Itawamba situation seems a bit contrived

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 14, 2010

Last week, earthquake recovery efforts continued in Chile and Haiti; major changes affecting immigration, delivery of health care services and America’s energy future were discussed in Washington, D.C., wars continued in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Supreme Court was asked to decide whether states are free to ignore the Second Amendment. So what story did much of the world’s media seize upon last week? Whether adults were correct to cancel a prom rather than allow an 18-year-old girl in Itawamba County, Mississippi, to wear a tuxedo to the event and be accompanied by another girl.

Just one simple question: Who cares?

Yes, adults have a duty to set examples for youths. Yes, stories reporting social trends are worthy. There is nothing wrong with the media exploring cultural evolution. After all, that’s what this commentary is doing. But there’s such a thing as pandering, too.

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It was amazing to see such an isolated, minor incident — really indicative of nothing — become the center of a frenzy.

The person who seemed best able to maintain perspective was quoted in an Associated Press report. McKenzie Chaney, 16-year-old student in the county school district, said she wasn’t planning to attend the prom anyway, but “it’s kind of ridiculous that they can’t let her wear the tuxedo and it all be over with.”

Indeed, this whole situation seems awfully contrived. Why would specific rules be adopted requiring gender-specific clothing and banning same-sex “dates” in the first place?

Constance McMillen, now backed by the full force and fury of the American Civil Liberties Union to support her “rights,” might or might not have wanted to create a firestorm when she announced her intent to don male apparel for the dance. But our guess is that most of her fellow students would have reacted as Chaney did, with a “So what?”