A threat to protest Dutchtown High School’s production of “The Laramie Project” by anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church became in turns a conversation about religion, a shouting match, and an occasional sing-along.
No one from Westboro actually showed up Thursday night, as scheduled on the Topeka, Kan., church’s “picket list.”
One protester, Anthony Battaglia from First Baptist Church in Gonzales, wound up facing a crowd of about 500 counter-protesters alone.
[full story at The Baton Rouge Advocate]
There are several interesting things going on here:
- Someone in Geismar, Louisiana chose to mount a production of The Laramie Project, a play about the brutal, homophobia-fueled murder of Matthew Shepard.
- The someone who chose to mount that production works in a high school.
- School administrators approved the project.
- Only one person from southern Louisiana (out of a potential 3.14 gazillion) showed up to protest the production.
- The student body seems fairly unanimous in its support of the production.
- But most importantly: read the comments on that story. Is it just me, or are they shockingly sensible and fairly well-written? Sure, there are a couple of posts by the God Squad, but unless my eyes deceive me, even those people seem to understand the concept of subject/verb agreement. Compare that to almost any stream of comments you might read on NOLA.com, and you’ll see some obvious differences.
6 thoughts on “In rural Louisiana, lone anti-gay protester outnumbered 500 to one”
Geismar is not rural Louisiana. Ascension Parish is a bedroom suburb of Baton Rouge, about 25 miles north and New Orleans, 60 miles south. The nearest incorporated area is Gonzales about 5 miles east, a small city. The people like to think they are still rural in Ascension Parish, but they are not. A lot of them still do have these honking big pieces of land, however and there are cows next to the Gonzales Walmart. Highway 61, called Airline, is heavily commercial. Some parts of Ascension are fairly rural, most notably St. Amant.
Dutchtown High is a predominantly middle class high school that is the highest achieving of the 4 in Ascension Parish and among the top 5 highest achieving systems in the state. People move into the new subdivisions in order to send their kids to the Dutchtown schools.
The adminstration at Dutchtown is rather enlightened for public school people especially compared to many, such as those homophobic idiots in Fulton Mississippi and the racist cut throats in East Baton Rouge. The state run Recovery District in New Orleans still has some of the poorest achievement in Louisiana.
For example occasional tardiness will not get a teacher drawn and quartered and the principal does not regard copier paper as his personal property. Teachers are actually provided with supplies! And special education gets extra supply money on a credit card. They are also technologically advanced as they are competing for high functioning students with a Christian School (Parkview Baptist) and a Catholic high school (St. Michaels). They still force uniforms but allow some latitude with them at Dutchtown.
They value their arts programs and try to be inclusive. For example, the school choir includes special needs students, including the cognitively handicapped, and one girl sang a solo at a Christmas concert a few years ago.
I found it remarkable that Dutchtown would take as bold as step as to present the Laramie Project, but not surprised that when the decision was made the administration went along with it.
In typical Dutchtown fashion, which puts great value on control, security and organization, designated spots for demonstrators and counter demonstrators were provided and police support was obvious. The demonstration actually took place on the large campus, not on the sidewalk out front where there is very little space and a busy 4 lane road with I-10 right up the street.
I think the lack of opposition is more about Louisianians laziness being more powerful than their bigotry.
Oh, Ralph: if the wingnuts are getting lazy, that means they’re saving themselves for “more important” things. When a play about gay rights and hate crimes ranks low on the right wingers’ list of priorities — a play produced by a HIGH SCHOOL that, while maybe not as rural as some places in Louisiana, is still not in Orleans parish — it sounds to me like we’re making progress.
I’ve been to Louisiana… its ALL Rural, unless you are in N.O or the heart of Baton Rouge – and EVEN then it’s pretty countryfied.
Actually I live in Louisiana and most of it is suburbs. The only places that are very rural are the wetlands which only make up the coast. But even some of the coast is city like.