Pennsylvania School District Cancels Kismet Performance

A FoxNews story from last week:

A Pennsylvania school district has decided not to stage a Tony Award-winning musical about a Muslim street poet after community members complained about the timing so soon after the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The Richland School District in Johnstown had planned to stage “Kismet” in February, but Superintendent Thomas Fleming said Tuesday that it was scrapped to avoid controversy….

Music director Scott Miller said the district, not far from where hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 crashed, last performed “Kismet” in 1983 — to sold-out audiences.

The play has no inappropriate content, Miller said, but he and other members of the performing arts committee decided to switch to “Oklahoma!” after hearing complaints.

“Kismet” is an Aladdin-style love story set in Baghdad more than 1,000 years ago. It won the Tony for best musical in 1954, and a Hollywood movie was made the next year….

There’s no Free Speech Clause violation here — the school has the right to set its curriculum, including its theater curriculum. But it strikes me as a pretty poor decision nonetheless. What some Middle Eastern terrorists have done over the past decades shouldn’t influence whether students perform plays set in a Middle Eastern culture 1000 years ago. And it’s the job of our educational institutions to educate students about American principles of individual responsibility rather than cultural guilt or cultural taint.