Peggy taught high school math and science in Bogue Chitto, Mississippi, in the mid-seventies. She was 22 and diminutive with a trim figure, brown eyes, and long brown hair. She looked so young that, on the first day of school, another teacher mistook her for a student and scolded her for being in the teachers' lounge. Mississippi teachers still paddled at the time, but the only kids who needed disciplining were boys who were much bigger than Peggy, and who laughed at her paddlings. One day as she leaving school, three boys met her in hallway. Two of them penned her arms behind her, and the third held a knife in her face. Peggy struggled, and the knife nicked her. The boys immediately let her go.
She told her principal of the incident, but heard nothing back. When she asked him about it, he told her that the matter had been "handled." When she demanded to know what "handled" meant, he said he had spanked the boys. It was the same same punishment he would have given for throwing spitballs. Peggy appealed the matter to the school board, and I went with her to the meeting. Peggy, the boys, their parents, and I were left in an outer room until the board got to her appeal. One of the mothers screamed at Peggy for "getting my boy into trouble," and then shoved her. I stood between the woman and Peggy, and warned the woman to back off. The board wouldn't let me into the meeting, so I remained with the boys and their parents. I told them that I hoped Peggy would file a criminal complaint.
The boys told the board that they hadn't meant to harm Peggy, and that she wouldn't have been cut had she not struggled. The board informed Peggy that these were "good kids." Its members then demanded to know what Peggy had worn that day; why she had remained at school after the final bell; and what she had done to make the boys think they could get away with treating her as they did. They quickly decided that the principal's punishment had been adequate. Instead of going to work the next morning, Peggy and I went to a lawyer. He wrote to the board saying that because they had failed to follow their own rules (which called for expulsion as the punishment for assaulting a teacher), as well as the laws of the State of Mississippi, Peggy no longer felt safe in her person or her property, and was unwilling to return to work.
The principal expressed dismay that she had become so upset over such a "trivial issue," told her that she was a fine teacher, and implored her to stay. The students got up a petition and, when she still refused to stay, bought her a going away present. She then went to nursing school, and finished her career life as a registered nurse. As I look back, I think she did right in not pressing charges because she would have surely been as victimized by the court as she had been by the school board.
I remembered this incident when I heard the news of Harvey Weinstein being called to task after decades of sexually demeaning and assaulting women. I further reflected upon the fact that, what Weinstein did and lied about, our president boasted of doing. As he put it: “Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
Why, then, did 52% of the women who voted in the last presidential election vote for Donald Trump? While Weinstein gave money to liberal politicians, liberal women have never, to my knowledge, intentionally voted for a sexual predator for president, nor were the politicians who took Weinstein's money aware of what an asshole he was. So what makes liberal women different from conservative women, and why is a president who exemplifies none of the virtues of Christ so popular among the sort of men who sat on Peggy's school board, by which I mean white evangelical Christians? Perhaps you can show me a way to shake off my conviction that conservative politics and conservative religion are diseased to the core, and that their cancer doesn't stop with their contempt for the rights of women, but rather extends to the support of policies that harm all classes of marginalized people--the very people that Jesus championed.
Organized Christianity is already on the wane in America, and I can but hope that both it and America's political conservatives have firmly set their feet on the banana skin to hell by having aligned themselves with a party and a candidate who prove that all of their talk about love and brotherhood--as well as their claims of respect for women--is utter bullshit. I have long been accustomed to blatant Christian hypocrisy, but nothing has made me loathe religion more than the ongoing Christian support for Trump. In the minds of many, if not most, conservative Christians, nothing that a liberal does can meet with their high moral expectations, while nothing that a conservative does can disappoint them.