Gay Alabama residents ask lawmakers "Why do you hate us?"

During a public hearing on a bill to prohibit schools from spending public funds on books or other materials that recognize or promote homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle Patricia Todd "I feel you all hate us,"Bill sponsor Rep. Gerald Allen, R-Tuscaloosa, said the proposed legislation was not a manifestation of hate, but instead a response to citizens' concerns about cultural preservation and government spending.

"This is not about hate. This is about our culture being under attack and about the fact that a majority of citizens support not spending tax dollars to promote a lifestyle that's not acceptable," Allen said.
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I know we already all have strong opinions, but!

"a majority of citizens support not spending tax dollars to promote a lifestyle that's not acceptable"

An excellent point. Libraries should also get rid of all copies of Mein Kampf and The Bell Jar, Monster and Stranger in a Strange Land. Or are we only banning books that "promote" an unacceptable lifestyle by showing it is attractive? In that case, are we allowed to have books in which people are punished for being homosexual? I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This, in which the protagonist's dog is killed as a punishment by the universe for a same-sex kiss? Can we keep books about teen sexuality as long as the teenager's life is ruined (which would rule out Color Purple)?

Sadly, all of the books I came up with as examples are almost certainly books somebody has tried to ban. Because, we all know that the best way to keep history from repeating itself is to make sure nobody knows what happened in the past. Head, meet desk.

er, and

(I'm not even addressing the fact that I fundamentally disagree with the "unacceptable" label. Just even if I did agree, I wouldn't agree with the proposed solution.)

Okay...

We need to arrest this representative for Hate Crimes, nothing less would match the action.

I am straight and truly do not understand people who choose to be or are born gay (and I think both happen) but laws like this are one step from the US having a Crystalnacht of its' own.

Re:I know we already all have strong opinions, but

This is about school funding. The books you mentioned aren't likely to be in the school library. If this applied to public libraries I'd have more of problem.

Why is stuff like this happening? Because children are getting pro-gay propaganda in schools as young as 6 years old and if parents protest they get arrested.

Re:I know we already all have strong opinions, but

My public school kids get all sorts of instruction and propaganda that I disagree with--the DARE program, sex ed (aside from plumbing and mechanics), teaching standarized test-taking and the historic and contemporary portrayals of indigenous Americans to name a few. I use these opportunities to talk to my kids about why I think what they're learning is wrong or doesn't fit in with values that I hold dear (or why it's a waste of their learning time). Public education is hobbled and watered-down as is without having parents asking for customized curriculum or proscribing explicit collection policies.

I think the weakness of this bill is that there are exceptions for "classics." Who decides those titles? A literature expert? Parents? Teachers?

Reading the statement as it was said

"This is not about hate. This is about our culture being under attack and about the fact that a majority of citizens support not spending tax dollars to promote a lifestyle that's not acceptable,"

Any reasonable parsing--"our culture," "lifestyle that's not acceptable" turns that into:

"This is about hate."

Re:I know we already all have strong opinions, but

The issue of homosexuality is a little more contentious then the DARE program. Lumping it in with every other complaint is just a way to avoid dealing with it and ignores the past few years of court and legislative action thats taken place.

Re:Reading the statement as it was said

I gotta agree with ya there, Mr. Crawford. This goes right back to the age old question "unacceptable to who?" See, from what I can tell, a majority of these people in America who think that homosexuality is unacceptable are Christians. Which is fine. That's their belief. But me, I'm Pagan and we see nothing wrong with homosexuality. Heck, there's even some (a lot) of Christians who don't see anything wrong with homosexuality. Yet these lawmakers look to force a religious opinion on us through legislature. I don't believe in the fundamentalist Christian belief that homosexuality is wrong.

Logically it all works out to: Your invisible guy who lives in the sky says it's bad, but my invisible woman and guy who live in the sky disagree.

Meanwhile, if homosexuality is so unacceptable and against the natural order of things, why is it so rampant in nature?

Oh, and for the record, I could get plenty of books in my high school library "promoting" an "unacceptable lifestyle." There was plenty of info on Nazism, including Mein Kampf. As someone who's mostly German, I feel outrage at such tomes, but I don't quest to remove them from the shelves. It is only through these books we may learn of opinions different than our own and perhaps prevent history from repeating itself a little too well.

Oh and as a last parting shot, I'd feel a little more comfortable that this wasn't related to hate if it wasn't coming from Alabama. You know, former segregationist and George Wallace territory? They said the same things about Blacks only a few decades ago.

Re:Reading the statement as it was said

Any reasonable parsing--"our culture," "lifestyle that's not acceptable" turns that into:

"This is about hate."

In our culture we find that issues like minors drinking, use of addictive narcotics, the abuse of animals, reckless endangerment of others, these issues promote a lifestyle that's not acceptable. And while I will not hate those who engage in such activities I will promote rules and laws that minimize these activities and how they affect myself and society as a whole.

Re:I know we already all have strong opinions, but

Greg, I think you do not understand how contentious the DARE program is. Parts of it simply outright lie about marijuana, apparently on the assumption that the kids will not figure out that they've been lied to. And when the kids DO figure out that they've been lied to, they become far more likely to disbelieve the rest of what they've been told about the dangers of illicit drugs. Yet still parents who think the DARE program is bad for their kids have to put up with it, and compensate by talking to their kids at home, about what's true and what isn't, and why they really shouldn't use illegal drugs. One part of the community doesn't get a veto over a drug-education program that the community as whole has decided will be used; why should one part of the community get a veto over some books they don't like?

Re:I know we already all have strong opinions, but

You're wrong on two points: the book isn't "propaganda", and David Parker was arrested, not because he protested the book, but because after he made his protest, he simply refused to leave the school until he got his own way. A fine example to set for his son, that.

Re:I know we already all have strong opinions, but

An excellent example to set. The schools do not outrank the parent.

Re:I know we already all have strong opinions, but

I am aware of how contentious DARE is.

1. If a majority of the community chooses to drop the program I don't know why they wouldn't get a veto.

2. States are amending their own constitutions to prevent courts from simply making gay marriage de facto law. I think it trumps any debates over the value of DARE.

Re:I know we already all have strong opinions, but

And he doesn't HAVE to send his child to public school. He can home school, send the child to private school, etc. So, he's a taxpayer. So are the GLBTs in the area, some who probably have children. Why should they and their children be discriminated against? Why is it okay for the christians to decide what goes in a public school but not others? Others who also pay taxes.

And being gay isn't a lifestyle or a choice. It's just life; just like it is for straights. Or if you call it a lifestyle, then you'd best start calling your own heterosexualist conservative christian way of life a lifestyle.

s/

Re:I know we already all have strong opinions, but

State constitutions are irrelevant.

Article VI. Section 1. Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.

Re:I know we already all have strong opinions, but

You can try and blame Christians if you want but this goes across the religous and even political spectrum.

I call it a choice for most and cruel science for some. Either way I don't want it taught to six year olds.

Re:I know we already all have strong opinions, but

What point are you trying to make?

Cruel science?!

What?! Greg, that's plain ugly, judgmental and brutal. Re: "choice for most" statement. That's just silly and unsupported.

Re:I know we already all have strong opinions, but

And yet, since one of the major causes of teen suicide is misery over being closeted in a homophobic world, I do want it taught -- not just to six year olds, but to 16 year olds, who are also affected under the proposed ban. I think it's actively important to teach kids that being gay isn't the end of life. I don't find it to be cruel science -- where I live, being queer is a perfectly acceptable and unexceptional life choice. And hell yeah, I want kids to know that there are places where you can be tax-paying, stodgy, Norman Rockwelly, mortgage-having, and even politically conservative, all while being happy and queer.

So you and I disagree, and we both live in the same state, and therefore, share school systems. And the community standards in our state are very evenly split on the issue. So do we ban all mention of the issue -- remove books that include gay couples and straight couples (since I actively don't want the gay kids to feel like their lives are unlike everyone else's as seen in literature)? Or do we allow a complex debate through the power of literature, with a multitude of voices (including books in which homosexuality is seen as negative, and books in which it's seen as positive), and allow children, as mediated by their parents, to grow up and draw conclusions?

Obviously, I'm a big proponent of the latter.

(Not to mention that this law didn't begin as being just about schools; it began as being all public libraries in the state, and was modified due to massive outcry. So any claims from proponents that it's about what belongs in the curriculm are disingenious.)

Re:Cruel science?!

You're entitled to your opinion Rochelle but saying its silly and unsupported doesn't make it so. In the end I believe human beings have the ability to control who they are and how they behave. I believe sexual behavior in all cases can come down to choice, from celibacy to polygamy, homo to hetero.

Ugly judgmental, and brutal? The physical nature of our existence varies from near perfection to outright grotesquery with the vast majority plopping contentedly in the middle. For those who receive traits and features that enhance their life we say they are lucky and fortunate. What are we then to say about those who receive traits and features that makes life more difficult?

Re:I know we already all have strong opinions, but

I'm not responsible for what the proponents original intentions were. I would be one of the ones speaking against the original version if it applied to public libraries. As for this:

Or do we allow a complex debate through the power of literature, with a multitude of voices (including books in which homosexuality is seen as negative, and books in which it's seen as positive), and allow children, as mediated by their parents, to grow up and draw conclusions?

Its my view that the complex debate you speak of is what causes the miseries of teens. Too much is left in doubt, too much is open to questioning. You are what you are, deal with what you are born with and learn to deal with the responsibility that goes with it.

Re:I know we already all have strong opinions, but

You are what you are, deal with what you are born with and learn to deal with the responsibility that goes with it.

But again, if you only get one voice, who gets to choose the voice? You live in a state which is extremely evenly divided in terms of community standards -- and where the number of people who agree with the new perception is growing, and the number of people who hold by the old perception is shrinking. Does that mean that when the percentage of people who find homosexuality acceptable hits 51%, we should remove all dissenting voices, and make it illegal for public libraries to carry books that disagree with homosexuality?

And in my opinion, librarianship is all about supporting questioning. Part of our professional ethics is bringing in books from our variety of viewpoints, so that patrons can use information to draw conclusions.

Re:Cruel science?!

What are we then to say about those who receive traits and features that makes life more difficult?

They only make life more difficult when people try to pass laws like these. Again, where I live, people live complete, full, and happy lives straight or queer. For many queer people around here, sexuality isn't something they have to think about or talk about, it's just a fact of life, as heterosexuality is for straight people.

Re:Cruel science?!

Unless you live in Provincetown, MA's answer to San Francisco, I don't believe you. But yes, of course, when surrounded by people who believe the exact same thing as you do there's bound to be less butting of heads. Some people label that as just another way of being close-minded however.

Re:I know we already all have strong opinions, but

"But again, if you only get one voice, who gets to choose the voice? You live in a state which is extremely evenly divided in terms of community standards -- and where the number of people who agree with the new perception is growing, and the number of people who hold by the old perception is shrinking."

I wouldn't bank on this. And its definitly not 50-50. We're a one party state so stupid things happen but the majority of the population was not in favor of gay marriage.

Re:Cruel science?!

Unless you live in Provincetown, MA's answer to San Francisco, I don't believe you.

I live in the suburbs of Somerville's Davis Square, and I'm sorry you don't believe me. But while there are certainly uncomfortable situations here -- hate crimes against lesbian couples walking in the park -- on the whole it's as comfortable a place to be queer as it is to be anything else.

But yes, of course, when surrounded by people who believe the exact same thing as you do there's bound to be less butting of heads. Some people label that as just another way of being close-minded however.

I keep promising myself that I'm not being fair to you by dropping out of arguments with you on this board as early as I do, because of my assumption that you'd do this. But Greg, look at yourself. You've said the following things (I'm paraphrasing):

  • Community standards should prevail when parents want control over what their kids read.
  • Living with other people who share your community standards is being close-minded.

and

  • it's cruel when nature makes people gay, because life is hard for gay people
  • it's close-minded to live in places where people don't make your life hard.

I want you to convince me to come round to your side of an argument at least once, if only because I want to convince myself that I'm not closed-minded and can be convinced. *g* But it's never going to happen if your arguments eat themselves like this.

Re:Cruel science?!

1. You're replacing 'community standards' with majority vote and then using it to validate your second statement.

2. You're free to live in any community you choose but to use a single community where everyone thinks alike in order to justify your arguements on how things should be is close-minded.

3. The longer any discussion goes the more topics that get hit on the more scenarios get created the more likely you're going to walk into a contradiction. Such is life. I'd advise not getting too excited over it

4. Somehow I doubt minds ever get changed on issues this hot. In debates like this I think more about who's reading then whose responding.

Re:Cruel science?!

In debates like this I think more about who's reading then whose responding.

You're right. And in that light, I'm quite content with how this discussion has concluded.

Re:Cruel science?!

Oops. Sorry. That was me. Cookies were off.

Mmmm, cookies.

Re:I know we already all have strong opinions, but

And a larger majority was not in favor of amending the state constitution to eliminate it before we had the rush of pictures of nice, ordinary, not-scary gay people getting married, some Fred Phelps-affiliated whackos showing to demonstrate to MA residents how hate-filled and evil they are, and then, in the months since, daily life going on exactly as it did before.

I think the real majority opinion on this is my mother's: had it been on the ballot before it went into effect, she'd have voted no; she doesn't approve, and why vote to create something you don't approve of?--but she is not outraged that the SJC reached a different decision, based on the state constitution which has pretty absolute language on equality, is not terrified that the bonds of civil society may be about to dissolve because of, and is completely mystified by the 'winger argument that this somehow disrespects or devalues the marriage she had with my father, until he died.

My mother is not some kind of raving lefty, Greg. She's actually pretty ante-deluvian in some ways. I mean, she also doesn't approve of interracial marriage--she's convinced it's both unnatural and bad for the kids--but never in my life have I heard her say that it ought to be illegal, or that the Supreme Court committed an outrage against morality when they struck down miscegenation laws.

And one final note: the only reason MA is a one-party state is because the Republicans won't run serious or even plausible candidates for any but a handful of offices. At the end of Romney's term, we'll have had a Republican governor for sixteen years, but that run only started because Bill Weld was a strong enough candidate to overcome the fact that the Republican party power structure was against him the first time he ran. If the state Republican party had had it's way, they'd have run yet another candidate with no chance of winning.

Re:I know we already all have strong opinions, but

I disagree on the first point and agree on the last one.

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