Tuesday, March 18, 2014

SC legislators being deceptive when attacking academic freedom regarding gay-themed books

By now, you already know the controversy regarding the SC legislators punishing colleges for assigning two gay-themed books for students.  The new state budget deducts $70,000 collectively from the College of Charleston and the University of South Carolina-Upstate. The amount adds up to the how much the two colleges spent on the gay-themed books. Rep Garry Smith is leading the charge because he claims the books, Fun Home and Out Loud: Rainbow Radio doesn't represent SC community values. He and other supporters claim in particular that Fun Home is pornographic.

I am calling bull to Rep. Smith's charges.

I haven't read Fun Home, but I contributed to the latter book, Out Loud: The Best of Rainbow Radio,  and there is nothing pornographic in it. The two books do have a similarity, however. They talk freely about lgbts, i.e. the gay community.

 Rep. Smith and his allies claim that they are merely protecting students from pornography.  But I have a serious problem believing this. Situations like this have played out so many times that we know the score. Smith and supporters apparently took offense to the colleges requiring students to read these books, so they scoured one of the books, in this case Fun Home, for what seems like a few "dirty passages" and, without taking note of the context of the passages, have based their entire case on them.

If you don't know what I'm getting at, then the following tweet from a SC religious right group, The Palmetto Family Council, should give you some indication:

The group was celebrating the passage of the budget via the House of Representatives, including the $70,000 deduction. But its gloating is much more extensive  if you look past the surface.

This isn't about protecting students or community values. Rather, it's about what Rep Smith originally claimed before he began pushing the more politically advantageous angle of stopping the spread of pornography, i.e the supposed "indoctrination of students into the so-called homosexual agenda." (cue the spooky and dramatic music).

You see, this is the rub of the situation.  Rep. Smith (and others) seem to have a bee in their bonnets that these books actually recognize and acknowledge lgbts and especially about same-sex families. And these books don't condemn  them either.

Certainly Rep. Smith and his allies can't have that. It would ruin the message so many so-called Christians have attempted to cultivate to the lgbt community in this state

And that message is:

You don't exist like regular people do. Know your place. Be what we tell you to be and be public when we tell you to. And don't count on us ever telling you to be public. You have no self-determination because we will define you. And above all, don't act like taxpaying citizens who are raising families. What do you think you are? Normal?

But consider this:

 According the Williams Institute analysis of 2010 data, 7,214 same-sex couples are living in South Carolina, representing 4.0 same-sex couples per 1,000 households. According to another group, the Movement Advancement Project, 19 percent of same-sex couples are raising children.

Rep. Smith claims to be protecting South Carolina's "community values," but he should be aware that no one asked him to. And certainly no one asked him to send a negative message to a segment of the state's citizens using the false argument of protecting students from porn.

Lgbts and particularly same-sex families exist in South Carolina. They are living freely, raising children, and paying taxes like the normal people they are. And whether Rep. Smith does or doesn't succeed in his petty attempt to punish colleges for recognizing lgbts, nothing he does can stop this.

And while folks like him and the Palmetto Family Council may freely fool themselves when they talk about "values" and "family," the vast majority of the rest of us aren't fooled.

We have enough common sense to recognize desperate, petty acts when we see them.


dancandan said...

when politicians interfere with educational content they inevitably produce narrow-minded and ignorant graduates. Basically SC will produce an entire generation of Smiths who believe in their right to discriminate anyone with different points of view than their own. pathetic and pointless...

BJ Jackson Lincoln said...

Since when did any college pay that much for books?! The student book store does pay for the truck load but the students pay for the books plus some in the end. Many of the required readings are found in any library and on line. There are ways around it.

Erica Cook said...

The one thing I can say with 100% certainty is I have never accepted my place, and I'm not about to start now.