January 18, 2021 I Retail
‘So Much Fun’: How a Music Teacher Stormed the Capitol & Shattered Lives
For roughly the last decade, up until this month, Middle C Music, a full-service music store in Washington, D.C., worked with music teacher Stephen Baker as an independent contractor. Then, on Wednesday, Jan. 6, the riots at the Capitol Building occurred, and owner Myrna Sislen was shocked to learn Baker was part of it.
“I got a call from one of my staff members,” Sislen said. “He said, ‘Stephen is in the Capitol livestreaming.’”
Sislen said she couldn’t believe this could be true, but began watching Baker’s livestream, which he was broadcasting under the Instagram handle “Stephen Ignoramus.”
“He was on a total of eight hours,” she said. “I listened to it myself for two hours because I wanted to hear if he said anything that was incendiary or racist or anything like that, and during that time that I listened I didn’t hear anything. He kept saying ‘I’m having so much fun.’ He said he thought the election was rigged and he doesn’t wear a mask. It was dumb stuff.”
Sislen said she knew this was something she had to address. “I didn’t immediately call him,” she said. “I called him the next day and said, ‘You have really put me in a horrible position here. I can’t have you be connected to the store anymore.’”
Baker offered as a defense that he didn’t break in the Capital Building, he walked in, because others before him had done the actual breaking of windows and doors. Regardless, his actions forced Middle C to sever contact with him. Sislen then had to contact the parents of the 40 children who had been taking lessons with Baker, who, according to her, was a “brilliant” teacher.
“He shattered those kids who idolized him,” Sislen said. “Had he thought about it for a minute or so and thought, ‘Wait a second, I’ve got a life here. I’ve got some responsibilities. Is it worth it to do this and take the chance of sacrificing that?’ I think he made a colossally stupid move unless he wants to segue into far-right radio or whatever.”
She said the process of informing parents of Baker’s actions and the store severing ties with him was grueling, and something that didn’t truly sink in until the following Wednesday. “I would say it hit me at that point,” she said. “I started crying, and I haven’t been able to stop.”
Middle C had almost no idea of Baker’s political views prior to all this. “Not a word of politics was ever spoken in any lesson,” Sislen said. “No parent had any clue, not a clue. Neither did I. They were shocked, gasping.”
A sales associate at the store was reportedly aware of Baker’s Stephen Ignoramus Instagram feed, which did see him expressing homophobic and racist sentiments, but found it to be simply trolling and noted it reached a very small amount of followers.
As of Jan. 17, Baker’s YouTube channel has been stripped down to two videos of him reading scripture and playing guitar. At the beginning of one video, he complains of his Instagram page having been taken down by the platform.
The legal implications for Baker are unclear at this point. The F.B.I. has spoken to Sislen four times. MI