In the three years before I moved to Missouri, I lived in two college towns and a suburb in New England. One of the college towns was quite liberal. The other one was Berkeley. And New England is New England. Stodgy liberalism--strange, really.
So Kansas City was a shift for me. Is a shift. Some of the stuff that I read each day in the Letters to the Editor continues to curl my toes, even though I've lived here seven and a half years. Recently it's been the letters of support for the mayor of Kansas City, who appointed a woman to the Parks Board who turned out to be a member of the Minutemen. When the mayor refused to ask her to step down, even after we lost a couple of conventions over the flap, there were dozens of letters proclaiming the Minutemen a "patriotic" organization and applauding the mayor for refusing to back down to "blackmail" from La Raza and the NAACP. Ouch.
The good thing about living in Missouri, though, is that we have Kansas right next door. There are wonderful people who live in Kansas. Some of them go to my church, which is about a mile from the Kansas border. Lots of great Kansans.
But crazy stuff happens in Kansas. There's all the evolution stuff, which sets the population of Kansas up to look like extras in Inherit the Wind. In black and white, even. There's the District Attorney who is obsessed with outlawing abortion.
And then this little gem from outside of Topeka on Thursday. It seems that St. Mary's Academy was preparing to play a high school basketball game, when the school's Athletic Director discovered that one of the referees for the game was a woman. He declared that she could not officiate the game, because a woman should not have authority over boys.
Go ahead, laugh. This is funny stuff. This would have been funny in 1978. It's downright hilarious in 2008. And sad and wrong and dumb.
If you want to read the whole article, go here for a fair and balanced AP story:
For whatever reason, the story is not on the Kansas City Star site, though the Star broke it. But AP has the details right. All those unbelievable details.
And one really great detail. After Michelle Campbell was removed from the refereeing duties in the game, school officials went to two other (male) referees and asked them to step in. Upon hearing the details of this little officiating "emergency," both refused, and walked out with Campbell.
Lots of great Kansans. There's two of them now. Unfortunately, the headline for this story won't read "Two Officials Stand Behind Removed Female Official." It'll be more likely "Crazy Stuff Keeps Happening in Kansas." From now until crazy stuff stops happening, I guess.