Monday, April 13, 2009

Only in Lawrence

So I was just doing research on using a key card system to reduce overhead at the health club, while expanding hours of operation, and I landed on the Eagle Tribune carrying an AP story “24-hour fitness clubs popular, but controversial.”

I couldn’t help but notice another local article about the Lawrence School Superintendent being overturned by the School Committee for his ban on the kids performance of ‘The Vagina Monologues’ later this month.

Amherst of course opted out this year. Too busy I suppose, or those damn budget cuts, or the kid that lead the charge graduated (and like canceling ‘West Side Story’ there’s always one kid who leads the charge) and nobody else picked up the ball.

Or maybe because a few months ago the elderly, married Co-Superintendents were a tad old fashioned (after 40 years in the business) and probably would not have allowed it.

Superintendent Laboy should have cancelled the performance not for the word Vagina but for that other word used so repeatedly (rhythms with bunt); or the little vignette that glorifies sex between an adult and underage 16-year-old child (13-years-old in the original publication of the Play but Ensler because of controversy upgraded her to 16 in later editions) after the child is given vodka.

Makes me wonder if four school committee members who rallied to the play’s defense have actually even read it. And if the KKK wanted to rally in Lawrence on school property and were going to donate $10,000 to a local battered women’s shelter, would the School Committee allow that?

Back in 2004 when Amherst was the only high school in the nation to allow the play the diffident Regional School Committee was asked repeatedly to overrule golden boy Jere Hochman’s decision to allow it: they did nothing, claiming it was not their job to micro-manage the schools.

The Eagle-Tribune reports


Anonymous said...

So far I have not heard of any reports of high school students being driven mad or harmed in any other way by this play. It's a play for God's sake. BTW, you don't perform the same play every year. Just get over it.

LarryK4 said...

Actually some people (most notably Colleges and Universities) do perform the "Play" every year.

It's called 'V-Day' which I suppose stands for Vagina, but I guess they themselves are a tad twitchy about headlining the word.

The hilarious thing is the Bully actually editorially supported the Amherst version both times but never allowed the word Vagina in a headline.

And I have not heard of any reports that performing the Vagina Monologues leads to a decrease in crime against women.

Even supporters in the People's Republic of Amherst went out of their way to point out that VM was NOT the official school play, that does change every year.

Well...except in 1999 when it changed twice, because 'West Side Story' was canceled.

Anonymous said...

See prior Larry Kelley discussion on hate speech prohibitions at UMass.

He was right then.

He's wrong on this. And that's ok, we all get things wrong once and awhile.

With the proper notice to parents, and the proper opportunity for public airing of all viewpoints, the more free speech, the better.

My sense is that the controversy over Vagina Monologues is the oxygen that it survives on; that, otherwise, it would have been forgotten long ago.

Anonymous said...

It's a play and no one has to go to it if they don't want to. Parents can forbid their kids from performing in it if they want to. The long and short of it is exactly that, they don't want to. I take a more libertarian approach to it than Larry. Why should outside people get so bent out of shape. Just don't go.


LarryK4 said...

Kind of a BIG difference between this and the (I assume you're talking about the Feder speech fiasco) recent Umass incident. Mainly ages of those involved.

We don't let kids under 16 drink, drive, smoke, or go to R-rated movies so we sure should not allow them to perform graphic material.

But your right, Ensler is a one trick pony (her follow up "play" about her navel opened and closed on Broadway in under a week); and she does indeed thrive on the annual PR surrounding VM

Although last year Jane Fonda dropping the C-Bomb on 'The Today Show' did not go over very well (and she probably was not invited back this year to talk about VM)

Anonymous said...

Sorry Larry but any age can go to an R rated movie, however, if they are under 17 they must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

This is also only a voluntary standard drawn up by the Motion Picture Association of America, it is not a law. Despite what many people think.

Ed said...

As one involved in too many of the messes breaking loose right now at UMass, let me add a couple of things.

First, in today's _Globe_ the university is denying that anything happened at the Feder event. This same institution is asking me why I might make a fuss about a police officer filing a totally false report wherein she alleges I said something completely different from what I said on tape in front of witnesses.

They want to know why I care. Aren't police officers kinda supposed to tell the truth? Particularly under oath?

As to TVM, if a group of "Stepford Men", believing that women should be barefoot, pregnant and obeying their husbands at all times, put out a play, would the school permit it to be performed? Content neutrality would REQUIRE it to be permitted....

As would a Moslem play celebrating female genital mutilation and the rest....

Anonymous said...

You tend to get so blinded by things that you go off the deep end with all kind of irrelevancies.

"And I have not heard of any reports that performing the Vagina Monologues leads to a decrease in crime against women."

Who said it would? Are abusers of women its audience? Of course not, so they are not going to go there and get educated. Nor does the play hold itself out as a therapeutic remedy for male aggression. The comment is just silly.

"Ensler is a one trick pony (her follow up "play" about her navel opened and closed on Broadway in under a week); and she does indeed thrive on the annual PR surrounding VM"

What is your point? The playwright didn’t have anything to do with the play being performed in Amherst. Why are you campaigning to discredit her?

On the contrary, like it or not, this play was not just famous because of its title (although a catchy title never hurts any play or film). This was a critically acclaimed play. If her next play flopped then she's no different than any other playwright. Each work stands on its own and VM had audiences applauding.

BTW, the primary audience for VM is women and their daughters. It is a group that does not have trouble with the word vagina. Just you uptight men do.

Clearly the play must still be relevant if your report that the Gazette won’t even print the word vagina is true.

What’s needed is lots more performances.

Susan B.

LarryK4 said...

Actually Susan the playwright did have something to do with it being performed in the People's Republic back in 2004. And she was ever so proud to appear on The Today Show with the little 17-year-old who led the charge.

The two of them were given almost 8 minutes of live airtime and I was given 10 seconds on tape (yeah, that was fair and balanced).

And Ensler even had the audacity to say to a Gazette reporter that the play should be read in elementary school as 'sex education'. Yikes!

I never said the Gazette (a family newspaper) refused to use the word vagina. They simply did not use it in a headline, but did allow it in the body of the article.

And as an Exercise Science graduate and health professional I have no problem with the word vagina. Vagina, vagina, vagina.

It's the other word--you know, the one Ensler wanted to "reclaim"--That I have problems with. And yes I also have problems with the N-word.

And if Ensler was so successful reclaiming that word, why did Jane Fonda's use of it on The Today Show last year cause such uproar?

Anonymous said...


Larry: 1 (of many)

Susan: Ummmm... none.

Thank you and please come again...

Anonymous said...

"The two of them were given almost 8 minutes of live airtime and I was given 10 seconds on tape (yeah, that was fair and balanced)."

So, the person who wrote the play and the person who put on the play should split their time 50/50 with the person who complains? That's nonsense. 10 seconds was all your complaint was worth, maybe less.

Anonymous said...

10 seconds? That's more time than the State Attorney General devotes to all those silly letters you write anytime someone in town get a papercut. It's like Barney Fife.

LarryK4 said...

Actually I stand corrected. It was 11 seconds.

And the Supervisor of Public Records has agreed with me more so than disagreed.

In baseball that would be a spectacular batting average, you freakin Anonymous nitwit.

And at least Barney had a name.

Anonymous said...

No, he's like Gomer when he yells "citizen's arrest!"

LarryK4 said...

And I'm supposed to know you both are not the same single Anon idiot exactly how?

Well at least by your TV references I know you are approaching retirement age. (if indeed, you ARE two different nitwits)

Anonymous said...

Happily retired and living in Florida where I can read your inane rantings and then walk the beach.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, I should have figured that.

And your retirement is no doubt at Amherst taxpayer expense (Hey, at least you could have gone to South Hadley to pimp per hour like a few other Amherst town officials)

Anonymous said...

"(Hey, at least you could have gone to South Hadley to pimp per hour like a few other Amherst town officials)"