I’m working on a story right now on the boys in Gibson County, Tennessee, who were assaulted while trying to attend a service at one of the guys’ father’s church. According to reports, the attackers were the boy’s father [the pastor] and two deacons [one of whom is the boy’s uncle]. So here I sit, compiling my notes on that and making phone calls, and then I see this story, out of a different part of Tennessee:
MADISONVILLE, Tenn. – A 17-year-old senior at Sequoyah High School was reportedly shoved, bumped in the chest and verbally harassed by his principal last week for wearing a T-shirt in support of efforts to establish a gay-straight alliance (GSA) club on campus. In response, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Tennessee sent a letter to the school district today demanding that students’ rights to free speech be protected in the classroom.
The ACLU has been assisting the student, Chris Sigler, in his and other students’ efforts to overcome resistance from school officials to establish a GSA. Principal Maurice Moser had previously threatened to punish students who circulated petitions about the club.
“It is totally unacceptable that a young man who was peacefully exercising his First Amendment rights would have his speech shut down by the public school principal,” said Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the ACLU of Tennessee. “Last week’s incident clearly illustrates the hostile environment LGBT students face at Sequoyah High School. Given this context, it’s especially important that supportive voices like Sigler’s can be heard in order to overcome the school’s resistance to a GSA.”
Here, I will answer my own question as to what the hell is wrong with Tennessee:
Anti-gay wingnuts are babies. They are not adults in any sense of the word. They react to any perceived slight to their fragile, ignorant worldviews no better than toddlers. They lash out and scream and cry and no amount of reasoning or coddling will sate them. The problem is that these babies are adult-sized and they have been granted positions of authority in Third World states like Tennessee. [Sorry if you’re from there. So am I. I’m slinging shit at my own here.]
When the people we are brought up to show respect and deference to fail to pass the simplest smell test of what it means to be a “grown-up,” we end up with situations where high school principals physically assault kids, pastors and deacons physically assault kids, and state “family values” leaders bitch, moan and then gloat about what a good job they done did hurtin’ LGBT families across the state. And they know that, in the age of the internet, their antics travel fast, leading to millions of people at all points across the country and beyond beginning to mock, scorn and laugh at them, and in a way that makes it worse, as their resentment against the “cultural elites,” the people they hate and of whom they are secretly painfully jealous, causes them to dig their heels in even further and strengthens their commitment to hurting anyone who challenges their pea-brained worldviews.
It’s a sad situation, but that, in short, is what the hell is wrong with Tennessee.