A high school production of Tim Robbins' play, based on his 1995 movie, Dead Man Walking, has earned the Utah Eagle Forum-supported wrath of some Bingham High School students' parents.
The Eagle Forum sent out a press release Thursday noting that the parents who were criticizing the death-penalty-themed production "wish to remain anonymous for fear of retribution."
In their letter, which you can read here, the parents, calling themselves "concerned members and parents of the community," objected to the choice of the play, which they argued was part of a national anti-death-penalty campaign, its portrayal of the arguments surrounding executions and "offensive" content.
In the theater-director's notes, she talked about how she had engaged in extensive soul-searching regarding a national project that was seeking a school in Utah to put on the anti-capital-punishment play before deciding to pursue the production.
"We were shocked and surprised at the graphic and biased content of this play," the parents wrote. They expressed concern that the play portrayed supporters of capital punishment as Old Testament "bigots" while critics were shown as "followers of Christ's teachings."
They accused the play, based on Sister Helen Prejean's book about her relationship with an executed Louisiana inmate, as being dishonest—for example, not portraying arguments "supporting the death penalty, such as the fact that capital punishment represents a legitimate deterrent to murder, among other things."
The authors argued that "young, impressionable minds" would be influenced by the play's emotional treatment of a convicted-murderer's execution, while also finding fault with the play featuring students pretending to smoke on stage, using profanity and referring to disturbing acts of violence.
The parents want Jordan School District to reveal what, if anything, they have done to "address this issue." They claimed in their letter that the school had violated school-district policy in the selection and presentation of the play. The parents concluded by noting they would not rest until they achieved "proper remedial action [...] to repair the damage that has been done."