Bigotry of Catholic school in Kentucky exposed by gay student

Bigotry of Catholic school in Kentucky exposed by gay student January 24, 2019

Last week, in the immediate aftermath of the Washington DC confrontation between students from Covington High School and a group of native Americans, I posted a piece entitled ‘Make America Hate Again: Catholic schoolboys abuse veteran’ and cross-posted it to Facebook.


Reaction was as swift as it was vicious. I was accused of unfairly  maligning an innocent schoolboy – Nick Sandmann, pictured above smirking and apparently staring down Nathan Phillips, a Vietnam veteran who was attending an Indigenous Peoples March.

I was told that my piece was highly prejudicial “fake news“; that Phillips was a well-known troublemaker; that I’d gone off at half-cock by not bothering to investigate the incident properly, and that real villain in this incident was Phillips and his group.

In the wake of this backlash, I realised that there were many more strands to this narrative that I hadn’t been aware of, and I decided to take the post down.

Well, it now appears that I was not entirely wrong in labeling the Covington posse of school students, many wearing MAGA caps, attending an anti-abortion Right to Life march, as bigots.

According to this, and a number of other reports, Covington, overseen by the Diocese of Covington in Kentucky, is:

Notorious for being a not-well-disciplined school.


This was said by gay valedictorian, Christian Bales, above, who has stepped into the fray to remind folk that, last year, he and the student council president were prevented from giving their planned speeches at Holy Cross High School, one of the schools run by the Kentucky Covington Diocese.

When asked by NBC News for his reaction to the Washington incident, he said:

I was not surprised at all. 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 added that the diocese has still not provided him and the student council president with “thorough explanations” of why their speeches were canceled last year. 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.

This  Bales denies.

Bales, and the student council president decided to give their speeches anyway. After the official ceremony, the pair grabbed a megaphone and spoke to a crowd of students and families on the school’s lawn. Bales’ speech, which was posted to social media, quickly went viral.

Bales said at the time that he was unsure whether his sexual orientation played a role in the Diocese of Covington’s decision to not permit him to speak at graduation.

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.

Bales maintains that the students “were not blameless” – and his assertion is echoed by the American Indian Movement Chapters of Indiana and Kentucky, which said in a Facebook post that new video of the incident:

Does not absolve those boys of their behavior.

On Tuesday, the Covington diocese  said:

This is a very serious matter that has already permanently altered the lives of many people. It is important for us to gather the facts that will allow us to determine what corrective actions, if any, are appropriate.

Meanwhile Sandmann continues to protest his innocence and is unapologetic. Jack Mirkinson, reporting for SplinterNews, wrote that Sandmann, interviewed yesterday on Savannah Guthrie’s Today show, was:

Stunned that anyone could think that this group of almost entirely white boys from a school known for its bigotry, many of whom were wearing MAGA hats, could be racist. (‘We’re a Catholic school, and it’s not tolerated,’ he said. ‘They don’t tolerate racism, and none of my classmates are racist people.’)

Then she asked Sandmann if he felt he owed anyone an apology. His answer was no.

I can’t say that I’m sorry for listening to him and standing there.

Mirkinson added:

Shorn of his MAGA hat, alone with Guthrie, Sandmann appeared younger and softer than he did in the initial video. That, of course, is the point: In America, young white men are allowed to feel the excitement of their own power, to dominate others, to offend and to attack, and then, when people try to hold them to account, to morph back into little boys, to present a picture of wide-eyed vulnerability, to tell us they were actually the ones who were afraid. Other young men do not have such luxuries.


When the story first broke, The Friendly Atheist correctly observed:

[…] No matter how people want to spin the conflict caught on tape, there’s no question that these MAGA hat-wearing kids from an all-boys Catholic school were in D.C. attending an event with a goal of controlling women’s bodies against their will. Their religious education still has them thinking it’s God’s Will to force women to give birth (no matter what the women desire) and Donald Trump‘s racist, irrational, and thoughtless policies are somehow making our country better.

H/T BarrieJohn (Bales report)

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  • Broga

    Why should the Native Americans not keep their land and expel the intruders? Trump has nurtured all that is loathsome about a section of the US population. And the same is happening in the UK with the bizarre Empire fantasists of the Brexit Bunch around the shattered, lost and perpetually mystified Prime Minister.

  • Steve Bull

    Its a great shame that you published this just as some other outlets were starting to realize that there was more to this story than first met the eye. The school kids were actually shouting down a hate-preacher at the time. The native approached them, anf there is NO evidence that they said or did anything hateful towards him. There is NO evidence in all of the video footage of anyone saying “build the wall”. And now a kid is getting death threats because of hateful, shoddy reporting.
    Go. Watch. The . Videos. There was a hate-preacher throwing out some disgusting homophobic remarks which THESE kids IN THEIR MAGA HATS were shouting AGAINST. They start chanting and were then approached by someone they thought was joining in with them, and this kid in the pictures being sued everywhere did nothing but stand there as someone walked up to him.
    The kids were there first. They were waiting for their school bus to pick them after after a trip.
    You need to tone this the hell down.

  • barriejohn

    I’m not sure that I accept the “revised” account at all:

  • barriejohn

    I was unfortunate enough to see part of Trump’s address at the Pentagon on BBC News at the weekend, and when boasting of ever-increasing defence spending he actually said something like “and spending on OFFence; offence spending is very important as well.” He really doesn’t have a clue what he is on about, does he? The following would be funny if these idiots were not in control of the most powerful country on earth:

  • barriejohn

    PS I also read comments on YouTube the other day (yes – not a reservoir of the most enlightened outpourings of the human mind, I know) to the effect that Trump is obviously appointed by God because his name chimes with the Last Trump of biblical prophecy, and “Trump;Pence” says “Trumpets” (Book of Revelation). I wondered whether they were joking, but they seemed to be deadly serious!

  • barriejohn

    PPS Is this a spoof site? Does anyone know? The commenters take it all very seriously again!

    “In looking at the trump pence logo, turned clockwise, I see j on a cross. Jesus on the cross? – the only hope.

    I praise Jesus for using you.”

  • Algid Bavandari

    Crickets now that the full video is out. As usual, the sound bite is used to mislead and manipulate people’s emotions. In this case, I think it just shows how willing many people are to jump to the conclusion of racism on the part of Caucasian Trump supporters. Wear a Trump hat if you are Caucasian, and you’re branded a racist. Be a non-Caucasian man trying to defend a Caucasian person wearing a Trump hat, and you’re a whole slew of racial epitaphs. The only acceptable form of racism is racism from anyone but Caucasians. Ending racism starts with each of us!

  • Steve Bull

    Then I suggest looking into it further and looking at the video evidence. Because all of the video together paints a very different picture to the one your article does. It shows the kids being there first. It shows them OPPOSING a homophobic hate preacher. It shows Phillips approaching them, and this kid whose picture is everywhere (and who is now receiving death threats) just standing there as Phillips approaches him.

  • Steve Bull

    Tim Pool does an excellent recap of the extra information about the whole thing. Have a look:
    He uses a lot of the footage which shows what I’m talking about. Pay close attention to the clip used at 5:24, showing the “Hebrew Isrealites”, the “black activist groups” who were also there, and who these kids start chanting to drown out.Seriously. It will upset you. Fair warning.

  • Nemo

    This punk’s dox has been put out. Pity I don’t live near him. You’d be amazed what can be done with a few seconds and a box cutter. Heheh. And the right likes to accuse people of being triggered.

  • Cali Ron

    barriejohn: Not all of us yanks are bonkers, but sadly it appears to be another Uber Crazy RW Evangelical organization. In trying to delve into them on that great investigative tool, goggle, I found them associated with other evangelical, apocalypse loving christian websites like “the Hagmann report” and “Revelation 12 daily”. These geniuses think the apocalypse has begun and the world’s “600 year existence” will end in 2028. I sometimes wonder if the people who run these sites really believe it or are just making money off of deluded fools? Or are Russian operatives? Hmmmm! Regardless, the stuff is so over the top only the really extremely crazy evangelicals (you know, the dangerous ones) would believe it.

  • Cali Ron

    Wrong. They were protesting a small group of black Jews. There are multiple videos, including videos of the kids in MAGA hats yelling racial slurs at them and mocking the man with tomahawk chops.I just heard it on the news and confirmed it on the web. The native American stepped between the 2 groups to try and diffuse the situation. They were just a bunch of punks, being punks, just like our president.

  • Cali Ron

    Have you seen the other videos? Have you seen the interview with the man they mocked? I have. The kids were being assholes, no matter what hats they were wearing.

  • Cali Ron

    I found this on Covington Catholic HS, an all male catholic school:
    Hope that link works, but the gist of it is there is a video from 2015 from a basketball game where school members are dressed in blackface and chanting racial slurs at black members of the opposing team. Hmmm, I wonder how many more skeletons they have in their closet.

  • Cali Ron

    Timcast? really?

  • barriejohn

    You mean like Mike Pence?

  • barriejohn

    That kid’s sneering.

  • Cali Ron

    For what it’s worth, the so called “Hebrew Israelites” were assholes, too. Sadly, the Native American was the only person not being an asshole. The rest of the adults and students all behaved badly. By tomorrow it will be old news.

  • Cali Ron

    Definitely on the list.

  • Cali Ron

    I stand by by my comments 3 days ago. The kids were being assholes.

  • barriejohn

    He’s a prick (and just look at the kids in the background!).

  • 92JazzQueen .

    In other words, double down on your beliefs rather acknowledge you are wrong.

  • Steven Watson

    Standing still smiling is a crime now? You and the bulk of your commentariat have lost the plot completely.

  • sineatersmith

    Phillips was never in vietnam. he was in the us at the time he was a

  • crden

    (a) The kids were being assholes of the sort that would get my public high school kids in a shitload of trouble if they were doing such things on a school trip. There would be consequences.
    (b) I’m pretty convinced, from seeing stuff about the school, that this is one of the schools people send their boys to so that they won’t have to associate with kids of other colors or backgrounds. I’m also pretty convinced that the kids are doing what they’ve been taught is okay behavior by the adults around them.
    (c) It’s amazing how we expect people just one or two years older to be subjected to the same sort of taunts these kids experience while on college campuses. The sort of stuff they saw happens all the time at the edge of protests in large cities, and if the faculty of their school didn’t prepare them for the possibility that they would run into it and give instructions for coping, they’re negligent.

  • Bruce Gorton

    Well first it is a different school, so it doesn’t really tell us anything about these particular kids, and second, they’re a pack of 15-year-olds, who when you take the hat out of the equation, didn’t actually do anything.

    There were no punches thrown, it turned out on a longer viewing the original charge, that they had surrounded and mocked Phillips was just plain lies (he had approached them, and they had already been engaging in their chants before he did that) and Sandmann’s account is reasonable given the video evidence.

    An awkward facial expression I don’t think really merits the reaction this all got.

    I mean I’ve heard people say they should be held responsible, but what, exactly, for? I certainly didn’t see anything excusing that psychopath in your comments for this article who’s talking about the many uses of box cutters. He must be proud of that statement, because he’d made it on your first article too.

    I know there was the one kid who got caught on camera saying it’s not rape if you enjoyed it, but there again it is not clear he came from the school, and he’s not the kid who ended up bearing the brunt of the public anger.

    Now I’m seeing stuff that didn’t particularly have anything to do with the original charge being brought forward, stuff that is “Well this school did this bad thing” or “their school is known for doing these bad things” – and I’ve never liked the “They’re no angels” argument.

    It is wrong when Fox News uses it to excuse the murder of black kids by police, and it is wrong here, we shouldn’t be basing our reactions on the basis of whether the people involved are “angels” or not. We shouldn’t expect angelic, we should expect human, and treat cases on the basis of the facts presented.

    An unarmed black youth may be a bully – that doesn’t excuse it when they get gunned down by police. These teenagers probably are total pricks, but it doesn’t mean one should claim one set of facts when the evidence suggests something totally different happened.

    And yes this is a double standard practiced by the right. They will trumpet serious crimes by individual immigrants – in order to excuse the ill treatment of immigrants in general when they have no evidence that the immigrants being mistreated are in any way responsible for those serious crimes. The same thing happens to Muslims.

    It is a brutal tribalism which dehumanises people into identities in order to excuse their individual mistreatment, which is part of what I object to on the right.

    That said I do think that we see a pattern of behaviour with regards to the diocese. I don’t think that those teens had any business going to that march, and I think it is deeply wrong of the diocese to use school pupils to bulk out the numbers.

    Considering the Catholic Church doesn’t pay taxes, I don’t think it should get a voice on public policy, and that is what it is grasping for here. Far too often we allow the religious to think that they get to assert their club rules on non-members. If they don’t want abortions, they can just not get abortions, it isn’t for the rest of us to enforce their club rules, and nor are we obligated to respect their club rules.

    Particularly when their concern for children seems to end at birth.

    In this case that school primed those kids with a lot of BS ideology, it had them participate in political activities which they were simply to young to have a meaningful voice in, and when it all came down to it, they didn’t protect the kids, they threw them under the bus.

    One of the things I still respect about PZ Myers was back when the whole Crackergate saga was unfolding. A teen was getting harassed for the abuse of a holy wafer, and Myers stood up and very publicly pledged to do worse to one in order to take that fire onto himself.

    The contrast between what Myers and what this school did shows exactly how much shit the religious right are full of. They will use teens as political ammunition and the second those teens look less useful, they will simply toss them to the wolves.

    But as the wolves, we’ve got to do better. We’ve got to show that we recognise where the real problem lies, and who is really responsible in these cases – not a bunch of dumb, hormonal teens, but the Church that tried to use them as political weapons and then discarded them the second it looked like they may be a liability.

  • ronmurp

    1) Some 16 year old kids were being aresholes. Some adults also present were being aresholes.

    That could have been all this was. No great news. But no.

    2) They come from a religious school, and some families, that probably make them arseholes.

    3) It was an opportunity to investigate further and direct criticism at the school and the culture that’s creating them.

    That also could have been all this was. Useful news. But no. Instead …

    4) Adult super arseholes went off half cocked, attacked the kids themselves with disgusting vitriol, some demanding violence, many blue checkmarks and celebs joining in.

    5) The adult super arseholes realised the wider dynamics of the incident, who did the approaching, and who else was being the aresholes there, an incident that doesn’t even come remotely close to the many AntiFa incidents that the adult aresholes are silent on.

    6) Adult aresholes corrected their mistake, and gave a more balanced view on the whole no-news incident, of kids being areshole kids, and adult protesters being areshole adults. (Why DID the adults their provoke the kids? Why didn’t the more ‘adult’ adults just ignore the kids?)

    7) Some adult super aresholes simply dug deeper, and on finding more examples of (shock) the school produces aresholes, STILL picked on the kids, and not the adult aresholes in the incident, and used the school’s culture to continue to attack the kids personally.

    That’s where we’re at.

    Many of us atheists have been attacking the religious systems that produce kids that this, that will produce homophobic preachers that will turn out to be gay themselves, or child raping priests, or misogynistic bullies, … or Donald Trump… or anti-abortion terrorists. But when we do, many of the same half cocked adult super aresoles call us bigots for attacking religions … because that isn’t nice, or something.

    But even that wasn’t what this was about.

    This was TOTALLY about adult super aresholes going off half cocked, based on a short clip that misrepresented what had happened, because some noisy kids had MAGA hats on. It was about adults bullying kids. THAT is the news here.

  • Barros Serrano

    You watched the videos of this incident, and think those brats did nothing wrong? They were mocking Native Americans in racist ways. How is that not wrong? Would they have had to be screaming the N-word and brandishing nooses for you to admit they are racists?

  • Barros Serrano

    Yes, exactly. Both the Hebrew Israelites and the white racist KY brats were the offenders here. Anyone familiar with the Hebrew Israelites, as I am, knows what vile and dangerous racists they are.

    My experience has also taught me that this country is seething with vile and dangerous WHITE racists, and that is who we saw taunting Nathan Phillips.

  • Bruce Gorton

    They were engaged in school chants before Phillips intervened. He approached them.

    What you see as mocking – is just part of how they were doing their chants, It isn’t clear that their behaviour was aimed at Phillips taken from a neutral standpoint.

    As to whether they’re racist – those hats demonstrate at least some rather questionable attitudes in that direction – but this isn’t about what they believe, it is about what they actually did.

    And what they did was all under the auspices of the teachers who were supposed to be chaperoning them.They had asked permission before engaging in the chants in order to outshout the Black Hebrew Israelites who were hurling abuse at them.

    Directing hate, particularly to the degree of suggesting using box cutters, against the students is just misaimed.

    It is the school that is at fault here.

  • Barros Serrano

    Don’t forget their parents…

    And the tomahawk chops were part of their school fight chants? And I heard them mocking the chanting of Mr. Phillips. They surrounded him, one was going to assault him but Sandmann warned him off. They surrounded the elder and why? He was not a Hebrew Israelite. He had expressed racism toward nobody.

    And surely you’ve noticed that sufficient proof has been released that racism is a big problem at that school. It’s an enclave of privileged white kids, and they behave as exactly that.

    I don’t know who invoked box cutters, but we should concentrate on the incident itself. The Hebrew Israelites and the white-right students behaved badly. I’d say they all should be arrested for hate crimes. The Native gentleman is blameless.

    For those of us who’ve been involved with Native and Mexican people (such as me, and I’m white), none of this is surprising nor unique. I have seen this behavior a lot. On the UCLA campus we had white frat boys engaging in organized mockery of various ethnic groups. Native Americans are the only group for whom violent crime against them comes mostly from outside the group—and the perps are white, not surpringly.

    Desperately searching for some equivalence, for some excuse for this very typical white racist behavior, is contributing to the perpetuation of the problem. White racist teenagers should not be coddled; they should be vilified as they deserve.

  • Cali Ron

    Your version, not reality, but you are entitled to your opinion.

  • Cali Ron

    I’ve noticed a few commenters have devoted a lot of words to the express purpose of defending the teens, or should I say the “MAGA hat” wearers. This is a trivial story of adults and teens misbehaving and not of any real significance. So why so many words and such strong sentiments. Simple really, they are Trump supporters. Being a Trump supporter means constantly having to make excuses and dream up justifications for Trump and his followers bad behavior (racist, misogynist, xenophobic, etc). The teens were not toddlers, they are responsible for their behavior. The adult chaperones failed to control the teens or attempt to point out the problems with the behavior (probably because they suffer the same lack of decency and self control). The black muslims are a well known racist group, enough said.

    If people make assumptions about MAGA hat wearers it’s because they so often do racist, misogynist, etc. things. Let’s face it, many people wear those hats intentionally to piss other people off and be associated with Trump and white nationalism. Not all MAGA hat wearers are assholes, but a lot are and if you chose to wear that hat be prepared for the consequences. If you don’t want to be lumped in with that group don’t wear the stupid hat.

  • Cali Ron

    They had asked permission before engaging in the chants” Citations?

  • Bruce Gorton

    That would be from Sandmann’s version of the events:

    The chants are commonly used at sporting events. They are all positive in nature and sound like what you would hear at any high school. Our chaperone gave us permission to use our school chants. We would not have done that without obtaining permission from the adults in charge of our group.

    As the school hasn’t contradicted this, I think this stands.

  • Bruce Gorton

    I’m not disputing that these students are very likely racist. It just isn’t clear that they’re mocking Phillips in that video given the context, and even under your account Sandmann’s himself acted to defuse the situation.

    Where’s the crime here?

    To my mind nobody involved should be charged with hate crimes, because doing so wouldn’t really solve anything. It wouldn’t make the kids any less racist, and it is too unclear as to whether the students were mocking Phillips or not.

    If you charge them they become greater martyrs to the MAGA hat cause than they already are, and they’d probably win on the first amendment. The spin on it is “The left criminalises smiling”.

    The black Israelites strike me as playing the same game as the Westboro Baptist church – piss people off enough that they infringe on the first amendment, sue and then profit.

    Phillips could probably be sued for defamation, but I think that would just keep the story going and not result in much more than that.

    I think a far more solid case could be made against the school itself – after all what we have isn’t a history of the individual students but of the diocese and the schools it runs. This school has a history of promoting ill discipline, and what we see here is a dereliction of their duties to these students.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if there was an abuse problem there – because that school hasn’t shown any concern for its students.

    And that’s the real crux of this. That diocese and that school has been getting with this shit for years by the looks of it, and now that it has hit national attention who is being called to account? The teens that school and that diocese helped produce.

    That is the root of the problem, and so long as the emphasis is on the teens – it gets to continue being a root of more of this sort of thing. The school should be the target of action.

  • persephone

    Like I believe that little shit, especially after his mother’s racist, abusive screed.

  • Bruce Gorton

    And how does that undermine his testimony? What evidence have you got that he’s not telling the truth in this case?

    On a more interesting note, the Catholic Church is trying to wriggle out of its cowardice.

    So when the kids looked bad, the church was all “Fuck ’em” despite being the ones who put them in that situation, now that the kids aren’t looking so bad the Church is all “We, we were being bullied, we didn’t really mean to throw the kids under the bus.”

  • tusk321

    Bigoted Christian school. Go figure.

  • tusk321

    Black kids would go to jail.. these white boys, go to the White House and talk shows. Bigoted racist country, exposed.

  • persephone

    I watched part of the video. And the reports of people who have attended that school but were marginalized back it up.

    No, the school is full of spoiled little shits who will skate through life. They lie, cheat, steal, and will continue to do so, because they can.

  • crden

    I would hope not, but unfortunately, I can’t discount that black kids would be hauled in, either.

    Because of this school’s history and the way it seems to have reacted to this and other events that clearly involved racist taunting, I doubt the kids would suffer any consequence to their actions without widespread public criticism. Even if what’s reasonable is “you’ve shown yourself to be too immature to represent the school at any event” (pretty light but within the realm of appropriate), the faculty chaperones being reprimanded, and the parent chaperones not being allowed to chaperone any more, there’s no indication that the school would’ve done anything of the sort. And it went straight to “we’ll look into expelling these kids” for something that, up until this point, they’ve given the kids the impression was at least okay behavior and possibly even to be encouraged. The school should be suffering public backlash and will hopefully suffer a serious hit to its reputation.

  • blogcom

    Well Orwell first mentioned the idea of face crimes becoming a thing so looks like U.S. society’s caught up with 1984 in 1919.

  • Bruce Gorton

    And how does that tell us that the chaperone didn’t give the kids permission to engage in those chants?

    If anything, that supports it. The school hasn’t done anything to curb their bad behaviour before, and in fact seems to have encouraged bad behaviour before, so why shouldn’t we believe this is the case here, particularly seen as we don’t have anything to contradict it?