When are the Hippies going to give it up?
I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when I saw the news reports last night on Peter Yarrow's program with kids in a Green Bay elementary school. The former member of Peter, Paul and Mary brought his "anti-bullying campaign" to the kids--teaching them to stand up to teasing and peer pressure by singing folk songs like "Blowin' In the Wind" and "Puff the Magic Dragon".
You could see the look on the kids' faces as this old man was trying to teach them these songs with his acoustic guitar--they were like "Dude, seriously?" As I watched the on-stage presentation with these kids looking less-than-enthused to be singing along, I thought: "Wow, are those kids going to be teased endlessly about this." And of course, Yarrow has that condescending "I'm going to talk to you like you are a three-year old child" way of addressing people that was portrayed so perfectly by Christopher Guest as another washed up folkie in the mock-umentary movie A Mighty Wind.
Bringing in Yarrow and his Hippiefest wasn't actually the idea of the school itself. A "concerned parent" is the one who put together the show. In her interview she said (in the same condescending "you are all children to me" voice) that kids need to learn the "power of music to change the world around them". I wonder what would have happened if a parent had suggested the school host a special program with Mixed Martian Arts legend Chuck Liddell to teach the kids how to stand up for themselves by beating the crap out anyone who gives them a hard time?
There are two things that lead me to wonder why the school agreed to host Yarrow at all. First, we hear all the time about how "different kids are today" and that "the old way of teaching just doesn't work anymore". So why then do you bring in a guy who sings 50-year old folk songs that have no relevance to today's eight year olds? Second, Peter Yarrow is a convicted child molester. In 1970 he was found guilty of statutory rape for having sex with a 14-year old girl who came to a Peter, Paul and Mary concert. I'm guessing that was not promoted on the fliers and posters for his show in Green Bay. I'm also guessing that Yarrow doesn't promote that as part of his "expertise" in boosting kids' self-esteem. His usual answer to questions about that incident and working with children now: "Unfortunately, it was a far too common thing back then."
Peace and love, man. Peace and love.