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We don't want your kind at our prom
April 6, 2010 4:19 PM   Subscribe

Constance McMillan, an 18yo lesbian graduating from high school in Itawamba County, Miss., was told she couldn't bring a female date to the prom because of county rules against bringing same-sex dates. The school district in fact canceled the prom rather than let a same-sex couple attend. After a judge ruled that doing so violated Constance's civil rights, Constance was told (after long evasions and no answers as to details of the party) that the prom would be held at a country club Friday night in Fulton, Miss. When she got to the club with her date, she found out that the parents and rest of the students had scheduled second prom at a different, secret location. Five other students were directed to the prom Constance & her date were sent to, including two students with learning disabilities. The school principal & 2 teacher acted as chaperones for the seven students at the country club.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey (251 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
oh what the fuck?
posted by Captain Cardanthian! at 4:21 PM on April 6, 2010 [30 favorites]


When she got to the club with her date, she found out that the parents and rest of the students had scheduled second prom at a different, secret location.

I heard that she actually knew there was another event planned, but she didn't want to go if she wasn't going to be welcomed. She sounds pretty awesome actually
posted by Think_Long at 4:22 PM on April 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


What the f*(( is up with people? How can people be so god damned cruel. It's staggering.
posted by charlesminus at 4:22 PM on April 6, 2010


She's (most likely) going to get out of that shithole and live an awesome fun life in a real city.

Her tormentors will be fatass diabetics with two kids each (minimum) by the time they're 21.

I'm from Omaha originally. Ive seen it firsthand.

(Cue someone defending Itawamba County from me and my "wide brush" because they lived there once and has a gay friend there that has a vegan coffee shop or whatever)
posted by Senor Cardgage at 4:22 PM on April 6, 2010 [31 favorites]


I resent you painting us owners of gay vegan coffee houses with such a wide brush.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:24 PM on April 6, 2010 [23 favorites]


See, now why can't we use this method to counter Westboro Baptist protests?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:24 PM on April 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


I hope she sues the living fuck out of the Itawamba County school board. What a bunch of fucking scumbags.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:24 PM on April 6, 2010 [9 favorites]


>>She's (most likely) going to get out of that shithole and live an awesome fun life in a real city.

I'm sure this is true, but that will not solve the problem for the next kid who's born out there.

>>Her tormentors will be fatass diabetics

I used to believe that all the mean kids would grow up to be stupid losers, too, but unfortunately not all of them meet such a just fate.
posted by scarabic at 4:25 PM on April 6, 2010 [20 favorites]


BTW, it would be really awesome if the community would pool a bunch of money and threw her a real blowout jam in the Castro (cliché? yes but bear with me, Im a straight dude suggesting this) and flew her in to show her that the world in which she lives is not The World.

Would be a good signal to send to other tormented gay kids out there in the cruel high schools of Jesuslandmerica.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 4:26 PM on April 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr


And you know what's worse? The total f-ing assholes each and all think they were the ones being 'mistreated'.

Gotta go find a happy thread, quickly.
posted by Some1 at 4:27 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I hope this happens every year, because prom traditions make high school so much more memorable.
posted by parmanparman at 4:27 PM on April 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


This speaks, not merely to the moral failings of the school officials, but of the entire community. My school was no great shakes, but I can think of dozens of students I knew who would have refused to go to prom rather than participate in such a blatant act of cruelty. I'd like to think I would have refused as well. Hell, I know I would have.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:27 PM on April 6, 2010 [26 favorites]


I used to believe that all the mean kids would grow up to be stupid losers, too, but unfortunately not all of them meet such a just fate.

To be fair, I've known a lot of hateful people in high school who learn to be tolerant and accepting with age and an expanded worldview.
posted by Think_Long at 4:28 PM on April 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


I thought we figured this bullshit out after Plessy.
posted by The White Hat at 4:28 PM on April 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Just imagine all the hours of work that were put into this plan by her fellow students and the larger community. All the secret-keeping. All the lying to her face.

And people ask me why I believe in conspiracies- you don't need a world-wide conspiracy, you just need anywhere from a few dozen to a few hundred people to coordinate between personal benefit, spite and social pressure.
posted by yeloson at 4:28 PM on April 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


From the Advocate article:
Two students with learning difficulties were among the seven people at the country club event, McMillen recalls. "They had the time of their lives," McMillen says. "That's the one good thing that come out of this, [these kids] didn't have to worry about people making fun of them [at their prom]."
What a shitty place that school must be, but Constance McMillen sounds like a total sweetheart. I hope she finds somewhere awesome to live posthaste.
posted by bewilderbeast at 4:29 PM on April 6, 2010 [44 favorites]


In 25 years, I predict virtually everyone in her class will claim to have been one of the seven people at the fake prom they sent her to. It'll be like the first Sex Pistols gig - fifty people there in reality, 50,000 people there once they learned how cool the Sex Pistols were.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:29 PM on April 6, 2010 [68 favorites]


Holy shit, they sent the special needs kids to the OTHER prom? Jacktracking fucksnuggling twatcoddle snorklebat, these people need to be shot. Not fatally. Like in the leg or something.
posted by Scattercat at 4:30 PM on April 6, 2010 [23 favorites]


The judge declined to force the school district to hold the prom because a parent-sponsored, private prom was being organized — and the understanding was that McMillen and her date were invited to that event. But Hampton says McMillen was never invited and organizers made it very difficult for her to find information on the time and location. That prom was later mysteriously canceled, with the Friday night event at the country club officially replacing it.

There was not one person - one single person - in the school who knew where the prom was being held and would tell her where it was going to be? It's disgusting that the whole school basically conspired to keep her from "ruining" their big party. Fuck 'em. Fuck them all.
posted by contessa at 4:32 PM on April 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


Yeah. I heard about this yesterday. I am still to angry to formulate a coherent response other than paint-peeling profanity of the level that Hunter S. Thompson would be proud, but with none of the style. My first response was that she should have set fire to the "real" prom with her mind. Do the world a favor.
posted by the_royal_we at 4:33 PM on April 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


IIRC after the initial incident where the prom was canceled and this got a fair bit of attention she got a 40K scholarship for college from some company
posted by edgeways at 4:33 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


BTW, it would be really awesome if the community would pool a bunch of money and threw her a real blowout jam in the Castro

That is an incredibly excellent idea. Hate-Free Prom for America. How about July 4 weekend? Let's get on it!
posted by gum at 4:33 PM on April 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


Fatass diabetic parents suck!
posted by milarepa at 4:33 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


these people need to be shot. Not fatally. Like in the leg or something.

Nah, they need to be allowed to be exactly who they are. Fearful, mean spirited people who are desperately fighting a losing battle against the turning tide of history. They're going to lose this one in the long run and there's nothing they can do about it. They know, somewhere deep in their brains, that in the history books, they're going to be the villains, but they can't quite figure out why.

Indeed, I can't think of anything worse to wish upon them than that they never change.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:33 PM on April 6, 2010 [45 favorites]


Out of curiosity, I wonder if this community leans politically conservative, and I wonder if they identify Christian values as more important in their lives than does the average American. Why are some people so intent on living up to the worst cliches?
posted by VikingSword at 4:33 PM on April 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


When I saw this last night, I knew I couldn't keep a cool head enough to write a MeFi post about it. It went badly enough when I posted it on Facebook.

Carrie White, thou shouldst be living at this hour!
posted by Countess Elena at 4:34 PM on April 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


God it must suck to live in that town.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:38 PM on April 6, 2010


As if high school wasn't cruel enough.
posted by indubitable at 4:39 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I read the article this morning, and I thought there was a more upbeat photo of Constance. To answer my question, I searched around for a cache of the article, and found what looks like photos of the other prom, grabbed from Facebook before those accounts were locked down. She wasn't missing much.

I heard that she actually knew there was another event planned, but she didn't want to go if she wasn't going to be welcomed. She sounds pretty awesome actually

Source, and agreed. If your classmates, their parents and the school are all that sheisty, get the hell out of town and don't dwell on it. Get your diploma and get on with life.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:39 PM on April 6, 2010 [8 favorites]


I used to believe that all the mean kids would grow up to be stupid losers, too, but unfortunately not all of them meet such a just fate.

Then we must redouble our efforts.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 4:39 PM on April 6, 2010 [10 favorites]


It's a sad, sad bunch of adults that decides to get together with highschoolers to hatch an elaborate snubbing scheme.
posted by CKmtl at 4:39 PM on April 6, 2010 [57 favorites]


It's like an 80s teen comedy, only the dicks win.
posted by Artw at 4:40 PM on April 6, 2010 [8 favorites]


I do not have the words to express my anger at this. Two proms, one for the "normals" and one for the "differents" is how this reads to me...I can only hope that the parents and kids at the "normals" event get to be treated as second class citizens at some point in their lives.
posted by never used baby shoes at 4:41 PM on April 6, 2010


Remember how the interwebs pooled together and bought the Star Wars Kid an iPod?

Why can't we pool together and get this girl something nice as a consolation for all the torment she's endured? Nobody should have to put up with this.

A plane ticket would be a nice start.......
posted by schmod at 4:41 PM on April 6, 2010


They made a Facebook page too: "Constance quit yer cryin" (via).
posted by iviken at 4:41 PM on April 6, 2010


If these ignorant fucks are so big on Biblical values, didn't the 10 Commandments have something to say about lying?

Ugh.
posted by brundlefly at 4:41 PM on April 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Clearly, there must be at least a few other students at this school that aren't giant assholes.

Even if they're not ballsy enough to be doing something public to oppose this crap (and, to be fair, I'm not so sure I'd have been ballsy enough at that age), they must be talking about it online somewhere. Right?
posted by gurple at 4:41 PM on April 6, 2010


Christ, what a bunch of assholes.
posted by Tomorrowful at 4:42 PM on April 6, 2010


They made a Facebook page too: "Constance quit yer cryin" (via).

Hmm. Looks to me the page's "fans" consist primarily of people who joined so they could make posts to it decrying its very purpose. Works for me.
posted by Tomorrowful at 4:43 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


In the (highly imaginary) future wherein I get to be a school administrator, I want to organize a prom at which students must enter the doors as same-sex couples, but then, dance with whomever they want after that...
posted by Mister Moofoo at 4:43 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am so frustrated and disappointed. My inability to read and comprehend sentences after a long day of reading business mumbo jumbo led me to believe that she was thrown a suprise prom with the rest of her students and community. " Yay!" I thought -- it took a second read to realize the polar opposite was true.

Contempt is not a strong enough word for what I feel for those people. Evil fucks.
posted by cavalier at 4:44 PM on April 6, 2010


One of the blogs that talked about this also pointed out how similar it was to a cruel prank in 1964 played on a black girl in Birmingham. Same shit, different day.
posted by emjaybee at 4:48 PM on April 6, 2010 [16 favorites]


It's a sad, sad bunch of adults that decides to get together with highschoolers to hatch an elaborate snubbing scheme.

It reminded me of Lori Drew. I'm really glad Constance McMillan is a strong young lady.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:51 PM on April 6, 2010


(Cue someone defending Itawamba County from me and my "wide brush" because they lived there once and has a gay friend there that has a vegan coffee shop or whatever)

Actually, I don't think I've ever seen anyone here speak up for any part of Mississippi. Plenty of Texans, Alabamans, Carolinians...have we found the US's universally reviled state? Could it be?
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 4:51 PM on April 6, 2010


I wanted to send Constance a letter, to tell her that there are people out there who accept her for who she is, and that someday she'll find them. That there are people right now wishing her the best.

But then I realized that the kids who would benefit most from a letter like that are the ones we haven't heard about, who don't have lawyers, a family that they can trust, or national attention. Constance isn't the one who needs the message the most. I attended (briefly) a high school that was as narrow-minded and spiteful as this one, and there are thousands of other high schools and communities like it--and kids who live there, who have to go to school there, who are in tremendous pain but have no one to comfort them.

And that made me very, very depressed.

Fuck you, Fulton. And fuck everyone who went to that fake prom.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 4:52 PM on April 6, 2010 [8 favorites]


A still open thread on this topic already exists.
posted by ericost at 4:55 PM on April 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Christ, what a bunch of assholes.
posted by acb at 4:57 PM on April 6, 2010


Lentrohamsin, I'm from Mississippi, and I'll speak up for the state . . .
. . . but not for high school students. Either there or in general.
Or the spoiled "Christian" country club set that let their spawn get away with this.

On an unrelated note I now live in Massachusetts.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:58 PM on April 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


With Constance and her date, and the two kids with learning difficulties, I'm curious about the remaining three students. What other qualities mark out young people as being unacceptable to the community.

Don't forget, the other five kids probably aren't going to get scholarships to move out to cool accepting places.
posted by Grangousier at 4:58 PM on April 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


I remember what it was like to not be invited to a sleepover.

But this...holy shit.
posted by futureisunwritten at 4:58 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Artw: It's like an 80s teen comedy, only the dicks win.

Don't worry, this is just the first act.
posted by Kattullus at 4:59 PM on April 6, 2010 [28 favorites]


filthy light thief: "what looks like photos of the other prom, grabbed from Facebook before those accounts were locked down. She wasn't missing much."

Wait, wait, wait. So teenage girl wearing a tuxedo to prom = bad bad bad, but teenage girls wearing jeans and a t-shirt to prom = okay? And then there's the lipstick lesbianism, of course...
posted by bettafish at 5:00 PM on April 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


GRAR. And I mean that is actually what I'm feeling, completely sincerely.
posted by everichon at 5:00 PM on April 6, 2010


Christ, but it takes such a lot of hate to work so hard to be so mean to a single person. Just imagine all the hours of work that were put into this plan by her fellow students and the larger community. All the secret-keeping. All the lying to her face.

This is one of the ways you know you're pretty awesome -- if other people bend way, way, way, way, way, way, way over backwards to try to make your life more miserable. I mean, what could possibly make it more clear that you are making them miserable and are very important to them?
posted by davejay at 5:00 PM on April 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


Her tormentors will be fatass diabetics

Eh, this projection of storybook logic onto the living never really satisfies. I mean, what about her? Does she get to be thin and pretty? Does she have to be?
posted by kid ichorous at 5:02 PM on April 6, 2010 [29 favorites]



Artw: It's like an 80s teen comedy, only the dicks win.

Don't worry, this is just the first act.


Yah, I'm guessing she'll get the valuable lesson that sometimes adults can act like pre-teens in a bad sitcom cause seriously, seriously? A SECOND PROM? The vileest hack spewing forth from the depths of lamerdome couldn't have touched that turd of a development without going "No, too implausible"
posted by The Whelk at 5:05 PM on April 6, 2010


This is what keeps backwaters backwaters people. You may not like Richard Florida's books, but he didn't make that shit up, he just did the research. Enjoy being the rulers of NoButtfuck, Nowhere for the remainder of you cloistered lives.
posted by GuyZero at 5:05 PM on April 6, 2010 [8 favorites]


I'm just kinda confused when actual living people act like cardboard TV characters.
posted by The Whelk at 5:05 PM on April 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


It is almost impossible to believe that there is no one with any basic, human decency in that town (aside from the young lady being persecuted). If you randomly walked through most towns and selected 50 people at random, you're bound to pick more than a few people who would refuse to do anything so cruel or bigoted and who would blow the whistle on something like this. I'd hate to be thrown into a random group of these townspeople, like on a jury or simply in a long, stalled line at Walmart while someone at the front fumbles with their food stamps. God only knows what kind of hateful crap you'd have to listen to.
posted by loosemouth at 5:05 PM on April 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Her tormentors will be fatass diabetics with two kids each (minimum) by the time they're 21.

Yeah, let's wish a life of misfortune on them, that'll show 'em for being mean to people.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:05 PM on April 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


also this is one of those threads where I thank my various gods that I went to a nice High school and actually had a good time there despite being a very out gay teenager who liked robots and language and didn't get the AMAZING and HALLUCINATORY crap most people seem to get in High Schools. Seriously, if you never had it, it seems so fucking surreal. Fake proms? Torment? Wha-what?
posted by The Whelk at 5:08 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I mean, what about her? Does she get to be thin and pretty? Does she have to be?

She gets to look back on high school, where the only memorable thing is that she stood up for herself when an eminently forgettable town was a bunch of total dicks to her. She'll probably have a great life just because of that event.
posted by fatbird at 5:11 PM on April 6, 2010 [10 favorites]


With Constance and her date, and the two kids with learning difficulties, I'm curious about the remaining three students. What other qualities mark out young people as being unacceptable to the community.
I'd like to think that the other three kids chose to go to the decoy prom because they thought the whole thing was fucked up and wanted to support Constance McMillen. But probably they're agnostics or speak French or something.
posted by craichead at 5:15 PM on April 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


What jerks they are.
posted by Daddy-O at 5:18 PM on April 6, 2010


Of all the stories that I knew were going to get me upset that I've read about on Metafilter, this one hit the hardest. Just thinking about going to a 7-person prom endorsed by the school principal makes me want to punch someone, regardless if this incident is going to magically transform her life into something awesome. Even if that totally happens, Fake-Ass Seven-Person Prom Endorsed by the Principal still sucks.
posted by 23skidoo at 5:20 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


OK. She plainly knew about the "second prom" shit, even if she wasn't given details. But what a bunch of sad bastards. They aren't going to be punished by fate, they already have been. That's very sad for them, and sad for the rest of us too, we share a world and a species with such bigoted boring dullards.
posted by howfar at 5:21 PM on April 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


They aren't going to be punished by fate, they already have been.

Does it still count if they don't know they've been punished?
posted by acb at 5:24 PM on April 6, 2010


Holy living fuck, there aren't enough telekinetic Sissy Spaceks on the planet for these assholes.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 5:25 PM on April 6, 2010 [39 favorites]


I can imagine a bunch of teenagers being afraid that they'd be kept away from the secret prom if they told Constance about it -- or about where it is, at least. I hope that the people who were banished to the fake prom include some conscientious objectors and not just the unpopular kids.

At 17, you can be stupid and cruel and thoughtless because you just haven't grown up yet, and I have no doubt that many of the teenagers (how many are there in the class, anyhow?) will deeply regret this in the future. It was wrong of them, it was hurtful and horrible, but they did this *with a lot of help*. I wish people wouldn't wish injury or illness on them, like disabilities are some kind of punishment, and I wish people wouldn't use sexist insults about them. I hope that -- given that this happened, given that it's wrong -- they can at least grow up and be better humans for it in the future. Not that hurting the lesbian students, or the disabled students is some kind of good object lesson, just that: they are still changing. It's the adults who did this who floor me.
posted by jeather at 5:25 PM on April 6, 2010 [14 favorites]


And here I thought I had lost the ability to be shocked at human nature. I figured she would be uninvited to the parent-sponsored event. I didn't expect it to be secret.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:26 PM on April 6, 2010


You know what? It's almost one things if it's the kids being shitty; maybe they need some time to grow up.

But the shitty parents and shitty administrators who allowed - nay, encouraged - this decoy prom bullshit? I want them to die in a fire, and I wouldn't be exactly heartbroken if their shitty kids went with them.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 5:30 PM on April 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


@acb Fair question. My answer is yes. The thing about bigots and fools is that their lives really are incredibly dull and unfulfilling. If you have the imagination to grow and question you don't stay bigoted. Sadly a lot of people have their natural talent to develop stamped out of them during childhood and adolescence. The bigots I know reasonably well, and there are some, sadly, are all considerably less satisfied than other people, especially since they have no concept as to why.
posted by howfar at 5:31 PM on April 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Out of curiosity, I wonder if this community leans politically conservative

77% McCain.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:32 PM on April 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


I searched around for a cache of the article, and found what looks like photos of the other prom, grabbed from Facebook before those accounts were locked down.

They're back on Facebook: Pictures from the secret prom.

(Btw, only white students? In Mississippi?)

Anyway: "The Itawamba County School District does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age or disability in the provision of educational programs and services or employment opportunities and benefits."
posted by iviken at 5:34 PM on April 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Now I love the fact that I grew up in Sterling, Virginia. I really do. I’m so happy. Because, when you’re growing up in a nondescript, soulless, boring town, you’ve been given a present from God. And the present is: The Test Of The Small Town. And you pass the test when you go, “I'm leaving before I kill everyone and then myself.” That’s when you pass. You fail when you go, “I’ll get a job at the CitGo and fill my truck up for free.""

- Patton Oswalt
posted by Errant at 5:34 PM on April 6, 2010 [73 favorites]


Senor Cardgage: "She's (most likely) going to get out of that shithole and live an awesome fun life in a real city.

Her tormentors will be fatass diabetics with two kids each (minimum) by the time they're 21.
"....

milarepa: "Fatass diabetic parents suck!"


Well, speaking as a fatass diabetic (albeit not a parent), *I* think the people who did this to Constance McMillan are a bunch of ignorant mouth-breathing assholes, and I admire her courage immensely.

So am I just atypical for my breed?
posted by John Smallberries at 5:34 PM on April 6, 2010 [17 favorites]


Christ, what a bunch of people paranoid about their assholes.
posted by meehawl at 5:35 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know what guys? You are being pretty damned mean spirited towards the people who are causing this. Yeah yeah yeah they are being pretty cruel/what-have-you but when everybody here is making cracks about "fatass diabetic parents" and "fuck these assholes" then you aren't too much better than the people causing this.

Think about it, really. Think about what effect bashing these people will do, just like they feel justified in bashing Constance, you feel justified in bashing these people. Two wrongs don't make a right, and it's upsetting to me that of all places MeteFilter is host to talk like this.

I've flagged a number of your comments and I'm glad to have done so. So go ahead and accuse me of siding with the "bad guys" here - I'm a gay male, I don't like this either. But I'm not about to start lowering myself to the level they've set for themselves.
posted by deacon_blues at 5:36 PM on April 6, 2010 [24 favorites]


...have we found the US's universally reviled state? Could it be?

Maybe. But for what it's worth, a good buddy of mine's girlfriend, who grew up not far from Itawamba, is now an attorney in New Orleans and worked this case pro bono for the ACLU.
posted by gordie at 5:38 PM on April 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


I apologize for that, John Smallberries.

I was just really angry and fumbling around for a convenient stereotype.

My sincere apology
posted by Senor Cardgage at 5:38 PM on April 6, 2010 [10 favorites]


Classmate Lindsay Begley wrote an apologia for the second prom business. Then she wrote an apology for the apologia. It's actually quite interesting sociologically.
posted by topynate at 5:38 PM on April 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


Same as it ever was. And this too shall pass. I have my moments of anger and despair—Prop 8 really did me in, for example—but other times, like this one, the whole situation just comes across as so absurd to me.

I mean, do people like this ever stop and look at themselves with any sort of objective assessment? Do they understand how ridiculous they are? I wish they could all come to San Francisco and just hang out here for a couple of weeks, and see how a place with a large, active homosexual population works—i.e. pretty much like everywhere else, with a few more gay bars and street fairs (*gasp!*).

At some point down the road, we're going to look back on this particular aspect of our history with incredulity. What an enormous waste of time and energy.
posted by Brak at 5:40 PM on April 6, 2010


you aren't too much better than the people causing this

I'm not wrong to call the responsible parties scumbags. They are scumbags. I'm not lowered to their level by calling them who they are. Thank you.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:41 PM on April 6, 2010 [28 favorites]


Just a few thoughts, which I am sure will end well.

-- why didn't she just go with her date, and if some dickwad school official wants to have a cow about it, then let it start there? Did they really need to get tickets and register with the name of her date?

-- Why does she go and announce her intentions first, knowing its gonna start a shitstorm in her town, then go straight to the media next?

-- At just about every dance from 7th grade up, girls dance with the other girls, my daughter included. Looks like they are having fun. Now if her and her date got out there slow dancing and making out, grabbing ass and whatever, well, then shut that down the same way you would if it was a straight couple. As a parent/chaperone, you just walk over, give them a tap, and say "Hey knock it off"

-- Any parent, educator, or town official who was involved in organizing the "secret" prom is a fuckin ass. I truly can;t believe anyone could be so small minded and petty to go to that effort, and so subhuman to involve their own children in it.

-- It's a "Prom". I guess if you are a 16 year old girl, this might seem signifigant. If anyone can really explain why these things are important, clue me in. From my POV it looks like 2000 dollars of your parents money, so you can have sex you dont even remember, and throw up out of a limo window.

-- There are a lot of moments in the history of gay rights that matter, and this is not one of them. This is not Rosa Parks, this is a whiny HS girl who lit up a shitstorm intentionally, threw gas on it, called in the media, and is basking in her limited limelight.

Yes the whole "secret" prom thing disgusts me, but if you truly care about gay rights, I think folks should be more offended by someone who just wants, and diverts attention from things that matter, and sort of gives the whole cause a bad rep.

A month from now, no one will remember her name.

Until she starts filing million dollar lawsuits about how she has suffered this horrible damage about not being able to dance for a few hours.
posted by timsteil at 5:41 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


@deacon_blues

Appreciate your difficulty, and some of the comments here have not been to my taste. But the main difference that it's fine to be a lesbian and not fine to be a bigot. I'm allowed to dislike bigots, because bigotry is wrong. They do not have the same justification for disliking lesbians.
posted by howfar at 5:42 PM on April 6, 2010 [15 favorites]


I'm not wrong to call the responsible parties scumbags. They are scumbags. I'm not lowered to their level by calling them who they are. Thank you.


Exactly.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 5:43 PM on April 6, 2010


howfar -

I suppose I was directing my comments towards those calling their parents "fatass diabetics," wishing that a fire would kill them off and their children too, and calls for somebody to shoot these people.
posted by deacon_blues at 5:43 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


But the shitty parents and shitty administrators who allowed - nay, encouraged - this decoy prom bullshit?

No shit. This part just amazes me. They're supposed to be modeling good behavior, and instead they decide to be mean-spirited, small-minded shitheads. Change is hard, I guess.
posted by rtha at 5:43 PM on April 6, 2010


With Constance and her date, and the two kids with learning difficulties, I'm curious about the remaining three students. What other qualities mark out young people as being unacceptable to the community.

Like any Simpsons episode, it's the usual suspects, the Nelsons, Ottos, Dolphs and Tiernys.

No free bikes today!
posted by Max Power at 5:44 PM on April 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Deacon- Well put. I know the obvious reaction is rage and awful, awful hate at how nasty people can be. But I think a more positive reaction is sympathy.

These people are TERRIFIED that their "way of life" is going the way of the dinosaur. They've been convinced by every earthly power above them- the government, corrupt preachers, the news- that EVERYTHING IS OUT TO GET THEM ALL THE TIME. This time they had to set a trap to catch TEH GAY before it got out.

Saying: I HOPE YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN DIE IN A FIRE is an awful thing to say to anyone, especially to people who have been co-opted into being terrified by people who should know better. The whole thing, top to bottom, is a tragedy and for every single one of you who goes "WELL IM FROM A CITY AND I KNOW ALL ABOUT THE REAL WORLD", you should know better.

What we need is patience and tolerance and sympathy. You all know better than this. I know Christianity is not so popular on the 'blue or on the web in general, but as much as these people have used their faith to exclude and shield themselves from the lord's test, I use mine to welcome in difficult transactions like this one- I want to hate them, I want to wipe the town off the map. But it doesn't get us anywhere.
posted by GilloD at 5:44 PM on April 6, 2010 [14 favorites]


A month from now, no one will remember her name.

So what? Right is right and wrong is wrong.

Who are you to decide what someone deems important?
posted by waraw at 5:46 PM on April 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Senor Cardgage: "I apologize for that, John Smallberries.

I was just really angry and fumbling around for a convenient stereotype.

My sincere apology
"

Accepted graciously. Thank you for that.

I was just being grumpy because of low blood suga... well, just grumpy, anyway. Heh.
posted by John Smallberries at 5:47 PM on April 6, 2010 [10 favorites]


@deacon_blues

I largely agree with you on that, if I'm honest. But expressing yourself thoughtlessly when you have a real cause for anger is a very different thing to allowing an idiotic worldview to lead you into something as pathetic as organising a "secret prom" to exclude others.

Two wrongs don't make a right, but some wrongs are greater than others.
posted by howfar at 5:47 PM on April 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Mean people suck and these people are incredibly mean.

Prejudice is really often a cover for someone's own feelings of inadequacy, and with their actions they look to be feeling pretty inadequate. The South is still a fucking shame. All over in small towns you still have segregated private proms. In some ways the larger towns like Atlanta are probably more advanced on race than the North, but in many of the small towns the naked bigotry has never ceased. Taking it to the gays, the Jews etc. is all part of the whole small mind. "Man, I suck, but those fucking other people, those brown people, those faggots, man they suck worse than me (sic) and that makes me somehow just a little bit better."

We all struggle with prejudice, but when you stop struggling and just embrace it, that pretty much sucks.
posted by caddis at 5:49 PM on April 6, 2010


and for every single one of you who goes "WELL IM FROM A CITY AND I KNOW ALL ABOUT THE REAL WORLD", you should know better.

I read Richard Florida's books and have data that proves my approach of not being a medieval bigot has a better economic outcome.
posted by GuyZero at 5:49 PM on April 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


Oh Jesus, can we please not do the kneejerk liberal thing where we try to inject a kind of noble (but wronghearted) innocence into the thoughts and motivations of our opponents?

Sometimes meek tolerance of evil attitudes (as if the real punishment is letting bigots have to live their lives as bigots) isn't the best way to go.

Im not advocating anyone die in a fire here. but these people's noxious, socially toxic bullshit worldviews deserve ridicule. Fully and completely and with as much energy as you can put into it.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 5:50 PM on April 6, 2010 [51 favorites]


My SO is a teacher and I've been to proms at both public and private schools where same sex couples attended of both sexes.

Reactions were either "Meh" or "Isn't that sweet" (at the gay couple in matching white tuxedoes).

And after that everyone forgot about who came with who and proceeded to boogie on down.
posted by PenDevil at 5:50 PM on April 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Really, what we need are enforced federal standards for education. Backwaters shouldn't be left alone to inflict this shit on their students -- all their students, not just Constance. We shouldn't look at them as backwaters at all: These are Americans who should be just as important to us as anyone from NYC or LA, and we should be worried that they're being brought up in this environment. The principal of this school should be fired immediately. But not because of this prom thing -- rather, because the mentality of a person who would treat students this way is not suitable for educating children who will grow up and have to function in an increasingly diverse, multicultural society. They're raising people for the 1950s, not the 2020s, and those people will suffer when faced with the realities of the real world. I feel sorry for the future fat, diabetic young adults and their shitloads of children; they never had a chance. And it's the fault of this school. We need to fix this.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:51 PM on April 6, 2010 [8 favorites]


Did they really need to get tickets and register with the name of her date?

You did at my school - at least for anyone, same sex or otherwise, who didn't attend said school. Perhaps Constance did this because she wanted to fly under the radar. Following the rules makes it less like a Big Deal.

I imagine if she had taken your advice and just shown up, the response would have been "Well, we would have allowed her to bring her girlfriend if she'd only registered her date and bought tickets like she was supposed to. Since she didn't we can't let her in!"
posted by aclevername at 5:51 PM on April 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Anyone know how many people were in her graduating class? like 13? 14? It seems hard to belive that so many people could keep a secret like that.

Unless this girl had NO friends and had become a complete paraia.
And for what, really? Because Constance is going to leave Bumfuck Whatever and she's never going to come back. She'll move to New York or San Francisco or even just some state that doesn't think that gays are second-class citizens, like fucking, I dunno, Iowa or something
What the fuck? You realize that gay marriage is legal in Iowa, and Illegal in California and New York state right?

Yeah, I guess you "dunno" -- anything.
posted by delmoi at 5:51 PM on April 6, 2010


I'm livid about what happened to her and the other kids who were lied to about the prom, but I'm also uncomfortable with the people posting comments on the FB prom pictures with comments like "where did the redhead get her wig?" and "hags."

I don't think (I'm going to assume) Constance would condone calling people names. I'm just guessing.
posted by Wuggie Norple at 5:53 PM on April 6, 2010


I feel a measure of pity for everyone I feel contempt for. I am well aware that there but for the grace of God go I. Pity and anger are by no means mutually exclusive. Rather the opposite, really.
posted by howfar at 5:54 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


What the fuck? You realize that gay marriage is legal in Iowa, and Illegal in California and New York state right?

You did not read very carefully.
posted by ericost at 5:55 PM on April 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


(uh, unless you were being ironic)
posted by delmoi at 5:56 PM on April 6, 2010


You did not read very carefully.

(Er, Or unless I'm an idiot)
posted by delmoi at 5:57 PM on April 6, 2010


Who are you to decide what someone deems important?
posted by waraw at 5:46 PM on April 6 [+] [!]


Sorry, thought you got copied on the memo.
posted by timsteil at 5:58 PM on April 6, 2010


I am not saying their attitudes don't deserve ridicule: they do. However, that doesn't mean that they should be punished for the rest of their lives if -- as I believe many of them will -- they grow up and learn better. (As in: I am talking about the teenagers here, not the parents and teachers and administrators who were fully involved in the entire thing. Teenagers cannot organise and pay for their own proms on their own, it takes adults to do that.) And it certainly doesn't mean that the best ridicule is wishing illness or death upon them, or that the only way to discuss this is by using sexist and ableist insults.

Just because I don't want to tolerate sexism and ableism doesn't mean I am a-ok with homophobia.
posted by jeather at 6:00 PM on April 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


GilloD: "Deacon- Well put. I know the obvious reaction is rage and awful, awful hate at how nasty people can be. But I think a more positive reaction is sympathy.
...

Saying: I HOPE YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN DIE IN A FIRE is an awful thing to say to anyone, especially to people who have been co-opted into being terrified by people who should know better. The whole thing, top to bottom, is a tragedy and for every single one of you who goes "WELL IM FROM A CITY AND I KNOW ALL ABOUT THE REAL WORLD", you should know better.

What we need is patience and tolerance and sympathy. ....
"

I'm the one who said it, and I'm a Christian, and 99.9% of the time, I'll agree with you. But these people aren't terrified - they are, at best, willfully ignorant, and at worst, willfully hateful. And all the evidence points to willfully hateful. So when I say die in a fire, I mean it. Well, maybe not a literal fire, but I firmly believe that there will be some ass-roasting in the afterlife for all of these folks unless they spend some serious time figuring out why they think it's OK to be so goddamn bigoted between now and when they do die.

I grew up in a small town, rife with racial tension and every other thing, and even 20 years ago, our parents wouldn't have been party to something like this, period. Yeah, I live in the big city now, but the basic values I operate on? They came with me from that small town, and I'm proud of them.

I'm pretty much one of the most tolerant people you'll ever meet, except when it comes to bullshit like this. Tolerating intolerance is not a virtue - not every opinion is worthy of respect, and I'll be damned if I'm going to say "well, the poor dears, they just don't KNOW any different." Because by now, these people most assuredly do know different. And sometimes it's necessary to come right out and tell someone that they are a fucking moron when they're being, well, a fucking moron.

All of these parents who planned this secret prom, all of the administrators who approved it (tacitly or explicitly) and every single kid who attended knew EXACTLY what they were doing. And they were WRONG.

So, die in a fire indeed. If they figure out what is wrong with such blatant bigotry and discrimination, then no fire for them. Otherwise, fuck them.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 6:00 PM on April 6, 2010 [21 favorites]


Mississippi goddamn.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:01 PM on April 6, 2010 [9 favorites]


I'm really glad this is getting media attention. I didn't go to my senior prom because they wouldn't let my lesbian friends go together. Pretty much the same thing happened to them in regards to tickets. They weren't allowed to purchase a 'couple ticket' that saved you like $10, they tried and the VP and Principal told them no and returned their money, so they got separate tickets and then on the night of the prom we got all dolled up and went to prom and they were barred at the door because one was in a tuxedo. (A kick ass tailored tuxedo I might add, much better than most peoples rentals.) When we pointed out that it wasn't in violation of the prom rules (Everyone must be in formal wear) they told us it didn't matter because homosexual couples were not conducive to the prom atmosphere they wanted. We were pissed, but then we went bowling. Cosmic bowling.


Also, the prom queen had a baby 9 months later, prom atmosphere, hmph.
posted by julie_of_the_jungle at 6:02 PM on April 6, 2010 [10 favorites]


As a Mississippi resident (born here, still here) I'm just as apalled about this. Just today at lunch my two friends and I discussed the fact that we already looked shitty as a state, we looked shittier when Constance's prom issue began, and this latest two-prom news takes us to shitty with an infinite exponent. Not all MS residents are like that, but I'm not going to defend anyone. Many of us are letting our out of state friends and contacts know that we aren't all backwoods, shoe-less, right wing, tea party nuts who would ban together and hold a second prom. I'm sorry residents here did it, and I'm sorry Constance has such a dark memory growing about HS when she should be having a ball.
posted by fijiwriter at 6:03 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I know he's probably quite busy but what would've been great was for the POTUS grab his wife and kids, stick em on a plane, head down to Fulton and attend Constance's prom for a couple of hours to absolutely no fanfare.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 6:03 PM on April 6, 2010 [18 favorites]


The best revenge on the bigots of Itawamba County wouldn't be to get Constance out of there. It would be to have 5000 people who are homosexual or supporting of gay rights move into the county and start voting.
posted by MegoSteve at 6:06 PM on April 6, 2010 [23 favorites]


While the issue with Constance is bad enough it's the exclusion of the other 'undesirables' which promotes the participants in Secret Prom(tm) from merely 'idiot bigots' to 'complete assholes'.
posted by PenDevil at 6:07 PM on April 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm totally behind calling a scumbag a scumbag, but some of the comments here and on Facebook are ... loaded. I don't think it's making any great strides for tolerance to call teenage girls bitches or to link a person's looks, weight and state of health with their moral qualities.
posted by bettafish at 6:07 PM on April 6, 2010 [8 favorites]


-- why didn't she just go with her date, and if some dickwad school official wants to have a cow about it, then let it start there? Did they really need to get tickets and register with the name of her date?

At my high school you had to basically get permission to bring someone from another school, and I think that was the situation here. Also, we had to buy prom tickets in advance, they weren't sold at the door.
posted by padraigin at 6:08 PM on April 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also, oral surgery + Vicodin = wonky sentence structure, sorry guys.
posted by julie_of_the_jungle at 6:08 PM on April 6, 2010


At some point down the road, we're going to look back on this particular aspect of our history with incredulity.

Not working out so well with regards to an armed rebellion formed for the purposes of keeping people in brutal, chattel slavery: Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has quietly declared April 2010 Confederate History Month.

Maybe 150 years from now we will romanticize the parents of [wherever, I dont care enough to scroll up and find it] county for standing up for their morals.
posted by shothotbot at 6:09 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I swear to god, I cannot believe that this level of bigotry and hatred can still exist. But it does, and the thing I'm most afraid of is that it always WILL.

Sometimes I despair that the human race can ever do better, or evolve, or do anything but destroy ourselves, really. No amount of factual information thrown at someone can force them to become compassionate as long as their own prejudices and fears are reinforced on any level.

Please let Constance win her lawsuit and use the money to get an Ivy League education... and then I hope she becomes a Supreme Court Justice.

THAT would be fair. I don't wish suffering on the people who did this - only that they eventually become educated and worldly enough that they realize some day that what they did to Constance was horribly wrong and feel incredible shame for it. I realize this is wishful thinking, but when I dream, I dream BIG.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 6:12 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


filthy light thief - Wow. I heard about the "secret prom" pictures being posted yesterday, but I didn't get to see them until now. And what do you know? One of those photos shows two girls touching tongues. It's okay because they're only doing it in a Girls Gone Wild sort of way?!?!?

mind officially boggled
posted by queensissy at 6:12 PM on April 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I could forgive a bunch of high-school kids for acting this way. Heaven knows when I was half-grown I did things I'm ashamed of now. So the kids who attended the double-secret hate prom? I have hopes that many of them will grow up to be ashamed of it.

But the parents? The teachers? My God, I don't know how they look at themselves in a mirror.

I know a lot of people who call themselves "Christian" do it just as a way to say "Yay for our side" without ever wondering what Christ would think of their actions. But this? This petty contemptible shit is just past me. What shriveled excuses for a heart do these people have? And what will their preachers say about it Sunday?
posted by tyllwin at 6:12 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


photos of the other prom
posted by filthy light thief at 7:39 PM
What the hell? Check it out, there are TWO GIRLS TONGUEING EACH OTHER in the middle of the STRAIGHT prom!?
I guess lesbians are okay as long as one of them has a fake orange tan.
posted by crazylegs at 6:12 PM on April 6, 2010 [19 favorites]


On non-preview, jeather said want I wanted to say much better.
posted by bettafish at 6:14 PM on April 6, 2010


@queensissy

I think it is basically OK as long as they are doing it out of a puerile desire to titillate idiotic men. If done for their own pleasure, they are vile ungodly creatures. I've got some DVDs that explain this.
posted by howfar at 6:15 PM on April 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


Judge Glen H. Davidson, who agreed McMillen's civil rights had been violated but declined to issue the requested injunction may have stern words to say about this. He declined to force the school to hold the prom because "Defendants testified that a parent sponsored prom which is open to all IAHS students has been planned and is scheduled for April 2, 2010. Though the details of the "private" prom are unknown to the Court, Defendants have made representations, upon which this Court relies, that all IAHS students, including the Plaintiff, are welcome and encouraged to attend." (emphasis in original)

I sense contempt of court and/or perjury charges for multiple individuals in the not-too-distant future, at the very least. This has the makings of a landmark civil rights case, since both the school administrators and (almost) all the parents in the 11th and 12th grade are potentially co-conspirators in a plan to deny McMillen her civil rights and to subvert the judgment of a federal court by doing so...not to mention the possibility of the other students who attended the 'fake prom' joining as co-plaintiffs. The legal issues look pretty clear, but the procedural complexities look...mind-boggling.

Non-lawyer here - but one that just happens to have chosen to study for a legal career recently. This sort of thing exemplifies why.
posted by anigbrowl at 6:19 PM on April 6, 2010 [35 favorites]


The bigots I know reasonably well, and there are some, sadly, are all considerably less satisfied than other people, especially since they have no concept as to why.

The problem there is that, bigots aren't known for their logical reasoning skills (indeed, one of the symptoms of the Right-Wing Authoritarian mindset found among bigots is a tendency to compartmentalise knowledge and avoid drawing connections between parts of it in case they threaten one's beliefs), they'll never figure out why they have such bum karma, and instead blame the gays/migrants/liberals for their lives being shitty. And so, more fuel is added to the fire and the cycle repeats itself.
posted by acb at 6:19 PM on April 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


-- why didn't she just go with her date, and if some dickwad school official wants to have a cow about it, then let it start there? Did they really need to get tickets and register with the name of her date?

Ditto the above-mentioned tickets for dates from other schools. Plus, I vaguely recall having to sign up for tables for the grad banquet, so that you'd be able to sit with your date and/or BFF crew.

And, really, why should she have to keep her date a secret until the event? "*SQUEE* Fred's taking me to prom!" "OMG I'm going with Tim!" is bog standard pre-prom stuff. Trying very hard to retain an aura of mystery around who you're going with would have seemed pretty high on the attention-seeking scale when I was in HS.
posted by CKmtl at 6:20 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


So, die in a fire indeed.

And so why not by cancer, or rape, or whatever the fourth horseman of memes happens to be at this exact minute? We can cull Encyclopedia Dramatica for the very latest in rape joke technology.

There is nothing that recommends die in a fire over get raped to death. Start using this lexicon, and we're headed full-tilt for a million little yoricks with their snuff jokes and EPIC LULZ.
posted by kid ichorous at 6:24 PM on April 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


acb

The link looks interesting, and I agree with your analysis. Bigotry really isn't about what you believe, it's about the processes that keep you believing it. Which means that the labour of argument, dialogue, education and legal reform goes on. Sometimes it does not seem very rewarding labour, but it's got to be done, as there is no alternative I can see.

One thing though, lawmakers must lead on minority rights. Taking away legal support for bigotry really does make a difference. Look at gay history in Britain over the last 40 years.
posted by howfar at 6:30 PM on April 6, 2010


I'm curious about the remaining three students. What other qualities mark out young people as being unacceptable to the community.

I'm still hoping that there was nothing "unacceptable" about them, and they were just awesome young people who thought the secret prom thing was bullshit.
posted by queensissy at 6:30 PM on April 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


I think the key will be whether or not school officials were involved in any way with the Non-Constance prom. It's clear that the school's cancellation of prom was blamed squarely upon her. Prom was held; the rest of the school, save some other outcasts, chose not to attend, and went to something else. If no school officials were involved, is there any real recourse here?
posted by waraw at 6:33 PM on April 6, 2010


I'm still hoping that there was nothing "unacceptable" about them, and they were just awesome young people who thought the secret prom thing was bullshit.

I imagine the latter has possibly now made them the former, sadly.
posted by aclevername at 6:33 PM on April 6, 2010


I think the key will be whether or not school officials were involved in any way with the Non-Constance prom.

From the linked article: "she and her date were sent to a Friday night event at a country club in Fulton, Miss., that attracted only five other students. Her school principal and teachers served as chaperones, but clearly there wasn't much to keep an eye on."
posted by Billegible at 6:42 PM on April 6, 2010


On rereading, scratch that. I blame my lack of comprehension on, erm, ice cream.
posted by Billegible at 6:42 PM on April 6, 2010


jeather: I am not saying their attitudes don't deserve ridicule: they do. However, that doesn't mean that they should be punished for the rest of their lives if -- as I believe many of them will -- they grow up and learn better.

My thought that for most of the kids involved realizing some years down the road that what they did is incredibly assholish is punishment enough. Some will go to their grave resenting McMillen and the ACLU blame everything on them. Being bitter all your life over something that happened when you were 18 isn't something that I'd usually wish on anyone, but that seems just about the right kind of justice.
posted by Kattullus at 6:44 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is there a fund to get Constance a big awesome accepting party? Maybe have Ellen get on this, stat?
posted by klangklangston at 6:46 PM on April 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


To those people who want to complain that Constance is just an attention-seeking whiner or whatever, I hope you stub your toe on something. She is exactly right to draw attention to bigotry and discrimination. When you see something evil, shine a light on it.
posted by prefpara at 6:58 PM on April 6, 2010 [24 favorites]


The kids were jackasses but the parents...I don't even know what to say about them, they literally left me speechless. My older son is a high school senior and I can't imagine myself letting him participate in this "not a prom"*. I can just picture the smug assholery of these parents as they were planning their little stunt. For fuck's sake, the adults are more childish than the children.


* Not that he would, bless his bleeding little GSA member atheist heart.
posted by MikeMc at 6:58 PM on April 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


I"m not sure why people are surprised at the parents' involvement. Where exactly do we think the delightful offspring are getting their benighted attitudes from in the first place -- well, besides the entire screwed-up culture?
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:07 PM on April 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


My thought that for most of the kids involved realizing some years down the road that what they did is incredibly assholish is punishment enough. Some will go to their grave resenting McMillen and the ACLU blame everything on them. Being bitter all your life over something that happened when you were 18 isn't something that I'd usually wish on anyone, but that seems just about the right kind of justice.

Oh, I am fine about them feeling deep regret, or being forever bitter, I'm thinking more the comments (not necessarily on Mefi, I can't remember where I saw them) that suggested that the kids who were at the secret prom will never ever be able to get a job or do anything with their lives because when they did or wrote something shitty at 17 it was put, with their full name, all over the internet. I really hate that I seem to be taking their side, because I'm not: it's *possible* to be a strong, awesome person at 17, and although it's understandable if you're not, it's not something to be proud of.

I hope Constance, her girlfriend, and all the other people at the fake prom go on to have successful, happy lives. I am sure Constance did all of this to get attention for the exclusionary practices of her school and that's great: she didn't court prison, no, but complete social isolation is pretty crappy, too. Stories like this need to be made public because that's the only way they'll stop happening.
posted by jeather at 7:07 PM on April 6, 2010


According to the accountability data on the Mississippi Board of Education website, it looks like there are about 150 kids in the senior class at the high school. Not a ridiculously small graduating class, but organizing even 100 kids to go to a secret prom requires a huge amount of conspiracy.

why didn't she just go with her date, and if some dickwad school official wants to have a cow about it, then let it start there? Did they really need to get tickets and register with the name of her date?

Most high school proms require students to buy tickets beforehand so they can get an accurate head count for food/chaperones/etc and won't let them buy tickets at the door. Most schools also require students to register their guests for safety reasons if they're underclassmen, have already graduated, or go to another school. It's quite likely Constance's girlfriend wouldn't have been able to attend prom if she wasn't pre-registered.
posted by lilac girl at 7:15 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Related? via
"People were talking about him all day, trying to get a look at him," said McMillen. "It was insane, it was ridiculous, it made me so mad. They said he was causing a distraction with what he was wearing but it was a half day of school and people didn’t have time to get used to him."

The other students wouldn't be given a chance to get used to him: the next time Baize came to school, according Kristy Bennett, legal director of the ACLU of Mississippi, Baize was given a suspension notice and sent home. When Juin returned to school after his first suspension, he was suspended again.

posted by infinite intimation at 7:18 PM on April 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


Some people never leave high school, it seems. What a thoroughly horrible lot. Punishing them through the legal system somehow would be nice, but seeing them and their hateful ilk fade into obsolescence will be nice too.
posted by dumbland at 7:19 PM on April 6, 2010


Here's to the state of Mississippi,
For Underheath her borders, the devil draws no lines,
If you drag her muddy river, nameless bodies you will find.
Whoa the fat trees of the forest have hid a thousand crimes,
The calender is lyin' when it reads the present time.
Whoa here's to the land you've torn out the heart of,
Mississippi find yourself another country to be part of!

Here's to the people of Mississippi
Who say the folks up north, they just don't understand
And they tremble in their shadows at the thunder of the Klan
The sweating of their souls can't wash the blood from off their hands
They smile and shrug their shoulders at the murder of a man
Oh, here's to the land you've torn out the heart of
Mississippi find yourself another country to be part of

Here's to the schools of Mississippi
Where they're teaching all the children that they don't have to care
All of rudiments of hatred are present everywhere
And every single classroom is a factory of despair
There's nobody learning such a foreign word as fair
Oh, here's to the land you've torn out the heart of
Mississippi find yourself another country to be part of


Here's to the cops of Mississippi
They're chewing their tobacco as they lock the prison door
Their bellies bounce inside them as they knock you to the floor
No they don't like taking prisoners in their private little war
Behind their broken badges there are murderers and more
Oh, here's to the land you've torn out the heart of
Mississippi find yourself another country to be part of

And, here's to the judges of Mississippi
Who wear the robe of honor as they crawl into the court
They're guarding all the bastions with their phony legal fort
Oh, justice is a stranger when the prisoners report
When the black man stands accused the trial is always short
Oh, here's to the land you've torn out the heart of
Mississippi find yourself another country to be part of

And here's to the government of Mississippi
In the swamp of their bureaucracy they're always bogging down
And criminals are posing as the mayors of the towns
They're hoping that no one sees the sights and hears the sounds
And the speeches of the governor are the ravings of a clown
Oh, here's to the land you've torn out the heart of
Mississippi find yourself another country to be part of

And here's to the laws of Mississippi
Congressmen will gather in a circus of delay
While the Constitution is drowning in an ocean of decay
Unwed mothers should be sterilized, I've even heard them say
Yes, corruption can be classic in the Mississippi way
Oh, here's to the land you've torn out the heart of
Mississippi find yourself another country to be part of

And here's to the churches of Mississippi
Where the cross, once made of silver, now is caked with rust
And the Sunday morning sermons pander to their lust
The fallen face of Jesus is choking in the dust
Heaven only knows in which God they can trust
Oh, here's to the land you've torn out the heart of
Mississippi find yourself another country to be part of

(source)
posted by nathanlindstrom at 7:22 PM on April 6, 2010 [10 favorites]


dude, lady gaga needs to hit town with those dudes from twilight and the jonas brothers and miley cyrus and anybody else these kids freak out over these days, and they need to have a fucking loud-ass private graduation party and then go out into the streets caroling to the houses of all these asshole kids and sing about how much they fucking suck ass.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 7:23 PM on April 6, 2010 [33 favorites]



Well, speaking as a fatass diabetic (albeit not a parent), *I* think the people who did this to Constance McMillan are a bunch of ignorant mouth-breathing assholes, and I admire her courage immensely.

So am I just atypical for my breed?


Perhaps I wasn't clear. I was trying to point how ironic the original curse was. I mean, to protect this poor girl and reject these people's action, do we really need to lower ourselves and malign the overweight, the sick or parents? I mean, wtf.
posted by milarepa at 7:27 PM on April 6, 2010


Constance's prom was the real one.
posted by hot soup girl at 7:28 PM on April 6, 2010 [16 favorites]


Senor Cardgage: "BTW, it would be really awesome if the community would pool a bunch of money and threw her a real blowout jam in the Castro"

gum: "That is an incredibly excellent idea. Hate-Free Prom for America. How about July 4 weekend? Let's get on it!"

Yes. The Pursuit of Happiness Dance.
posted by Songdog at 7:29 PM on April 6, 2010


And that's right when fallacy of the beard showed up with the Greatest Idea in History.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 7:31 PM on April 6, 2010


Get on with the doing something nice, people.
posted by warbaby at 7:41 PM on April 6, 2010


I think you guys are being too negative. Right now there are a lot of kids who know that they might might not have been good enough to hang out with the cool kids, or win trophies, or get scholarships to college, but they were good enough to be invited to the regular prom. And they will remember this with pride forever.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:45 PM on April 6, 2010


shothotbot: "Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has quietly declared April 2010 Confederate History Month".

Can I loudly rename it as "We kicked your sorry cracker asses" Month?
posted by notsnot at 7:55 PM on April 6, 2010 [16 favorites]


They're back on Facebook: Pictures from the secret prom.

Poking fun at these kids at the fake prom is mean. And it's justified, and I like it. Good job, internet.

Seriously, though, is there a worse punishment for a modern teenager than being called out for your bigoted shit all over the internet? On the FaceSpace?
posted by oinopaponton at 8:02 PM on April 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


All right, so, according to topynate's link, one of her classmates posted (then retracted) the following statement.
**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.
The party we had in Evergreen (the county neighborhood I live in) is 30 mins away from the school. we rented out the community center, hired vendors, decorated, and our parents ran the security/chaperone staff- but it wasn’t prom. Prom was at the country club where constance and 7 other students were. The reason the senior class boycotted the actual prom was not because we hate gays. 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. It sounds mean and horrible and like we planned it all specifically to embarrass Constance, but we didn’t. We let her have her prom with her girlfriend and her tuxedo and we went to party it up in the “boondocks” not because we wanted her rights violated, but so we could salvage what has turned into a total fiasco. As a whole we didn’t support her decision to throw the district under the bus, or her insinuations that we’re all just a bunch ‘a hicks driving around in beater pick up trucks spitting tobacco and burning crosses. IAHS is one of the top schools in the state and I’m proud of that, and I’m proud that we took a stand and just said you know what? forget it, we have just as much right as you do to have a party for ourselves. So we did, and now we’re getting flack because poor Connie’s ego got a bit of bruising. She’s playing the lesbian card to prove she ALWAYS gets what she wants. This time, we didn’t just let her.

Take it as you will, because I’m sure it sounds like we faked her out, but understand this- the decision NOT to attend prom had nothing to do with the school or with Constance’s sexual preferences; it had everything to do with proving we weren’t going to let her and the ACLU steamroll us into doing what Constance wanted. We flexed the muscle of the majority and we’ll suffer the consequences.
She later retracted this with a statement that backtracked like mad, but let's just deal with this block of text for a moment.

I don't know Constance. She might, in fact, be a total jerk. I mean, just because she's a lesbian doesn't make her ipso facto a nice person.

In fact, she may have a "crazy reckless" need for attention. That may well be true.

That all said - and I say this with a completely open mind - what is at issue here isn't whether Constance is a nice person or not.

This, I think, is what Constance's classmate is missing. The ACLU and Constance aren't trying to "steamroll" them. They're asking them to follow the law.

Indeed, Constance didn't set out to have the prom canceled - she just wanted to bring her date and dress the way she wanted. The adults at the school decided that this request broke their rules. Constance and the ACLU demonstrated that the rules were illegal. In response, the adults canceled the prom.

Constance might well be a rude, selfish person. However, that doesn't make the school's rule regarding same sex prom dates legal.

Constance may have initiated the lawsuit because she is attention starved. That doesn't make the decision to cancel the prom legal or just.

Constance may be one of the most awful people in the world. That doesn't make the decision to hold an alternate prom to avoid her admirable - or even anything more than spiteful.

The student that wrote this - and apparently her classmates and the adults involved - don't get the "big picture" issues involved in this at all.

They don't get that the rule was not legal.

They don't get that canceling the prom wasn't a reasonable response to the ACLU's involvement.

They don't get that holding an alternate prom was spiteful and destined to make them look like, well, douchenozzles.

Yeah, maybe Constance is "crazy reckless." But what of the gay students at the school who are mild and polite and well liked? Those students didn't get to bring the dates they wanted to either.

Sometimes it takes somebody who is "crazy reckless" to 'throw the district under the bus" so that social justice can be achieved.

Saying nothing certainly wasn't making the change happen.

Anyhow, this is longer than my usual brief, snarky comments, but let me conclude by saying that the adults had a chance to turn this into a positive - dare I write "teachable" - moment, but they completely dropped the ball. Instead, the adults chose to act like, well, high school students.

If, in fact, Constance is a monster of a human being, through their behavior, some certain of the adults in this case have made her look like an angel. Perhaps it would be worth it for the adults in this case (as well as the students) to reflect on what that says about them.
posted by Joey Michaels at 8:03 PM on April 6, 2010 [108 favorites]


Maybe most of the liberal kids just didn't bother to go to prom. I find it hard to believe that the town is that conservative. What was the attendane of the other Prom? She has a family that supports her lifestyle to the point that they are willing to sue, a girlfriend and has been profiled in national newspapers. She also has a perfect ivy league college essay and probably a Lifetime movie. So while I am empathetic to her situation I hardly think it merits the attention we lavish on it. There are millions of kids this year too socially awkward, anxious or just unpopular that didn't get to go to prom either.
posted by humanfont at 8:09 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I cannot believe that this level of bigotry and hatred can still exist. But it does, and the thing I'm most afraid of is that it always WILL.

Gallup polls say don't be afraid.
posted by roystgnr at 8:14 PM on April 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


You find it hard to believe that a small town in Mississippi is conservative? Have you never been to the Deep South?
posted by blucevalo at 8:15 PM on April 6, 2010


These people are more pathetic than I originally imagined. They are morally and emotionally stunted grown ups whose only exhileration in life comes from mimicing the drama from their own "glory years". The amount of effort these cretins put in to excluding gays from something as trivial as the goddamned PROM is mind-boggling. At least the Westboro crazies have the nerve to out themselves in broad psycho-illuminating daylight, yet these parents and administrators get to tangibly scar this poor girl in the shroud of a cowardly conspiracy. Good thing they're doomed to a life of mediocrity and embarrassment and jesus christ just fuck them forever.
posted by Juicy Avenger at 8:18 PM on April 6, 2010


As a whole we didn’t support her decision to throw the district under the bus

If you're in the middle of whining that someone reacted too dramatically against discrimination, do you really want to make your audience start thinking up bus metaphors?
posted by roystgnr at 8:18 PM on April 6, 2010 [20 favorites]


On some level, this is going to hurt for the rest of her life, but at least she's going to be very, very rich.
posted by sexyrobot at 8:21 PM on April 6, 2010


why didn't she just go with her date, and if some dickwad school official wants to have a cow about it, then let it start there? Did they really need to get tickets and register with the name of her date?

-- Why does she go and announce her intentions first, knowing its gonna start a shitstorm in her town, then go straight to the media next?


hey, there are people who are still trying to figure out why rosa parks wouldn't just sit at the back of the bus, too
posted by pyramid termite at 8:26 PM on April 6, 2010 [9 favorites]


Hear me, people of Middle-Earth! Now I will lay down the Doom of Constance.

Many Man-Days from now, Constance of Itawamba shall be in a bar, and she will be surrounded by fair folk. My heart tells me that these folk are not elves, though they laugh much, and their buzz is mild. They shall sing the songs of old, and boast of the quests and ventures of their youth, and they shall come to converse on tales of High School, and the embarrassments thereof, and the ways that their Proms went awry. And Constance of Itawamba shall at first be silent, and it will appear as though she dreams, and her companions will believe that she has no stories to tell. And then they will fall silent, because their tales have all been told, and Constance will begin to sing her song. And the song shall be the Quenta Homophobopromomississippion, and the song will tell of such sorrow, and of such valour also, that her companions will fall to the ground in awe and laughter, and their drinks shall be spilled, and then the curse of Morgoth shall be lifted.

It appears that the school board will all be eaten by wargs.
posted by stammer at 8:47 PM on April 6, 2010 [21 favorites]


There are millions of kids this year too socially awkward, anxious or just unpopular that didn't get to go to prom either.

There is a huge difference between "didn't go to prom" and "didn't get told where prom was, unless you count 7-person prom". Huge. I was socially awkward and unpopular, but I still had the option of attending prom, just like those millions of kids you mentioned.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:49 PM on April 6, 2010 [10 favorites]


So are you saying that basically, like how everytime President Bush did something that was so far beyond the pale, and people here on Metafilter said... "Shirley THIS..."
But you are kind of saying that the 'confederates' have been doing a "shurely THIS..." since the civil war??
and 'Liberals' are told to get over the past??

Joe in Australia, I think the 'negativity' reaction you see is that the "secret prom" is by definition NOT a "regular" prom... there's bigots in the barrel before you could even start to fill it with apples or even rotten apples.

Being invited to the bigot prom is not something to be cherished forever.

It's likely something that those people look at five years later and go, woah, yeah, that was horrible. What royal-assenters we were to be party to the disinclusion of selected people for being some different...Gee, sure am glad that I was invited, just because 'we weren't AS unpopular THOSE people.. and then they say "I wish we hadn't gone..."

thanks for that "explanation of the situation for open minds" Joey Michaels, it backs up my thoughts that "yeah, you can definitely still be a small closed minded person even if you can write 'properly'"... or put another way, it's not eloquence or skill with language that makes people 'open' or 'closed minded'... or 'bigots'... no, it is what you do with whatever words or speaking capacity one holds.

She may be "smart" enough to spell, and properly punctuate... she may be clever enough to 'post-ironically' write "like a hick" (to somehow prove that she is not closed minded... she may well be an A+ student who knows all kinds of everything, and grows up successful and wealthy, with a good job ... but that doesn't guarantee that one can think critically.

If the "we just wanted a "drama" free prom person seriously wanted a 'drama' free prom... why not just tell the teachers/principal to stfu, and let the two girls go together, before the teachers and principal made a decision to bar certain people; because honestly... wtf; does it scare you? what? You really think that the principal and teachers would discriminate on purpose unless some students were making a big deal to not let the two girls go together... and the pictures seem to show like there were two girls kissing anyway... honestly... how is 'tolerance' so difficult... even if they completely ignored the two girls the whole time... you don't have to BE them... or heck, you don't even have to LOOK at them... so why did the "distressed seniors who just wanted to have a good time without 'drama'... blame ANY drama on this girl... why does homosexual girl asking to bring date = bringing 'drama'...


Can someone go back and scare quote and reverse italicize all instances of the word "drama" from this comment... it ought to be in the running for the most misused word... Mr. Hitchens, go write a diatribe about it!

Chyme... we are measuring chins now??

well addressed Pyramid termite, and to address or comment upon another of the 'questions' from that same comment... you state that "making out or touching of bums should be immediately STOPPED/ended as wrong thinking... but if you look at what happened at the "norml" people "prom"... you will see that this kind of makeout/kissing whatever behavior was FINE, acceptable, not ostracized or punished for those people... but I guess those two Women aren't free to do what others do everyday without giving a second THOUGHT to... weird this. innit?
Does anyone really believe someone would go through this all because they thought it would make them popular, and for the attention? Weird.
posted by infinite intimation at 8:54 PM on April 6, 2010


[pls take your performance art grar to metatalk, thanks]
posted by jessamyn at 8:57 PM on April 6, 2010


Well, that young lady has already learned one of the essential tools of maintaining privilege: Blame your victim, and act like they are somehow oppressing you by demanding to be treated as equals. There are places where this sort of attitude will get you pretty far in life, if you don't mind being a miserable excuse for a human being.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:58 PM on April 6, 2010 [37 favorites]


By young lady, I mean the classmate who wrote the apologia, of course.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:59 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


But you are kind of saying that the 'confederates' have been doing a 'shurely THIS..'" since the civil war?

Hey, Mississippi abolished slavery. In 1995.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:03 PM on April 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


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.

Uppity dyke.
posted by dhartung at 9:08 PM on April 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


those people are not very nice.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:13 PM on April 6, 2010


Joey Michaels, you're absolutely right. The kid who wrote that doesn't get the big picture. She's self-centered and she's lost site of what's right. She's not burning with Fred-Phelps-level hate and crazy, but she's stuck in the mindset that prom was supposed to be about her, and her friends and their celebration, and if only Constance had been willing to just shut up and stick to her place, everything would have been cool. You guys are right: It's not a praiseworthy or admirable attitude.

But, infinite intimation, let's not judge her too harshly, because she's still a young student. She's supposed to still be a little immature and self-centered. It just proves that Constance has grown up and she hasn't yet.

Instead, judge the teachers who should have taught her to look for the big picture, and didn't. Let's judge instead the principal and the school board, who've made promises to run the school system according to the law, and instead are running it according to their bigotry. Judge maybe the mayor, who should have tried harder to lead the community out of this mess. Judge the ministers, who have seemingly never bothered to learn what it was that Jesus taught. Judge the courts and the state officials who just wanted it all to blow over and die down more than they cared about justice.

The adults there have failed their duty to Constance. But they've also failed their duty to the students like the author of that piece you quoted. It's OK, really, that she still needs guidance and wisdom. Not perfect, not admirable, but OK. It's not OK that the people who should be there providing leadership, who should be older and wiser are egging her on to be a worse person.

Feel sorry for the children there. They're apparently being raised by wolves.
posted by tyllwin at 9:14 PM on April 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Constance was given a gift. She will never think "Whatever happened to X from high school?" and call that person up or visit that person next time goes back home, only to find out X is a gigantic asshole.

She got to stand up in front of her whole class and ask "Who here is a gigantic asshole?", and 100 or so of her fellow seniors lept out of their chairs, arms shooting up, yelled "Ooh! Ooh! Me! Me!"
posted by zinc saucier at 9:25 PM on April 6, 2010 [35 favorites]


Feel sorry for the children there. They're apparently being raised by wolves.

We're not dealing with 6-year-olds here. You may not be at the height of your maturity at 18, but you're old enough to vote, go to war, to get married, and engage in a variety of other adult activities. I appreciate your compassion, but I do think there is value in holding people accountable for their cruelty, even when they're young. Part of the process of becoming an adult is to be challenged on your behavior and held responsible for it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:33 PM on April 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


A couple of years after I graduated from high school I attended an alumni association party because, hey, free drinks, and a guy who had graduated a year or so before me (this would be the early 80s) showed up.

In a dress.

There was more than a little eye-rolling and muttered disdain. How gauche! How attention-seeking! What was he thinking? Why is he parading his discomfiting lifestyle about like this? And, honestly, I was one of the people whose eyes were rolling. I hadn't really liked the guy that much in high school, not because he was gay, but because he was a rich snob who listened to bad music.

But the dress thing got me thinking. I thought about how celebratory he looked, what courage it must have taken, how happy he seemed. And I went from eye-rolling to appreciation.

This story doesn't have a happy ending. We never became bestest pals or even spoke more than once or twice after that. He died young. I missed the funeral.

But Chris wearing that dress changed the way I thought about things.

So Constance, when they roll their eyes and snicker you just get louder, because you may never realize it but I guarantee you're reaching some of them. And those people will be better people for it, whether they recognize it or acknowledge it or not.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:34 PM on April 6, 2010 [28 favorites]


Constance was given a gift. ... She got to stand up in front of her whole class and ask "Who here is a gigantic asshole?", and 100 or so of her fellow seniors lept out of their chairs, arms shooting up, yelled "Ooh! Ooh! Me! Me!"

Awesome and entirely correct. Thanks to the magic of the interwebs (specifically Facebook), I get to do this daily now as well. This very story has, in fact, helped me weed out a few unnecessary contacts.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 9:51 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I missed the prom at the cool alternative high school, because I was working tech for a play at the other high school I went to and the state finals for the theater competition was that weekend. But even at the rather staid high school whose prom I attended (an event that was generally anti-climactic), we had same-sex couples. And at the alternative high school, well, back then it wasn't even controversial for a student to wear a giant vagina costume to a school dance (though the next dean banned it for some silly reason).

So I guess my message for rural Mississippi is that this is all shit that the rest of us got over way back in the 20th century. Hows about you drag your ass up to at least the late '90s in terms of progress?
posted by klangklangston at 9:58 PM on April 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


A giant vagina costume is exactly what these kids needed at their secret formal.

After all, what are a bunch of giant douchebags going to do with themselves, otherwise?
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:27 PM on April 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


For those wondering: Constance has already been on Ellen, and on Ellen a company gave her a $30,000 uni scholarship as well as an internship.

This whole story - and now Juin as well! - is making me sick. As someone who was ostracised by the whole school for racial reasons, and where the teachers did a lot of the racist attacks, I'm pretty sure that I would have been the target of a malicious Facebook page (I certainly did get the "attention-seeker" comments). Urgh. Blargh. This whole thing...fucking hell.

I wish I knew what to do so that no one has to ever be bullied like this. Constance is being absolutely gracious given the circumstances. Is there any way I in Australia can send her a token of appreciation or something?
posted by divabat at 10:37 PM on April 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


As someone who was ostracised by the whole school for racial reasons, and where the teachers did a lot of the racist attacks

Was that back in Malaysia?
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:52 PM on April 6, 2010


I grew up and still live in Mississippi. The students of my high school accepted people who were gay. I roomed with a gay student and it was no different than rooming with a straight person. I'm now a student at Mississippi State University. My experiences in Starkville are different from what people in this thread think Mississippi is like. It is not a problem to be gay in this town. There is a gay community in Starkville. Local politicians are supportive of the gay community. Students who were closeted in small towns could come out safely here and enjoy being themselves in public for the first time. I've made plenty of friends and heard them tell their stories, both funny and sad, about what it was like to be closeted or out in Small Town, Mississippi. Gay people contribute a lot to this town and we would be worse without them.

The gay-straight alliance on campus, which I am a part of, helped with this year's production of The Vagina Monologues for V-Day a couple of weeks ago. We also went to go see Eric Alva speak (first soldier injured in The Second Gulf War, also happens to be gay and served under Don't Ask, Don't Tell) and we're working to have him talk here. One of our goals this year is to be more involved with campus life and increase awareness of our group. One way we are doing this is promoting Day of Silence.

We set up a booth in the union with materials explaining the Day of Silence and provided iniformation for people who wanted to take a vow. I asked people walking by if they had heard of the event and I begin telling them about it. It was disappointing to go through the whole speech about Day of Silence and ask if they wanted to participate and have that person say no because, "They don't support that." I could see that coming when I saw it in their face midway through my explanation. I personally believe this is because these people never had any kind of relationship with anyone who was openly gay. But we had more interest than disgust which is encouraging.

The Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition puts on a second chance prom open to anyone who wants to have a good time regardless of gender or sexual orientation. A friend invited me and I'm thinking about going. I'd like to meet Constance.

The amendment banning same sex marriage in Mississippi was passed in 2004. The results were 86% to 14% in favor of the ban.
posted by chinesefood at 11:09 PM on April 6, 2010 [9 favorites]


Hi divabat, (and the poeple thinking of setting up an alter-alter prom, pretty sure this is the opportunity metafilter has been leading up to, for lady gaga and the president to be seen together.); not sure if you saw the part about donations on this page, talking about Juins story, I am not sure who/what "slog" represents... I just discovered it related to this story. The donation seems to use paypal, or maybe credit cards which I am not sure of how global the versions might be... But this young person was essentially run out of the town...

"UPDATE: Folks are emailing me to ask if there's any way to help Juin out—and there is. Make a donation to help get Juin settled in Pensacola and help his mom and sisters move to Florida. I've checked into Juin's situation and I'm confident that—although his life has been chaotic—any monies donated will be spent appropriately.

"In '08 Sloggers helped raised more than $5,000 to pay for the funeral of Duanna Johnson, a transwoman and a victim of police brutality who was murdered in Memphis, Tennessee. According to Johnson's family, half of the money raised for Johnson's funeral came from donors in Seattle after a call for donations appeared on Slog. Let's see what we can raise for a trans kid who's still alive, shall we? (Oh, and folks who want me to apologize for this: Okay, I will—after we raise at least 2K for Juin and his family. Otherwise, meh, I'll just keep hating on trans people like the raging anti-trans beegoat that I am.) "

posted by infinite intimation at 11:33 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Slog is the Stranger Blog. the Stranger is Seattle's most popular alternative weekly, edited by (and the original publishing home of) Dan Savage.
posted by KathrynT at 12:00 AM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Throwing in the disabled students really takes this story out of the Nasty category and tosses it right up on top of the Downright Loathsome heap. It's like the scene in Animal House where the two freshmen attend an Alpha house party, only to be stuck in the back room with the foreign exchange students and the guy with the giant retainer. What I mean to say by all this is that I hope this means Constance makes a float shaped like a cake with a DEATHMOBILE underneath, buys ten thousand marbles, and crashes the town's Homecoming parade.

And then she is elected to the Senate.
posted by Spatch at 12:36 AM on April 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


It seems like the "good" people of Itawamba County were too busy fantasising about da buttsex during their Bible classes to catch the actual message of Genesis 18. You know, this bit about Sodom:

26 And the LORD said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.

27 And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes:

28 Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five? And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it.

29 And he spake unto him yet again, and said, Peradventure there shall be forty found there. And he said, I will not do it for forty's sake.

30 And he said unto him, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Peradventure there shall thirty be found there. And he said, I will not do it, if I find thirty there.

31 And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord: Peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for twenty's sake.

32 And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten's sake.

33 And the LORD went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place.


Apparently, Constance McMillan could only find five righteous. I wonder who the real "sodomites" are in this story. Certainly, "Old Testament God" would be getting the fire and brimstone ready by now...
posted by Skeptic at 1:11 AM on April 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Appalling.
posted by DanCall at 3:19 AM on April 7, 2010


About 7 years ago, I was discussing another prom kerfluffle with a group of people -- this time it was a town in the south that did something similar, only along racial lines (they were forced to integrate their prom, but the parents organized a secret private party just for the white kids). As we were all shaking our heads, one of the guys in the group, an African-American man, said philosophically, "you know, though, we're still gonna be there at the private prom. Because you know they're gonna be listening to a lot of hip-hop, and..." and we all nodded, both still angry at the students but pitying them for being so blind that they didn't get that they were shunning the very people they were idolizing and emulating.

Looking at the "photos of the real prom," and the staged girls-making-out scenes, I am reminded of that discussion.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:13 AM on April 7, 2010 [10 favorites]


It's eminently clear from the the articles in the FPP that the students with the learning difficulties* went to the "main", second prom.

Disclaimer: in the previous FPP on this I made hilarious, ironic and as-it-turned-out-not-that-hilarious gag. I would like to state for the sake of clarity that the treatment of Constance McMillan appears to be the epitome of petty small-minded, insular communities. She can rest assured that for many of her fellow students, the sooper secret prom at which the lesbian didn't come and where they jiggled about in the all white tux or shiny ballgown will be the acme of their social status.

* If you define learning difficulties as the inability to actually absorb some basic lessons on how to interact with people, or treat people.
posted by MuffinMan at 4:21 AM on April 7, 2010


Skeptic: "Apparently, Constance McMillan could only find five righteous. I wonder who the real "sodomites" are in this story. Certainly, "Old Testament God" would be getting the fire and brimstone ready by now..."

Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.--Ezekiel 16:49-50
posted by Pater Aletheias at 4:22 AM on April 7, 2010 [9 favorites]


So I had a rant all typed out about how the LGB press went absolutely shitnuts over this prom stuff but totally ignored Juin Baize until that earlier incident was brought up to drive home the fact that the school is run by arseholes because even to our allies trans people are just part of someone else's narrative, but I really don't have all the facts at hand so all I can do is get all upset and grumpy and that helps no-one so I deleted it.

and now I will actually read the thread
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:38 AM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


this and the people of this inbred backwards town suck such major ass...

and yes i am diabetic, but not a fat ass. my wife says i have no ass.
posted by damnitkage at 5:17 AM on April 7, 2010


People suck.

Luckily Constance got something out of it. I hope they pursue it further, it being illegal and all.

As for Juin... possibly even worse -- and to be forgotten in the middle of the prom business. Awful.
posted by flippant at 5:18 AM on April 7, 2010


That comment from the girl defending the alternative prom is a perfect case study of how utterly this school has failed. Do they just skip all the civil rights stuff in their history classes?
posted by odinsdream at 5:42 AM on April 7, 2010


I am sickened but not surprised by the bigoted shenanigans of Fulton. My freshman year of college I went to a big university in Texas, partied too much, and lost my scholarship, so my parents dragged me home and sent me to Itawamba Community College. As punishment.

My best friend from high school (who was being similarly punished) and I survived by ditching out every Tuesday after class and heading up to Starkville, home of Mississippi State and its marginally more progressive attitudes, as described by chinesefood above. We had a group of friends there who provided a desperately needed distraction from our craphole existence at ICC.

It took less than a semester there for me to realize, holy shit, I want nothing to do with 99.98% of the attitudes and life perspectives of my classmates, and so I got my grades in order right quick and was out of there within two weeks of the semester's end. Yes, it was that bad. So as I said: sickened but not at all surprised over here.

The story about Juin Blaze is just terrible. This part in particular was so frightening, where Juin's mom says:
“If I had the money, I would move the kids somewhere else, somewhere they would be safe,” Bertsinger told me. “I wish we could move somewhere for my son, somewhere a transgender teenager would be safe. I worry about him constantly. Everywhere he goes he goes with me.”
Can you imagine? Can you even begin to fathom what it's like to be so utterly terrified for your child's safety, so worried that he's going to be the next Matthew Shepard that you have to be with him at all times? It's just appalling.

Yeah, I don't miss Fulton at all. Not one goddamned bit.
posted by shiu mai baby at 5:49 AM on April 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think this is all viral ad for the setup to Human Centipede 2 where the Evil Doctor turns his powers against bigotry.
posted by Skorgu at 6:03 AM on April 7, 2010


God, people. What the fuck.

I hope any student with an inkling of shame about what's been done to these kids gets out as fast as possible. And may the self-righteous stay there and rot.
posted by rtha at 6:04 AM on April 7, 2010


UbuRovias: Yeah, in Malaysia - when I was in primary school there was this big media debacle about how Bangladeshis were the scrounge of the country, stealing our women and our jobs and all that. My parents migrated from Dhaka in 1974, I was born there, and my dad was the head of a successful Government-based company - and we're still not even citizens. The cognitive dissonance - my family weren't labourers or diplomats and certainly had no crime to confess - was apparently too much to bear. How DARE I be an Other (everything in Malaysia is officially divided into Malay/Chinese/Indian/Other) that OUTPERFORMS the Malays?! How DARE I be the best student in English in the school?! I've had teachers say in the class "See, even though Tiara is not Malay she could do her exam papers right" - just adding to the resentment.

As for donations: I've already donated to Juin's cause, but I want to reach out to Constance specifically.
posted by divabat at 6:07 AM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, maybe Constance is "crazy reckless." But what of the gay students at the school who are mild and polite and well liked?

In the various appearances she's made she comes across to me as quiet and shy.

Examples:
Constance McMillen’s appearance on CBS Early Show [video | 03:38].

Her appearance on Ellen (In Which She also Receives $30K Scholarship) [video | 07:22].
Ellen to Constance: "I think you're so brave. You are amazing!"

Constance's stance and follow through against the wrongdoing should be applauded. I ask those who think she did it just to "get attention": Would you have had the courage to stand up for your legal rights when you were her age?
posted by ericb at 7:07 AM on April 7, 2010


BTW -- legal precedence was set in 1980 in a similar federal case.

Aaron Fricke successfully sued in federal district court (Fricke v. Lynch) his high school in R.I. for not allowing him to bring his boyfriend, Paul Guilbert, to the senior prom in 1980. In 1981 Fricke wrote a book about the ordeal: 'Reflections of a Rock Lobster: A Story about Growing Up Gay.'
posted by ericb at 7:11 AM on April 7, 2010


By trying throwing a fake prom and real prom to avoid giving her more attention, they only made more people hear about the situation, and more people are calling the rest of the class, the parents and the teachers all sorts of nastiness. You can't win, Itawamba County folks. If you try to ostracize her, she will get more attention than you could possibly imagine.

Here's my wish for those who set up, attended, and did (or didn't) tell Constance McMillan about the real other prom: that they live full lives, but forever hear news of how well Constance McMillan is doing, or are remembered for being associated with the whole thing. Imagine, years in the future, someone says they went to Itawamba County in 2010.

"Oh, really? I've heard of that place. Wait, do you remember Constance McMillan? I heard she's doing well in [college]. Did you know her?"

"Hey, you went to school with Constance McMillan, right? Man, that was a shitty senior year for her, but she's really gone on to do good stuff. How are you doing? Oh, you're still living with your parents? Um, it's a great way to save money. Are you going to school any where?"

"Look, isn't that Constance McMillan on TV? Do you remember how so many people were utter bastards to her? Looks like she's not holding a grudge, that's awesome. And how are you doing?"
posted by filthy light thief at 7:14 AM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Shame on them.

.



Constance sounds like a real kick ass woman. I think she's going to be just fine.

The rest of her shitty community? Not so much.
posted by ohyouknow at 7:32 AM on April 7, 2010


It's a good thing that high school doesn't matter for shit.

Although for a lot of people (probably most of the people responsible for this travesty), high school is the high point of their entire lives.* Which provided me reason enough to never go to any of my class reunions - all I wanted from high school was out, and once out, I never looked back.

*which is pretty much revenge right there, because how sad is that? As the saying goes, "Living well is the best revenge."
posted by MexicanYenta at 7:35 AM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


We wanted a drama-free gathering to celebrate 3 great years and 1 lousy one together

This is a fascinatingly blithe glossing-over of the fact that -- if Constance's story is anything close to the norm for the LGBT students in this school -- there were many people in the school who had four EXTREMELY lousy years.
posted by Greg Nog at 7:48 AM on April 7, 2010 [11 favorites]


Why am I never amazed at just how ignorant and vindictive people can be?
posted by Thorzdad at 7:50 AM on April 7, 2010


So. Fucking. Angry.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:51 AM on April 7, 2010


I grew up here. Take heart, metafileterians. There are good places as well as bad, and good people. We just have to keep struggling forward step by slow step.
posted by prefpara at 7:59 AM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Candace Gingrich-Jones:
"We can all learn a lot from Constance McMillan and how she has handled herself -- when we see something that doesn't seem right, it probably isn't. And it is the responsibility of every one of us to take some kind of action on behalf of fairness. Whether you bring up bullying at the next PTA meeting, write a letter to the Itawamba County School District, or call out your friends or co-workers when they say 'faggot' or 'that's so gay,' you are improving the climate for queer youth -- and adults. Do something."
posted by ericb at 8:02 AM on April 7, 2010


I'm not surprised by the parents. I wanted to bail on my senior prom in Houston in 1985 and there was a full-court press by the mothers of the senior class to get me to attend. Now I barely remember the prom except for the fact that I lost one of my brand new contacts swimming at the afterparty, but I sure remember all the reasons I didn't care about going because I remember the arguments with the mothers who were pressuring me to go. There's no defense of the kids here--I'm ashamed of some of the things I did at that age--but parents being overly invested in the prom, and sanctioning the secret prom, doesn't surprise me.

The heartbreaking thing about the "actual prom" was something I read that McMillen had said about the special ed kids who attended, to the effect of how nice it was that they got to go to prom without being made fun of. That tells me everything I needed to know about that high school. I hope all the "actual prom" kids are out of there sooner rather than later.

(And thanks for retracting the fatass diabetic line, Senor Cardgage. My husband is diabetic and I know he's frothing at the mouth about how McMillen has been treated. I was bothered by the "diabetic" = "punishment for bigotry" vibe in this thread but not enough to take it to MeTa; I'm glad my faith in the community was well-placed.)
posted by immlass at 8:47 AM on April 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


As we were all shaking our heads, one of the guys in the group, an African-American man, said philosophically, "you know, though, we're still gonna be there at the private prom. Because you know they're gonna be listening to a lot of hip-hop, and..." and we all nodded, both still angry at the students but pitying them for being so blind that they didn't get that they were shunning the very people they were idolizing and emulating.

Kill Whitie!
posted by acb at 8:52 AM on April 7, 2010


All right, so, according to topynate's link, one of her classmates posted (then retracted) the following statement... -Joey Michaels

Actually, according to a friend of mine who grew up in a tiny backwoods town of Mississippi, that statement is exactly representative of the mindset that allows this to happen regularly WRT segregated proms etc. in the state. My friend said she's almost positive for most people involved it's not a matter of "no fags allowed!" per se but a raging overblown obsession with feeling you didn't allow the government or regulations to tell you what to do.

Obviously still not ok (as already mentioned a zillion times, the idea a community of grown ass adults helped set this in motion fills one with mindboggling despair), but the mindset is a little different than you might expect. And I realize it's easy to suggest that sort of "our private rights!!!" claim is just a cowardly euphemistic cover for more obviously ugly hate speech a la 1960s "preserve our Southern way of life" bullshit racism, but I also get the impression some of these people genuinely think, even if their subconscious works a little differently, that it is a matter of privacy rather than across-the-board hatred.

Personally I am digging the idea upthread of getting Lady Gaga on board to go over there, heh.
posted by ifjuly at 9:24 AM on April 7, 2010


mindset is a little different than you might expect.

I don't care the tortured logic that lead to discrimination. An act of hatred can be as nuanced as all get out, but it's the results that matter. Rah rah, you stuck it to the man, you standard bearers of independence. Of course, what it wound up looking like is that you collectively bullied a young gay woman ...

Hey, wait. That's what you did.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:37 AM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Personally I am digging the idea upthread of getting Lady Gaga on board to go over there, heh.

Speaking of which ...

Student Sent Home for 'I Heart Lady Gay Gay' T-Shirt.
posted by ericb at 9:41 AM on April 7, 2010


Trust me, AZ, I'm not apologizing for these folks. I'm disgusted, and about as militant gender/queer revolutionary as one can be (long story, won't go into here)--it's the single most important socio-political issue I want to see radically change in my lifetime. But I think recognizing where they themselves think they're coming from might be helpful in trying to figure out how to handle this ongoing problem. Because it is an ongoing problem. And I do believe for some of them, at least in what they tell themselves and feel they genuinely believe, it's a "fuck the government, social mob rule is where it's at" thing more than the specifics involved. Of course, it doesn't take someone with an education very long to think through why the specifics involved are, ahem, problematic for that kind of reasoning (social justice, civil rights, all the things already mentioned above as DUHs), but I am convinced for a lot of these folks they just stop at "it's my right to be this way" and don't dwell further on it.

Again, NOT apologizing for this mindset--it's a big fucking problem. Just saying, I do think it is a more detailed look at why this happens in the first place.
posted by ifjuly at 9:46 AM on April 7, 2010


I disagree, ifjuly. I'm from a backwoods Mississippi town myself, one that was only a few miles from Fulton. I think that these folks might publicly claim that they're taking a stand against the East Coast libruls and the uppity dyke who would dare tell them how to run their prom, but really that's just a comfy cloak for good old fashioned bigotry against gays, which they think is a perfectly acceptable mindset because Leviticus says so.

It's impressive how some people down there can imbue the words "homosexual agenda" with that much vitriol and hatred. It's even more impressive how many people actually believe in a "homosexual agenda."
posted by shiu mai baby at 9:48 AM on April 7, 2010


NOT apologizing for this mindset

Oh, I didn't think you were. But I think it's important, when confronted with these sorts of explanations for intolerant behavior, to unpack them by discussing their actual effect. People can be awesome at putting a positive spin on the most loathsome behavior -- just look at the hoops many racists jump through to explain themselves ("I don't hate black people, I just love my race.") And maybe those really are the reasons people have for doing something terrible, but it's important to point out that whatever noble motives they might think they're following, the end results were unconscionable.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:50 AM on April 7, 2010


I guess we'll just have to conclude we've had different experiences (or rather, my friend has) then. This is what she posted when I mentioned the prom on my blog, and it aligns with things she's alluded to about growing up in MS before:

You know, I first heard about this story on channel 5 and I was really surprised by it. They interviewed a few different locals, both students and adults, and they were all like, "I don't see what the big deal is. She should be able to do whatever she wants." I'm not sure if that's really the general local concensus or if channel 5 was just selective with its interviewees in order to inject its own opinion. Either way, I thought it was cool.

I'm sure you know this already, but I spent a lot of my youth in a rural Mississippi town much smaller than the setting of this story, and I had many openly gay friends. It was never an issue for any of the girls (but definitely was at times for the guys). Not to say that teachers and other adults were okay with it or anything. I think it was more a case of "Let's ignore this because it's awkward and maybe it will just go away."

There is also one very important aspect of rural, deep south culture that I think most people don't know about unless they've actually lived in it, and that's the fact that the people really hate the government and being told what to do. I suspect that many would rather have this girl burn in hell for being a fag than have someone meddling and telling her what she can and cannot do. I say this because I grew up in a household with a father (and many generations before him) who believed that the holy trinity of evil is "preachers, politicians, and policemen." I think it's kind of interesting, actually. And now I'm wondering if that mindset is rooted in some awful slavery thing, like "they can't come in here and take our slaves away" or something like that. Hmmm.

Anyway, I'm rambling. Sorry!


We were helping her move out of her apartment last year and stumbled upon photos from high school of her boyfriend and her; they were messing around taking polaroids or something and he was wearing a dress and make up and they were laughing together. I know I know, anecdata et al, and I don't even mean to bring it up like that, it's more just, I can see where she's coming from, and I don't think she's being defensively obscurantist or anything (this friend's as given-liberal as I am).

Again, doesn't make it ok to me or her. Just. It'd be nice to talk about it in specifics or whatever, dismantle its parts, not just say obvious things like "these people should burn" or whatever. That's all.
posted by ifjuly at 9:54 AM on April 7, 2010


AZ, my comment above was directed at shui mai baby, not you in case that was confusing. Yeah, I'm totally with you re: the outcome being the main focus. I suppose I'm navel-gazing in a privileged position where I can afford to, no?

And it is sort of confusing because of the possibility of a chicken-egg feedback loop...if that kneejerk "fuck the government it's my right" stems from the history of the Civil War and fighting black civil rights, the claim it's an in-a-vacuum stance about privacy now is circuitous, obviously, because the reasoning originally stemmed from hate anyway. Gives me a headache just trying to unpack which-came-first-the-hatred-or-the-"libertarianism", honestly.

Well, now I'm just rambling, so I will stop.
posted by ifjuly at 10:02 AM on April 7, 2010


No, no, I didn't mean to imply your friend's own experiences were wrong or anything like that, and I apologize for not being more clear. I fully agree that the best approach to combating stuff like this is to understand the mindset that fosters a reaction like this, understanding how a person (adult or teen) gets to a point where they think holding a secret prom where the gay kids and those with learning disabilities aren't invited is a-ok.

My point was that, in my experience at least, super-conservative Christian "values" (and I am using that term ever so loosely) have so permeated the culture down there that it informs almost every aspect of life for your average white hetero kid to the point of not even recognizing the saturation and/or seeing that level of religious influence in everything as normal. So sure, a bunch of the IAHS students might claim a quasi-libertarian GUVMINT=BAD reasoning for holding a secret prom, and that's definitely an issue worth addressing. But you can't fully address that without also getting to the very heart of the problem, which is the completely distorted and exclusionary version of Christianity that is preached from the pulpits, whether it's a 50-member Baptist church in Saltillo or one of the newer, glossier mega-churches in the larger communities.
posted by shiu mai baby at 10:09 AM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why isn't there a nonprofit fund and volunteer support network to help LGBT kids and their families, especially impoverished ones, leave these vile places and start life over in a more accepting place? All the support for Constance is nice but what would be nicer is if kids like Juin Baize could be airlifted the hell out of situations where their lives are actively endangered.
posted by melissa may at 10:13 AM on April 7, 2010


Sorry for the potential derail, but something I don't understand here is why going to the senior prom has become such a huge deal. Seriously, parents pressuring kids to attend? I graduated high school in 1978 in suburban New York, in a class of about 200, and didn't go to the prom. Nor did any of my few friends, nerds and geeks all, and nobody cared.

In fact, the prom was viewed (by us outcasts) as a form of collaboration with The Man, and only brainwashed cheerleaders and jocks would attend. Partly sour grapes, of course, but partly genuine contempt for The Establishment and any officially-sanctioned "school spirit" bullshit. This was the Vietnam Era and protest was in the air, but teenagers are naturally ornery and rebellious on top of that, plus we didn't want to spend another minute with the assholes who'd made high school so miserable for us.

What's changed? Why would a nonconformist like Constance (btw, rock on, kid!) even want to go to a tradition-bound event full of assholes? Has social networking (Facebook, Myspace, etc) intensified the pressure to be part of the herd to the point where being harassed is preferable to being ostracized? Are there other factors at work?

So, young'uns, please step onto my lawn and explain.
posted by Quietgal at 10:18 AM on April 7, 2010


He said it. I d'nt:
Mississippi Goernor: I'm A 'Fat Redneck' With 'An Accent'.
posted by ericb at 10:32 AM on April 7, 2010


*Governor*
posted by ericb at 10:32 AM on April 7, 2010


Sorry for the potential derail, but something I don't understand here is why going to the senior prom has become such a huge deal.

i think it's just one of those widely shared hallmark moments; i'm the same way about the series of wedding/reception traditions that couples try to cram into their celebrations. i think even the rebellious sometimes crave being part of a universally shared yet individualized and asynchronous experience, and prom is one of the closest things we get to that.

i think the view i would have, in the same situation, is that the other students don't have the right to just cut me out of that experience, any more than they have the right to delete me from the yearbook or leave my name off the graduation program.

but also, you and your friends had the choice to not go. can you say you wouldn't have felt differently had you been told you weren't welcome?
posted by fallacy of the beard at 10:40 AM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't like prom. Didn't go. Don't like the military or marriage either. Think they're flawed institutions. Not crazy about football games, either. Or the Boy Scouts. Or professional modeling. But if a gay person wants to do any of those things, I'm gonna fight like hell to make sure they can.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:45 AM on April 7, 2010 [10 favorites]


I'm A 'Fat Redneck' With 'An Accent'

a sidetrack, but the governor there is being disingenuous. growing up in the redneck south, i know for a fact that a strong southern accent is often encouraged as a strategic tool for getting non-southerners to underestimate you; the intention is to lower others' expectations such that your average intelligence seems somehow exceptional.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 10:50 AM on April 7, 2010


"We flexed the muscle of the majority and we’ll suffer the consequences."

If MeFi has taught me anything, it's the fitting Southern response to this classmate: Bless her heart.
posted by CKmtl at 11:15 AM on April 7, 2010 [11 favorites]


Sorry for the potential derail, but something I don't understand here is why going to the senior prom has become such a huge deal.

It's always been a big deal in some places. My Boston-area high school's prom was a big deal with some parts of the student population but not other parts. I only went because a bunch of my friends were going, and it sounded goofy and fun, which it sort of was.
posted by rtha at 11:27 AM on April 7, 2010


Student Sent Home for 'I Heart Lady Gay Gay' T-Shirt.

Lady Gaga twittered unhappily about this:
It reminds me of my commitment + love for u, and the deep unconditional devotion I feel to write music that will liberate you from prejudice

Thank u for wearing your tee-shirt proud at school, you make me so proud, at the monsterball, you are an inspiration to us all. I love you.X
I think she should play at everyone's prom forever.
posted by bewilderbeast at 11:44 AM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Fallacy and AZ, of course I support their right to attend silly school functions if they want. For us outcasts, the previous 4 years of high school made it pretty clear that we weren't exactly welcomed at the prom, but had we been told outright that we couldn't attend, well, the teenage rebellion would have kicked in pretty hard, I imagine.

My question is more about why sharing these "hallmark moments" (nicely put, by the way) seems so much more important nowadays. In 1978 it seemed that traditional rituals like proms, yearbooks, pep rallies, etc were on their last legs - and good riddance. Why the resurgence?

And the flip side: why are these rituals so important that "in-group" assholes have to go out of their way to make sure that outcasts can't share them? The jerks who went to Senior Prom 1978 might have been happy I wasn't there - if they even noticed - but it wasn't worth making any effort to ensure that I wasn't. In fact, anybody who was too into The Establishment and its rituals pretty much lost their street cred.

Ostracism was alive and well, but it was more low-key: gossip and shunning and snide mockery, not so much outright heated persecution and pile-on shaming. Outcasts had the nuclear option of declaring that we didn't buy into the social hierarchy, we weren't part of that pecking order, and we didn't give a shit what the popular kids thought about us (that was our public stance, anyway). It was lonely, but nowhere near as crushing as what kids today seem to go through. Why do kids nowadays apparently not have the option of defying the herd? When and why did we go all Lord of the Flies?
posted by Quietgal at 12:00 PM on April 7, 2010


My question is more about why sharing these "hallmark moments" seems so much more important nowadays.

i'm guessing because there seem to be fewer things that form a universal(-ish) common experience. bring up prom in a mixed older crowd, and you'll get reminiscences that cross class, ethnic, and generational lines; even someone with a dull or disappointing prom experience finds some measure of nostalgia, even laughing at its dullness.

but also, i'd say because a lot of our major life moments are kind of mediated through how they are represented in the popular culture. (again i'm more fascinated with weddings on this front--not only in the recurrence of the traditions, but in how participants' reactions to them so mimic how we've seen them in movies and on tv.) teen culture has marked prom as an important moment, and that's constantly reinforced; my impression is that even the rebellious do not think of sitting it out as much as they think how to rebel or push what they can get away with within the context of the prom.

thinking about it more, i'm curious as to whether there has been a cool analysis of how proms have evolved and how it parallels or is influenced by proms in films and tv. i guess what i wouldn't have expected is that with those films where you had suck-ass teenagers who were always trying to ruin it for somebody else, there are apparently people who watch those films who identify more with the suck-ass crowd than the awkward-yet-cool outsider.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 12:42 PM on April 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


If MeFi has taught me anything, it's the fitting Southern response to this classmate: Bless her heart.

Yes! I take full credit for educating MeFi in the ways of useful Southern idioms.

ifjuly, I have to firmly disagree with you and your friend. Yes, there is a strong anti-government-interference streak in the South, but it's really whitewashing the issue to say that this is the main thing going on here. You'll note that the gubment-can't-tell-us-what-to-do trope is only really applied to things like, oh, segregation, gun control, taxes, etc., but is suspiciously absent from issues like abortion or gay marriage. The South isn't really all that exceptional in that it really enjoys for the government to tell other folks how to behave, but gets awfully cranky when the rule of law applies to them as well. In other words, many people, including southerners, prefer the government functions as a tool to enforce their own values/lifestyles, and then pull out the libertarian chatter when irritating things like equal protection under the law come up.

The fact remains that they tried to ban a lesbian couple from the prom. There was no government interference until they demonstrated their commitment to bigotry; it's disingenuous to characterize the bigotry as some sort of misguided individual-rights protest.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 12:46 PM on April 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


I realize this is somewhat off-topic, but: can someone explain to me why Prom seems to hold so much importance to the American High School psyche?

When the story first broke, I didn't care too much about it; I was glad Constance McMillan won, since what the school district did was pretty shitty, but at the same time, I don't understand why either party really cared; what makes Prom so special and different from any other school dance, like Homecoming or Winter Formals?

It wasn't until I read about the "alternative" prom that this story really got my ire up; at this point, as an Atlanta native, I half wish that Sherman had gone through Mississippi instead.
posted by qcubed at 12:48 PM on April 7, 2010


i'm hoping that john waters is already working on his script for this one.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 12:51 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Personally, I can't even speak on this topic without ranting incoherently and coming dangerously close to some ugly intolerance myself - so I'll just say I hope one day to be as eloquent as The Bloggess.

Now I have an even bigger crush on Lady Gaga.
posted by Space Kitty at 1:17 PM on April 7, 2010


I think I should likely clarify my intention and meanings, regarding tyllwins comment about what I was saying here; I do feel sorry for the children (though I must question how long society will allow them the protection of ‘children’ status, they are now done prom, and thus highschool, they are now more accurately, adults) I hope I didn't seem to judge the young Woman writing the letter of 'apology' [which unfortunately as an "apology" seems to fail completely in understanding the term apology; it does read like "yeah, it's all the Gay girls fault... she was so complainy, and whiney, and demanding of rights...", but like I say, I am in no position, and have no right to judge her considering that I do not know this 'apology' letter writer', and have not met the letter writer (I would also say that I am in no place to pre-judge any of the other grown up town members really; I have no idea the part she played in bad things and treatment that happened, nor the part this letter writer could play in future good things.)

As it stands however, I do see an injustice having actually occurred, and I hope that 1)this kind of thing can be protected against legally, and 'procedurally'... rather than, as divabat mentioned, having to "justify" and explain why this time is also an injustice, just like the last time, and the last "case", and the "case" before that... inevitably what sticks in 'the mainstream' minds when battles play out in the news like this, rather than procedurally through a system, is that 'girl is different', who 'demands' 'special treatment'... makes 'a fuss', and see, all these words have negative connotations, so even though the news has just "summarized" the story, they really have editorialized in the process, as if... somehow as a Lesbian she shouldn't expect that simply because she is a person, just like every single person at the other "main" prom is a person... and then comments and question and demanding that she justify herself with 'noble' reasons why she wants equality of treatment... and suggestions that she has to be fawning, and be "quiet" and "polite" and all the other things that have been stated as reasons why the schools behavior is "justifiable"...
She has been asked (forced) by the public to play a part (meek and mild, and politely 'asking' for her rights... had she demanded them... yea, even asking for rights is a 'PR' battle these days... see, even though this young woman is extremely kind, and polite, and all that... But really, and I am just throwing this out there because next time this happens the facts of the case may be slightly different; so what if she wasn't 'polite'... so WHAT if she ever sought attention for this case... SHE WAS BEING TREATED UNEQUALLY.

As divabat also mentioned, I wish there were some way to communicate support for Constance, and in fact to all of the people in her position of being treated unequally (there are still racial bigots out there too!).

Rather than accepting that she is the holder of rights because she is a person, and then she never wants to talk to the papers again, it's circular logic to say that someone asking, asking, I repeat, asking, for equal treatment is 'seeking attention' - well, yes, they are doing citizens a service of making them aware of an injustice, then citizens can decide, just like the 'kids' at school must... will I sit silent as this happens all around the country is various dark corners; or will I say something, anything, to anyone, and become part of the solution.

Many of the people speaking out most powerfully against bigotry lived their formative years under the authority of hateful people or in a culture which promoted the "legalized" in fact legally enforced hatred, and discrimination (for example the man who Rachel Maddow has on her show occasionally, whose father was a leader in the "anti-gay, anti-abortion, right wing conservative christian movement, which ended up promoting killing abortion doctors"... but now he speaks out strongly against those things... people can be raised to hate... and can be raised by people who treat others differently, based on unchangeable factors, but by examining wider repercussions of that hate they can came to say... "what is wrong with us?".


I don't think that the girl who defended their behavior should be ostracized or stigmatized, or shoved out of the "new flowery society of love and peace world order"... but I think there are points in our lives when we can look at the exclusion of others, or mistreatment, or discrimination against that person, and either say, this is o.k, or this is not o.k with me; humans by nature have the knowledge of nurture... it is not like the other students "can't know" how hurtful their actions were unless some adult "teaches" them... eventually (I hope) they will realize... but if we sit silent, and don't explain why blaming the victim is wrong... they (and others who are watching this situation unfold) will continue to do the same things.

you are correct, tyllwin, as far as I can tell, all of the older people in this scenario are certainly seeming very wolf like... but at some point each child must choose their path, at this point they may stick with the pack, or strike out a-new and solo, (not that she can't stick with that pack, and later grow more and advance, or in fact, like the man I was describing earlier, come full circle to become a healer of broken situations)... again, it is often those who have lived steeped in hate and discrimination, those who have witnessed it first-hand who come out most strongly against hate (similar to the anecdotally proven idea that 'the most strident anti-smokers are ex-smokers')

Re:is prom really a big deal these days; Prom is still just one of several activities that is a western tradition, which is still like a modern "threshold crossing"... usually it signifies the end of highschool life, it is the last step before leaving home for many people... so at some point after that day of their prom... will these students then bear the burden of responsibility for not thinking of how her silence (I do think that if someone, anyone in the 'normal' student club had spoken up here, in this situation, that the school officials would have had no choice but to allow equal treatment), as it seems, the expression of that letter reflected no notice of the value of the life of Constance, the young Woman denied equality, who, along with several other people who were not "the right way" enough, essentially told by their peers that they was not an equal kind of person. (all students who are nearing/or already reached a time when truly they will be responsible in totality for their selves (actions, and things they promote) –if anything, in recent time, prom has been given ‘more’ weight since the “carrie”, and “pretty in pink” eras… I forget the numbers… but PROM! Is serious big business these days (suits, and dresses several 100’s of dollars each, now young people are renting limousines, and stretched vehicles, Hummers, and flowers, and many other things… it’s a big event these days, and I imagine in a smaller town… it spreads the wealth around a bit to have all that business going on for one particular weekend. (like astro zombie said, yeah, it's generally considered lame by the students, the after party is why students like it, the "my kid is growing up pictures and feeling" is why parents like it, it's a kinda weird holdout, semi-culty, a strange celebration of mediocrity [woooo, done Highschool] having said that I went to two of them [I was slow, and didn't graduate with my cohort, but grew to know the kind people in the year below well enough to go to their prom], if people want to go, you are certainly right, I wholeheartedly support all people having the right to go, and ideally to be themselves, howsoever each individual may be.

As a follow up to Juins story, some people were saying they wished Juin could get out of there; the link I posted mentioned that Juin has had help getting to Florida, and they are now collecting donations to help his mother, and two sisters to be able to move eventually also. (this is not a “solution”… a young person being run out of a town… is not a win… it is a lose. The biggest lose imaginable.)


Yeah, I really have to call foul here with the 'freedom from oppressive government' angle as explanation for bigotry (not on the person who said it, nor that persons friend; solely the concept in general, and how it is portrayed in the media/public), OK, I have as much trouble with the gumint “telling me what to do” as someone waving a ‘don’t tread on me’ flag...
This doesn't stop me from seeing the fact that this GROUP of people (lets call them the "schools governing council on morality, and deciding who is&is not deserving of rights and equal justice" for now, singled out this Woman for being homosexual... and put their garbage opinions as an oppressive cloud over this young woman... HOW IS THAT NOT WORSE THAN AN OPRESSIVE GOVERNMENT??


Why does this mentality get a pass, especially in the Media, where they rattle of stats and figures “anti-government this” anti-government that…? It's so clueless (a lot like describing someone who doesn't love thy neighbor unquestioningly as a fundamentalist Christian!) And yet, these people get to wear the "anti-government" badge... this is beyond fallacy!
They don't want 'no' government... they want the most oppressive government I can THINK of. Why would I want to replace "oppressive government" (who provides services, and helps people with small voices be heard, and get justice)... with oppressive small-minded groups who tell everyone EXACTLY how they may, and may not live.

Honestly; personally, I think there is a place for anti-'government' sentiment in societies as open as the U.S.A.; BUT, I want my anti-government activists to envision setting up some sort of anarcho-capitalist paradise... not some dictatorial, huge government "TALIBAN 2:the 'christian' version"... telling everyone how to live.


Quietgal; I blame the ‘lord of the flies’ eat your young mentality that seems so popular today on everyone in the last generation having to read 'lord of the flies' early in highschool... it's like a self fulfilling prophecy… once we get those ideas in our heads… it’s like kindling to those ideologies.

(*definition; small minded does not equal ‘stupid’… you can BE smart, cynical, clever, ironic, genius, etc,. and still be small/closed minded.)
posted by infinite intimation at 1:43 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd love to continue the derail discussion of why group rituals have become more important and why American society seems to have become more conformist without becoming more collectivist (health care, anyone?), but this thread probably isn't the right place for that. Fallacy, thanks for that insightful comment and I think you're onto something with movies and TV driving expectations/attitudes of young people - look at all the relationship questions over on AskMe that assume real life works just like a romantic comedy. Maybe I can discuss this with some of y'all at a meetup, or risk running afoul of chatfilter with an AskMe of my own, but I'll bow out of this thread now.
posted by Quietgal at 2:05 PM on April 7, 2010


Well, healthcare would get in the way of ostracizing sick people. Unity through strength!
posted by Artw at 2:06 PM on April 7, 2010


Further to JoeyMichaels's comment, the schoolmate's supposed "apology":
Thanks to everyone who has responded to my post from earlier this evening. First I want to apologize for the misrepresentation of the motives behind our decision. Secondly, I want to apologize for any discomfort I must have caused all you revolutionaries who are working so hard to bring change to such a small minded place as Itawamba- but do me one favor. Please, do not assume that every graduate from IAHS is stupid, incompetent as I seem to all of you. I ask that you forgive my very emotional attempt at defending my home. I personally believe that the whole thing has turned into a tempest in a teacup, so to speak, and I wish now that things could have been changed. Again, I ask you though please do not sterotype my school, county, state, or region based on what I have said. Thanks again.
Lindsey
That's not an apology or a retraction. Far from it.

"First I want to apologize for the misrepresentation of the motives behind our decision." Not apologise for what she actually said or for her support of the decision itself, not even "my misrepresentation", just "the misrepresentation."

Then: "Secondly, I want to apologize for any discomfort I must have caused all you revolutionaries who are working so hard to bring change to such a small minded place as Itawamba". This is the classic non-apology: "Sorry you feel that way" rather than "Sorry about what I said." Politicians pull this one all the time. Insulting the people who she obviously feels forced her unjustly into this situation is a nice touch; bet she thinks liberals won't get the sarcasm.

"...do me one favor. Please, do not assume that every graduate from IAHS is stupid, incompetent as I seem to all of you." She's not admitting to being incompetent, just to "seeming" so to a group she just dismissed as "all you revolutionaries."

"I ask that you forgive my very emotional attempt at defending my home." Another non-apology; no indication that she feels anything she did or said was wrong. On the contrary, the emotionally loaded language is designed to make her appear a brave, wounded martyr. "Defending about 100 mean-spirited bigots" = "Defending my home". Yep.

"...I wish now that things could have been changed. Again, I ask you though please do not sterotype my school, county, state, or region based on what I have said." Note that she doesn't say in what way she wishes "things could have been changed". Note, too, the final shifting of blame onto those hostile, liberal readers out there. Also, if you refer to the prom-fakers as "we" and "the majority", then don't act all wounded when your readers assume that you do speak for that group, and draw conclusions based on that.

In conclusion, this little fuck-you of an "apology" is as fake as the prom.
posted by Pallas Athena at 2:23 PM on April 7, 2010 [16 favorites]


That comment from the girl defending the alternative prom is a perfect case study of how utterly this school has failed. Do they just skip all the civil rights stuff in their history classes?

My mom was a tremendous humanities teacher, her team teacher did a great job with American history, and they taught that class over a period of decades. They thoroughly covered civil rights and similar struggles. They had David Addington in their class many years ago, and, despite their efforts, look what happened. I can't blame my mom for how he turned out - she commented that he was very bright but definitely arrogant and argumentative. However, as fate would have it, she also had Janet Napolitano in her class, so you do your best to influence your students but you never can tell.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:51 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


LittleMissCranky, believe me, I'm totally with you--in fact my response to her comment included the following (added emphases mine):

Yeah, I totally hear you about your latter observation. Actually, there are parts of rural upstate New York characterized by an extremely similar point of view, interestingly enough. If it wasn't for NYC New York might be a red state a lot of the time, IIRC. But that's also interesting because you get Vermont and places like that where the final conclusion is way more liberal (cough gay marriage) but for the same arguing reason: not because people necessarily agree, they just think it's not the government (state or otherwise) or your neighbors' business what you do, etc. Anyway...

I feel like this story comes up again and again every year or two. What I did think was interesting is how every time it comes up in terms of the gay issue, or gender issue, it opens a floodgate of background description regarding policies already established but for racially separated private proms and debutante balls and all that. I mean maybe it's obvious (it is I guess?) but that first time you hear of it, it's still shocking (at least it was to me).


I rarely comment on hot-button threads on Mefi because I am really really bad at explaining myself clearly. The "this is our right" argument is clearly fallacious to me. I just think that for a number of people in MS or wherever this sort of thing happens, they really believe that's what's guiding them, even if it's not. And it allows them off the hook in their own minds about the ugliness of outright prejudice, hatred, whatever. That's all. And maybe if that's the case knowing so could be helpful in terms of talking to these people, or pointing out it's inconsistent or rooted in other things.

By the way, thanks shui mai baby for the follow up; that was very kind of you, to take the time to elaborate. I really don't think it's either/or; it's a state full of people and some probably have a certain attitude to explain away this ugliness and others more outright hatred, or seeming religion, or whatever (FWIW my friend's family isn't religious, not even the "faking it to socialize" form I'm very familiar with in Tennessee, which even I realize is totally abnormal in MS). I just think thinking through how they get to this point is worthwhile, but now I'm losing myself in rhetoric and hedging and seeming defensiveness and verbal clumsiness, alas.
posted by ifjuly at 2:54 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


This story made Australian breakfast news/infotainment TV this morning.

The voiceover announcing the story said "In 2010, this is Just. Not. Right."
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:13 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised no one has mention this bit of Southern Prom Madness yet:
Alabama Teen Erica DeRamus Suspended Over Too-Revealing Prom Dress - AOL News Of the 352 Oxford High students who attended the prom, officials said 18 violated the dress code. All but DeRamus chose paddling as punishment, with DeRamus opting for a three-day suspension.

"I'm a little too old to get paddled...This is high school, we're seniors," DeRamus told WBRC. "If we're going to act up, give us another option besides being paddled because this isn't the 1940s. We don't take corporal punishment now."
posted by psyche7 at 5:08 PM on April 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


All but DeRamus chose paddling as punishment, with DeRamus opting for a three-day suspension.

Free tip, Alabama school officials: if your disciplinary methods exactly mimic a porn script, you're probably doing it wrong.
posted by Errant at 6:06 PM on April 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


...paddling as punishment...

WHAT. THE. FUCK. ALABAMA?!?!
posted by contessa at 8:27 PM on April 7, 2010


just...big big Simpsons fans is all.
posted by The Whelk at 8:30 PM on April 7, 2010


Whenever I read about events like this, I always wonder where the quotes and thoughts are from the people who participated in the deception/bullying/etc. For instance, I want to hear the thoughts of the girls and guys who bullied Phoebe Prince in Massachusetts. I want to hear from the parents and especially, the kids who knowingly went to the "non-gay" prom. Not because I think they have anything worthwhile to say. I just really want to hear them speak up and attempt to justify what they did.

The mean girls are never quoted. Perhaps because they know they were wrong and don't want to admit? But I'd love to hear them try and defend themselves. Would make for great comedy. Or tragedy.
posted by mnb64 at 6:00 AM on April 8, 2010


mnb64, did you see the defense offered by one of the secret prom attendees? It was both linked to and quoted earlier in this thread, and offers a good deal of the kind of insight into the thought process of some of these kids.
posted by shiu mai baby at 7:03 AM on April 8, 2010


One detail that I didn't notice in the coverage when I read this thread earlier (not sure if it's been mentioned yet) is that McMillen couldn't take her girlfriend to the alternative prom either. From the Associated Press:

McMillen didn't take her girlfriend because the girl's parents wouldn't let her go to the event. McMillen escorted another female instead. She did, however, wear a black tuxedo with a blue green vest.
posted by PY at 7:18 PM on April 8, 2010


Mississippi Lesbian Constance McMillen to Lead NYC Pride Parade.
posted by ericb at 12:17 PM on April 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Lance Bass, Green Day to organise inclusive prom.
posted by rodgerd at 12:49 AM on April 14, 2010


Westboro Hate Church will be picketing her graduation ceremony.

http://jezebel.com/5526348/bigots-now-targeting-lesbian-teens-graduation

posted from iPhone hence gibbered URL
posted by five fresh fish at 11:06 PM on April 28, 2010


Heh. Stupid iPhone thinks the number in the URL is a contact.

Anyhoo, those in the area may wish to counterprotest. Also, if you hold a placard, consider posting Nate Phelps website URL.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:11 PM on April 28, 2010


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