Friday, April 30, 2010

Authoritarian High School Superintendent of the Month

This month's Authoritarianism Award goes to Ricky Clapton, superintendent of the Copiah County schools in Hazlehurst, Mississippi. Mr. Clapton erased a student from her class yearbook. And what was her offense? Did she murder someone, or cheat on her final exams? No. She wore a tuxedo instead of a dress.

When asked about it, Mr. Clapton retreated behind legalese, saying "We have had our legal counsel research the validity of the position of the School District on this matter.. We are informed by counsel that this exact issue has been litigated in federal court. The decisions of the federal courts completely support the policy of the district in this regard. It is the desire of the Copiah County School District to inform, first, the patrons of the district, and second, all other interested parties, that its position is not arbitrary, capricious or unlawful, but is based upon sound educational policy and legal precedent."


Congratulations, Mr. Clapton. Your award is well-deserved.


Eamon Knight said...

Teenagers are notorious for inflicting cruel ostracism on their fellows for the most trivial of reasons -- never mind sexual orientation, not being up on the latest clothing styles is enough. But when the school administration gets into the act....

Diogenes said...

Horsedung, as Patton would say. This is what I call amoral disgust.

For right-wing conservatives, it just doesn't matter if it's right or wrong to make a girl disappear for wearing boys' clothes. What matters is that a girl in boys' clothes disgusts them. Their disgust-reflex is not connected to any real morality, concern for human life or freedom, etc. Their disgust-reflex trumps any sense of right and wrong.

Bayesian Bouffant, FCD said...

Courts only decide what is legal, not what is moral.

James Cranch said...

I hear Fred Phelps is bringing his church to protest the young tuxedo-wearing lass.

This school district should consider its position rather carefully. If you find the Westboro Baptist Church agreeing with you, very often that means you're hopelessly and hilariously wrong.

Theo Bromine said...

Personally, I would much rather wear a tuxedo than a prom dress, and I'm not even homosexual.

Takis Konstantopoulos said...

And, of course, what the idiots don't realize is that this publicity will only create more desire for wearing tuxedos. I bet that some students will turn up in tuxedos in some schools.

Frank said...

There has been a correction to the article:

"Thanks to a watchful reader, the Jackson Free Press discovered today that reporter Adam Lynch originally misinterpreted Veronica Rodriguez's phone call about her daughter's yearbook. The above story originally reported that the yearbook contained no mention or photos of Sturgis or her accolades, but we confirmed from her mother today that she is pictured in sections other than the senior-portrait section. We have edited the above story to reflect this fact, and added the above bolded paragraph based on our conversation with Sturgis' mother today. We have requested a copy of the yearbook, and will update this story further if needed once we receive it. We apologize for the errors and thank the reader who pointed out the mischaracterization. "

Frank said...

Now that it's May, can I offer a new contender for authoritarian?

Here, a student in America is told his American-flag t-shirt is incendiary, because he wore it on Cinco de Mayo.

Theo Bromine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Theo Bromine said...

[corrected skin exposure amounts]

As far as I am concerned, the correction makes it even worse - as long as the student was behaving "properly" she was included, but when she did something to challenge stereotypes, she was ostracized. I wonder if it is legal for them to discriminate by gender by declaring that a form of dress that is acceptable for a boy is unacceptable for a girl? And why is it that the more dressy a female outfit is, the more skin it shows, while for males it is exactly the opposite?

Miranda said...

"As far as I am concerned, the correction makes it even worse"

Muddled thinking, you've got, Theo.

"And why is it that the more dressy a female outfit is, the more skin it shows, while for males it is exactly the opposite?"

The word "dressy" is mistaken. The correct word is "attracting."

Theo Bromine said...

Miranda said...

Muddled thinking, you've got, Theo.

Do please enlighten me as to the sort of *clear* thinking that leads to the conclusion that a picture of a girl wearing a tuxedo is unacceptable in the senior picture pages of the yearbook, when apparently the girl appears in other photos.

The word "dressy" is mistaken. The correct word is "attracting."

Sure, it is obvious that the exposure of skin for girls/women is meant to be attracting. Is it the opposite for men, such that their attractiveness is enhanced by covering? Or is attractiveness not the objective when dressing men. Either way, there is a double standard.

(When my sons were growing up, I always had a hard time explaining to them why they should wear certain types of clothing on certain occasions. Eventually, I settled on "yes, they are stupid social conventions, but please do it anyway to keep your grandmother happy". And if I had a daughter, straight or gay, damn right I would rent or buy her a tuxedo if she chose to wear one to the prom.)

Miranda said...

Theo, sorry for the insult. Your second post is more to my way of thinking.

This is what I was going to write:

Well, let's look at the following options, from best to worst:

A. Leave the picture of the girl in the tuxedo in the yearbook.
B. Take out only the picture of the girl in the tuxedo, but leave in the rest of her non-objectionable pictures.
C. Take out not only the picture of the girl in the tuxedo, but vindictively erase her from the yearbook completely.

Well, that's my order, anyway. Yours seems to be A, C, B.

Miranda said...

Hmmm, I guess I disagree with Theo in one more instance. If my daughter wanted to wear a tuxedo to her prom, I would say to her, "if you want to look like a fool (in your effort to make a point), you can pay for it yourself, but go right ahead."

Theo Bromine said...

With respect to the ordering of badness, I agree that the better outcome from the perspective of the student is B. By "worse" I meant that the action that was taken demonstrates a worse attitude on the part of the authorities.

As for the tuxedo, perhaps I am an idealist, but I think sometimes it is appropriate to look like a fool in order to make an important point. I would rather support my child's principles than financially coerce them into conformity.

Miranda said...

"By "worse" I meant that the action that was taken demonstrates a worse attitude on the part of the authorities."

I don't think so, because in either case, whether they'd take out just the one picture or all the pictures of the girl, we know exactly what attitude the authorities had.