And Things-That-Make-You-Want-to Bang-Your-Head-Against-a-Wall

Alabama State Representative Gerald Allen recently introduced a
bill into the state legislature that would keep “gay” books out of
public school libraries.

Banned books would include those written by gay authors – like
Tennesee Williams, Truman Capote, Gore Vidal – and books with gay
characters in them, such as Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple.”
Allen said he was afraid of the “homosexual agenda” and “I don’t look
at it as censorship. I look at it as protecting the hearts and souls
and minds of our children.” Allen must not have gotten the memo that
at every single point in history when politicians have banned books,
it has turned out to be a bad, bad idea.
Luckily, the bill died before it could be voted on, because not enough
state legislators showed up for the vote. But isn’t it nice to know that asshole like Allen still exist?

Contributed by Jess Wakeman

Join the Conversation

  • Susan of Local Tint

    As a native of the state in question, I can attest to their still existing in abundance. Indeed, any time you’d like to feel better about the job your own state legislators are doing, come on over and visit to see what these whitebread bigots are proposing next.
    You’ll be sending cases of champagne to your state capitol by the end of the day.

  • tfreridge

    Why would it be considered censorship if the gay authors were still availible at other venues, just not in schools?
    Using the argument that exposure to gay authors promotes homosexuality (which I don’t believe for a moment, but anyways) don’t parents have a right to legislate what their childeren are exposed to in public schools? Do only wealthy parents (that can afford private schools) have the right to say what authors their children are exposed to?
    At what point did the public school system become all powerful that they don’t have to answer to the majority?
    If we turn off the television when our children are watching MTV is that censorship?
    I personally disagree with this legistlation. However, I believe if they can get enough votes to pass it then they ought to have the right to say what their children are exposed to. I don’t believe it’s censorship but I would be willing to participate in a campaign opposing this legistlation if it was in my locality.

  • Sarah

    Personally, I’m in favour of restricted censorship if whatever is being censured can be proved to be harmful (or creating a dehumanising environment) for a minority group. I don’t think uninhibited free speech is intrinsically a good thing. But that is beside the point, and should be discussed somewhere where there is a hell of a lot more space.
    Do people sending their children to public schools have the right to express their views to their kids about what is right and wrong according to them? Certainly.
    Do they have the right to try to deny benign representations of diversity? Particularly since those that are represented are a part of that school? Nope. if you want your child to reflect your own hateful bigoted mindset, then … oh, I don’t know … perhaps teach them those things yourself?! Then they might have strategies to understand the wider world the way you want them to.
    Writing that and being lesbian makes me want to throw up, but hey, even I don’t want to make being an idiotic bigot illegal.
    These are the same kinds of dicks that want ‘Intelligent Design’ to be taught alongside evolution in science class. Yep, this is censorship, and it’s censorship of the wrong kind.

  • tfreridge

    I feel the same way about flag burning. I disagree, but I would defend their right to burn it.
    Sarah – I’m not saying that what those people are doing is right at all (I sing the body electric, too?) but I’m not sure I want to give up control of our children’s education to unelected organiziations (the NEA and ACLU). I think the final say about community standards and schooling should reside in the community, and that means the elected legistlature.
    If that means that I have to get out there and campaign, or protest in order to educate some people about why Hemingway needs to be our school libraries, then I will do so.

  • Sarah

    The thing, tfreridge hon, is that allowing communities to dictate things like what their children are taught is that you are leaving yourself open to ‘rule of the majority’ where minorities tend to end up marginalised, or even worse, the empowered minority gets to impose its views on everyone else.
    I think, honestly, we should to a certain extent leave education up to education professionals. Most parents don’t know diddly about how real education works and what the aims of it are. If you REALLY don’t like what is being taught there is always home schooling.
    But then, that all said, I also don’t have kids, so my perspective could be coming from a quite different place.

  • Sarah

    oops, by “empowered minority” it should read “empowered elite”
    sorry, am designing an exam right now …

  • Sonya Klarson

    Porousness and identity. People need to be porous to new influences as well as to retain their identities. We need to be both local and global to survive in the current world, selectively open and closed at the same time. We need boundaries and borders to ground and anchor identity as well as bridges to connect us to the outside.
    Although identity is shaped by a variety of factors, from upbringing and friendship networks to work, crucially it is also rooted in geography and place. In spite of increased mobility, a sense of place remains a core value and often acts as the pivot point around which a person acts. This tends to mean that cities need to balance being parochial and cosmopolitan.