No tolerance for 'Cootie Shots'

School officials in west-central Minnesota are canceling field trips to see a play about tolerance because it calls for tolerating people who are different.

Controversy over the show, a heavily edited version of a series of scripts titled Cootie Shots: Theatrical Inoculations Against Bigotry, began when a few parents saw the script.

The Morris production of this show, which originated in California and has played nationwide, “does not mention, refer to or portray sexuality of any kind in any way,” said Ray Schultz, the show’s director.

“Oh, it’s very obvious,” countered Laura Carrington, a Morris school board member and retired teacher. “There’s a script called ‘The Parable of the Stimples.’ The Stimples are people who are told that it’s OK to make loud noises, but just don’t make them in public. Isn’t that similar to what, for years, homosexuals were told?

“Suddenly, there were more Stimples than ever. They mention that Stimples don’t seem quite so ‘queer.’ That’s pretty out front. I don’t think it’s the school’s responsibility to promote the homosexual lifestyle.”

Here’s a fuller description of the Stimples in a story about a lawsuit, ultimately unsuccessful, filed by parents in Novato, California.

One skit in the play that angered the parents was “The Parable of the Stimples,” during which a group of “funny noise-making people” are ridiculed. The script states, “BUT the BIG PROBLEM was that everyone was taught that making funny noises was BAD! Wrong! Something to be afraid of!”

During the play, Stimple Gilbert is sent to the principal’s office after making a funny noise, only to discover that the principal himself is a secret noisemaker.

When Gilbert’s parents discover that Gilbert is a noisemaker, they react with embarrassment. They tell Gilbert not to make the noise so that he can be “normal like them.” Soon, Gilbert discovers that people are “afraid” of the noise.

At that point, the narrator encourages the audience to save Gilbert by making a loud noise themselves.

“Make a noise for Gilbert!” the narrator says. “Make a noise for all of the Stimples in the world.”

Kids might grow up to make funny noises.

In other school news, Snohomish High near Seattle has lifted its ban on the Snoho T-shirt.

Senior Justin Patrick originally was told his T-shirt was derogatory to women because it contained a slang term for prostitutes. But a school-district official who considered Patrick’s appeal ruled the boy won’t have to serve a two-day suspension for dress-code violation, sexual harassment and gross insubordination.

Patrick, however, will serve six days of after-school detention for swearing at a vice principal who told him to cover up the T-shirt.

The decision means school officials won’t have to rule on “gung-ho,” “tally ho,” “Ho-Hos” and “coho” salmon.

Update: After attending The Vagina Monologues, two girls at a high school in the Minneapolis area began wearing buttons proclaiming: “I (heart) My Vagina.”

School leaders said that the pin is inappropriate and that the discomfort it causes trumps the girls’ right to free speech. The girls disagree. And despite repeated threats of suspension and expulsion, (Carrie) Rethlefsen has continued to wear her button.

The girls have won support from other students and community members.

More than 100 students have ordered T-shirts bearing “I [heart] My Vagina” for girls and “I Support Your Vagina” for boys.

“We can’t really find out what is inappropriate about it,” Rethlefsen, 18, said of the button she wears to raise awareness about women’s issues.

There’s no question the girls, both excellent students, are engaging in political speech. Yet I can’t help thinking that buttons proclaiming support for sexual organs are inappropriate in the high school context.

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  1. Honestly, some people don’t think it is the job of their local schools to teach children about tolerance? Who are these people? No wonder there are so many crosses burning and so much gay persecution in west-central Minnesota!

    I just can’t tolerate intolerant people.

  2. Walter E. Wallis says:

    How about tolerance toward molesting priests? Could they write that in?

  3. WEW,

    It depends. Are you talking about priests who molest or people who molest priests?

  4. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Alternate endings? Everyone who wants the priest to be molested clap?

  5. I haven’t read the script, but from the article it sounds like it is vague enough that a twisted mind could interpret it as preaching tolerance of all sorts of things, like sex offenders for instance.

  6. The inculcation of tolerance… hot hot.

    I don’t think I’ve had enough coffee yet to process the freedom from/freedom to debate as it applies to institutional tolerance and/or discrimination.

    But it’s a shame that “discrimination” is such a dirty word – when discrimination and judgment [judging, oh my GOD!] are two of the most valuable, impressive and important elements of humanity – while “tolerance” and a host of others are thrown around without thought as if it is universally accepted as a good thing. Also, the title’s implication that believing things other than what is progressive is “bigotry” is gorgeous. Gorgeous like… replacing the angel on the top of my Christmas tree with a frozen piece of dog crap. Oops, I meant Holiday Tree.

    Put simply, this play sounds dumb. Was it Seuss’s Sneetches that had stars? I still remember “stars upon thars” and… certainly didn’t take with it any social or political agenda.

    I worked with two honors-level Univ. classes that focused on political communication in the arts. Students in both classes overwhelmingly thought that “good art” had to accomplish something social/political. That was very difficult to deal with. They devalued a great deal of art because it wasn’t political; a small number realized that political art was just a subset of actual… art.

    The moral debate will be covered from many sides, but kids will forge through development thinking that art has to set something in motion.

  7. Matthew,

    My theory about political art is that good political art only happens when a political issue is meaningful–personal–enough to the artist that he can really find the emotional level of it. Most political art just doesn’t get there, especially if it’s designed to be political.

    If you want to hear a gem of political that fits my theory quite well, go listen to Paul Hindemith’s “Mathis der Maler,” which is infused with his emotional turmoil about the decaying situation in pre-WWII Germany.

  8. Something I didn’t see was that the protests of this play were happening in my home town, in fact I used to go to one of the schools involved.

    Maybe Novato isn’t quite as far to the left as it seems. (Then again, people around here do talk about “raising awareness” far too often for my taste.)

  9. I don’t think you can say holiday either.

  10. Half Canadian says:

    Anybody think that going to the play would have been a waste of time?
    Really, wouldn’t students be better served by memorizing their times tables?

  11. SuperSub says:

    HC…you mean the kids are supposed to learn about math in school? I thought school was for the reinforcement of how special every person is and how every view must be respected no matter how silly or unfounded the belief.

  12. nailsagainsttheboard says:

    Beware of the euphemisms of the Left;

    “TOLERANCE’–“Those who stand for nothing, will fall for anything”
    “SOCIAL JUSTICE”–What the people of Russia, North Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, China, Cambodia, pre-1989 Eastern Europe, et al. thought they were getting.
    “PEACE'”–What the aforementioned people who were getting SOCIAL JUSTICE also thought they were getting.
    ‘DIVERSITY”–Of color and ethnicity, but not thought.
    ”ALTERNATIVE LIFESTYLES”–Just because society says you CAN, doesn’t mean society says you SHOULD.
    “SELF-ESTEEM”–Just showing up isn’t enough; it’s what you earn that counts.

    Re: Novato SD and most other public school districts: ADULT supervision needed.

  13. nailsagainsttheboard says:

    OOPS…one more…

    READING, WRITING, MATH, SCIENCE, HISTORY, ART, MUSIC, VOCATIONAL ED–What should be taught instead of ‘tolerance’, ‘diversity’, ‘social justice’, ‘alternative lifestyles’, and ‘self-esteem’.

  14. As I commented over at my new site, , the Vagina buttons and shirts trouble me, but i think the whole thing has been handled wrong by the administration. The girls seem to have behaved in a reasonabl manner, showing some responsibility. After all, it looks like they went a month without the buttons causing a problem.

    I do, I’ll admit, see a potential problem with parody shirts (“My Penis [hearts] Your Vagina), but those should be dealt with on a more individualized basis. I’d rather see them dealing with the issues raised by the shirts and buttons than being shut down.

  15. [“We can’t really find out what is inappropriate about it,” Rethlefsen, 18, said of the button she wears to raise awareness about women’s issues.]

    Carrie figured out relativism all on her own… how cute! She’ll have a leg up in her Philosophy 101 class at Smith this fall.

  16. I dunno, when I see women proclaiming that they love their private parts, my awareness about women’s issues isn’t raised. And I’m sure I’m not the only woman who would find it creepy to be told by men (or women) that they “support” my vagina.

  17. SuperSub says:

    ThePrecinctChair… that shirt idea was a good one… I’d suggest getting some sort of copyright or such on it before others end up using it 😛
    The school was stupid in this case… chances are the pins would have disappeared after a while if they hadn’t said anything, or simply asked them to remove the pins and leave it at that.

  18. Nails –

    The Superindendent who presided over this debacle is no longer there. He did much more serious damage to the district than that, unfortunately.

  19. you mean the kids are supposed to learn about math in school?

    That’s why I support alternatives to public education, where the diverse population of parents (and mature youth) can choose a school and educational philosophy that suits them. If they want math, or academics in general, they can choose that. Parents can choose a school that supports their specialty – be it science, arts, literature, sports, military training, vocational trades, religion, politics of whateven wing, ethnic identity, or even pure “self-esteem” without academics. A big failing of public schools is that they preach diversity, but cannot serve a diverse public, and end up serving only trendy social causes.

    I thought school was for the reinforcement of how special every person is

    Which really means reinforcement of anti-personal pressure groups based mostly on ethnicity, sexual orientation, and some disabilities. Anything else, anything personal is just selfish, greedy, and evil, according to educrats. That even applies to effective measures against bullying – because political correctness itself is a form of bullying, and most bullies are “natural leaders” of their little gangs. When it comes to education, the group is always right, and the bigger the group, the more right it is.

    and how every view must be respected no matter how silly or unfounded the belief.

    That means that bad beliefs drive out the good. And in practice, the amount of respect given by educrats varies by the power of the pressure group holding the belief – not by the validity of the idea itself.

    It no longer surprises me that in PC public schools, the smart honest kids suffer the most. And only after being branded “retarded”, “hyperactive”, or “autistic” do they find any justice.

  20. “I (heart) My Vagina.”
    School leaders said that the pin is inappropriate and that the discomfort it causes trumps the girls’ right to free speech.

    I’m really surprised, given that women’s issues are so PC. Maybe they really are treating those girls the exact same way they would treat boys wearing hypothetical “I (heart) my penis” pins and shirts.

  21. rouxdsla says:

    What if a boy wore a button that said, “I (heart) your Vagina”. Do you think that would be allowed?

  22. And then there is:

    homo sapiens

    How much more obvious can you get?


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