A Crucible Moment



Getting expelled from high school for wearing a rainbow flag sounds harsh enough, but what if the rainbow isn’t even a rainbow? Consider the case of fifteen-year old Kayla Kenney, who celebrated her birthday with her family, after which her mother posted a photo on Facebook. Kayla is shown wearing a sweater with some colored stripes that Head of School Dr. Bruce Jacobson caught sight of, and before long Kayla had been expelled from Whitefield Academy, a Christian school in Smyrna, Georgia, for displaying a symbol of homosexuality. Kayla has denied that the design was a symbol of any kind, and a not very careful inspection reveals that it isn’t even close to a rainbow flag (um, four stripes?). The fact that school administrators thought they saw such a flag reminds one of the collective hallucination that caused people in 1690s Salem to imagine natural objects turning into symbols of witchcraft, or people seeing Jesus’ face on their toast. The habit of turning things into metaphors was a particular idée fixe of Susan Sontag, who’s on the cover of this issue and who understood well the hypnotic powers of metaphor that could cause a principal to look at a birthday shirt and see a symbol of “evil.”


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Discussion1 Comment

  1. Kenneth Van Buren

    Must the rainbow now be removed from everything. If I hang a rainbow in my child’s nursery, does this now mean that I’m saying my child is gay or lesbian? Can I no longer bake a rainbow-layered cake and serve it at my child’s party because it may offend some guests, even though this is the favorite cake of a four-year-old? And God forbid that a rainbow appears in the sky! Oh wait, didn’t God tell Noah that He (She) would place a rainbow in the sky as a sign that the world would never again be destroyed by a flood? When has ignorance and prejudice become the norm for knowledge and common sense?

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