It started with a satirical letter to the local paper. It has ended with one of country music's most-loved classic songs censored by a band director who lacked the testicular fortitude to defend his music selection.
After the devil went down to Georgia, it seems, he got censored in Prince William County.
In preparation for a guest appearance at the Peach Bowl in Atlanta, the marching band at C.D. Hylton High School had a logical and seemingly innocuous idea: play a Georgia-themed song. They decided on "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," by the Charlie Daniels Band.
But early this month, a local newspaper, the Potomac News, published a letter by a Woodbridge resident who, after having seen the C.D. Hylton Bulldawg Marching Band perform the country-western hit at a football game, wondered how a song about the devil could be played at school events, because of the separation of church and state.
Fearing bad public reaction, Hylton's longtime band director, Dennis Brown, pulled the song from the playlist. "I was just being protective of my students. I didn't want any negative publicity for C.D. Hylton High School," he said.
The result has been a loud outcry in Prince William COunty and the surrounding area.
"God have mercy. How did we become a country full of weenies who give into the cranky nonsense of 1 voice?" one person tapped out on a computer. "I guess I need to go back to school. I thought the idea behind our country was that the majority ruled? You know, like the majority of people voted for the President's re-election and now the ruling party is knuckling under to every left wing nut out there? I give up!"
A person identified as Ticked Off Parent chimed in: "What's next? School Book Burnings because someone finds To Kill a Mockingbird offensive? Whoever started this should be banned from the school, NOT THE SONG!"
Another wrote in: "So what if the song does actually 'revolve' around Satan? Satan has its rightful place in history as does Women's suffrage, slavery, and every other subject bad or good!"
We know, of course, how we reached such a point. The ACLU and their fellow-travelers in the judicial branch have twisted the First Amendment into something other than what was envisioned by those who wrote it and thaose who ratified it. Constant lawsuits by militant atheists like Michael Newdow have rendered school boards and too many teachers afraid to permit even the most innocuous religious references stand (a friend in another state tells me that the faculty was told not to say "God bless you" in response to sneezes after one parent complained). So the religious and cultural practices of the majority are ruthlessly suppressed in many schools in the name of "sensitivity" to a relative handful of whiners.
Even Charlie Daniels himself has weighed in on the matter.
"I am a Christian, and I don't write pro-devil songs. Most people seem to get it. It's a fun little song," Daniels said Friday in a telephone interview from Mokena, Ill., where he was scheduled to perform a concert. "I think it's a shame that the [marching band director] would yield to one piece of mail. If people find out that he can be manipulated that easily, he's going to have a hard way to go."
And what of the author of the original letter that appeared in the local paper? What does he think?
As for that nettlesome letter writer, Robert McLean? The defense contractor, whose children are home-schooled, said he went to Hylton's football game just because he enjoys the sport. His letter, he said, was meant to start a philosophical debate, not to wreck any student's marching band experience. Besides, he said, he loves "Devil."
"It was one of the first 45s I had as a kid," he said.
So it appear that NO ONE had a real objection to the song. Someone just wanted to point to the absurdity of stripping Christian rligious references from the public square and public school. And one spineless band director, unable to comprehend the satire, backed down.
I have three suggestions.
First, restore the song to the band's repertoire.
Second, find a new band director, one who has the courage of his convictions.
Three, transfer the current band director, Dennis Brown, to someplace where he is likely to do no harm -- like the the district bus barn, where he can sweep and wash the buses twice a day.
There is a particularly fine post on this controversey at Bacon's Rebellion, which includes a comment with links to a number of relevant stories and letters from the community in the paper where this all started.
More at Sierra Faith, Ignorant Hussy, Sasha Undercover, ACSBlog, Life on the Wicked Stage, Patrick Cooper, and Daily Pundit.