Monday, November 29, 2004


Roger Kimball asks... : "Remember the Enron scandal? My, how The New York Times went to town on that outrage. The oil-for-food scandal dwarfs Enron and involves several major figures on the international stage, beginning with Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the UN. It has been reported but not denounced, at least not by the Times and other organs of politically correct opinion. Why not?"

His answer...

"Some institutions -- and indeed some individuals -- enjoy a sort of plenary indulgence in the court of liberal opinion. They are by definition "saintly." The UN enjoys this semi-beatified status. So do Oxfam, the BBC, and Amnesty International. So do Kofi Annan, Princess Diana, Bob Geldof, and Bill Clinton. So, far that matter, do Ho Chi Minh, Fidel Castro, and, ex officio, Karl Marx. If they do wrong it is only because they are endeavoring to do good. Their intentions are noble, hence their malfeasance is automatically exonerated-indeed, it is not really malfeasance at all but an excess of "idealism." Your mother probably told you that "the road to hell is paved with good intentions." Your mother was right. But her wisdom is too deep -- or perhaps it is not deep enough -- to impress the politically correct partisans of benevolence. "

Homosexual Students Upset Homecoming Traditions

Homecoming was obviously too good an opportunity for self-display for homosexuals to miss

Homecoming, the quintessentially American tradition featuring kings and queens wearing satin sashes and sparkly tiaras, is a tumultuous topic on campus these days. Universities and high schools across the country, driven in large part by protests from gay students, are re-examining the ritual of crowning homecoming kings and queens, titles that often reward student achievement, are sometimes merely popularity contests and occasionally come with hefty scholarships.

Many colleges and high schools began to abandon the tradition in the 1990's, replacing the king and queen with homecoming "royals" and "top 10 students." Some, including Duke University, did away with homecoming in the 1970's, when advocates for women's rights succeeded in arguing that the contests were archaic and sexist and that they promoted stereotypical sex roles.

But elsewhere, including here at the University of Washington and at some campuses in the South, students have clung to homecoming, and now a raging debate, in many ways mirroring the national debate over same-sex marriage, has begun to ripple across the nation's campuses. At Vanderbilt University in Nashville this month, a gay student who ran for homecoming queen and took his place on the court in drag at a football game caused a huge stir. In October, students at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota elected their first male homecoming queen. That student and the university administrators say they were barraged with hostile telephone calls and e-mail messages from alumni and parents. "We always get Mr. Heterosexual Vanderbilt and Ms. Heterosexual Vanderbilt to be the perfect king and queen," said Everett Moran, 21, the gay senior at Vanderbilt who ran for homecoming queen.

Mr. Moran did not win the crown, but he was elected to the homecoming court, appearing at the college football game on Nov. 6 wearing a black dress with an Empire waist and elbow-length red gloves, accentuated by the yellow sash draped over each of the 11 homecoming court students. But he made plenty of enemies in the process, with critics loudly criticizing him in the college newspaper and elsewhere. "When the gay community separates from mainstream, it's a way of disappearing into the shadows," he said. "I really just wanted to put it in everyone's face. I wanted to make alumni and students recognize that on this campus we have gay students, and as much as the administration wants to keep us in the shadows, off to the side and out of the limelight, I'm not going to stand for it."

Some high schools now hold separate gay proms. But gay students like Mr. Moran say that is not enough. They view homecoming as an opportunity to integrate gay students into a classically heterosexual ritual. It is difficult to nail down a precise number of colleges and high schools that have recently revamped their homecoming tradition to include gay candidates or simply to elect two queens, two kings, a female king or a male queen, straight or gay. But in the last five years, challenges to the tradition have arisen on at least a half dozen campuses, including Hayward High School, in the San Francisco Bay Area, where a straight girl was elected king last year; she ran for king because she did not want to compete with her best friend, who was elected queen.

At another high school, Sweetwater, in National City, Calif., a lesbian was elected homecoming queen in 2001 and wore a tuxedo to the celebration. A gay male student was elected homecoming queen at Southwest Texas State University in 1999, the same year that another young man, also gay, ran for homecoming queen at New Mexico State University, prompting that student government, after a backlash, to rule that queens must be female and kings must be male. That rule was overturned in 2002 after a female student applied to run for king. "First they focused on school prom, and now they're starting to say, 'We want to be included in homecoming,' " said Kevin Jennings, executive director of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, a nonprofit advocacy group based in New York City.


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