Thursday, December 30, 2004

Snuffing Out the Light of Reason, the Lamp of Art

Well, it was a pleasant (if hectic) few days away. I avoided the news as much as possible, and the only things that filtered through were the horrible growing death toll from the tsunami, and Jerry Orbach's death, requiem en pace.
For many of us, this period between Christmas and New Year's Day has the feel of a suspended moment in time. Even if you must work during that week, as I have usually done, the work day seems slower, less crowded. There is a sense that one is caught in a pause, and reflection comes a little easier. During this time, as it usually does when I'm on a camping trip, the world passes by unheard and unseen, and listening to my insides becomes a relief and sometimes a surprise.

I haven't done much catching up, either with the mainstream news or with the blogs, but during my early morning skim of The Guardian, I found this nugget on Alabama's war on literature, and Bush's interest in it as a template for a federal approach to his own War On Literacy:

"What should we do with US classics like Cat on a Hot Tin Roof or The Color Purple? "Dig a hole," Gerald Allen recommends, "and dump them in it." Don't laugh. Gerald Allen's book-burying opinions are not a joke.
Earlier this week, Allen got a call from Washington. He will be (having his 5th) meeting with President Bush on Monday...
Bush is interested in Allen's opinions because Allen is an elected Republican representative in the Alabama state legislature. He is Bush's base. Last week, Bush's base introduced a bill that would ban the use of state funds to purchase any books or other materials that "promote homosexuality". Allen does not want taxpayers' money to support "positive depictions of homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle."

Explaining why he was prompted to shield the children of the Republic from literature, he admits that:

"It was election day," he explains. Last month, "14 states passed referendums defining marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman"...
"Traditional family values are under attack," Allen informs me. They've been under attack "for the last 40 years". The enemy, this time, is not al-Qaida. The axis of evil is "Hollywood, the music industry". We have an obligation to "save society from moral destruction". We have to prevent liberal librarians and trendy teachers from "re-engineering society's fabric in the minds of our children". We have to "protect Alabamians".
Although asked to give some examples of this impending disaster, Allen comes up with zilch. But why should that deter him from imposing a cultural straitjacket on his constituents. Like Richard Viguerie on NPR's "Fresh Air", who made wild allegations of gays pillaging churches across the country but was unable to provide any evidence when asked, Allen and his ilk are not interested in reality, but only in creating a fantasy for an audience willing to suspend belief in their own senses for the sake of maintaining a mythos that excuses their ignorance and hatred:

"Since Allen couldn't give me a single example of the homosexual equivalent of 9/11, I gave him some. This autumn the University of Alabama theatre department put on an energetic revival of A Chorus Line, which includes, besides "tits and ass", a prominent gay solo number. Would Allen's bill prevent university students from performing A Chorus Line? It isn't that he's against the theatre, Allen explains. "But why can't you do something else?" (They have done other things, of course. But I didn't think it would be a good idea to mention their sold-out productions of Angels in America and The Rocky Horror Show.)
Cutting off funds to theatre departments that put on A Chorus Line or Cat on a Hot Tin Roof may look like censorship, and smell like censorship, but "it's not censorship", Allen hastens to explain. "For instance, there's a reason for stop lights. You're driving a vehicle, you see that stop light, and I hope you stop." Who can argue with something as reasonable as stop lights? Of course, if you're gay, this particular traffic light never changes to green."
Ah, what better way to celebrate the progress of mankind into a new century and the latest birthday of the Prince of Peace than by codifying yet another incarnation of human hate. We have, after all, so many, and thank God we have the American educational system to put them into play.

More on the prepping of American kids to swallow these stupidities up next.

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