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Last May, Christian Bales graduated as valedictorian of Holy Cross High School in Covington, Kentucky. If that city sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the home of Covington Catholic High School and those MAGA hat-wearing boys who have been in the news all weekend. Both schools are overseen by the Diocese of Covington.

Bales made headlines last year because the graduation speech he submitted to his administrators was rejected for being too “political and inconsistent with the teaching of the Catholic Church”… even though there was really nothing controversial at all in his speech. Speculation was that the school’s excuse was just a way to prevent Bales, an openly gay and gender-nonconforming student, from taking center stage.

When NBC News contacted him for comment on the controversy involving the Covington High students, Bales was hardly surprised. He knows that community. He knows everyone’s first impressions of those boys — disrespecting a Native American man — were accurate because he’s experienced it all himself.

“I was not surprised at all,” Bales plainly told NBC News when asked for his reaction to last week’s D.C. confrontation. “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.”

He added that additional videos that purportedly absolve the boys do no such thing. (It’s hard to wipe away the tomahawk chops and a separate video in which a student who appears to be from Covington yells out, “It’s not rape if you enjoy it.”) I would add that when Donald Trump and what seems to be the entire right-wing media universe say the boys are blameless… there’s good reason to assume the opposite is true.

Just because Bales says all this, of course, doesn’t make it true. But if you’re looking for perspectives to trust in this politically charged situation, you’re better off listening to people who understand this community without needing to see videos of the boys in action. In this case, the videos only confirmed what Bales already knew.

Hemant Mehta is the founder of, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.

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