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No pink at talent show.

Molly Shoul has appeared in several talent shows at Park Springs Elementary School in Florida over the years.

And she was planning on participating again on May 11.

The ten-year-old decided to sing Pink's new song, "Dear Mr. President," which the pop star says is one of the most important songs she's ever written.

The biting song includes lines such as: "How do you sleep at night?" and "You don't know nothing about hard work" and "You pave the road to hell" and "What kind of father might hate her own daughter if she were gay?" and "You've come a long way from whiskey and cocaine."

"It's a really good song," Molly says. "I wanted to sing something meaningful" for the annual talent show.

So she auditioned with it, and she says the music teacher told her he liked it, but that he would have to ask the principal.

The principal, Camille Pontillo, put the kibosh on it, as Jamie Malernee of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel first reported.

Molly says the principal said the song was too political and would be inappropriate because it had the word hell in it, along with whiskey and cocaine and gay.

When that decision came down, Molly says she felt "a little bit angry and sad and upset, and a bit confused."

Her mother, Nancy, was all of that and more.

She wrote an e-mail to the principal on May 2, which she shared with The Progressive.

"I think we are sending a bad message," Nancy wrote. "Molly has become aware of world events and she was EXTREMELY excited to find this song and want to sing it. She is passionate about it--has been practicing it since the day the Talent Show was announced. With limits, I think our kids should be allowed to express themselves in a respectful, meaningful way. To try to 'shield' them from the real world is, I believe, a real mistake. Could I please get your feedback on this?"

Principal Pontillo responded in the following way: "I understand your position, however, the song she chose is a political song and does use the word hell in it. I am sure there are other songs that she can choose from that will allow her to express herself. We must remember that there are going to be students from pre-K to 5th--not just an older audience, such as middle school, or just 5th grade. I hope you understand."

On May 11, Molly chose not to participate in the talent show. She said it would have felt like giving up if she sang another song instead.

Her mom, who happens to be a high school teacher in the same school district, is not happy about the outcome.

"This was undoubtedly censorship," she says.

I left a message for Principal Pontillo, but she did not call back.

Nadine Drew, a spokesperson for the Broward County Public Schools, says, "It was the principal's decision that it was inappropriate for the elementary age group."

As to the charge of censorship, Drew says: "I don't have a reaction to the parent."

Two good news updates. First, Denise Grier won't have to pay $100 for her bumpersticker after all. As I reported here two months ago, Grier was pulled over on March 10 by a DeKalb County, Georgia, cop for having the sticker "I'm Tired of All the BUSHIT" on her car. He gave her a ticket for a "lewd decal," and the fine was $100.

On April 4, Judge R. Joy Walker dismissed it, as Joe Johnson reported for the Athens Banner-Herald.

"The ticket should not have been written," ruled Judge Walker, noting that the Georgia state supreme court had invalidated the "lewd decal" law fifteen years ago.

Grier was not surprised with the outcome. "I knew it was going to happen," she tells me. "It was pretty much a no-brainer. I just didn't think it would take this long."

Grier remains dubious of the police officer's motives for giving her that ticket. "I'm still of the belief that the police officer pulled me over because of my political beliefs," she says. "That bumpersticker, in the world of bumperstickers, was very mild, very tame."

Calling the ticket an "abuse of power," Grier says she's contemplating a civil suit.

And vindication for Laura Berg, he VA nurse in Albuquerque who was investigated by her boss for "sedition" because she criticized Bush in a letter to the editor of her weekly newspaper. (See April issue.) R. James Nicholson, the Secretary of Veteran Affairs in Washington, D.C., responded on March 14 to Senator Jeff Bingaman, who had expressed his concern about Berg's treatment.

"Let me be clear: Her letter to the editor did not amount to sedition," Nicholson wrote to Bingaman. "The use of the word 'sedition' was not appropriate.... No further action has been taken or will be taken related to the employee in this matter."

Berg also received an apology from the facility director, he said, and "appropriate action" was taken against Berg's boss who leveled the sedition charge, Nicholson added.

"This is exactly the kind of acknowledgment we wanted to receive," says Peter Simonson, executive director of the New Mexico ACLU. "It provides some confirmation that activities like this weren't being broadly perceived as threats to national security, which, as preposterous as it sounds, appears to have been the mentality of at least one administrator at the VA."

Simonson praises Berg for standing up for her rights.

"A lesser person would have buckled under the scrutiny or pressure, or simply not raised the issue at all," Simonson says.

"It's a victory," says Berg. "I'm vindicated. We still do have First Amendment rights in this country. Let's please--all of us--make use of them. Speak clearly and strongly."

Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive. For a compendium of McCarthyism Watch stories, go to
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Title Annotation:McCarthyism Watch; political song
Author:Rotschild, Matthew
Publication:The Progressive
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2006
Previous Article:Your brain at work.
Next Article:March for peace and justice.

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