Satanic panic 2021: Ontario director with a passion for heavy metals can stay despite her parents’ requests for dismissal



Concerned parents complained that the rocker’s Instagram posts “blatantly show satanic symbols and allegiance to satanic practices”

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While schools like to stand out and small towns like international attention, it isn’t always appreciated when it does. Take, for example, the strange storm over an Ontario high school principal whose enthusiasm for a heavy metal rock band angered parents of “impressionable children.”


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A public campaign to oust the principal of Eden High School in St. Catharines after Instagram photos revealed his penchant for dark images of Iron Maiden – followed by a wave of support – has turned into a worldwide phenomenon this week, rekindling the satanic panic of the 1980s.

“I’m surprised it blew up that way,” said Karrie Porter, St. Catharines city councilor. “It’s funny, silly and frustrating at the same time.”

It didn’t take long for the dispute to travel from the Niagara region across social media, talk radio, newspapers and beyond, from New York to Kuala Lumpur, and shared by politicians and groups of rock.

Sharon Burns at Eden High School.
Sharon Burns at Eden High School. Photo by Instagram / Lycée Eden

It all started, like today, with social networks.

Sharon Burns, director of Eden, posted two photos on her Instagram account showing her fandom for the legendary British heavy metal band who are almost as famous for their images as they are for their music.


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One photo shows her with the Iron Maiden badges and a personalized license plate reading “IRNMADEN”, ​​enthusiastically waving the metal fans hand.

Another shows a doll of Eddie, the group’s skeletal mascot, with a hand-drawn heart sign around “666,” a number biblically associated with the devil that is used by the group in its marketing.

This was too much for some who wanted Burns kicked out of Eden.

“Regarding the parents of impressionable children at Eden High School,” an online petition for his ouster launched, “we are deeply disturbed that the principal assigned to the school has openly displayed symbols. Satanics and his allegiance to Satanic practices on his public social media platforms where all students can see them.


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She made Eden a safe space for so many people. She only spreads love and kindness

counter petition

A counter-petition – titled We Need Mrs. Burns – was quickly released in response.

“It is ridiculous that a parent couple would judge their role as principal only on the basis of an instagram post,” the reply said. “She made Eden a safe space for so many people. She only spreads love and kindness.

Public support has quashed the call to oust Burns.

The petition against her has gathered 553 supporters while the petition in support has surpassed 20,000 after broad appeals from students and fans of music and free speech.

Apparently feeling the heat of the backlash, the creator of the original petition added a defense before removing it altogether.

“Sharon knows full well that what she did was just plain inappropriate, unnecessary and unprofessional, but she has yet to publicly admit it and is ready to let people believe in a completely different story, which makes that the very real concerns seem insignificant, ”he said.


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Burns declined an interview, forwarding a request from the National Post to the school board spokesperson, who called the international attention a “unique experience.”

“As you can imagine, Director Burns, like all of us, is quite surprised at how her post on Instagram has led to two petitions and has become a topic of interest around the world,” said Kim Sweeney. , district school communications director. Niagara Council.

“We know Ms. Burns as a passionate and dedicated educator who is happiest when she can focus on and connect with her students. “

The taste for music is subjective and we contend that students and staff appreciate a wide variety of genres.

Niagara District School Board

After the complaints aired, the board spoke to Burns and the parents who posted them, and the issue is closed as far as the board is concerned, Sweeney said. No disciplinary action or policy change was necessary.


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“Our belief is that taste in music is subjective and we support that students and staff appreciate a wide variety of genres,” said Sweeney.

Despite this, both messages were deleted.

Porter, the city councilor, said the dispute in Eden could be more than Iron Maiden imagery.

Burns is not like all principals. Some photos show her with purple hair, puffed up in a fauxhawk style. And Eden does not have the same history as all the schools.

As the name suggests, Eden’s roots are in the Christian movement. Started as a Bible school by the Mennonite brethren in the 1930s, it later became a private Christian school.

Eden High School in St. Catharines
Eden High School in St. Catharines Photo from Google Street View

In 1988, it became a public school but kept the wearing of the school uniform. It still hosts Christian extracurricular activities financed by private funds.


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“I think that’s why it happened at this particular school,” Porter said.

“It’s now publicly funded and there are probably still lingering tensions around the community changing and the school changing. This is probably fueling this problem. “

Popular music has long been a concern for some parents.

There is a long history of satanic panic about emerging music, returning to blues, jazz and rock’n’roll, each decried as “the devil’s music”. Heavy metal bands, producing hard rock and heavy guitar, embraced this reputation in the 1980s.

They wore it on their sleeves – record covers, in this case – with gruesome images of reanimated corpses, fiery hellish landscapes, and overt demonic imagery.

Fueled by conservative mothers, ministers and televangelists worried about the satanic influence on young minds, there were campaigns against heavy metal, as each new album felt like a darker, spookier take on an elaborate display. Halloween.


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Iron Maiden was one of the best of its kind.

They released a series of platinum albums, including their third, with the title The Number of the Beast, which sparked particular controversy, including public recordings.

The panic subsided as the popularity of heavy metal waned and consternation set in over rap music.

Burns’ interest in rock remains and has not been completely suppressed. She recently retweeted an American college marching band’s tribute to Canadian rock band Rush, alongside her tweets about school sports scores and a cat meme on Photo Day.

Her Twitter bio still reads, “Fueled by Metal and Ska. “

And his Instagram account, where the hubbub started, remains, minus the controversial photos. His other posts remain, such as photos of Eden’s student athletes, artists and musicians – those without umlauts or hellish landscapes.

As for Iron Maiden, renewed satanic panic came just as they released a new album, Shenjutsu (pictured above), their first in six years. It must sound like old times.

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