I think Perl is not a good first language. Sure, there might be a
few successes, but just go read comp.lang.perl.misc for a month
and see how often and horribly it can go wrong.
Perl is a powerful, but dangerous language. We don't learn people how
to drive using a Ferrari, people don't learn to fly in an F-16 jet,
nor do people learn how to read using Shakespeares plays. Why should
computer languages be any different? It's good to have training wheels.
Many language IMO are much more suited to learn programming. To name
a few: Pascal, Python, Java, and Haskell. Probably Eiffel as well.
Perl is not suitable for everyone. In fact, I believe that more than
75% of the people currently using Perl should be using a different
language (or maybe not even program at all). Using Perl as a first
language only increases the number of bad programmers, further clogs
forums like comp.lang.perl.misc and contributes to the bad name Perl