“Are You From Horry County, M’am…?”

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Looking for a dissertation topic?

Then here’s a 7 minute video you could write a book on, easily.

Maybe two.

A friend on Facebook posted a link to this news story from the Horry County (South Carolina) Board of Education meeting, discussing transgender students and bathrooms.

Singing “Jesus Loves Me” at the end (beginning at the 6:12 point), to silence the woman speaking against the grain, is just the tip of all the interesting things going on in the video from the meeting; so if you’re interested in issues of social contest and identity formation in the modern US, and how this thing people call religion is an essential ingredient in it all, then watch the video and look for all the moves the social actors are making, and consider the repertoire of authorizing rhetorics and techniques available to all of the actors involved. Not just public education is at stake here but nature is invoked, as well as God, along with sin and order, binaries, the innocence of children and the need to protect them. But also relevant is where you live and whether you’re a legitimate speaker in this particular setting; hand clapping, body posture, shouting, repeating yourself, and, yes, finally the singing are all data as well.

The video, then, is the tip of an iceberg — a way into examining how differences judged to be of consequence are negotiated today, in the most mundane of settings, by social actors.

So the singing of what I’ve always understood to be a children’s hymn is hardly the most interesting thing going on (by the way, is it significant that a woman starts it off?) — in fact, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that drowning out the one woman’s voice by singing in unison was the final straw the group opted to employ to silence her when a variety of their other arguments and actions had failed.

So, in many ways, the video is a study in failure and response.

Strikes me that there’s a dissertation right here.

So regardless what you think about the issue in question and who ought to be able to use which bathroom, watch the video, think about Bruce Lincoln’s book, Authority, and see what you think.

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