I enjoy traveling in the South. It's like traveling to a foreign country, but without the hassle of border patrol guards and passports. All that overt civility and suppressed rage; the South is flirtation with dark forces.
Every now and then, though, that veneer cracks, and you can smell, even see, the sulphur.
Rep. Gerald Allen, R-Cottondale, Alabama, has introduced legislation to prohibit the use of public funds for the "purchase of textbooks or library materials that recognize or promote homosexuality as acceptable lifestyle." Bubba propose the bill to protect children from the "homosexual agenda." Invasion of the Body Snatchers Part II?
His hope is to ban novels with gay protagonists.
What to do with the offending material: "I guess we dig a big hole and dump them and bury them."
His comment is unclear: Was he referring to the banned literature, or to homosexuals?
Should his fellow lawmakers succumb to mass homophobic convulsions and pass the bill, the Constitution as currently interpreted will make short work of it on First Amendment grounds. Short work, that is, until the religious right packs the courts.
Incensed by my slur against the South? Okay, we've got our own blend of homegrown idiocy here in New England. It's called political correctness, or PC, for short.
A florid example of its excesses?
Southern Connecticut State University just barred a student from a poety class for two weeks. Why? The nitwit teaching the class felt threatened by a poem he wrote.
Kelly Rifter somehow bluffed the university into thinking she was literate enough to teach poetry. Rifter has a three-year old daughter. In her class is one 36-year-old student named Edward Bolles, a married father of two.
Rifter feels threatened by a poem in which a Mexican makes love to the daughter of a racist professor and is invited to dinner at the professor's home. The professor is shocked to see that her daughter's paramour is a lesser mortal.
The poem's all right. It is witty and has moments. But it is no threat. The student says it is about globalization; it reads more like a jab at racism.
Whatever it is, the professor's reaction is ridiculous, and the university is to be shamed for banning the student from class. Take a look at the poem: This is a threat?
So, we can't write about homosexuals in the South, and in the Northeast, poking at racism is taboo. I say keep writing about both until we can simply accept differences. Isn't that the point of literature, to yield a view of the other as humanly possible?