The fine people of Chattanooga, Tennessee have been pretty pissed off for the past week over the news that a park ranger named Deryl Nelson had been fired for dancing on the job. It sounds unbelievable but this story seems to be true, as it has been reported across Tennessee enough that the Internet’s vigilante sense has finally picked it up and sprung to life. Nelson lives by the Liz Lemon philosophy of “Dance like no one is watching,” but they should change that mantra to “Dance like nobody is watching, but if a woman named Melissa Parsons is watching, then stop, because dancing offends her and she will complain.”
Chattanooga’s News Channel Nine caught up with Parsons last week to get her side of the story while also sharing her cell phone footage of Nelson getting down in the parking lot that she recorded while visiting with a Girl Scout troop. Parsons and her lip stud claimed that seeing a grown man in uniform dancing the way that he did – “grabbing areas that you would see on a rated R movie” – caused other parents to cover their children’s eyes, and thus a complaint was filed. The city agreed that it was inappropriate and Nelson was fired.
For dancing. To entertain people.
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(YouTube comments sections are the hell of the Internet, but go ahead and guess how terrible the comments on that video are… go ahead and check if you have the guts.)
News Channel Nine claimed that Nelson refused to do an on-camera interview, but he had no problem speaking with a reporter from Chattanooga’s WRCB News about this whole mess. He says that when people openly call him the “Dancing Park Ranger,” it’s pretty f*cking stupid that he’d be fired for dancing. Okay, those are my words, but he said that this was always about enjoying his job with some “clean fun.”
City officials seemingly won’t comment any further on this case, but as this story is beginning to spread on sites like the HuffPo and Happy Nice Time People, people outside of Chattanooga and even the state are beginning to get pretty pissed. One Chattanooga man is going balls to the walls by starting both a Facebook support group and a petition on Change.org to convince the city to reinstate Nelson, who was honored for saving a woman’s life just last year. Others have posted to Ellen DeGeneres’s Facebook page hoping to find support from a fellow dance enthusiast.
There’s even a GoFundMe account to help support Nelson, but after that whole KFC fiasco, people should probably just stick to petitions for a while until we all get our senses of trust back.