Wednesday, April 7, 2010

There Are No Words, So Of Course, I Wrote An Essay

I'm so glad that the good people of Fulton, Mississippi have unified us in the importance of recognizing sheer ridiculousness. Let's face it--every once in a while, somebody somewhere has to do something incredibly stupid/mean or so over-the-top anti-nice that we all snap into consciousness with a collective "They did what?" It brings us together as a nation. It gives us something to focus on. It sparks our very humanity.

And....I know I'm right about this because I spent 6 hours last night, flipping through hundreds (and hundreds) of online comments about it. Yes, I'm insane, but in my OCD for detail, I did make a mental note of the fact that the majority of the people making comments or writing blogs were in complete agreement about what constitutes a complete and total asshole. So that's good. Since we can all agree on that, there is definitely hope for the future.

I'm not going to write a whole lot about this, mainly because Dorothy Snarker has already done a beautiful job of expressing what needs to be said here, but I will say a couple of things: First, I know that in the South, Prom is a huge, huge deal, and people take it very seriously, but those of us who are 106 years old and had perfectly lovely times at our proms should remind you that it did nothing to shape our lives in any significant way, unless maybe someone got pregnant on prom night or something. Speaking as someone who did not get pregnant on prom night, I can tell you that I barely remember them. I remember the people, and a bit of the dresses, but I don't remember what anyone else was wearing or who their dates were, or anything else that happened that night. In fact, I'm going to go ahead and say the same about pretty much my entire high school experience. Lovely people, and I'm sure we did stuff, some of which I remember, and I'm sure there was drama at some point, but honestly, I don't remember any of it, and it means zero when you're out in the world. Zero. And, I actually LIKE all the people I went to high school with--they were all nice people. If I didn't like them, all of the things that happened back then would mean even less than zero. I have fond memories. If they were assholes like the people who organized and attended the Not-Prom Party in Fulton, Mississippi last week, I would have completely erased them to make room for good stuff. That's the trick...don't give it a foothold. *Poof!* LIke it never even happened.

Second, small-minded people will always find a way to put you down if they perceive you to be different from them. I know that it's hard not to take it personally, but make no mistake, they do this not because they actually are better than you, but because they are horrified by the prospect that they are much, much worse. They only know one way, and have too much fear to even think about the notion that the one way could be completely wrong. They will go to great lengths to preserve that one way--they stunt their own growth out of fear of the unknown.

There are two ways to fix this, one being to bring them gently forward, and that is what would have occurred if nobody had ever made a big deal about a girl wearing pants to Prom. The other way of bringing people out of their fear and educating them is a sort of shock treatment, which is what the people of Fulton, Mississippi are getting right now, as the subject of a story that went viral. Surprise! You know how, when you are a mom, and you see your kid reaching for the stove and you smack their little hands to keep them from burning their fingers? You do it with love, right? They have to learn, or they'll burn. Well, think of this like you think of that. Yes, swatting their fingers might sting a little, and they'll cry and maybe you'll feel bad for having to do it, but you're doing them a favor. After this, they should know better than to ever try anything like that again--they might not understand WHY they're not supposed to do that until they get a little older, but, someday, they'll get it. You've done your job. It had to be done.

To that end, here are some contacts for you--please use them with love.

Itawamba County Schools Superintendent Teresa McNeece:
662-862-2159 ext. 14

Itawamba Agricultural High School principal Trae Wiygul

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