Wednesday, January 10, 2007

You're Fired!... we don't like thinkers around these parts...

RICHMOND, Va. — A high school art teacher who sparked controversy when his off-hours work as a so-called "butt-printing artist" became known has been fired.

The Chesterfield County School Board, in a unanimous voice vote, decided to terminate Stephen Murmer at a meeting Tuesday night, spokeswoman Debra Marlow said.

The vote came during a nearly three-hour meeting during which the board heard Chesterfield superintendent Marcus J. Newsome's recommendation that Murmer be fired during a portion of the meeting closed to the public. Murmer and his lawyer, Jason Anthony, also had an opportunity to present their case in closed session, she said.

The voice vote came after the meeting was opened to the public.

In its decision, the board reasoned that students have a right to receive their education in a positive learning environment free from distractions and disruptions, Marlow said. The decision also is in keeping with court rulings that hold that teachers are expected to lead by example, be role models and honor core values, she said.

The school system operates under an ideal that holds respect, responsibility, honesty and accountability as core values for all students and employees to abide, and the board clearly felt that Murmer had gone outside those parameters with his art.

Afterward, Anthony called the vote "a bad day for the First Amendment."

"Chesterfield lost a tremendous asset today," he said.

Murmer, a teacher at Monacan High School, was suspended in December after objections were raised about his private abstract artwork, much of which includes smearing his posterior and genitals with paint and pressing them against canvas.

His paintings sell for as much as $900 each on his Web site.

The unique approach to art became a topic when a clip showing Murmer, wearing a fake nose and glasses, a towel on his head and black thong, turned up on YouTube.com.

That video inevitably made its way to the high school.

Murmer contacted the American Civil Liberties Union after he was suspended, and ACLU executive director Kent Willis said Tuesday night the case is far from simple.

"A public employee such as a school teacher has a right to free expression outside the work place so long as that free expression doesn't go beyond his ability to do his job," Willis said after learning of the board's vote to dismiss Murmer.

"The question is, 'Does his art interfere with his ability to teach?"'

Willis noted that it wasn't until the county decided to suspend Murmer a month ago that the video illustrating his unusual approach to art became a topic of discussion.

He said the county has overreacted with its decision to fire Murmer.

FOXNEWS (yeah, it really hurt me to have to quote these fools).

Looks like they fired his ass... sorry I couldn't resist. Sad day in deed for art and the freedom of speech. This was the quote that really made the hair on my neck stand-up:

The school system operates under an ideal that holds respect, responsibility, honesty and accountability as core values for all students and employees to abide, and the board clearly felt that Murmer had gone outside those parameters with his art.

I may not like the guy's work, but it is his right to do whatever he wants when not at a contracted job. - DN

3 comments:

Leslie Pearson said...

My favorite quote:
"Chesterfield lost a tremendous ASSet today," he said.
Ha ha. I hope at least this guy gets so much attention that his work starts to sell for a million butts..I mean bucks. (that's right...I'll be here all night folks!)

The Forum God said...

Yes, I too, am surprised you quoted Fox News (I have grown tired of listening to them, although they do provide more entertainment than most other news stations) butt yes, he should have all rights to paint as he pleases, since it has no effect on the students, no ifs ands or butts about it. The whole thing is just ASSinine.

Nick

Benjamin said...

Does a moral or ethic retain its impact or authenticity when it it imposed so mechanicly as termed as "terminated?"

I belive Nietchze wrote a bit about something simliar. On how the 'herd' had succumbed to morality only becuase it was the beahvior expected of them from the rest of society and Christianity. And that these subjective and intangible things could have less meaning when they are not derived of heart.

And if Nitchze didn't say that, well then I thought it.

As for a man painting with his ass... If he wasn't doing at school, I really do not see if that is any buisness of anyone else. I would hate to think that my boss would fire my ass becuase I painted with my junk... Only because the image of the organition is far more important then the self expression of the indvidual.

I agree that there are adult sitautions that shouldn't be involved with children. That is why there is private life and professional life. There should never be a mix of the two.