Cleolinda Jones (cleolinda) wrote,
Cleolinda Jones

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Oh my God, I am so embarrassed. One of Neil Gaiman's readers in Australia, Katharine (hi, Katharine!) sent me a link from his journal to a news story on that y'all have all probably heard about by now. I mean, it's bad enough that our state legislature wants to ban any book referring to gay people or gaiety in general, if you will, from federally funded libraries, schools, and universities:

If the bill became law, public school textbooks could not present homosexuality as a genetic trait and public libraries couldn't offer books with gay or bisexual characters.

When asked about Tennessee Williams' southern classic "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof," [Rep. Gerald Allen, the writer of the bill] said the play probably couldn't be performed by university theater groups.

[...] Allen said no state funds should be used to pay for materials that foster homosexuality. He said that would include nonfiction books that suggest homosexuality is acceptable and fiction novels with gay characters. While that would ban books like "Heather has Two Mommies," it could also include classic and popular novels with gay characters such as "The Color Purple," "The Picture of Dorian Gray" and "Brideshead Revisted."

[...] Aside from the moral debates, the bill could be problematic for library collections, said Jaunita Owes, director of the Montgomery City-County Library, which is a few blocks from the Alabama Capitol.

"Half the books in the library could end up being banned. It's all based on how one interprets the material," Owes said.
But on top of that, I heard about it from someone on the other side of the world. Not only is this a totally backwards thing (again) for Alabama to do, but everyone knows about it. I am sick and tired of hearing nothing but sad, bad, and embarrassing news coming out of my state. So here's what we're going to do. If y'all are with me on this, we're going to fight back. I don't know what the most effective way to do this is--internet petitions are a joke, so those are right out, but if anyone has a suggestion, leave it in the comments. I suspect it will involve writing letters to Rep. Allen or possibly a more powerful politician, but if there's a larger group protesting this, we might be able to throw our weight--you, me, and everyone who reads this journal who wants to fight--behind them.

Actually, scratch that--Rep. Allen is probably a lost cause, and it would just turn into a giant snail-mail flame war. We probably need to write to the other representatives who would vote on this. If you're in Alabama, you would need to write to the representative for your district; for example, my zip code is splits five districts, leaving me with five people to write. I don't know if emails or typed/handwritten letters are more effective.

I don't know how far the opinion of a non-Alabamian would go--I'm thinking here of the British newspaper that had its readers write letters to the citizens of that town in Ohio, begging them to vote for Kerry, and the don't-tell-us-what-to-do outrage it provoked--but I would not underestimate the power of embarrassment on the other representatives. Meaning, "You don't actually want to vote for this, do you? Do you realize how awful it makes Alabama look to the rest of the world? And they do know about it, by the way."

That said: I know the Alabama mindset. We're not going to get them with the gay rights angle. If they're this narrow-minded, arguing on behalf of gay rights is not going to get us anywhere or change any minds. No, the angle we have to push is the Censorship Is Un-American and Rilly, Rilly Bad, Shame on You angle, because that's the only one that could possibly make them back down. Keep that in mind as you think of things to do.

However, I would highly, highly encourage anyone who wants to protest this to cast a vote against this bill in a positive light. As in, "This is a chance for Alabama to prove that it's not as backwards as everyone else believes. This is a chance to prove everyone wrong and show that we are living in the 21st century," rather than berating the other representatives for a bill they didn't come up with in the first place. I truly believe we'll catch more flies with honey, so flaming is not the order of the day here. What we need to do is promote the possible defeat of this bill as a positive and desirable thing, rather than focus on the alternative and antagonize.

So: Any ideas?

ETA: On the off chance that he might get back to me quickly, I've emailed the representative closest to me to ask for advice on how we should proceed. If I don't get a reply, he'll still get a formal, handwritten letter like the other representatives.

You know how we all bitched and whined on November 3rd that this country is going to hell in a handbasket? And then we all wrote inspiring posts about rolling up our sleeves and actually doing something? This is that something. I'll report back with a guide to writing a good representative letter if I hear anything.

ETA 2: I've written a couple of more emails to booky people in high[ish] places, you might say. Please pass this entry to anyone you know in Alabama, or anyone who could possibly help us or advise us how to make our opinions heard.
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