Sunday, May 13, 2012

Week Two Extra Post: A Fall From Grace

Week Two Extra Post:  A Fall From Grace

As I said before, the Ted video had my hooked on Benjamin Zander.  I wanted to learn more and see what other videos he may have out in internet-land.  So I googled his name.  Sadly, I found he has recently had a “fall from grace” (as many sites have been quoted as saying)

Here is Zander’s own website statement:On January 11 (2012), just over one week ago, I was told I had been dismissed from my position at the New England Conservatory (NEC) where I have worked happily for the past 45 years.The reason was that I had over many years retained the videographer Peter Benjamin to film classes and concerts, knowing that he was a convicted sex offender who had served a term of imprisonment. I supported him in the sentencing stage of his trial and after his release on the basis of what I saw as his earnest determination to turn his life around, but I did so without inquiring into the exact nature of the charges. This was a grave oversight.Further, I did not seek the permission of the NEC, based on disclosure of his conviction and imprisonment, to use him as a videographer in the College and the Prep school. I accept that it was not for me to make the decision that it was safe to do so.For all the upset and anguish my actions have thereby caused in the NEC community and beyond, I profoundly apologize

I am dismayed to know that this man who has inspired so many children and adults to become the best musician possible could have had such a huge lapse of judgment.  Obviously as a mother of 3 young boys, I am disgusted.  However, I may not have had such a profound disgust prior to my course in Filmmaking Principles in Education.  I have since learned the power a videographer has behind a camera.  They must show a bond of trust to their subjects.  If trust is not there, it becomes voyeuristic and uncomfortable. 

Peter Benjamin was hired to film children at the NEC 20 years ago by Zander.  Apparently, Zander even wrote letters to the judge in Peter’s case to influence a lesser sentence.  After Peter (whose victims were children) served his sentence, Zander hired him to film children!  While most of the media I am finding online seems to show that the majority of people who have spoke about this issue seem to think that NEC overreacted by firing Zander, I believe this was an appropriate course of action, giving the information I have read.  I question his judgment to hire a sex offender to film a youth orchestra, and while Zander has published an apology on his official website, that took him several weeks.  His first reaction was that of “I did nothing wrong.”  Is his apology genuine now?  Quite possibly.  Zander could have supported Peter Benjamin in helping him find work after serving his time, but absolutely not by working with a camera and young children, the exact environment where he committed a heinous crime.  This was a huge lack of judgment, and I hope and pray that no children were violated in the 20 years Peter was employed by Zander. 

1 comment:

  1. Wow... this is really sad. Clearly Zander made a huge mistake and erred on the side of trusting someone who still needed help. It's outside of the realm of this discussion, but here seems to be an example where Zander mistakenly equated a man serving his sentence with him having worked through his illness and instead of punishment these folks need healing and treatment. So sad.