Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Santeria! The Horror! The Horror!

A New York City school principal is under investigation for having a Santeria ritual performed in the school.

Education officials are pushing to fire [Principal Martiza] Tamayo, a 17-year veteran of city schools who earned $133,998 last year.
There are complications and some accusations of other inappropriate behavior. It's important to note, though, that there are always other accusations. School boards are generally too savvy too just come out and say "We don't like your religion so go away." It's like union-busting; they do it by writing you up for other offenses—offenses that would make no difference to your employment if you weren't union.

Newsday reports Tamayo will be fired.

The New York Daily News, which doesn't give a shit about appearing unbiased, refers to "bizarre Santeria ceremonies," "peculiar events," and "creepy warnings." The article admits that no students were in the building during the ceremony, which was intended to "calm students down."
Though there were no children in the building and no witnesses to the ritual itself, staff members told investigators the fourth floor smelled of incense and was "really smoky." School sources said chicken blood had to be cleaned off the floors.

Later that week, [Assistant Principal Melody] Crooks-Simpson agreed to participate in one of the rituals and heeded Tamayo's creepy warning: "Wear white. If there's anything evil, it won't get on you."

Crooks-Simpson sat in a conference room as Fonte "took two puffs from a brown cigar," spoke in another language and read tarot cards, according to yesterday's report.
Another language! Horrors!

Now watch the tip-toeing:
The problem wasn't that Tamayo was performing bizarre religious rituals but that she was coercing her staff to participate, [special commissioner of investigation for city schools Richard] Condon said.

"Had she hired a priest to sprinkle holy water on the building, and she coerced the assistant principal into paying for it and attending it, I would have a problem with it," Condon said.
Of course he would! But Newsday wouldn't call it "bizarre," would they?

It is, of course, possible that there is misconduct here. There are allegations of coercion, of misuse of funds, of transporting students without parental permission. But would these allegations come out if it wasn't in conjuction with gawking at the creepy religion practiced by the creepy brown people? I think not. It's all very well for an investigator to say he'd have a problem with an equivalent Catholic ceremony: Would such a ceremony be reported to him? Would teachers be horrified and frightened?

Santeria is the go-to religion if you want to prove how nasty Pagans are. Chicken blood! My stars and garters! (And seriously, he who is without dead chicken may cast the first tofu burger.) Tarot cards! Foreign language! Headdresses! (Don't Catholics use those?)

Christians who have been fighting for the right to pray in school need to understand that other people have that right as well. Because, y'know, America, First Amendment, like that.

(Cross-posted with all appropriate ceremony)