Fer Pete’s Sake
Over on Electrolite, there’s a storm of outrage a-brewing. I have to admit, opening the blog up and seeing the address of my old high school rival was a bit of a gigglesnort, but the misinformation that was abounding within it and the comment thread started out by offending me, then left me laughing helplessly. I really needed that laugh, but I wish you weren’t so quick to judge us uncivilized bumpkins.
OK, just what is going on? George W Bush had a rally there on the high school campus, and students were supposedly threatened with expulsion if they dared to wear Kerry props. Part one is true, part two isn’t. Book both of those as fact, children.
How do I know? Richland Center is the county seat of Richland County. I grew up (and still spend a lot of time in) Lone Rock, which, as of the 1990 census anyway, is the second largest town in Richland County, with a population of less than 1000 (I’m being charitable, it was more like 600 but it’s grown lately). I spend more time annually in Richland Center than the entire thread of commenters have in their lifetime. I’ve worked there; I went to college there. I know those people. I spoke to my mother this morning, who still lives (and holds office) in Lone Rock and she was as bemused at the “controversy” being manufactured out on the ‘net as I was.
Have I a political axe to grind? Well, I’m considering voting for Kerry this year, and the only reason I could possibly bring myself to that position is that to do otherwise would risk letting Bush back in for another four. I think Kerry’s definitely not the right man for the times, but compared to the alternative, I’ll probably hold my nose and “take one for the country,” and pray that next time out one of the parties decides to send a real candidate for a change.
So I’m no Bushie. I just know the place and the people for the last half-century. RC is a firm republican town. Most folks there are what you’d call “yellow dog” republicans, meaning they’d vote for a yellow dog if it ran as a republican. I’d be willing to bet that well over half, possibly as many as 90% of the students that might have considered wearing Kerry badges (a total itself that wouldn’t be very large) would have done so primarily as an act of rebellion against their parents, not out of any real affinity for his cause.
The princpal’s own words are that he “asked” the students not wear Kerry stuff. I’m sure he thinks so, but I’m equally sure the students heard that as a command. And (now I’m specualting, based on experience) one or two from that point said they’d be expelled if they dared disobey, and so the stone started rolling downhill. They’re probaby getting a bigger chuckle out of the gullibility of ‘netheads than I am right now.
Let’s get to facts:
1) The HS Gym is the standard meeting place in the town. There’s a couple of dance halls that will be close in size, and maybe one spot on the college campus, but if you’re doing something big, you need to talk to the HS. And the HS knows you’ll need to, so they’ll always be willing to rent, regardless of political view.
2) Yes, the demographics are mainly white. The commenter with this bright idea obviously thinks this means something more than just that there are few industries in town that would attract minorities. If you weren’t born in the area, the odds are real high you aren’t working there, either. It’s opportunity, not bigotry, that drives the demographics.
3) The principal knows the law. He isn’t going to threaten to expel students over something that trivial, and he wouldn’t, even if the law permitted it. I know you folks like to think of us as bumpkins, but spend some time reading history, for pete’s sake. Wisconsin came up with both “Fightin’ Bob” Lafollette and Joe McCarthy. the posse comitatus and Progressive magazine. You want more recent examples, OK, how about Tommy Thompson and Russ Feingold? How do you think that happens if we’re so eager to stifle free speech?
My stepfather was Richland county chairman of the Democratic party. What went on in that thread makes me ashamed of my family’s connection with the Democrats. Patrick, you oughta know better than to spread crap like that.
Addition: Now I find in the comments to the original post, that the one who first started to spread this male bovine excrement couldn’t be bothered to fact check himself. “At least my motivation was to protect kids from the poor decisions of the adults in charge of their education,” was the exact phrasing he used (comment from him datestamped Thu Oct 28th, 2004 at 22:56:46 GMT). More interested in protecting the kids from the poor decisions than he was in finding out if poor decisions were, in fact, actually being made in the first place? Meow.