December 28, 2011

Politico's Ben Smith calls some Gingrich video "Possibly the weirdest video of the cycle."

But the video is down now, so I have no idea what that was about. Other than Christmas.

A little more info, at HuffPo:
The video, posted December 23, features the Republican presidential hopeful's New Hampshire staffers decked out in Santa hats, singing to the tune of "Deck the Halls." While the group sings of Newt's solutions stopping Obama's "trauma," one staffer dons an elf outfit and runs around Gingrich's New Hampshire office.
So... maybe the problem was the implication that an "elf outfit" is "gay apparel." (Paging David Sedaris.)

In other news... a teacher in a Michigan elementary school changed the "Deck the Halls" lyrics after the kids laughed at "Don we now our gay apparel." She made it "bright apparel" and then got publicly criticized for not turning it into a "teachable moment." Video at the link of the principal telling the reporter: "We have an anti-discrimination and bullying policy that includes sexual orientation, and so, going forward, the teacher will be addressing: this is how we're supposed to be reacting, this is how to be respectful about this."

"Gay" is not a bad word... I agree. But can you really teach people not to laugh at the silly line "Don we now our gay apparel"? Nothing makes you want to laugh more than being forbidden to laugh. And "gay" is supposed to mean mirthful. Where's the mirth? If mirth is forbidden because we must be respectful and ever on the alert for incipient bullying, then I think you need to pick another song. But "Deck the Halls" is one of the best secular Christmas songs.

What are you going to do? Maybe we need to recognize that music is not compatible with the highest values of the public schools of the United States:
It's better that our dear youth spend their valuable time in learning respect for all minority groups and essential and useful bullying resisting skills and fill their time with teachable moments and healthy recreations instead of music.
ADDED: My son Chris tells me about the time, years ago, when he was in a public school chorus that had to sing the song "Scarlet Ribbons" and the kids were forbidden to laugh about the line "I peeked in and on her bed/In gay profusion lying there..." Chris IM's:
we had to practice a lot to get to the point where we wouldn't laugh on that line, and we had been able to do it in the last rehearsals, but then in the performance someone laughed, that made everyone laugh, and it made you laugh and you had to cover your face and sort of put your head down
It almost seems like bullying to put the kids through that! [LATER: I just realized that the "you" in his description referred to me! It still makes me laugh right now.]

33 comments:

ricpic said...

Newt is wierd
And Ron's a kook --
Only Mitt is good.

And I'm a pundit
Fooling the peasants --
Knock Wood.

Crimso said...

Well, at least "My Old Kentucky Home" still goes: "'Tis summer, the people are gay"

Of course, the Commonwealth of Kentucky legislated those lyrics; the original Foster lyrics are a bit...different.

Mary Beth said...

There's a quotation mark at the end of the Guardian link that makes it not work.

bagoh20 said...

Are there people proud of this stuff - where kids get suspended for drawing a sketch of a gun, pointing their finger like one, carrying a U.S. flag, having an aspirin, saying the wrong word, being a human being?

Some people can't be given even an ounce of power without it corrupting the human right out of them. I can't imagine even such people like the world they are creating. The push back needs to get a lot stronger up in here.

PatCA said...

Kids laugh! Get over it!

(We used to giggle over the word "bosom" in grade school.)

DADvocate said...

The main downtown business street in Knoxville is Gay Street. There are businesses that use the name "Gay" after the street. All the gays I knew there thought it was funny.

Trying to prevent laughter and forbidding mirth creates resentment. The efforts will backfire, and have in my observations. Not necessarily against gays, but against those forbidding the mirth and against the idea that such things should be forbidden.

traditionalguy said...

Zany Newt must be acting out again. Somebody alert a trained Romney Hit Team.

Seriousness is what is seriously needed! (Just ignore those special Mormon Doctrines).

Stay serious, Politico!

Ann Althouse said...

Sorry, my last link up there was botched. Try it now. It's supposed to make you laugh.

Laugh and be gay.

campy said...

the kids laughed at "Don we now our gay apparel." She made it "bright apparel" and then got publicly criticized

Anyone else remember a few years ago when the atheists started calling themselves "brights"?

I wonder what the teacher would've done if that had caught on.

EDH said...

The music teacher should have told the principal the problem student's name was Amanda Hugginkiss, and that he should immediately call her down to the office using the public address system.

bagoh20 said...

"music is "not compatible" with the values of the Islamic republic, and should not be practised or taught in the country."

There are some people in the world who will not be missed.

Wouldn't it be "unfortunate" if as terrorist often do, the Iranian leadership blew itself up with it's own nuclear program?

Of course, it would be blamed on the joos, but would Muslims who know the truth consider it a sign from God?

Can we make this happen somehow?

Ann Althouse said...

"Anyone else remember a few years ago when the atheists started calling themselves "brights"? I wonder what the teacher would've done if that had caught on."

Oh, yeah! I wonder what "bright apparel," in that sense, would look like. Maybe Dockers and a tweed jacket.

Kevin R said...

Deck the Halls is "secular"? It's about celebrating the solstice by hanging up holly and burning the Yule Log, then going out wassailing.

All those are historically pagan activities and symbols. So it sounds pretty non-secular to me.

Ann Althouse said...

Another cool word in "Deck the Halls" is "troll."

I'm looking at Wikipedia and seeing that the song was originally a New Year's song, with these lyrics:

Oh! how soft my fair one's bosom,
fal lal lal lal lal lal lal lal la:
Oh! how sweet the grove in blossom,
fal lal lal lal lal lal lal lal la:
Oh! how blessed are the blisses,
[instrumental flourish]
Words of love, and mutual Kisses,
fal lal lal lal lal lal lal lal la:


Bosom!!!

Rockport Conservative said...

I had to explain to my granddaughters what a nice word gay was in my childhood. Actually, I was an adult before it became completely corrupted.
I still resent it, it is a good word that explained a happy feeling. Word meanings do change over time but this one did a real fast forward to something else. Usually it takes a century or so. Oh, maybe it has, I'm 75.

Rick Caird said...

I remember a Playboy (I only read it for the articles) cartoon of an obviously gay guy getting dressed up for Christmas. "Don we now our gay apparel" was the caption. I am guessing that was late 60's or early 70s.

The teacher was right and, as usual, the fussbudget principal was wrong. We need to fire more principals for politically correct idiocy

EMD said...

The teacher wasn't right.

She should have kept the original lyric.

If she got any questions, just relayed the original meaning of the word and perhaps tolerated the laughter.

Or maybe she should have made them watch Glee.

Freeman Hunt said...

Or maybe she should have made them watch Glee.

That's just cruel.

edutcher said...

I heard about the "Deck The Halls" thing. Sad part is those where 5 or 6 year olds, IIRC.

Crimso said...

Well, at least "My Old Kentucky Home" still goes: "'Tis summer, the people are gay"

Of course, the Commonwealth of Kentucky legislated those lyrics; the original Foster lyrics are a bit...different.


And Stephen Foster was a Union man, too. You should see the lyrics to his anthem for the Colored Troops, "A Soldier in the Darky Brigade".

Ann Althouse said...

Another cool word in "Deck the Halls" is "troll."

I'm looking at Wikipedia and seeing that the song was originally a New Year's song, with these lyrics:

Oh! how soft my fair one's bosom,
fal lal lal lal lal lal lal lal la:
Oh! how sweet the grove in blossom,
fal lal lal lal lal lal lal lal la:
Oh! how blessed are the blisses,
[instrumental flourish]
Words of love, and mutual Kisses,
fal lal lal lal lal lal lal lal la:

Bosom!!!


Bosom, my foot. What do you think those blisses are?

Sounds like the variant of "Green Grow the Lilacs" sung during the Texas War of Independence.

Paddy O said...

I'm curious about the slideshow that would accompany a teaching moment about "gay apparel." What apparel do gays wear? Admit it, anything one would think of that would fit that category makes the song much more funny, even homophiles.

After all, saying "don we now our lesbian apparel" wouldn't be a teachable moment, it'd be banished as well.

The teacher was right to change the word. The word was never meant then, and would never be written now, with the present meaning of "gay". Translating it to a more fitting word kept the meaning of the song and avoided the humor that comes with an entirely unfitting word that context.

purplepenquin said...

Wasn't it in a Judy Blume book where all the kids (except the one they were picking on) agreed to not sing the word "breasts" during a school choir performance? The girl ended up getting a one-word solo, which embarrassed her in front of everyone.

I could see something like that happening with the word "gay" in a song as well...especially if the bullied child appears to be homosexual.

EMD said...

with the present meaning of "gay".

I'll have to remind myself of that the next time TCM screens "The Bright Divorcee".

You know, gay still technically means what is used to mean, too.

The teacher is weak, IMHO. It's a teachable moment, alright (unlike what the idiot principal means)... to teach what the word meaning is.

Mary Beth said...

The teacher should have asked one of the kids to explain what was so funny. After he/she explains, the teacher could say, "yes, but what's so funny?". Repeat a couple of times. They won't giggle the next time.

Having to explain humor makes it unfunny. Not being able to explain it without looking like an ass is the teachable moment part.

FWBuff said...

This reminds me of when I was teaching a Sunday School class to middle-schoolers (my daughter included). The lesson was from I Samuel, and there was a verse about how the Israelites had to go to the Philistines to have their "mattocks" sharpened. One of the kids asked me what a mattock was, and I said, "It's a hoe." To my surprise, all of the kids started to laugh. When I realized why they were laughing, I said (to my daughter's great embarrassment), "Not that kind of ho!"

Crunchy Frog said...

But "Deck the Halls" is one of the best secular Christmas songs.

No, it's not. "The Christmas Song" and "White Christmas" are good secular Christmas songs. "Deck The Halls" is insipid.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Mary Beth,

Just so.

campy, I remember the "Bright" thing. Dean Esmay was, at the time, calling himself a "Bright." I thought it was a little pointed -- wouldn't the opposite of a Bright be a Dim? (It would be a very brave or very foolish person who would call, say, Thomas Aquinas, or the builders of Chartres or York Minster, Dims.)

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Crunchy Frog,

"The Christmas Song" and "White Christmas" are good secular Christmas songs. "Deck The Halls" is insipid.

Well, you're setting the bar high there. But then the best Christmas songs aren't secular, anyway.

I suppose I'm prejudiced by having been steeped in classical music most of my life, but give me "Es ist ein Ros' entsprungen," "In dulce jubilo," "Joseph, lieber Joseph mein,"* "There is no rose of swych virtu," or for that matter even "Ding dong merrily on high."

* Joseph, lieber Joseph mein" is particularly dear to violists. Brahms made the old carol a refrain for the obbligato viola in his "Geistliches Wiegenlied" (holy lullaby), one of two songs he wrote with viola. The singer never gets the carol; it's all in the viola.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

FWBuff,

OMG. I can just see that.

Compare the kid who, in his chemistry class, dissed a classmate by saying "Well, your girlfriend has 67 protons." (Element 67 is holmium, or Ho.)

wv: unglie. So ugly it dare not speak its name!

David said...

Hah.

I remember singing "I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing" in elementary school and all the boys would enthusiastically sing, "I'd like to build the world a home/and furnuh SHIT with love."

timmaguire42 said...

From the sounds of it, that principal actually thought "gay apparel" means "homosexual apparel." I know he's a leader in our public educational system, but still, is that really possible?

What kind of "teachable moment" did he have in mind?

Pogo said...

As sung on Pogo:

"Deck us all with Boston Charlie,
Walla Walla, Wash., an' Kalamazoo!
Nora's freezin' on the trolley,
Swaller dollar cauliflower alley-garoo!

Don't we know archaic barrel
Lullaby Lilla Boy, Louisville Lou?
Trolley Molly don't love Harold,
Boola boola Pensacoola hullabaloo!
"

Peter Hoh said...

Trying to avert the twitters in response to "Deck the Halls" reminds me of a story from my classroom teaching days. I shall omit some details, but this took place 20 (or so) years ago, when I taught at a private elementary school.

As part of an all-school assembly, one of the first grade classes took the stage to recite a poem they had been practicing. Their teacher was dear woman who lived by herself with a rather large number of cats. To our collective horror, she announced that her class would be reciting "The Owl and the Pussycat."

Yes, she really was that clueless.

We teachers knew what was coming. As the little cherubs made their way past the "pea green boat" and the "stars above," wide-eyed glances were exchanged. We knew we were powerless to stop what was about to happen, but perhaps we could contain the reaction.

Where possible, teachers moved closer to certain groups of older students. Hands were placed on certain shoulders. Eye contact was established. Befuddled fifth graders looked back at their teachers as if to say, "Why are you looking at me like that?"

Soon enough, they knew. With earnest sweetness, the first graders recited these immortal lines:

"Pussy, oh pussy, oh pussy my love. What a beautiful pussy you are."

And while there were a few snorts -- some, perhaps, coming from the row of parents in the back -- we managed to maintain a certain level of decorum.

It was, I think, our finest moment.

MarkD said...

I am not surprised that the least mature among us snicker. I am no longer surprised that the educational establishment overreacts.

I am surprised that the public, which pays more and more while their children learn less and less, continues to put up with this PC idiocy.