It’s not every day that my hometown is trending on Facebook, but my wife assured me that it was. Yes, Lilburn, Georgia, was trending because of what Slate has dubbed—in a year that has already seen Kim Kardashian publish a book of selfies—“The Year’s Most Perplexing News Event.”

Last week, Lilburn’s TNT Academy hosted an explosive graduation ceremony in which the principal, Nancy Gordeuk, concluded a lengthy rant about the rudeness of the guests with “Look who’s leaving: all the black people.” The rant was, of course, caught on video, from several angles, and was followed by an on-camera semi-apology and, later, a fully-apologetic written statement.

While the concluding remark got the most attention—and justifiably so—the entire rant seemed like an object lesson in law and gospel.

The circumstances leading to the rant were set in motion by Gordeuk’s announcement—before the valedictorian had spoken—that the graduation ceremony was over. Anyone who has attended a graduation ceremony can understand the crowd’s reaction to such an announcement: immediate and quick departure. If the valedictorian’s speech is missed, all the better.

In the face of overwhelming odds, Gordeuk attempted to coax the crowd back into their seats. On the video, she starts by singling out a member of the departing crowd, calling him a “goober” and a “coward.” When she realizes that the crowd is turning on her, and not the scapegoat, she begins to chastise them for their rudeness. Only when that tack fails does she acknowledge that it was her mistake that led to the departure. And, while in the video, most of the people—black and white—appear to remain seated for most of her rant, she finally appeals to (I guess?) racial pride—causing the remaining crowd to leave their seats.

Fascinatingly, Gordeuk’s school, the TNT Academy, was founded, according to its website, as a Non-Traditional Educational Center, which essentially provides independent study opportunities to students who can’t succeed in ordinary high schools. As Gordeuk herself describes it, “TNT captures the needs of public school students that are bored in a classroom and are starting to get into trouble.”

TNT, then, was founded on second chances, on grace. But Gordeuk shows us that, even when we construct our lives around grace, we are quick to jettison it in moments of crisis, instead clinging to the righteousness of the law. Gordeuk claims that “[t]he devil was in the house and came out from my mouth.” Since TNT’s graduation was held in a church and Gordeuk delivered her rant from the pulpit, it probably wasn’t the first time.