Pam posted yesterday on this extraordinary—yet unsurprising, since this is a long-standing tactic used by white Southerners to exclude black students—story on how, rather than go to a prom with lesbian guests, the students at Itawamba Agricultural High School went to a private prom that Constance McMillen and her date weren’t invited to. What’s interesting to me is how deftly the parents and school administrators exploited the worst tendencies of adolescents, namely their willingness to crush any sign of non-conformity and blame the victim for it. The Facebook page Constance, Quit Yer Crying made their views clear—regardless of whether or not hating people for gay is reasonable, standing up for your rights is “crying”. Never mind that there’s nothing whinier than saying that the prom is supposed to be the best night of your life and that no one should interrupt that with their demands to be treated like a human being.
Obviously, the adults in this situation are mentally children themselves. And the whole thing has been an ugly peek into the conservative mindset, and not only how hateful, childish wingnut adults teach their children to hate, but how to put together a disingenuous argument to bundle up your unrestrained bigotry into something that sounds more reasonable. This was on full display in the comments section of this blog that posted on the whole debacle. A commenter who claims to be a student at the high school—and there’s no reason to doubt this—defended the conspiracy to have a whole ‘nother prom just so Constance couldn’t go.
**Open Minded Readers Only**
I am a senior at IAHS, and I’ve known Constance for the last 6 years. Please hear our side of the story before you decide on our fate.
Already learning the art of whining about the “liberal media”, and other whines about how straight white Christians are the most oppressed people on the planet evah!
The reason the senior class boycotted the actual prom was not because we hate gays.
Empty disavowals of bigotry used to excuse unbelievable acts of bigotry.
We wanted a drama-free gathering to celebrate 3 great years and 1 lousy one together, and we wanted to lay low. We also wanted to do it without the main cause of the lousy. What people are failing to realize is that much of the fault of this whole stink lies with Constance, not her mistreatment by the school district, but her crazy-reckless need for attention.
Let’s leave aside the fact that “attention-seeking” is always the diagnosis offered when a woman does things like stands up for her rights, expresses an opinion, or encroaches on any territory men (or I suppose straight people now) want to keep for themselves. (Women are assumed to have no motivations besides being looked at, which is why “attention-seeking” is considered the last ditch effort of women who can’t get a man. See: Limbaugh’s definition of feminism.) Let’s think about this logically. Let’s imagine indeed that Constance—who in all interviews comes across as a calm, shy, generous young woman—is in fact motivated by nothing but sheer drama queen behavior. And that this has nothing to do with her deeply felt belief that she has a right to be herself, but simply attention-seeking. Let’s assume this “diagnosis” is accurate.
Then what’s the proper way to handle her, if your one and only goal is to be drama-free?
Well, obviously, the only thing to do is, when she asks if she can bring a date and wear a tux, you say yes without hesitation. If you’re not actually bigots, then why let someone set a trap that creates a whole lot of drama by acting like bigots? Why go out of your way to create an entirely separate prom, if drama-free is your main motivation? Seems like a lot more drama than simply letting her come to the prom with who she likes dressed how she likes.
One would think the transparency of the lies could be chalked up to youth. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), the adults that are encouraging this behavior aren’t any better at this. Governor Bob McDonnell went out of his way to reinstate “Confederate History Month” in Virginia, with the usual measly-mouthed excuses about the grand Confederate history. Common sense would tell you that celebrating a war conducted so white people could own black people is straight up racist, but of course, the way white Southerners get around this is by pretending that the South just seceded for the hell of it. Which really, is also unbelievably immoral! You’re left with believing the Confederacy was formed and all that blood was shed over slavery or for no reason at all. Hiding behind “freedom” doesn’t quite work, since the freedom defended was the “freedom” to keep other people enslaved. The lie falls apart on even the slightest inspection.
Back on the prom conspiracy. What’s immediately obvious is that Constance McMillen is way more mature than all the parents involved in organizing the private prom put together, and that the general idea behind wingnut parenting is to turn your kids into the same arrested adolescents that you are. This kind of behavior is far from unique in this country. A whole lot of people from a whole lot of conservative small towns can tell you stories about getting the fuck out of Dodge as soon as they could. (I’d actually say that while these kind of tendencies existed in my small town, due to a unique set of circumstances, the effects were muted. So I want it to be clear I’m not singling that town out.) This behavior runs off any young people that have intelligence and maturity, sending them to cluster in the coastal cities and the oases in their states (like Austin or Atlanta), which means there’s a whole lot of places in this country where there are no grown-ups running the place. I’ll bet you that Constance McMillen ends up far away from Fulton, Mississippi, since she’s got the brains and the courage to leave, so why the fuck not?
The results are the idiot show you see on the Hill. Places with no grown-ups running things tend to elect representation that’s stuck in this toddler state of mind. That’s how you get Joe Wilson yelling “you lie!” at the President. That’s how you Jim Bunning blocking unemployment benefits. That’s how you get bans on sex toys. That’s how you get grown-ass men working their way into state legislatures and trying to legislate cheerleader uniforms. It makes no sense, unless you remember their mental development is arrested at adolescent temper tantrum throwing and hatefulness.