Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Itawamba Prom or Not

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Apr 14, 2010

In Fulton County, Mississippi, a high school student named Constance McMillen wanted to take her girlfriend to this year's prom. Naturally, the school decided to cancel the prom. McMillen sued, and the school begrudgingly reinstated the prom.

Only McMillen, her date, and seven others, mostly developmentally challenged students, showed up.

All the other kids were across town at a private party set up by their parents and deliberately kept secret from McMillen and whatever social outcasts didn't get the word. The party had the same theme and the same decorations that had been intended for the original prom, but this being a "private party," legal issues of equal access and non-discrimination were rendered moot. All the other kids had a swell time, and posted pictures of themselves on the internet on their "Constance, Quit Yer Cryin'" Facebook group. (They quickly took the public page private after the photos appeared on a number of LGBT blogs; Alvin McEwen, posting on Pam Spaulding's Pam's House Blend is one blogger who has refused to un-post the photos:
I don't feel sorry for you students of Itawamba Agricultural High School who are now feeling the blowback from what you did.

You got played by the school. My guess is that when school officials canceled the prom, they expected you all to make McMillen the scapegoat and you did with as much fervor as a pack of wild dogs in Call of the Wild.

So you decided to hold a party, making sure to steer McMillen away to a fake prom. You celebrated like you won a big victory, and then to make matters worse, you gloated about what you did in a public manner designed to humiliate McMillen.

What exactly did you think would happen?

Since then, Constance has herself asked people enraged on her behalf to lay off. There were some vicious comments about the "Constance Quit Yer Cryin'" kids left on the Facebook page before it was taken private, and at least one blogger has gone so far as to try to post the identities of students in the photos.

Just for the record, none of the characters in this week's cartoon is a caricature of any person in those photos. Any resemblance to any persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. There's no legal necessity involved; I just wanted to make clear that I'm not piling on any particular individual. There is plenty of calumny to go around, as far as I'm concerned.

Meanwhile, there seems to be no shortage of people stepping forth to offer invitations to Constance to attend LGBT-friendly proms in the weeks ahead. While they're at it, I hope some high-profile, well-respected person popular in those parts offers to chaperon Constance across the stage at graduation. I expect she'll need some support at that moment.

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