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The new ‘Let them eat cake’


Although there is no physical evidence to prove she said it, the legendary petulant utterance “Let them eat cake” is credited to have been said by Marie Antoinette, the last queen of France.

Executed on October 16, 1793, the queen had penned a letter to her sister-in-law, Elisabeth, the night before facing the guillotine. She wrote, “I am calm as people whose conscience is clear,” although she had been labeled for years as a party-girl who stayed out late spending the French peoples’ tax dollars on extravagant clothes and jewels and palaces, such as the Hameau de la Reine, built in 1786, near the Petit Trianon in Versailles.

And although a year earlier, in 1785, she was cleared of wrongdoing, the public believed she had a hand in an infamous diamond-necklace scandal. However, it was a thief that posed as the queen who had obtained a 647-diamond necklace and smuggled it to London to be sold off in pieces.

In the moments before her execution, when the priest who was present told her to have courage, Marie Antoinette is remembered as saying, “Courage? The moment when my ills are going to end is not the moment when courage is going to fail me.”

Out of touch with where her country was heading and the amazing changes brought about on what is now known as Bastille Day, Marie Antoinette continued living in her bubble. She was right and everybody else was wrong and she came across as though she did not care how the people paying for her extravagancy lived.

Vilified as the personification of the evils of monarchy and exalted as a pinnacle of fashion and beauty, Marie Antoinette’s life and death is symbolic of the downfall of European monarchies in the face of global revolution.

I’ve stated before in this space, that those who do not study history – and understand it’s current application – are doomed to repeat it.

Our school superintendent, Charlie Van Zant Jr., continues to carry out his role in a fashion that appears to be out of sync with the people who are paying his extravagant salary. At the June 16 school board meeting, he outed a Fleming Island High School student’s sexual orientation in a manner that basically told meeting attendees and Comcast viewers at home that he did not care about that child’s station in life, clearly the new “Let them eat cake.”

It came across as a clear retaliation for that student having spoken out at the May school board meeting and again last Thursday for Van Zant’s recent robocall to parents condemning President Obama’s guidelines on giving transgender students dignity and access to restrooms.

His condemnation came minutes after the student’s father approached the podium and spoke of love and how love conquers hatred, just four days after 49 LGBT patrons were gunned down in a rage of hatred in an Orlando nightclub. Van Zant’s words are in extreme contrast to what he actually does. Have you ever heard the saying, “What you do speaks so loudly, I cannot hear what you say?”

And then, there’s the issue of the Clay High student, who on the morning of the Orlando massacre, sent out a Tweet stating, “I’d shoot up a gay night club also…Too soon?”

Brandon Carney, a rising senior at Clay High and a member of the football team, sent out the tweet at 9:21 a.m. on June 12, only four hours after the world was learning about the lives lost in the Orlando shooting.

However, the Clay County School District has chosen not to discipline the student who – after seeing others react online in shock and awe to his post – began to back pedal by saying it was “a joke.”

“I’m not shooting [expletive and smiley face] it was a joke.” However, two electronic shout outs later, Carney’s language digresses further when he posts, “All of you are pussy’s who can’t take a joke.” The tirade of perceived terror ends by him stating, “I’m keeping the tweet.”

The concerns of the outed student are as valid as the inane messages sent out to the webosphere by Brandon Carney. However, this is clearly a case of “you’re different from me, so I don’t have to care about you.”

Clay County voters get to decide Aug. 30 if this is the kind of person they want to lead their child’s school district. In the end, love should truly win because there simply is not enough “cake” to go around for everybody.