Oy vey, Maria

In Washington state, the Everett Superintendent is being sued by a Jackson High graduate for preventing the school’s wind ensemble from playing an instrumental version of Franz Biebl’s Ave Maria at their graduation. Too religious, said the superintendent. An alto saxophonist has filed a free-speech suit.

I can’t see that the musicians had a constitutional right to play the music of their choice. You can see where that would lead. But the superintendent’s decision seems silly.

About Joanne


  1. Hunter McDaniel says:

    I suppose the Superintendent has also instructed the football team not to call any Hail Mary plays if they happen to be a touchdown behind in the closing seconds.

  2. I’m waiting for the inevitable lawsuit regarding the naming of cities after Catholic saints. Henceforth, San Jose shall be known as “Jose”.

  3. Alto sax? Ave Maria? Eeeuuw, I have to side with the Supertintendent, though for reasons having purely to do with taste.

  4. Bart,
    That’s José, not Jose. There’s been an acute problem for years.

  5. That’s José, not Jose. There’s been an acute problem for years.

    Sort of a chronic acute problem. I think I’ll let the renaming committee worry about it.

  6. Were they however spelling it San Josè, that would be a grave problem.

  7. solution seems simple enough … give the superintendent some secular lyrics that the instruments will be playing. You can also sell tickets to watch to see if the lips move as the ensenble plays.

    One even see a broader competition to craft those acceptable lyrics — I see a contest coming on.

    (Sidebar out of curiosity: have any religious songs appeared on the many talent shows, American Idol et al?)

  8. Robert Wright says:

    Students don’t have a right to free speech during math tests, fire drills, history lectures or graduation ceremonies.

    And a saxophonist does not have the right to play Night Train while the rest of the orchestra is playing the Star Spangled Banner.

    The saxophonist has the right to play anything he wants on his own time. During a school event, the choice of music is up to the music director.

  9. The mayors of Francisco, Louis, Diego, Juan, Barbara, and Los demonstrated their support for the superintendent of the Everett school district by removing religious nomenclature from their city names.

    It’s a school district. If the superintendent stays within the bounds of the law and numerous court decisions his only restraint is the school board which is to say, in the majority of cases, no restraint at all.

  10. Jennifer says:

    Chris – On this last season of American Idol, Mandisa sung a gospel song. Carrie Underwood’s (last year’s winner) first single was Jesus Take The Wheel – she came back and performed it on the show. I’m sure there are other examples as well.