On Monday, I wrote about students from Baraboo High School who were photographed making a Nazi salute, a story that’s really about the many failures of acculturation before that photograph was taken. See The Unacculturated.
A parent is now claiming – ludicrously – that the students were waving, but the social media accounts of the students themselves, others at Baraboo High, and alumni of that school refute those claims. See Pre-Prom Photo of Students in Apparent Nazi Salute Prompts Investigation. Indeed, self-serving defensive accounts took almost two days’ time to emerge, and only through local outlets.
That’s telling, twice over: a person falsely accused would not need, nor take, days to make a blanket denial, and it’s only through weak local stories (sometimes with staff bylines) that rationalizations have emerged. (For responses to flimsy reporting, see replies 1 and 2.)
I want to collectively respond to the 100+ DMs from people sharing stories about Baraboo High School & community at large. Unfortunately, the publicity surrounding this means that in addition to a shocking number of serious stories, there are also trolls who want to be published.
But nearly all of the stories echo the same basic theme: the community as a whole has a lot of casual & jokey racism, homophobia, and transphobia that is accepted as a part of life.
The school (and other schools in the area) do little to nothing to address these issues.
The photograph, it turns out, is predictably just one moment in a long descent of adults in the community into an immoral and scientifically false set of bigotries. One feels sorry for these boys, but only contempt for adults who have – for years – let decay like this pass unchecked.
But look — the Baraboo school district does have a pretty logo.
And yet — neither marketing, nor sharp logos, nor referenda, nor press releases will prove of any use to the Baraboo School District now. The men and women of that community need something more than all of those things combined: a re-commitment to the legal and moral tradition of a free and virtuous society.