Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Constance McMillen's classmates learn the costs of gloating

By now, many of us know the story of Constance McMillen, the Fulton, MS student who wanted to attend the Itawamba Agricultural High School prom with her girlfriend.

The school decided to cancel the prom rather than allowing her to do such, something else we all know.

The ACLU sued and the courts ruled that McMillen's rights were violated but the school was not forced to put the prom back on. In response, some of McMillen's fellow classmates held a "private party," which she was supposed to be invited to. However, as it turns out, McMillen, as well as a few other students who had learning disabilities were steered to a "fake prom" while their classmates held their party.

And to make matters worse, some of these classmates created a Facebook page making fun of McMillen and gloating about how they "showed her," including pictures of them smiling and dancing at the prom.

Yes, we all know the story. But now it gets interesting.

An online buddy of mine, Pam Spaulding received an email from a student concerning a post she wrote about the situation. The student asked Pam to remove pictures of her and her classmates enjoying themselves. Pam, who, when she wrote the original story did not give out the names of the student or her friends, took the pictures from another public site created to gloat about what had happened.

Pam was very nice in explaining to the young lady that the pictures will not be removed and she is well within her rights in posting them.

And this is not the only thing I noticed. On various other blogs, students are posting comments trying to somehow rationalize not only their decision to make McMillen and the other students feel like outcasts but gloating about it afterwards.

And why? Because apparently the Facebook page (which I will not post, but it's called "Constance, quit yer cryin'") is getting a lot of attention. Many people have joined the group to voice their displeasure about what happened.

As far as I know, no one has been threatened, but some of the comments aren't pretty. A lot of them, mine included, are reasonable and rational in voicing the opinion that what happened was awful.

But let me be honest here. I don't feel sorry for you students of Itawamba Agricultural High School who are now feeling the blowback from what you did.

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

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

What exactly did you think would happen?

This ain't Carrie and McMillen doesn't have telekinetic powers, but you are experiencing a nasty shock, aren't you?

I don't wish any of you ill will and I certainly don't wish any of you violence, but you brought this on yourselves.

I read one of you saying that you resent how McMillen was making the school sound backwards and I found that notion ridiculous because it's obvious that none of you needed her help in that department. You did such a completely excellent job of it yourselves.

Now how do you feel?

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Marzie said...

Great post!

uzza said...

I won't express my opinion of Itawamba, for fear of being banned, but

I would very much like to hear from, or about, those other students who were punked along with constance.

Philip Lowe, Jr. said...

Great post. There is truly something wrong about what's happened here. There is also something just bad about people doing such a thing to someone else and taking the attitude that it was a "good" or "fun" thing to do.

When schools and parents endorse the public harassment and embarrassment of someone like Constance and feel they are justified, they are encouraging behaviors that have lasting consequences for everyone involved.

Not to put too fine a point on this, but it does appear to me that the real sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was lived out in this instance. Hospitality, compassion and understanding were replaced by rudeness, ridicule and humiliation. It is difficult to believe any tradition would prefer those over the more hospitable thing to do.

Anonymous said...

Very well stated.

I have tried to keep my own comments in other venues thoughtful, but I admit, it has been difficult. The extent to which these kids, their parents and the school board went to violate Ms. McMillen's rights -- constitutional rights, according to a federal judge -- is astounding. As far as I'm concerned, publicly calling them on their actions is not enough: they should all be charged with conspiracy to violate civil rights. I believe that such laws are still on the books in Mississippi.

Anonymous said...

Very good point about Sodom and Gomorrah. It's sad that people who claim to follow Jesus keep getting it so wrong. Who would Jesus trick and humiliate? And the posts all over the internet directed at Constance McMillen are hateful, filled with venom. Adults planned all this. The kids were along for the ride.