Friday, December 3, 2004

From Those Wonderful Folks Who Brought You Bull Connor

As noted in the blogaround this morning, The Invisible Library has a posting about a state lawmaker in Alabama who wants “to ban novels with gay characters from public libraries, including university 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.”

Where to begin?

The list of books with gay characters would have to start, of course, with the King James version of the Bible. Jonathan and David, for example. Then we would move on to Greek literature, the poems of Homer, and so on. Then there’s all those cross-dressers in Shakespeare, and of course we all know what Christopher Marlowe was really writing about in Edward II. The list goes on and on; if I were to reel off just the major plays and novels of the 20th century with gay characters off the top of my head I’d be typing for hours. If this law actually takes effect they might as well just shut down the libraries in the state of Alabama and convert them all to Wal-Marts because there would be no point in having a library at all. Keith makes an excellent point about censorship, and he’s particularly aware of it because of his profession as a librarian. It always starts insidiously; a book here, a play there, and the next thing you know we have a bibliophobic holocaust.

As for the “homosexual agenda,” well, unless I missed something in the mail last week, there is no such thing. Rep. Allen makes it sound like we all got together at some secret convention and came up with this master plan. That’s so silly. First, getting all the queers together and keeping it a secret would be impossible. After all, we all inveterate gossips; someone would have let the cat out of the closet, so to speak. Second, just what the hell kind of agenda would we come up with? Make Key West the national capital? Sneak into the suburban homes of tacky straight people in the dead of night and re-decorate? (“That bowling trophy on top of the TV set has got to go!”) Well, where do you think Queer Eye for the Straight Guy came from? In reality, the homosexual agenda is this: Treat us like anyone else, with the simple dignity and respect you would give any other human being. We’ll demand nothing more and expect nothing less. And that includes portraying us in literature and life as just plain folks. (And I’m not saying this just because I want to sell a bunch of copies of Bobby Cramer in Alabama.)

I feel sorry for the people of Alabama who have to endure this legacy of narrowmindedness that borders on the laughable. Forty years ago it was George Wallace standing in the schoolhouse doorway and Sheriff Bull Connor with his firehoses. Then they got Judge “Ten Commandments” Roy Moore, and now they have this advertisement for idiocy in the person of Rep. Allen. There may be some wonderful things and endearing qualities about that state, but once again becoming the icon for ignorance isn’t one of them.