11 March 2010

Wallace in the schoolhouse door, again

Constance McMillen, an 18-year-old student at Itawamba Agricultural High School in Mississippi, was planning to attend this year's prom there with her significant other. The Itawamba county school district, however, took exception to the fact that McMillen's significant other is also a girl. Last month the district told her that she could not bring her girlfriend to the prom, and circulated a memo prohibiting same-gender dates.

The Mississippi ACLU heard about the case and sent the district a letter demanding that it change its policy. Yesterday it made its decision; rather than allow a lesbian couple to attend, it canceled the prom entirely. It also expressed hope that private citizens would organize an event of their own, presumably one from which "right-thinking" people could exclude despised pariahs without running into legal hassles.

47 years later, the spirit of George Wallace lives on.

Until this week, few people outside of Mississippi had even heard of Itawamba county. The place is already headed for fame it will regret, however, as bloggers nationwide pick up the story. Among them is the inimitable PZ Myers (in spite of the fact that he's in Australia at the moment!), to whom I'll give the last word here:

I predict that Constance McMillen will be one of the progressive young people who will be fleeing Small Town America as fast as she can, as soon as she can. And the old geezers and flea bag preachers will sit around in their shrinking, backwards-looking community and wonder why the young people are so anxious to abandon them.

7 Comments:

Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

Actually I been following this story elsewhere's .... which .... what can ya do here? Many folk's say in your neck of the wood's dont understand the mindset in a township like this .... I of course do .... and I know how difficult it can be for a person who is .... let's say ..."odd" to live in some of these part's, cities are much different, even in Mississippi .... or like rural south Georgia compared to northern Georgia's Atlanta area ... like the difference from day to night. I can tell you first hand of my experience's in rural Mississippi in the early 1970's, just visiting with a friend .... when I had long hair .... and also black nail polish on .... I'll just leave it there, you can imagine how I was accepted. Then again .... I also would worry if they did let the prom go on .... and these two gal's attend ..... would a few student's when intoxicated (student's alway's manage to slip in some booze to these event's somehow) would they have gave these gal's trouble? I dont think the overall majority of student's would .... but there are alway's a few asshole's in every box. However, at the same time .... I feel like we need to force this to happen and hold the prom, and also let these gal's attend as they choose .... because by delaying this and cancelling it .... wont get anyone who's opposed beyond the "shock", and until we/ them start to bring this out of the closet .... especially in these more rural place's .... it will be hard to reach the next level, or take that much longer. This is just something we need to get past, and will .... it's a matter of how long it will take. I am old enough to remember when I got static just for dating a black gal, and I would get it from both the black's and the white's, now it's nothing .... no shock. The same with these petty sex issue's we allow to turn into these event's, we will need to get past this .... and will .... it's a matter of how long I reckon.

Thank You Sir!

11 March, 2010 22:07  
Blogger Holte Ender said...

Towns and counties like Itawamba will survive, big drawback, the people who live there will all be related to each other.

12 March, 2010 05:58  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

RC: when I had long hair .... and also black nail polish on .... I'll just leave it there, you can imagine how I was accepted.

Yes, I can imagine.

would a few student's when intoxicated (student's alway's manage to slip in some booze to these event's somehow) would they have gave these gal's trouble?

There's probably always a few guys who get drunk and try to hassle the girls, lesbians or no lesbians. I assume the event would have precautions in place to prevent serious misbehavior.

I feel like we need to force this to happen and hold the prom, and also let these gal's attend as they choose ....

What always amazes me about things like this is the sheer blatant mean-spiritedness displayed. "If we can't keep you out, we'll cancel the whole thing."

The same with these petty sex issue's we allow to turn into these event's, we will need to get past this .... and will .... it's a matter of how long I reckon.

In Portland I think we're just about there, as far as the gays are concerned. With most people, anyway. The rest of the state is another matter. But yes, we'll get there.

HE: I was hearing the strains of Deliverance in my head on and off as I was reading about this.

12 March, 2010 07:20  
Blogger MadMike said...

I live in rural South Georgia and Ranch Chimp is exactly right. In a different sense there are also two Floridas: Florida and South Florida.

I consider S. Georgia America's Third World.

12 March, 2010 09:19  
Blogger mendip said...

At least they only cancelled the prom. In good ol' Virginia, when faced with allowing Black into the public schools, several counties shut down their ENTIRE school systems - for decades, rather than allow civil rights and an equal education to reign. We take our hatred and ignorance seriously here....

12 March, 2010 12:19  
Blogger tnlib said...

Actually, I first saw something about this last October and wrote a brief piece on it.

You know school officials are justifying their action with all manner of Bible quotes.

Sometimes I play with drawing an imaginary line across the bottom third of the country. The bottom third could be called God's Country and the other could be called Loveland.

12 March, 2010 14:53  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Mad Mike: At least we're chipping away at the problem. Northern Virginia, southern Florida, Atlanta -- modernity is seeping in in a patchwork way, it seems.

Mendip: Disgusting. There's that mean-spiritedness again. After a whole generation of black Americans in those counties grew up knowing that the whites had shut down their school systems rather than let them in, it's amazing the tensions aren't worse than they are.

TNLib: Not a bad idea (the imaginary line), but we get to keep Los Angeles. And Mad Mike.

12 March, 2010 16:39  

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