn't expect to stay in town.

"I know I'm not accepted here, that I'm not welcome here by the parents," she said. "It's a very uncomfortable position."
How pathetic is this? A children’s introduction to opera video has provoked parents to go on some sort of obnoxious rampage. And for what reason? Because they didn’t think the video was appropriate for children. Apparently, however, it is appropriate for children to be exposed to their parents calling their teacher a Satan worshipper.

The sad part about this to me is that these kids are doomed. Aside from running a good teacher out of town, Faust has been an important part of our culture for a very long time. Unless a family is one which can guarantee even the most ignorant bastard a shot at the presidency, people need to be fluent in a wide spectrum of cultural reference to achieve professional successes in a lot of fields. Not that one’s success in life is predicated on knowing about Faust specifically, but there are lots and lots of things that could be deemed immoral by similarly narrow-minded reasoning, and shielding children from all of it is condemning them to a life of ignorance and cultural illiteracy.

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