Lots of folks wound up with egg on their faces after jumping to conclusions over last weekend’s infamous confrontation at the Lincoln Memorial. The narrative stemming from a selectively-edited viral video of the incident, which initially painted the picture of a group of students from Covington Catholic High School harassing an elderly Native American veteran, has since been soundly defeated.
Unfortunately, that hasn’t stopped some in the mainstream media from trying to salvage a theme of intolerance from the Kentucky school, whose pupils dared to don “Make American Great Again” hats on a field trip to an anti-abortion rally in Washington DC.
A fresh example of this effort appeared last night in a piece on NBC News’s website that featured this headline: “Gay valedictorian banned from speaking at Covington graduation ‘not surprised’ by D.C. controversy”.
“Covington banned a gay valedictorian from speaking at his own graduation?” you’re supposed to be asking with flared nostrils and clenched fists.
Well, that does sound pretty bad. And as was the case with the video from a few days earlier, people on social media were quick to pounce:
How sad for this boy! This is christianity? I was raised catholic, and even though we were taught we would be the only ones saved, I rejected that. I believe in the Beatitudes and all children, no matter what their orientation, color, or creed. https://t.co/vrpsZvSeuP
— Susan M. Furey Ed.D. (@sfurey) January 23, 2019
#CovingtonCatholic discriminated against gay valedictorian. It’s like a white good ol’ boys club where those with money & connections get away with everything.#CovingtonBrats #CovingtonBoyshttps://t.co/FEC8XVQIuf
— ƘᗩŁᗩƝĨ 🌊 #TheResistance 🌊 (@DontBooo_Vote) January 23, 2019
Yup. Suspicions confirmed. The school is toxic. https://t.co/SP2Uu6ySRz
— pxlforge (@pxlforge) January 23, 2019
Here’s one from television producer, Evan Shapiro (editor’s note: he deleted the tweet after this column was published):
Last May #CovingtonCatholic banned their Valedictorian & Student Govt President from giving Graduation speeches, bc they are Gay.
Yo @TODAYshow, how come they weren’t invited on the show?
— (((evan shapiro))) (@eshap) January 23, 2019
Mr. Shapiro must know something that Christian Bales (the openly gay valedictorian at the center of the piece) doesn’t. When asked at the time if he believed he was being discriminated against because of his sexual orientation, Bales provided this answer:
“I honestly have no idea, because what I’ve been taught about the Catholic faith is that it’s about love and tolerance and acceptance of all people.”
So why else would Mr. Bales have been denied an opportunity to speak at his graduation ceremony? Well, an explanation can be found toward the bottom of the article:
At the time, a spokesperson for the Diocese of Covington said the students’ speeches were not submitted on time and “were political and inconsistent with the teaching of the Catholic Church,” assertions Bales denies.
According to a separate report from an NBC affiliate last May, the Diocese of Covington required that student graduation speeches to be turned in by a specific deadline, with the speeches subject to review and approval. Bales apparently didn’t make that deadline, and neither did another student (the student council president) who submitted her speech a day after Bales. She was denied speaking time at the ceremony as well, and none of the reporting describes her as being gay. Both students delivered their speeches afterwards, outside the venue, to friends, family, and faculty.
And while Bales has said that he doesn’t believe his speech was political, others who’ve read it might conclude differently, being that it hails political activism on such topics as the Parkland school shooting and the Jefferson Davis memorial.
Lastly, and this seems fairly significant, Bales didn’t even attend Covington Catholic, the school whose students were involved in the Lincoln Memorial story. He attended Holy Cross. Their common thread, of which people at NBC News apparently found to be important, is that both schools are overseen by the Diocese of Covington in Kentucky.
One has to wonder why, then, that Bales was even asked to comment on what happened in DC with students he has likely never met from a school he didn’t attend. What relevant insight was NBC News hoping he could provide?
Based on Bales’s responses, I’m not sure even he knew the answer to that question, or if he was even particularly familiar with the details of the story itself:
“I was not surprised at all,” Bales plainly told NBC News when asked for his reaction to last week’s D.C. confrontation. “It was only a matter of time that something this school community did would blow up to this degree, and I think they need to be held accountable.”
Bales claims Covington Catholic is “notorious for being a not-well-disciplined school,” and he described the Diocese of Covington as “archaic.”
“They have the very last say in everything about students in the diocese,” Bales said, adding that the diocese has still not provided him and the student council president with “thorough explanations” of why their speeches were canceled last year.
By reading those statements, I can’t even figure out who Bales thinks should be held “accountable.” The students? The faculty? And what should they be held accountable for?
In the absence of answers, the writer of the article, Ben Kesslen, seems to take some liberties in assigning kinship between Bales and other critics of the students — specifically a Native American organization:
After viewing additional footage of the incident, which some viewers have claimed adds context that vindicates the Covington Catholic students who surrounded and allegedly taunted a Native American man, Bales maintained the students “were not blameless.”
Bales’ sentiment is echoed by the American Indian Movement Chapters of Indiana and Kentucky, which said in a Facebook post that the new video “does not absolve those boys of their behavior.”
Again, the real story here is obvious. Some in the media are doing everything they can to enforce the narrative that this Catholic institution from Kentucky is overrun with bigotry, and since the incident from DC didn’t pan out as expected (and hoped for), they’re choosing to focus on any theme they possibly can (no matter how weak or silly it is) to try and salvage the operation.
Expect more of this nonsense over the next few days.