A Texas high school marching band is facing criticism for a halftime performance that featured someone dressed like Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney getting assaulted.
The incident occurred Saturday at a football game in Beaumont, Tex. and involved the Central Medical Magnet High School’s marching band.
The halftime show featured a dance-off between someone dressed like Romney and someone dressed like President Obama. At some point, the public address announcer begins narrating a skit.
“I got somebody for you, Mr. Romney,” the announcer said. “Mr. Big Bird is in the house.”
The bird character begins dancing as the Romney character watches.
“You not going to get rid of Sesame Street, Mr. Romney,” the announcer declared.
At that point, the bird punches out Romney – and the character falls to the ground as the crowd cheers.
Several school board members said the performance crossed the line.
“You don’t want to be polarizing,” board member Gwen Ambres told television station KIII. “This is an entertainment type high school event and I don’t think that the partisan part of politics should be a part of it.”
School district spokesman Ron Reynolds called the performance “political satire” and said they regret that some people might be offended. He said the band has been instructed to remove the skit from future performances.
“District administrators met with campus leaders and the band directors to discuss the performance,” he said. “They instructed the leaders to thoroughly examine how students plan to express their creativity as it relates to political rhetoric.”
Reynolds said the district wants to remain neutral as it relates to politics.
“The district believes political rhetoric that appears to endorse one candidate over another should not be something that is displayed in a halftime performance,” he said.
And while the district has a zero-tolerance policy for violence, he said the halftime exhibition did not violte the policy.
“It’s not like the Romney character or the person who was playing Romney was assaulted or injured,” Reynolds said. “It was part of the performance.”
The performance has generated a firestorm of outrage across Texas – and many residents sounded off on social networking sites – like radio host Joe Pagliarulo’s Facebook page.
“It makes me sick that this happened in Texas,” one reader wrote. “We are not all this ignorant. I can’t believe school officials authorized this. Had it been reversed, a lawsuit or riot would be in progress.”
“The band director needs to be teaching them to play those instruments instead of trying to influence voters,” wrote another reader. “I found no humor in this performance.
Most seemed concerned about not only the double standard – but also the inclusion of politics in a high school football game.
“Put your political feelings aside, politics do not belong at a high school football game, nor does promoting violence,” a reader wrote. “This is wrong on so many levels.”