Reality distortion in Alabama

Hit and Run pointed me to this article about an Alabama lawmaker who wants to ban all books with gay characters from school and public libraries:

A bill by Rep. Gerald Allen, R-Cottondale, would prohibit the use of public funds for “the purchase of textbooks or library materials that recognize or promote homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle.” Allen said he filed the bill to protect children from the “homosexual agenda.” …

If the bill became law, public school textbooks could not present homosexuality as a genetic trait and public libraries couldn’t offer books with gay or bisexual characters.

Some of the obvious low-hanging fruit would clearly have to be buried under this law: Heather Has Two Mommies, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Color Purple, The World According to Garp. But the language of the law is so arbitrary that it would make deciding on some genuine classics quite difficult to pigeonhole. What about works with gay authors: would The Importance of Being Earnest, a play with no obvious gay themes but written by a flaming gay, be banned? What about Aristotle’s Poetics? And if that’s banned, what would we do with modern literary criticism? Homosexuality was so engrained in Greek culture that it would be difficult to write accurately of the Greeks at all without mentioning it. Would we simply have to remove Greek history from the curriculum? Euclid may have been homosexual: should we ban geometry?

Supposing Alabama didn’t go that far, they would still run into serious difficulties. Imagine a library subscription to a journal, which could be in a variety of fields — psychology, sociology, history, English, biology, medicine — and in one issue there’s an article about gays. Do they cancel the subscription? Newspapers such as the New York Times report on gays all the time. Should they be banned? How about Wordmunger.com, which publishes obviously pro-gay statements such as this post, and links to gay advocacy sites like Alas, a Blog. Heck, they’ll probably just need to ban the whole Internet.

Even the article about the proposed law in the Birmingham News, which quotes a person critical of the law, would probably have to be banned.

It’s easy to dismiss the Representative Gerald Allen’s proposal as a means to seek publicity, or an example of the ignorance of a country bumpkin, like laws mandating that pi equals three. The larger context is a nation where, increasingly, there is an effort to somehow inculcate “values” by government mandate. But how are we to value heterosexuality if all evidence of homosexuality is suppressed? Little Johnny and Joey might have some vague sense that it’s wrong to kiss each other, but if they don’t know what it is to be gay, how can they truly “value” being straight?

If Allen is absolutely certain he is correct, he should be willing to debate his ideas openly. If his answer to dissension is to suppress it, there’s a good chance that the suppression is occurring because he’s wrong.

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