The Playgoer: School & Daisey Respond to Each Other

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

School & Daisey Respond to Each Other

Two updates:

1) Some real-life journalism(!) about the Mike Daisey incident. Boston Globe's Geoff Edgers blogs his reportage tracking down the principal of Norco High School itself.

Breaking news on the whole "are they Christians" front, says Edgers: "The school group has no religious affiliation."

They also renounce the water torture:

As for the chaperone who poured water on Daisey’s notes… [Principal] Johnson flat out apologizes.
"I agree with Mike Daisey," says Johnson. "With everything that's going on in the world today, to have somebody come up on stage and take the water and pour it on his script was very inappropriate. I want to make this very clear, I apologize for that happening."
The principal confirms that the offender was an adult chaperone.
Interesting that the school now disputes ART's claim that they were warned by Group Sales about the content. The principal stands by his chaperones' claim that they were told yes, it's fine for 15-17 year olds and that the presence of another HS group that night (true) was cited as support. So is this CYA on the school's part? Or will ART have another response?

Also interesting is that, as I expected, the walkout was not triggered by the "fucking Paris Hilton" bit alone. Apparently Daisey's own pre-show "turn off your phones" announcement let them know from the get-go what they were in for.

They were sitting there, there was an announcement made. Something like this. 'Turn your [f-ing] cell phones off or we're going to shove it up your [expletive]. At that point, our teacher got real nervous that this may not be the place for our kids. He approached the house manager and said, something to the effect, 'this may not be the place for us. Can you hold off with the monologue so we could leave?'
The school people claim ART wouldn't delay the show to let the group leave. Sounds like not a smart move on ART's part, if true. But maybe again, it's CYA.

hat tip: Jason

2) Daisey's blog.

Daisey himself recounts his efforts to seek closure and/or apologies from said school and relates a different story...
I did speak with an administrator from the school, and with the individual who ruined my work. I think it's important to note that *I* found and called *them*--it is clear to me that I never would have heard from any of them again had I not hunted them down. In fact, they were surprised to hear from me, which I think speaks to the lack of understanding and civility on their part. My work had been assaulted, and I had a clear vision of this man standing above me, destroying my work, with hatred in his eyes. I refused to be a victim twice--first by being assaulted, and second by committing the sin of silence. So I knew I had to find them, and speak with the man who did this.

The first person I managed to reach was an administrator with the group, a woman who started the conversation repeating the same statement time and again, which undercut her apology: she insisted it was a "safety issue", and that "we had to get our students out of there." There was no discussion of language or appropriateness--it had become a safety issue, as though the students were in danger of being physically assaulted.
I see now why the principal had to step in and give a more adult statement to the Globe. "Security"? Pretty pathetic.

(Daisey's calls seem to have been made the very next day. I assume the Globe story is more recent.)

Point taken, by the way, on Daisey having to call them for an apology. Seems like they would not have made a statement--either publicly or privately--without prompting.

Daisey actually disputes two central defenses by the school in the Globe statement. First, while they may be officially a public school, he claims they at least presented themselves as denominational:
The group responsible for the incident is from a public high school, though they identified themselves to me as a Christian group as they fled the theater--it's barely audible on the YouTube clip, as an adult tells me they are a Christian group, then flees for the door, refusing to engage with me. Then in the lobby of the theater and on the phone to the box office they identified themselves again and again as a Christian group--I don't know what that says about the division of church and state in Norco, California. As a group, the people in charge freely identified themselves as a Christian group, until reporters call and they remember they are from a public high school.
Second, as to the advance warning about naughty content, he claims, "There are multiple corroborating witnesses to this phone conversation" between the school and the Group Sales rep, and that he's satisfied ART said all the right things.

And then there's his marathon phone session with the water-thrower, which I must say is a fascinating read. I won't quote excerpts just because it's all of a piece and well told. So just read it. In brief, the guy comes off as...well, not a nice guy (anger management issues, racism, religious bigotry, and worse, dislike of "liberals"!). And if I read it right, Daisey "forgives" "David." Even though David never really apologizes, apparently.

I'm impressed by Daisey's persistence and follow-through in making these personal connections. I feel I understand--and, yes, sympathize with his side of the story much better now. I still cringe when I watch the video, and am a little turned off by how easily during the phone call (in his description, at least) he slips into therapist model, treating "David" as his patient. But maybe my aversion to some of his responses has been more a personal thing. Clearly I'm in the minority.

And, as I've said, a lot of my response was in reaction to what I perceived as an overwrought campaign of his initially. If Daisey's satisfied he has closure on this now, then so am I. So I'll lay it to rest, barring any other reported developments in the blogs or MSM.

PS--note the remark in the Globe story about the YouTube video getting over 70,000 views. True! More spectators than your average theatre piece, that's for sure...


Mike Daisey said...

Two clarifications:

1) Yes, David apologized--that is clear in the writing, I believe, and let me just say it again. He said he could never ask for my forgiveness, and then I gave it to him.

2) I am not a therapist, and I would never engage in therapy with this person--that is repulsive to me. I spoke with him, I listened to him, and I responded. I did my job as a human being--it is not rocket science.

Anonymous said...


All the verbiage being thrown around.

Calling a glass of water poured on a show outline "assault" insults anyone who has genuinely been assaulted.

I mean, I sympathize with Daisey to a certain point and was, unlike you, Garret, pretty impressed by his composure.

On the other hand, if you're going to walk the "badass walk" ("Turn off your f---ing cellphones...) then grow a thicker skin.

Anonymous said...

Referring to verbiage being "thrown around" is an insult to anyone who has genuinely been thrown around.

Anonymous said...

I hear that the teacher who wanted to pull the students from the play did so because he feared that if he did not he would be fired from his job.

Anonymous said...

I heard that the teacher who poured the water over Daisey's script was hoping that the cellphone rule might apply to his water bottle, butt he was too shy to ask.

yesyoucan said...

My son was there
One thing most people are missing. It seems to me, Mr Mike Daisey, knew before he posted on youtube, who this group were and came from. In the info area of the clip It states 87 members of a Christian group. why?
I talk to him about this in messages ,he said he had posted before he knew who they were. It does not look that way to me . The one that puts the clips on youtube, are able to pull their clips, and repost, They can remove comments and block viewers from making a comment. Which he did to me.
Day of walk out 4-19-07
Talked with Cindy L. from the school and the man the poured water David 4-20-07 acording to news papers and his site.
Youtube shows posted 4-21-07.
Why? After reading much about Mr. Daisey and hid followers. I think I have the answer.
Seems as he forgave 1 and punished 86 others lets not count the other 11 adults just the 75 kids that were 14-17 years of age.
He heard there cries with their comments .
They were high school kids from s. California .there for choral competition.
To date 5-4-02 more info are shows Christian ,still. He said 4-21-07 is a repost .but he did not amend info
I just hope the school and all the churches in town stay safe .after all the crap that goes on in school in last 10 years .to mislead why ?