Here in Cincy the talk over the weekend involved a "victory over those evil Mooslem types" up in John Boehner country as students at a high school up in Mason were bullied out of an exercise in religious tolerance, mainly because the religion in question wasn't Christianity.
A group of Muslim students organized a one day challenge to their fellow students to wear a hijab to school for a day in order to promote religious understanding of Muslim culture, and if you know anything about the northern suburbs of Cincinnati (which is John Boehner's district up all the way up to Dayton), you know damn well "religious understanding of Muslim anything" sure as hell doesn't exist there.
What started out as a cultural awareness effort by Mason High School Muslim students this week morphed into a fierce 48-hour debate about prejudice, freedom and religion in public schools.
By the end, Mason High School canceled the "Covered Girl Challenge," and principal Mindy McCarty-Stewart sent an apology to district families. The challenge was student-sponsored and voluntary, meant to combat stereotypes students may face when wearing head coverings, McCarty-Stewart wrote.
"As word spread beyond our school community ... we received many strong messages that made me reconsider the event's ability to meet its objectives," she wrote. "I now realize that as adults we should have given our students better guidance."
Even afterward, though, the episode and arguments illustrate the fault lines in Greater Cincinnati - and the U.S. - over where cultural awareness ends and promoting a religion begins. And where avoiding controversy ends and turns into bigotry.
When the right-wing hatemongers got wind of this, the students found themselves as targets, with the blogs claiming that the school was "forcing all female students to wear hijabs" and attacking the student group for perpetuating human rights violations against Muslim women. By Thursday, the principal had canceled the April planned event completely.
Intense criticism has prompted an Ohio high school's principal to cancel a student event in which girls would celebrate diversity by spending a day wearing a Muslim headscarf.
Mason High School Mindy McCarty-Stewart also issued an apology in an email Thursday to district families, saying the intent of the April 23 student-led event was meant to be positive, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.
"I now realize that as adults we should have given our students better guidance. After much consideration and after talking with the student event organizers, we have canceled the event," she said.
The reality is that this event happened without too much trouble at other schools and universities in the US, and again it wasn't a problem even when it happened at high schools in the Midwest.
Somehow, Mason, Ohio became a firestorm.
I wonder why.