Ah, Ole Miss -- University of Mississippi in case you don't follow football or U.S. history. It has a great and storied past. Home of the Runnin' Rebels.
Some highlights from the school's annals which began with it's opening it's doors way back in 1848, are compiled by Wikipedia:
With the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, classes were interrupted when the entire student body from the University of Mississippi enlisted in the Confederate army. Their company, Company A, 11th Mississippi Infantry, was nicknamed the University Greys, and suffered a 100% casualty rate during the Civil War. A great number of those casualties occurred during Pickett's Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863.
Those were great, brave soldiers and citizens. On the wrong side of the war, but still to be honored and respected.
Desegregation came to Ole Miss in the early 1960s with the activities of United States Air Force veteran James Meredith from Kosciusko, Mississippi. Meredith won a lawsuit that allowed him admission to The University of Mississippi in September 1962. He attempted to enter campus on September 20, September 25, and again on September 26, only to be blocked by Mississippi Governor Ross R. Barnett,
After the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held both Barnett and Lieutenant Governor Paul B. Johnson, Jr. in contempt Meredith, escorted by a force of U.S. Marshals, entered the campus on September 30, 1962.
Again, that's some great history. On the wrong side of justice and civil rights, but they learned from that and the school it totally integrated and has a fine record of acceptance and tolerance. So much so, it was chosen to host the first presidential debate between Senators John McCain and Barack Obama.
If you love football, you'll know the name Manning -- three quarterbacks destined for the Hall of Fame. There's Payton, Eli and their father Archie. Archie hailed from Ole Miss. He was so great a star for them that...
Why this preamble? It's to show that this school's storied past is a reflection on history. And it was made again this past week. But once again, on the wrong side of justice. And it ties in with bigotry and football. Toss in a bit of theater and you have the story. Now here it is, courtesy of Veracity Stew:
The play, [The Laramie Project] written by Moisés Kaufman, is based on the 1998 murder of gay Wyoming college student Matthew Shephard, and details the events and individuals surrounding the hate crime that captured the world’s attention for its brutality and unimaginable cruelty.
Shouts of “Fag” and other anti-gay slurs disrupted a production of “The Laramie Project” at the University of Mississippi on Tuesday night. Most of the disruption came from a group of about 20 Ole Miss football players.
Now jeering (respectful kind, anyway) and shouts are commonplace in the outdoor athletics stadiums but have no place in a theater, so perhaps these football guys can be forgiven for getting carried away. But they can't be forgiven for what they shouted. It's HATE pure and simple.
Once again Ole Miss is on the wrong side of the issue. And it remains to be seen what action the school takes. Here's what they've done so far:
The school’s athletic department issued a formal apology for their players’ conduct, and Dean of Students Sparky Reardon offered said simply that he was “extremely sorry to hear” of the incident.
No suspensions from the team? No forfeiting of a game? No loss of scholarships? Football is a multi-million dollar program. Will there be any meaningful action taken by the school?
This is a real test. I hope they pass it. I'm going to be watching. Hate is hate. And what this gang did is inexcusable. It is a wake-up call to how times may change the issue, slavery, race and now LGBT rights.
You show your colors proudly, Runnin' Rebels. Now show what you're really made of.
HBO has just made a film based on the the play which will soon be coming out. Here's the trailer -- and based on this, the Ole Miss Football players felt is appropriate to yell out "FAG!!!"