The sacred right to shun

I find that there’s a right I can have that I didn’t even know I could have. There’s a right to not see gay people. I did not ever know that. A conservative talk show host called Janet Mefferd says there is such a right.

Conservative talk show host Janet Mefferd this week waded into the controversy about an Indiana high school where a group of students wanted to organize a separate prom that would specifically prevent gay and lesbian students from attending.

After lamenting that “public schools are morally bankrupt,” Mefferd asserted that proms which allow all students — gay or straight — to attend actually violate the rights of Christian students who disapprove of homosexuality.

What right in particular, you might ask?

According to Mefferd, apparently the right of students not to even see gay people!

All right, let’s take a look at this group of high school students trying to organize a shunning of gay students.

Several parents, students, and others who believe gays should be banned from the Sullivan High School prom met Sunday at the Sullivan First Christian Church.

“We don’t agree with it and it’s offensive to us,” said Diana Medley.

Their idea is to create their own separate traditional prom. Students say there are several others from their high school who agree, but are afraid to take a stand.

“If we can get a good prom then we can convince more people to come and follow what they believe,” said student Kynon Johnson.

And now they want everyone to know where they stand.

“We want to make the public see that we love the homosexuals, but we don’t think it’s right nor should it be accepted,” said a local student.

So they want to shun them, because Jesus. Very nice.

Janet Mefferd explained.

 I feel for these Christian kids who are in a prom or kids who are at this high school who say, ‘you know something, do we have to go down this road?’ Whether the homosexual activists like it or not, and I know this isn’t politically correct to say this, but not everybody wants to see that. I know that that’s offensive to the activist crowd, they want us all to see it, they want us all to approve of it, they want us all to call it blessed and okay and rejoice and have parties and throw confetti in the air over this whole thing. But the fact of the matter is it’s a moral issue. You will always have Christians who will disagree with this and why should the rights of the activists trump the rights of Christians?

Throw confetti in the air? (She sounds a little like Ben Radford. “Feminists say all men are rapists!” “Teh gaze want us to throw confetti in the air!”) No, not confetti in the air. Not shunning. That’s different. Not organizing to attempt to shut some students out of their own prom.

And the fact of the matter is not it’s a moral issue. It doesn’t become a moral issue just because someone says it is. Shunning people because of unreasonable feelings of ick is much more of a moral issue than being gay is.


  1. glodson says

    This sums up nicely the attitude to homosexuality the religious right has in the US.

    They don’t care really, as long as the gay people aren’t seen by them. They are hoping to shame the gay teens back into the closet. “Us normal people can’t have our prom with the gay teens!” It is naked bigotry, and they don’t even realize how bad they sound.

  2. Thomas Hobbes says

    Reminds me of something John Stuart Mill wrote in On Liberty:

    “There are many who consider as an injury to themselves any conduct which they have a distaste for, and resent it as an outrage to their feelings; as a religious bigot, when charged with disregarding the religious feelings of others, has been known to retort that they disregard his feelings, by persisting in their abominable worship or creed. But there is no parity between the feeling of a person for his own opinion, and the feeling of another who is offended at his holding it; no more than between the desire of a thief to take a purse, and the desire of the right owner to keep it. And a person’s taste is as much his own peculiar concern as his opinion or his purse.”

  3. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    That’s OK. I’ll wear my fabulous Invisa-Gown with hide-a-queer technology.

    Goodness–John Stuart Mill is so freakin’ posthumously on-point lately. Thanks to all for the excerpts. Reminds me I need to own his books and read them.

  4. smhll says

    The haters and shunners haven’t thought this through maximally. If your teen can’t be allowed to watch a gay kid dance, then what’s so different about allowing him or her to watch a gay kid play volleyball or do Algebra? Isn’t it all terribly, terribly scandalous and worth drawing one’s skirts away from? (Arrrrrrggggh.) (After all, half a shun is just “un”.)

  5. says

    There’s a right to not see gay people.

    I don’t have a problem with that. I spent most of my life not seeing gay people. Many of the people that I saw might have been gay, but I never noticed. I do think I have the right to not pry into details of people’s private lives.

    Somehow, I don’t think that is what Janet Mefferd was talking about.

  6. slowdjinn says


    Unfortunately I think it’s you that hasn’t thought it through.

    Gay kids doing algebra or playing volleyball are indistinguishable from other kids doing the same – no visible Geh, no skirt -swishing required.

    Gay kids dance at the prom with other kids of the same sex – visible Geh! – diuerse alarums!

  7. chrislawson says

    What about the right to not invite Jews or blacks or atheists to the prom? There will be anti-Semites, racists, and religious extremists who would also like to go to a prom without having to mingle with their class enemies. Who is thinking of those poor darlings’ rights?

    Oh, I forgot, they can have their own private parties in their own homes and invite whomever they want!

  8. screechymonkey says

    Let’s not forget the right not to see pictures of Mohammed, and the right not to see women not wearing burkas. I’m sure Mefferd is equally supportive of those rights.

  9. Acolyte of Sagan says

    So they demand the right to not have their sensitive little darlings’ minds (or, perish the thought, their genitals) corrupted by seeing two people of the same sex dancing together. They also have the right to remain silent, but I don’t see them using that one very often.

  10. shouldbeworking says

    They have the right to remain silent, if they choose to give up that right, we all suffer.

  11. Dunc says

    Wait up, I think I see a simple solution here… If you don’t want to see gay people at the prom, don’t go to the prom. You’re entirely welcome to stay home and read the Bible instead. Problem solved.

  12. jose says

    The “right to not see” is very familiar to nudists, specifically regarding nude beaches. What we have in both cases is individual liberty on one side versus the will to dictate the behavior of others on the other side.

    Despite what Mefferd says, what’s expected of them isn’t some special, preferential behavior, but the standard, default behavior that is shown to everyone else. Gays (nudists) don’t want for others to do anything special. Just remain as they were. The religious, on the other hand, can’t live and let live.

  13. eric says


    Gay kids dance at the prom with other kids of the same sex

    You mean they act like 20-somethings at practically every club in the nation? I don’t know where these parents get their ideas, and I hate to burst their bubble, but – when young adults go out clubbing, they don’t exactly formally pair up for the next waltz.

  14. FresnoBob says

    I suppose there is one good thing to conclude from this. When I was at school, I’m sure there were gay kids in the school population but they were entirely invisible.

    At least this suggest that gay kids at this school are a visible presence and sufficiently so to get up the noses of the religious dip-shits.

  15. Snoof says

    @Giliell, professional cynic

    I’d like to see where that is written…

    It’s right there in the Bible. Next to the bit where Jesus talks about how great America is.

  16. freemage says

    Eric@16: We’re talking Indiana, and probably at least quasi-rural Indiana at that. “Clubbing” isn’t as much of a thing, there.

    Now, that said, IF I’m reading the story correctly, this is mostly a group of students, heavily influenced by their parents and preacher, who want to hold a private party, call it a ‘prom’, and exclude gays. In theory, at least, this is in fact a legal right they do possess–within limits, private citizens are entitled to be bigoted, narrow-minded, hateful, vile, repugnant, ignorant asshats, and that seems to be where this group falls. Of course, if they’re looking for some sort of school endorsement or equal status to the actual prom, then there’s an issue.

    And obviously, Mefferd is a complete fool, and her lawyers (who tried to smack down Right Wing Watch’s article with a lot of blather about libel) aren’t much better:

    Ms. Mefferd’s comment, in discussing a controversy in an Indiana high school about attendance by homosexual couples at a high school prom, was that ‘not everybody wants to see that.’ (emphasis added). Ms. Mefferd was not making a statement about homosexual people, or any other people for that matter, when making that statement, as Ms. Mefferd would have said ‘not everybody wants to see them.’ Mefferd’s statement was about the inclusion of homosexual couples at a high school prom, and made a factual statement that ‘not everybody wants to see that.’

    Yeah, I’d love to be in the courtroom if they try to take that argument before a judge.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *