The Gaslighting of South Carolina Parents

November 14, 2023

Palmetto Promise Team

Do you know the origin of the term “gaslighting”?

The act of “gaslighting” was made famous by the MGM film of that title starring Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer (1944). Bergman won an Oscar for her role.*

The husband-villain in the film (Gregory Anton portrayed by Boyer) plots to steal the estate of his loving wife Paula (Bergman)—not by murdering her, but by driving her to believe that she is insane. Anton is insanely evil but works tirelessly to convince Paula that she is the one who has lost touch with reality.

So, to gaslight** is to seek to portray someone who is right as wrong or someone who is sane as insane. Paradoxically, it is the gaslighter who isn’t behaving honestly or rationally.

Enter the school library controversy…

When parents started attending school board meetings and asking about some of the books they discovered in the libraries of their childrens’ schools, all hell broke loose.

In one district, when parents read aloud from one of the books, motions were made to edit the recording of the meeting before posting for public consumption. How ironic.

Then the national library associations and teacher unions weighed in.

To the ALA and The NEA, concerned parents were:

  • paid advocates for far-right dark money wizards,
  • narrow-minded Puritans seeking to force their beliefs on entire communities,
  • opposed to exposing young adults to views different from those of their family’s,
  • stocking up on gasoline for a future Josef Goebbels-style book burning events.

But most of all, the parents who sincerely advocated age-appropriate library materials were characterized as…crazy.

For most concerned parents in South Carolina who have been working so hard in this area, not one of these accusations is true. Most of the actions of parents in the Palmetto State are homegrown and actually quite moderate.

But they have been maliciously gaslighted for asking that the materials in their school libraries be appropriate.

This is unfortunate. But so far, parents have not been gaslighted into silence.

To understand the pressure parents and their children are under, we refer you to our publication, Education or Indoctrination?

*There was also a lower-budget British version of Gaslight (1940) starring Diana Wynyard and Anton Walbrook, which was also excellent. Though MGM sought to legally suppress the British film as competition for its version (1944), a print survived, which is available to watch for free on YouTube.

**Every night the Victorian gas-illumined lights in the Victorian home are momentarily dimmed by the villain-husband Gregory Anton. Anton attempts to persuade Paula that they do not, and that her perception is just another sign of her losing her mind. Anton’s manipulations are designed to see his wife committed to an institution so that he might gain clear title to her sizeable estate.