How quickly the oppressed become the oppressors

"Save the life of my child, cried the desperate mother. Oh what's becoming of the children? People asking each other."

There. Just broke one of the rules of journalism by starting with a quote (Simon & Garfunkel), but blogging isn't journalism, so it's okay, and the lyric's used to illustrate the hand-wringing which accompanies the annual school ball season. Why is this new? School balls have always been a problem since Rindacella slopped her dripper. In my day, oh, about 42 years ago, we were puking up blackberry nip or some other unmentionable liquor, and drugs were freely available. Some of my contemporaries died of overdoses. They killed themselves, drunk, in car crashes. They jumped off roofs.

Michael Fay chundered into pot plants at the Majestic Cabaret under the spinning mirrored ball. But these things didn't made it into the media because a) parents were possibly pissed too and didn't know and/or b) they weren't recorded on cellphones and passed on to reporters.

I don't wish to make light of the tragedy and broken hearts in Auckland.

But it does seem to have ricocheted into a news item for St Patrick's College in Wellington, which was last week accused of homophobia. Malcolm Pimental reckoned he was being discriminated against because he's gay, and can't take another "queer" boy, former St Pat's pupil Keith Labad, to the ball. They're not "dating", but nonetheless want to partner each other to the ball. But school rules state no former pupils may attend, nor may boys from other schools.

Rector Father Paul Martin says there would be no problem if two boys who still attend the school want to go to the ball together. But the rules state no boys who don't attend the school may attend. Girls can, but not boys. At a stretch, I suppose you could call it sexist. But homophobic?

Well, Malcolm and Keith seemed to think it was, so they did what all aggrieved kids do these days and set up a Facebook page to have a good snivel and wipe their noses on their sleeves. Having got lots of you know, like, awesome dude, that totally sucks dude, we're with you dude, they were thinking of going to the Human Rights Commission, before finally taking the page down late last week, congratulating themselves on having "sparked a public debate and brought the wide-spread issue of homophobic ball policies to national attention".

To trot out another quote, this time from Helen Clark: "Diddums".

These little cry babies start a battle, then get Nanny State to fight it for them.

How quickly the oppressed become the oppressors. Let's see if they succeed in their quest to force the school to change its rules, just because they decide life's not fair and they have a little tantrum.

If they don't like the school rules they signed up to, tacitly or not, they should either leave, or get on with their work. Is this not what schools are for? And this is a Catholic school, for heaven's sakes, I'm amazed the rector's even allowing two boys to squire each other. They should be grateful for small mercies – life's not fair, deal with it.

"The kids got no respect for the law today and blah blah blah": Simon & Garfunkel.

Comments (17)

by Andrew Geddis on June 22, 2011
Andrew Geddis

Deborah,

Agreed that there's nothing much new about teh kidz getting blitzed at/after school balls (he says, shuddering at the memory of his youth ...). Does not, of course, mean this is a good thing.

On your St Pats point, though ... the whole "let schools do what they want, and if pupils don't like it they can leave" analysis misses a pretty key point. These aren't private, voluntary associations. You have to go to one until you're 17, so they have a captive market. They get paid milions of your and my dollars to operate. Hence, schools should not to be able to do what they want - society has an interest in requiring them to abide by certain general community standards ... one of which is, don't discriminate against your pupils just because they happen to be GLBT (or brown, or jewish, or in a wheelchair, or ...).

So, before a school could say "sorry - we're Catholic so our rules, our ways", at a very minimum I'd demand that it stops taking my money to do its job! (Actually, even a completely private Catholic school still couldn't have an express "no gay partners at our ball" rule under current law ... but my point is that until a school goes completely private, I dont think there's anything needs debated.)

by Mark Bennett on June 22, 2011
Mark Bennett

"Rector Father Paul Martin says there would be no problem if two boys who still attend the school want to go to the ball together. But the rules state no boys who don't attend the school may attend. Girls can, but not boys. At a stretch, I suppose you could call it sexist. But homophobic?"

Yeah, just like our marriage laws are just sexist, not homophobic. People who want to marry their same-sex partner are not discriminated against because they can marry someone else of the opposite sex. (Or get a civil union, of course). Maybe you think that Quilter was correct?

The condescendig tone of this, from a former Parliamentarian and journalist, is embarrassing. As noted above, there is a clear argument that this is discrimination based on sexual orientation (this is also implicit in Andrew's comment, and in Dean Knight's short post on the topic). No need to talk down to "these little crybabies"(!?); they have a reasonable argument that should be addressed in a grown up manner. Not like this.

And why, if one's legal rights are being violated, should one not demand that the state enforce those rights?

by on June 22, 2011
Anonymous

This style of journalism is designed to close down debate, not stimulate it. Any challenge to it is open to the same accusation that the challenger is also whining. Pundit can surely do better than this stuff.

Had the school been a co-ed school, and the same rule applied to both straight and gay students, ie that only students of the school may attend the ball, then there might have been some justification for it. However, this is a single sex school, so the exclusion from the ball of non-pupil boys but not non-pupil girls necessarily has the effect of discriminating against gay students.

The single justification for the policy could be to prevent straight students from bringing their mates instead of a partner. This is hardly a significant problem and could be dealt with other ways than by collaterally discriminating against gay students.

Lastly, Ms Coddington says: life's not fair, deal with it. Well, actually they did, and very effectively, using the political process.

by The Falcon on June 22, 2011
The Falcon

The only discrimination that should be allowed is positive discrimination towards Maori students. It's so nice that, despite some schools struggling to shake off backwards attitudes towards homosexuality, the majority of schools have realised that Maori students deserve a little something extra.

Whether this be racial scholarships, free snowboarding trips, extra resources, or just general pampering, positive discrimination shows that discrimination can be good... depending on the group it favours.

by Andrew Geddis on June 22, 2011
Andrew Geddis

Falcon is right. The incessant bending over backwards to advantage Maori in education means that they have become a superior caste of overlords who feast on the shriveling remains of our corpses ...

What's that? Oh.

by The Falcon on June 22, 2011
The Falcon

And Maori people are more likely to be jailed too. This indicates that the criminal justice system is failing Maori people, rather than the fact that Maori people are statistically more likely to commit crime.

In the education system, the thing that really gets to me is the way people who study for their exams almost always do better than people who don't. Unequal outcomes and discrimination are rife. A better system would be for people who don't study for their exams to be given a 10% bonus to their final grade.

by Andrew Geddis on June 22, 2011
Andrew Geddis

"And Maori people are more likely to be jailed too. This indicates that the criminal justice system is failing Maori people, rather than the fact that Maori people are statistically more likely to commit crime."

You need to tell this effete liberal to stop being so PC in his approach to the criminal justice system, then.

"In the education system, the thing that really gets to me is the way people who study for their exams almost always do better than people who don't."

So Maori fail at school because they don't study? Amazing no one has thought of this before. You should alert the Ministry of Education and offer to consult (at an appropriate hourly rate, of course!)

by william blake on June 22, 2011
william blake

"And Maori people are more likely to be jailed too. This indicates that the criminal justice system is failing Maori people, rather than the fact that Maori people are statistically more likely to commit crime."

To quote Simon and Carbunkle; you should never start your tautology with a preposition.

by Deborah Coddington on June 22, 2011
Deborah Coddington

Andrew I wasn't arguing state schools, or integrated schools for that matter, like St Pats, should be allowed to "do whatever they like" even if it breaks laws like the Human Rights Act. In fact I've argued previously that because we fund schools, we have a stake in what they sell from their tuckshops, since we pick up the tab for bad health problems later down the track in the form of obesity-related diseases.

Alan Ivory, Mark Bennet: I repeat, excluding non-pupil males from the ball, but not non-pupil females is sexist, but not homophobic. Two boys were allowed to go to the ball together, so long as they both still attended St Pats. And if you read my HoS columns, you will know that I support wholeheartedly same-sex marriage and have challenged the current government to change the Civil Union Act.

 

by Andrew Geddis on June 23, 2011
Andrew Geddis

Deborah,

"Andrew I wasn't arguing state schools, or integrated schools for that matter, like St Pats, should be allowed to "do whatever they like" even if it breaks laws like the Human Rights Act."

Sorry, Deborah ... but you actually did:

"If they don't like the school rules they signed up to, tacitly or not, they should either leave, or get on with their work. Is this not what schools are for? And this is a Catholic school, for heaven's sakes, I'm amazed the rector's even allowing two boys to squire each other. They should be grateful for small mercies – life's not fair, deal with it."

As for "sexist" vs "homophobic" ... whatever the subjective intent behind this rule, its impact is discriminatory against gay pupils. In just the same way as our marriage laws, actually! And incidentaly, why shouldn't same sex couples just have to accept "life's not fair, deal with it" and shut up about that discrimination? Or is it just young people who have to put up with this crap?

Between you and me, is the real problem that we're getting old and no longer understand what the hell the kids are about these days?

by Deborah Coddington on June 23, 2011
Deborah Coddington

True Andrew, and judging by the photos, I'm a helluva lot older than you. Still, what would I do without my random floggings on Pundit?

by Andrew Geddis on June 23, 2011
Andrew Geddis

You'd live in bucolic bliss, attuning your moods to the seasons and becoming one with Papatūānuku.

(Shudder.)

by The Falcon on June 23, 2011
The Falcon

Yes Andrew, a higher % of Maori people fail at school because a higher % of them don't study. I wish I could charge $150 per hour to give worthless advice to a Ministry, but I'd need the right ancestry to be eligible to do that.

Or maybe it's racism in schools perpetuated by the overwhelmingly Labour-voting teaching staff. Which do you choose?

by Andrew Geddis on June 23, 2011
Andrew Geddis

I choose to ignore your threadjack. Goodbye.

by stuart munro on June 24, 2011
stuart munro

I think that you may be being a little tough on Deborah here Andrew - it's true that these poor chillun are to some extent disadvantaged by the school rules, but I think you will find a surprisingly large number of schools won't allow former students to attend balls, or boys from other schools for that matter.

Perhaps the 'external school' rule should be bent to give parity with the preferences of hetero dance couples - but isn't there a cohort or generational difference in this case that would usually see the older boy excluded? Upholding such a rule is not necessarily prejudicial, however arbitrary it might seem to the aggrieved parties.

by Ben Curran on June 26, 2011
Ben Curran

I always find this comment, no matter where it pops up to be rather odd :

"If they don't like the school rules they signed up to, tacitly or not, they should either leave, or get on with their work."

If you're signed up tacitily or not to a set of rules that you don't like then surely the options are:

a) leave

b) get on with what you should be doing

c) work to change them.

I find a lot of commentators leaving option c out.

by on June 29, 2011
Anonymous

The principal of our School received this today,

Dear Sir/Madam at Kaikohe Christian School,

I sent you an Official Information Act request on June 15th regarding school balls/formals. Under the Official Information Act, requests must be answered within 20 working days. I have not received a response from you to date. If I don't receive a reply within 20 working days I can complain to the Ombudsmen. The Ministry of Justice explains the Official Information Act here:
http://www.justice.govt.nz/publications/global-publications/o/official-information-your-right-to-know/publication/. For your reference my request is below.

If you hold a school ball or formal could you please answer the following questions?

Do you have a policy on same-sex dates? If so, could you please email me a copy of that policy? In the past, has the school banned same-sex dates from attending the school ball or formal? If so, could you please provide details?

Do you have a policy on parties before/after the school ball or formal? If so, could you please email me a copy of that policy?

Thank you in advance.

Yours faithfully

Matt Taylor

Doesn't appear to me that Matt is sitting back letting the Nanny State fight his battles! More like an agressive homosexual agenda to attack religious schools for their so-called "homophobic ball policies." If these kids want to go to schools where homosexuality is taught as a acceptable alternative lifestyle there are many to choose from. However, State Integrated Schools have the legal right to protect and maintain the Special Character of their schools and should not be bullied by gay activists. http://www.maxim.org.nz/index.cfm/policy___research/article?id=551

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