Heh, to me, the best answer is that it really depends on what your attempting to do. If all your trying to do is automate some processes and what not, sure, learn perl, learning c++ first would just be a waste. However, if you are interested in more advanced stuff, like eventual game programming, learning perl as a first language will drive you insane when you 'move on' to c/c++. You end up spending the entire first year going 'What the hell, i have to write 4 different functions for 4 different variable configs' or 'i have to write 2 different functions for a string or a number?' or ' i have to write my own conversion for num to string' and various other details that are, in general, a pain in the ass. However, they are even more of a pain in the ass when you come from a language like perl, that has a huge DWIM thing going on, as opposed to c/C++'s 'Do Exactly What The Syntax Tells You To'.
Perl, on the whole, is probably much easier for 'non programmers' to learn, partly because its such a forgiving language (auto garbage collection, catchall vars, etc) partly b/c of the roots in lingustics (as everyone loves to point out), but once you learn it, you get spoiled, and moving to a very low level language can be some what of a.. shock.
Of course, it helps to use low level languages to do what theyre designed for, such as very fast graphics and drawing routines, as opposed to trying to write a program that adds up employees salarys and so forth, which is A) what most courses assign as problems and B) much more suited to a high level program. I.e., "if you can do it in one line of perl, you probably should".
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