The Lawyers Who Say Meep! High School Calls Police After Attorney Says Meep to Principal

Beaker_muppetFirst there were the Knights Who Say Ni! (below). Now we have the problem of the lawyers who say Meep! After reading the recent publications over the decision of the principal of Danvers High School banning students from saying the word “Meep,” Entertainment lawyer Theodora Michaels decided to act and wrote a letter using the four-letter word to Principal Thomas Murray, who comes across as a high school version of Dean Vernon Wormer from Animal House. She was immediately reported to the police for investigation by the school.

Murray stumbled on a conspiracy on Facebook where he learned that kids in the Danvers High School in Massachusetts intended to say “Meep!” in school — mimicking the lab assistant to Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, Beaker, of “The Muppet Show.”

Meep is actually in the dictionary which defines it as “whatever you want it to mean.” Murray, however, did not want it in his school and banned it — sending an automated call to parents warning that any student using “Meep!” could be suspended. His minions had uncovered a plot for students to do a “mass meep” in one part of the school.

That is when Michaels decided to nail her letter to the Internet door like a Meepish Martin Luther.

Here is the entire letter:

An open letter to Principal Murray of Danvers High School (MA):


Theodora Michaels

She says that the response was fast and furious: “Yesterday I received a reply email from Assistant Principal Mark Strout, which said (in full) “Your E-mail has been forwarded to the Danvers Police Department.”

I am pretty sure that Meep is not a form of hate speech, even under the Muppet criminal code. Methinks that Murray doth protest too much.

For her account of the controversy, click here.

For the original story, click here and here.

91 thoughts on “The Lawyers Who Say Meep! High School Calls Police After Attorney Says Meep to Principal”

  1. Elaine,

    Of course there are exceptions. My point was simply that people take Marching Band too seriously, often to the detriment of the real music part of band program. Honestly, the music is pretty secondary to the rest of the production of a marching band’s show.

    As an example, one of my former band teachers had spent years as the music teacher in a rural middle\high school, so our band would always show up early to watch the smaller schools perform at competitions. Every year when we’d get there, at least 2 of the three big name marching bands in the state would be there setting up their PROPS for the show. Notable props included: a mock pirate ship, a replica of the space station from Star Trek Deep Space Nine, Several HUGE canvases with painted African Savanna landscapes (which as a side note is a terrible idea for outdoor events in Colorado during the fall).

    When you factor in: the money they payed EVERY YEAR for new music, props, customized drills, truck rentals, hired gun coaches, etc. you’re talking well over the cost of hiring another teacher for that particular school. Now those were the extreme examples, but I know my highschool’s band was forced to spend a similar chunk of it’s budget (which is tiny) every year on marching band. We had money to buy a new show, but our director had to pay out of her own pocket for reeds for the woodwind players that couldn’t afford them.

    That’s what I mean by “the only people who taking marching band seriously are those who should really know better.” In my opinion band teacher’s should be fighting it tooth and nail. It forces them to spend half a year telling people where to stand, how to hold their horns, and “oh yeah, this part should be less loud.” If they want to make that deal with the devil, that’s their decision not mine, and I don’t envy them having to make it. From my perspective though, marching band does future musicians a great disservice. Of all the brass\woodwind\percussion majors I knew who were music majors in college, the ones that had the most problems were almost always from schools that emphasized the Marching Band.

  2. Gyges–

    One of my friends and former teaching colleagues served as a member of the Danvers School Committee years ago. Her children attended school in that town. Danvers has been extremely proud of its marching band for many years. I know that–at least in the past–there was a strong parent music support group in the community. The band is/was not just considered window dressing at football games.

    As a former educator, I believe it’s a good idea to encourage kids to get involved in activities outside of school hours–whether it be music, art, the school newspaper, science club, math club, sports, volunteer work, etc.

    I know the following may be a bit off topic, but I’ll bring it up anyway: Too often music, art, and library programs are the first things cut from school budgets as finances get tight. I think that’s a shame. Since I retired from my school library position in 2004, the elementary library program in the town where I taught has been decimated. It’s sad that in a country as rich as ours, we have plenty of money to fully fund two wars–but not enough for education and healthcare.

  3. How can a principal ban a word? This has to be one of the stupidest things I have ever heard. The man is a fool. So they stop saying meep and start saying beep or zlot or some other meaningless sound. Will he ban them all? Someone fire him and put someone in charge that has a clue.

  4. Simone Benedict:


    no you have it wrong, opinions are like a . . . holes.

    Facts are facts.

  5. CEJ,

    I was mainly joking around, but…

    Scholastic Marching bands exist for one reason: Football. They may pretend otherwise, but just ask most band teachers in a school with a marching band what their chances of getting funding are if they don’t do halftime shows. The same goes for Cheerleaders.

    If you want to get into “well it helps the music program,” we’ll have to disagree again. I don’t think that supporting Marching Bands is going to do any good in getting the school to support music. If anything it re-enforces the idea that the music program exists only by staying in the good graces of administration by kissing up to the athletic department.Then there’s the fact that most of the work that goes into marching band DOESN’T go into the music, it goes into learning the drill. The visual is always more important than the music. This is never going to change, thanks to the acoustics of performing in a football stadium. If you want to support live music, go to the concert\jazz band\orchestra\etc. concerts. Volunteer to help out with the bands. I’ve worked with several school jazz band programs on a volunteer basis. It’s incredibly rewarding.

    All that said, I loved marching band. It was a great way to meet chicks and get into football games for free. I just happen to think it should be recognized for what it is.

  6. Gyges,

    I posted before reading your post; and really it’s not that I take bands so seriously, and true I most likely don’t know any better, but so many students and schools don’t have the support needed to even have a music program let alone a band; I just felt it was a poor target and a low blow.
    We have an educational culture that gives music a low priority and presents such few opportunities for live music that I want to give them my support.

  7. School bands especially if they travel and compete, need a serious commitment in time, energy, talent, capital and hard work, on the part of students, teachers, parents and volunteers in the community to be successful. While fun for the most part, it is still a lot of work. I do feel high school music programs and bands don’t get enough deserving praise.
    So those who have made such a commitment to the Danver high school band should be proud they have been so accomplished.

  8. CEJ,

    As someone who’s marched in many parades and half time shows I’ve found that the only people who taking marching band seriously are those who should really know better.

  9. Mike S,

    I agree with almost everything you said (as usual); but Please, please don’t *Dis* the school’s marching band!
    If you wish to dis the parade feel free but please don’t dis the band!

  10. Paully,

    For some reason I find this statement more upsetting than anything else in the discussion. “It’s always easy to defend the rights of others when you don’t have to suffer the consequences of such freedom.”

    Care to guess why?


    Personally I agree, let’s get back to the Biblical model of parenting. I’ve got the stones and town elders if you’ve got the disrespectful child.

  11. “People find it so easy to be harsh in the anonymous realm of the Internet. This is a harsh crowd. I can only testify to the truth as it exists. Reasonable people–people I know and people I don’t know–with whom I’ve spoken since this whole thing blew up, understand that there is more to it than meets the eye.”

    You are anonymous and yet you spread what you deem to be “inside” information and then take umbrage that your anonymous information is not believed. My comments on this are to the facts that are known and public record. You may believe you have greater involvement and insight, but why should I take your word for it?

    “I’m sorry that you do not want to hear a rational explanation.”

    You did not provide a rational, or plausible explanation. You only attested to the Principal’s good will and assured us that this was a serious situation, without providing any evidence of same, other than your own anonymous opinion.

    “In the last five or six years, I’ve noticed a shift in the kids that I teach. So many of them are coming to us with no sense of propriety and no sense of duty to themselves and to their community.”

    As a teacher, if indeed you are, I would think you would have some knowledge of history. In that respect a common human perception as they age is that the “younger (newer?)generation lacks the values of past generations. There are quotes to this effect that date back 4,000 years, or more. Many today look back at the 1950’s for instance as a “golden era” of behavioral correctness, when the reverse is true. You are growing older Insider, roll with it and adjust your pre-judgments accordingly.

    “next time you are being mugged in broad daylight and nobody stops to help you, remember that as a society we reap what we sow.”

    With this we are beginning to come to the heart of your problem, which is you falsely remember a past time of greater civility. The fact is the crime rate has been dropping steadily for years, but your old fart impressions haven’t kept up with the changing times.

    “And the silent majority of the students in Danvers High are embarrassed and angry that the “meepers” are out of control and have brought negative attention to our school. Our band is INCREDIBLE. They are going to march in the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena for the THIRD time in a decade.”

    By “silent majority” you no doubt mean those kids that are considered “good” by the school’s teacher’s and administrators.
    These are the tractable ones, the ones who follow your orders.
    By viewing the situation like this you are able to “isolate” out of your thinking the “others,” the “different,” the “rebels” against your authority. The good kids support the band and the football team, the “bad” ones don’t.

    As for marching in the Rose Parade, that venerable institution, mostly racist through its’ history, that was dreamed up as an economic promotion for Pasadena, forgive me if I’m not impressed. Now if your school had a great debating team I might be, or if it rated well in one of the many science/logic competitions available to High Schoolers, that I would consider pertinent. A marching band is a silly waste of those student’s time, except to get them college scholarships, to schools that emphasize their football team over academics.
    Another sad and amoral waste of education dollars.

    “yeah. Our band is going to Pasadena to march in the Rose Bowl Parade for the third time and we are the only school in the state to do so ever.So why don’t you cover that instead?” And the bimbo laughed, turned her head and began fixing her make up for her “live shot.”

    The use of “bimbo” for a newswoman was uncalled for. How do you know what her moral standards are and who are you to judge them without evidence? As to the students reply, which you find precious, I find it vapid and certainly does not exhibit to me that the “silent majority” of students you speak of have much going on mentally.

    “It’s funny. I just opened my electronic Bible for my Bible reading of the day. It was from Proverbs 9.”

    “Perhaps I am the fool for I should neither rebuke a mocker nor correct the wicked. Those who are wise will understand.”

    With this you finally come out of the closet so to speak and in your own words show perhaps what this whole issue is really about. You inject biblical quotes into a discussion about school and into a discussion about an occurrence in school. Is it wrong for me to assume that you are a person of deeply held religious beliefs, who views the world and society in apocalyptic terms? I think not. Perhaps behind the “meep” issue lies a religious agenda? I think that could be a reasonable assumption. Since you are a teacher, or at least say you are, I would direct you to our Constitution and to its various interpretations regarding using the schools to promote religious viewpoints. By your response I think the inference that your personal viewpoints influence your judgment is justifiable. This would make you a rather prejudiced witness to the truth of the matter and render your testimony not worthy of belief.

  12. Thanks for reminding me.

    I understand that facts are merely opinions and as there are diversity of opinions I value all opinions because I value diversity therefore everyone is correct.

    Did my indoctrination work or should I be recycled for some retraining?

  13. Buddah, Mike.

    From what I remember of school, I can understand both your and Insiders points of view.

    Perhaps Insider could reference some drama about school that illustrates the same processes as occurred in the cases he has in mind but cannot mention even with names changed as the identities of those involved would be obvious to those associated with danvers school.

  14. Perhaps it is time to introduce capital punishment in schools or to introduce a system that allows students to vote th execute other students that they do not like.

  15. It is normal for the governance structures of schools to resemble fascism or the rules governing a prison to some greater or lesser extent. This has always been the case.

    At the top are the teachers. A state of permanent war exists between the students and the teachers just as permanent war exists between prisoners and guards. A student who cooperates with the teachers is a despised in any school as is the snitch in the prison system. There is one exception, in the school the bullies are part of the power structure and to a certain extent teachers rely on them to intimidate the majority into conformity just as prison officers rely on a certain number of thugs to keep other inmates from complaining in public. This is why schools never succeed in tackling the problem of bullying.

    In a community where civility is the norm it is possible for schools to relax the fascism a bit, but when the school is in a law and order war zone as are many public schools in the USA as also in Australia, the proportion of students who enter the system seriously alienated from main stream society makes any attempt to treat students as if they are entitled to respect from the teachers impossible. Alienated students see no relevance for school, they lack necessary prerequisite knowledge to understand lessons, the become bored and tune out then of course they fall behind. The only thing that gives them any satisfaction is mocking the school, their teachers and everything else. Punishment does not work on them because it acts as reinforcement, if they are punished it shows that they have succeeded in pissing the authorities off, it has more effect reinforcing bad behaviour than discouraging it.

    In the USA and in Australia conservative politicians have been following an agenda of destroying public education. They want public schools to be failing schools for those whom are surplus to the requirements of the economy, who only need preparation for prison or minimum wage jobs. Their main concern with education is to prevent quality free public education from allowing upward social mobility among those at the bottom of society, especially blacks. One consequence of upward social mobility is relative downward social mobility for those who have achieved a comfortable position and do not want to scrabble and fight to hold their positions.

    The trouble is that the damage alienated students do to the smooth running of the school is such that it destroys the chances of those capable of gaining from their education were this disruption not present. Perhaps when schools exist in war zones the only remedy is zero tolerance for disruption. Expel troublesome students quickly or get them into prison. Of course this will have disproportionate effects on blacks, both because alienation among the black underclass is higher than it is among whites of any class and because racism will ensure that teachers always see behaviour of a black student as worse than equivalent behaviour of a white. We have to acknowledge that prohibition of spending money on the undeserving in any way that benefits them makes any adding process to the school system to target the alienation of some students and remedy the prerequisite knowledge gaps is never going to be tolerated. Some episodes of the HBO series “The Wire” I do not know which season included an example of such an attempt, to provide special classes for ghetto students who could see no relevance in the normal syllabus. In the story line such a system was introduced shown to work and then abandoned.

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