What the heck is going on in Connecticut? It was bad enough when teacher Nate Fisher was fired over a mistake that should have drawn merely a suspension. Now a New Haven teacher has been fired for showing THE SIMPSONS MOVIE to some children:

New Haven school officials have fired a substitute teacher for showing an alleged bootleg copy of “The Simpsons Movie” to third-, fourth- and fifth-graders.

School officials said they had warned 30-year-old Aquil Abdul-Salaam that the PG-13 rated film isn’t appropriate for children.

According to the story, inappropriate elements in the film are that “two male police officers share a kiss and the Bart character skateboards naked.”

It’s about time this kind of thing was stopped! When The Beat was a third-grader she was left alone to watched — UNSUPERVISED! — various Looney Tunes in which a male cartoon rabbit repeatedly kissed a human male on the LIPS, sometimes while dressed as a human woman. This filth aired during afterschool hours. If you can believe it.

Seriously now, we can see giving the guy a rap for showing an ILLEGAL BOOTLEG of a film. That sort of pirate shit is bad for America. But the Simpsons? The rule should be, if the kid is big enough to wear pajamas with the character on it, they are old enough to view the character.

[Thanks to E Fitz Smith for the link.]


  1. Every elementary school I’ve ever been involved with, as a student or otherwise, had a very strict policy of showing no film with a higher than ‘PG’ rating without signed permission slips. This usually extends through part of middle school, since most kids don’t turn 13 until around 8th grade. In High School I had substitute teachers who would show us ‘R’-rated movies, but always on the understanding that if we breathed a word about it the teacher would be fired on the spot.

    I’m not saying I agree with the policy, but there’s a reason the creators got to show Bart’s penis in the movie and not on the television show – and any teacher showing movies to a class of 8, 9 and 10 year-olds really ought to be aware of the waters into which he or she is wading.

  2. What the writer of this article fails to understand is that teachers do not have academic freedom in America’s public schools. They may be unionized (substitutes are not), but they are also employed at the will of the corporation. No matter the amount of tenure or legal protection from the local association representing them, if the corporation and school board says “NO”, then they better adhere to that mandate or else face serious disciplinary action and/or termination. This was appropriate action in my opinion. The Simpsons television show, or movie for that matter, should not be in the classroom.

  3. Oh, and comparing public school policies with the Taliban is MORE than offensive.

    Also, schools may be sued for copyright violation if a teacher shows a film that is not on an approved list, owned by the corporation. A bootleg copy makes matters so much worse. It is an ILLEGAL copy. The fact that anyone is defending this substitute’s decision is ridiculous.

  4. When I was in grade school (K-6) we saw ONE commercial movie a year, the day before Winter Break. It was something PG, like Born Free, or Toby Tyler.
    Sometimes, the teacher would roll in a huge projector unit (before VCRs) and show something from the Omaha Public Schools library. One such treat was Free To Be…You and Me.
    The movie was bootleg, it was not suitable for the audience, it was a public screening, and it does not support the curriculum. Geez… I hate censorship, but I hate stupidity even more. All this does is allow censors to probe into the school and try to find more examples to toss on the bonfire.
    “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” -Walt Kelly.

  5. The Beat is correct to point out the fact that the bootlegging is probably a more onerous and harmful offense than the actual showing of the film. The offense is also one that could potentially get the school in some legal trouble.

    There are many of us in education who are strong advocates for using film in the classroom, but we want it done in a constructive manner that gets kids questioning and thinking. Using film properly can be a very effective way to build students’ various literacy skills.

    It sounds like this substitute just put in the film for the sake of putting in the film, though, which is just lazy teaching.

    And I didn’t read The Beat as supporting the teacher’s actions, just simply discussing them and the serendipity of them happening in the same state as the Nate Fisher case.

    Regardless, in this case involving the bootleg, the district acted appropriately. My guess it was more to distance themselves from legal action than from angry parents, though.

  6. For crying out LOUD!
    This is THIRD GRADE (7 & 8 year olds) we’re talking about.
    It’s a PG-13 (THIRTEEN- Got that part?) has numerous expletives including of course “Throw the GODDAMNED bomb!” – plus mature situations, such as Marge & Homer’s Disney-character assisted pre-intercourse ritual.
    And YES, it’s got a little boy’s PENIS CLEARLY DEPICTED.
    AND the teacher was warned against showing it.
    Jesus Christ, you bet your ass she was fired, and rightly so.

    Listen, I took my own 6-year old son to see the movie, to no substantial regret, but that was MY DECISION as a parent and MY child.
    THE SIMPSONS MOVIE is not a film any grade school should be showing to thirds graders, under ANY circumstances.

    Unlike the Nate Fisher/Dan Clowes case, this is CLEAR CUT.

  7. What was the purpose of showing the film in the first place? Are third graders attending school to be entertained? Did it in any way tie in to their studies?
    Seems there would be hundreds of better choices of film for a third grade class, and something legally released might have been a sound idea.
    The movie does have mature themes, and it is a pirated copy. If parents wish to allow their kids to see it, and are prepared to discuss anything the kids might not understand, that is their choice. The school’s reaction is hardly comparable to the taliban; especially if they had already said no.
    The freedom our country fought for is not license to be irresponsible. Discretion is not censorship.

  8. I understand you used the phrase “Taliban” sarcastically and didn’t really mean to
    minimize the horrible things for which that group is allegedly responsible. I guess I’m not surprised to see people get a little twitchy about it. Maybe you should have used the phrase “Office Of The Attorney General,” or something. The rhythm’s not as funny,…but,….

  9. Seems to me he’s getting fired more for not following orders- orders that are there to save the school district from being sued by parents and copyright owner – than because he chose to show the movie per say. And, as a sub, he’s probably not part of the union.

    Dumb, dumb decision on his part.

    If I was a parent, I’d be pretty pissed. Especially if he wasn’t disciplined in some way. Not because I’d think my child was damaged beyond, but because the school district would have in effect lied to me about what would happen at school.

    And just because they make kid’s pj’s doesn’t mean it’s ok for kids. Nudity or not, the Simpsons isn’t really meant for little kids. Third graders especially are still a little shaky on the whole sarcasm thing. They get it, but they are by no means experts. And even fifth graders often need metaphors pointed out to them. Fully understanding the Simpsons requires proficiency in sarcasm and metaphor.

    If nothing else, I question the sub’s understanding of child development.

  10. Does the beat have an ideal what PG-13 means? Since you compared public school policies with the Taliban I would think you have no ideal at all.
    What’s sad here is not that some sub got fired, it’s that you think we live in a Taliban type state.

  11. Oh yeah, another note;

    Taliban comparison = Hitler comparison.

    The next time someone says; “Wow, they’re strict! They’re just like the Taliban!”, tell them they pulled the Taliban Card and that they just damaged their agrgument by making such a ridiculous comparison. This used to be called the Hitler Card, but Hitler’s sooooo 20th Century.

  12. I think some people are missing the ironic tone The Beat was using. The Beat uses irony a lot. Please readjust your scanners accordingly.


    * That is not spelled right.

    ** Yes, I know Saddam is dead. But his ghost lives on haunting the PW offices, working a spectral computer tech guy. For those of you in the South, we call this a “haint”.

  14. “I think some people are missing the ironic tone The Beat was using. The Beat uses irony a lot. Please readjust your scanners accordingly.”

    Imperceivable irony…works every time. ;)

  15. Yeah, I’m with you. I can see going batty over the bootleg aspect way more than the content of the movie. That could potentially get the school in trouble, right? I mean, it is a “public showing” on some level.

  16. Clearly the substitute teacher disregarded direct instructions from the administration and showed this film. As a public school teacher myself, I am very sensitive to need to respect the ratings on films (even if they are generally more relaxed here in Canada). This, even if we all know that most of these kids will be renting the dvd when it appears on the shelves. I had many, many elementary school students who had seen films like “Saw” and “The Ring”, but that the prerogative of parents to allow their children to watch those films. As teachers, we don’t have that power, even if we are working “in loco parentis”. It just makes sense to not put yourself in a compromising position, as a professional.

    So disciplinary action was clearly in order. But should the teacher have been fired? Seems very extreme to me. And which part of the equation was considered worse: a bootleg film or an inappropriate film?

    Back in 1991 when I was doing my teaching degree we once had a guest presenter in class, a woman who worked for the National Film Board of Canada. She was there to show us the benefits of using video material in a pedagogical setting. During a discussion she specifically mentioned “The Simpsons” as a television show that she would never show to a class (nor would she allow her own children to watch this show), and I got into an argument with her on this. At that time tv shows were not rated (at least not here in Canada) and my position was that it’s played on public television during prime time without restrictions so it seems fair use for even an upper elementary class. We could not come to a consensus on this. I have played episodes of “The Simpsons” for elementary and high school students, and probably will do so again in the future.

    Sorry, just wanted to include that personal anecdote!

  17. OMG! A non-erect cartoon penis was shown for one second!!
    God help the children!!!!

    gimme a break!

    All Belgian children are doomed for life since one of our national symbols is a peeing naked boy!