The Eagle-Tribune (Mass.), Sept. 20, 2012
For how much longer must ordinary, decent people endure assaults on our beloved traditions and institutions by the perpetually aggrieved?
No, we’re not talking about attacks on our overseas embassies by radical Muslims. This problem is closer to home. We’re talking about people right here in America who are so wretched that, if they cannot enjoy some aspect of community life, then no one else can.
The latest assault on American values comes from Cranston, R.I., where one mother who found offense in the local school system’s father-daughter dance has ruined the traditional event for everyone.
It’s difficult to determine the bigger problem here -- the mother or the spineless public officials who let her get away with her temper tantrum.
Father-daughter dances are a sweet and beautiful tradition. Little girls put on frilly dresses, dads dress in suit and tie and together they create lovely memories that will last them the rest of their lives.
Cranston schools had held family dances for years but the head of the local parent-teacher organization said this spring parents had pressed for the father-daughter dance.
But a single mother told the PTO she was upset that her daughter could not attend as she has no father present in her life.
"We told the mom that it didn’t have to be a dad, it could be her grandfather or some other male of her choice, but the mom said that the grandfather worked and didn’t want to go to the dance on a Friday night," then-PTO President of Stadium School Shelley Fusco told the Cranston Herald. "We changed the name of the dance to ‘Bring the Adult of Your Choice,’ but she still wasn’t happy with that and she went to the ACLU."
The ACLU argued that Rhode Island state law prevents such gender-specific events in public schools. Although the federal Title IX anti-discrimination laws allow exceptions for father-daughter dances, the school system caved without a fight.
Steven Brown, executive director of the Rhode Island ACLU, applauded the decision saying that "this type of gender stereotyping only perpetuates outdated notions of ‘girl’ and ‘boy’ activities and is contrary to federal law."
Brown’s later comments reveal he’s operating under some pretty rigid stereotypes of his own.
"Not every girl today is interested in growing up to be Cinderella -- not even in Cranston," Brown said in a statement reported by The Associated Press. "In fact, one of them might make a great major league baseball player someday."
Why does Brown believe that a girl who could be a great baseball player would not also enjoy going to a dance with her dad? Why must the childhood fantasies of little Cinderellas be crushed ruthlessly merely because they are not shared by all? Even poor Cinderella’s wicked stepsisters were not so cruel.
Sadly, this is the way our dysfunctional society works today. One complainer, one person who is dissatisfied or offended and it’s game over for everyone. Sterility, not freedom, is now our cardinal virtue.
Brown notes that the matter was resolved four months ago. But a Republican running for office brought up the dance ban in his campaign.
Elections are precisely the time we should be talking about such issues. The only way to end such foolishness is to identify those who make it possible and, using the power of the ballot box, toss them out on their ears.