Mark DuVall: Epic MetaTroll or Disgruntled, Slightly Empowered Redneck?

Being a member of the House of Representatives seems like a pretty fine gig. You've got a nice office, an elevated public profile, a platoon of employees hanging on your every word, a fat paycheck and, especially if you're Southern, a pretty durable career.

Being a member of the State House of Representatives, though... Enh, It's cool I guess. You get a neat plate on your car, your own parking space in downtown Jackson, and, err, some other stuff? I don't really know what the perks are of local legislative "power," but I do know that, given the context and regionalization of your persona and duties, you're allowed to be a bit battier than your national counterparts, especially when drafting legislation. Take for example this, an excerpt from Mississippi House Bill 1106, drafted by Mark DuVall, the Democratic representative from Mississippi's 19th state district.

AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 37-115-1, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972,
1 TO PROVIDE THAT THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSISSIPPI SHALL BEAR THE
2 NICKNAME "OLE MISS REBELS"; TO PROVIDE THAT THE UNIVERSITY'S
3 MASCOT SHALL BE "COLONEL REBEL"; TO REQUIRE THAT THE UNIVERSITY'S
4 BAND SHALL PLAY "DIXIE" AND "FROM DIXIE WITH LOVE" AT HOME AND
5 AWAY FOOTBALL AND BASKETBALL GAMES AT WHICH THE BAND, OR SOME
6 PORTION OF THE BAND, IS PRESENT; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.

Yes, congresspeople are always shouting. And, yes, this is a very real piece of legislation which has been introduced in the very tragically real Mississippi House of Representatives. So, unless you're sitting there with a "oh hell yeah" look on your face (This may not be the place for you. Might I direct you elsewhere?), you're likely wondering to yourself "what type of person would do this, expending potentially valuable resources to fruitlessly re-hash a played out issue in a public forum?"

"A disgruntled, blue-haired Ole Miss alumnus, right?" Wrong. A Mississippi State alumnus with a bad haircut...

Here's Mark DuVall's profile on Project Vote Smart. If you'll look under education, a term which I'm sure Project Vote Smart intends to interpret as loosely as possible, you'll see that DuVall has his BS from Mississippi State University (as well as an associates degree from ICC). You'll also see that he's a farmer and forester, a real blue-collar, salt of the earth type of guy - nothing at all like we highfalutin, liberal arts educated, blazer wearin', attorney schmoozin' folks up north, no siree. And yet he feels that he should not only concern himself with the affairs of the University of Mississippi, but the he is also capable, as an ICC and Mississipppi State educated forester, of correcting what he perceives as administrative mistakes made by those in power at Ole Miss.

This is somewhat troubling and downright baffling for a few reasons (The first two of which are straw men, both of which I will conveniently and orderly prop up for attack without shame. The third of which is an ad hominem attack, also which I use without shame. At least I'm honest, y'all.): 

  • As a fan base who, for decades, thrived on the notion that Ole Miss is some sort of safe haven for racism, old South imagery, and Southern white elitism, Mississippi State fans sure get off on the notion that Ole Miss is now a bastion of "liberal, politically correct media elites," or whatever it is they're spouting off on Gene's Page and SixPack. Before the 1990's we were all bigots; ever since, we're a bunch of tradition-hatin' Obama lovers. I know that it's not their modus operandi to support anything Ole Miss related, but can we at least get some damned consistency here? Or, here's a better alternative, Mississippi State fans: if we're so foolishly and callously shitting all over what you perceive as our common Southern tradition by removing our mascot, the Confederate flag, and all of that silliness, then please, by all means, you should carry that banner of "heritage" high and fly the battle flag at your home games, and play Dixie at your home games, and adopt Colonel Reb as your mascot. We're obviously too "northern" or whatever to appreciate it anyway, right?
  • A principle tenant of the pro-Colonel or anti-Bear arguments is that the Ole Miss administration overstepped some sort of boundary or ignored some sort of power check in the pruning back of old Southern imagery, removal of Colonel Reb, and the implementation of his replacement. Setting aside the lack of any real structure or even historical precedent to justify such an argument, many use the 2003 student vote in favor of Colonel Reb and the 2010 mascot ballot - a ballot wich did not include the Colonel - as prima facie evidence of there being some sort of rigged system designed to oust the Colonel for good. And, Hell, I'll concede that such may just be the case. But, if Dan Jones, Robert Khayat, or whoever were to actually give the students and alumni a meaningful vote on the matter, that would be them doing us a favor. As university administrators, they are well within their rights to change mascots, songs, slogans, their pants, and symbols all willy nilly without anybody's consent. They don't have to put shit up to a popular vote if they don't feel like it. Regardless, many feel that the very notion of American democracy exists no longer within the confines of the Lyceum. So, in order to combat this abuse of administrative power, DuVall finds it appropriate to... force via state legislation the re-instatement of Colonel Reb, Dixie, and what have you? Surely I cannot be the only person who sees the a gigantic fallacy here.
  • DuVall's district is probably made up of rednecks, so he's just shoring up votes, aaaaaaand...
  • As a piece of legislation which would have no real impact on the well-being of the State of Mississippi, this is a waste of time and money. How's about you fund our schools, protect our natural resources, and fix our state's budget, DuVall.

The double standards, logical fallacies, amd wastefulness of all of this is laughable. Unless they're trying to strip Ole Miss of the educational shackles enforced by the IHL or beef up the school's annual budget, the Legislature of Mississippi really needn't meddle further with Ole Miss' affairs. Ole Miss, along with a lot of other public institutions, is public in name only. We, for the most part, govern and fund ourselves, and we do a damn fine job at both.

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