Don't do it, Jordan Board of Education. Don't cave to the Eagle Forum and "shocked" parents who, months after the fact, complained piteously about Bingham High School's production of the play "Dead Man Walking."
Spurred by suspicious allegations made by the Utah Eagle Forum and those in its thrall, the board talked it over in a study session Tuesday. (The Eagle Forum earlier claimed to have heard from five parents, but never produced them or their names.)
In reality, the play is about a Catholic nun who ministers to a racist killer on death row despite his horrific crimes. It's about compassion for someone facing execution. Ultimately, after the killer acknowledges his crimes, it offers the faint prospect of redemption.
The upshot? Some members of the school board are considering apologizing not only to parents and students but to the South Jordan City Council because the high school failed to get the proper approvals. Others are wary of that option.
At that meeting, the elected board members talked about all kinds of complaints: Parents didn't know what the play was about, that it frightened younger attendees, that future performers could be running around half-naked and taking the Lord's name in vain.
Even more frightening: Was the district trying to send a message about, heaven help us, the death penalty? No, the district neither supports nor opposes it.
Earlier, a district spokeswoman said there had been just one complaint before the Eagle Forum jumped in, and that more than 700 parents and patrons overwhelmingly supported the production and 100 of them called with compliments on the quality of the production.
The actor who portrayed the killer made a point to talk to African-Americans about the play. He let them know that he used the N-word to stick with the script, not to be offensive, said district spokesman Steve Dunham.
Here's another thing: For years, the play has been produced in scores of high schools, colleges and universities, many of them Catholic. It was written by the actor and playwright Tim Robbins, who'd written, directed and produced the film version.
He also required the schools to involve at least two other academic departments, which might be law, sociology or criminal justice, to design courses related to the death penalty and "Dead Man Walking."
The Catholic Church opposes execution except in very rare cases. We live in a world in which crime and violence exists everywhere, recorded by books, plays, news coverage, films, music and more. Those, and personal experience, are the ways children learn.
Those of high school age are scarcely ignorant of the facts, and it would be unwise for parents not to prepare them for the reality that they might be affected, too.
As for the future of high school theater in the Jordan District, how many "Mary Poppins" can anyone endure?
Peg McEntee is a news columnist. Reach her at email@example.com, facebook.com/pegmcentee and Twitter, @pegmcentee.