July 1, 2006
Out of tune
Another fine example of how religion poisons everything:
For years, seniors in the wind ensemble at Henry M. Jackson High School have selected a favorite piece of music to play during commencement.
For last month’s ceremonies, the 17 students chose an instrumental version of “Ave Maria,” which they had performed at a school concert in December 2004.
But their choice was vetoed by Dr. Carol Whitehead, superintendent of the Everett School District. Instead, the ensemble played a selection by British composer Gustav Holst.
Now Kathryn Nurre, an 18-year-old who played alto saxophone in the ensemble before graduating, is suing Whitehead, claiming the decision violated her First Amendment right to freedom of speech. She believes “Ave Maria” was nixed by Whitehead because she felt the song was too religious for a school-sanctioned event.
… Kathryn’s mother, Vicki Nurre, said neither her daughter nor the other members of the Mill Creek school’s ensemble — who unanimously voted to play “Ave Maria” — were trying to make a religious statement.
“The kids had no agenda when they picked the piece,” said Vicki Nurre, of Bothell. “It was a piece they loved, it was a piece they played well ... they were shocked when they were shot out of the water on this.”
The kids may not have had an agenda, but Nurre sure did:
Vicki Nurre contacted the Rutherford Institute, a conservative legal foundation based in Charlottesville, Va., that presses hundreds of cases each year that involve questions of religious freedom and free speech. The organization attracted headlines in the mid-1990s when it assisted Paula Jones’ sexual-harassment lawsuit against President Clinton.
W. Theodore Vander Wel, who has handled Washington state cases as an affiliate attorney for the Rutherford Institute for 15 years, was enlisted as local counsel and a complaint was assembled within days of the graduation ceremony.
All this over the instrumental version of Ave Maria, remember…
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