I've just put up a whole mess of Padme "Heroine Addict" icons over at icon_wh0res, so if you want them, go join up!
Feeling anxious, for some reason. Probably about the whole book-banning thing--I just sort of got a wild activist hair on last night, and now I'm sort of wondering what I've gotten myself into. I'm sure y'all won't believe this, but I'm still pretty shy in a lot of situations, and I'm beginning to wonder if I'm really equipped for the role I just sort of magically assumed. I've got a reply from Rep. Gaines in my email right now that I just. can't. bring myself. to read, because I'm afraid of what it says. "Massive neurosis" is not really a good quality for any kind of leader, really. Not that I don't want to press on, but--you just sort of wake up and realize that somehow today is very different from yesterday and wonder what exactly you've done.
Still, I asked Clifton, My Gay Boyfriend, about going to the HRC dinner meeting that Maggie (hi, Maggie!) brought up in the comments, and it looks like we're going to go. (Clifton: "I didn't even know we had a branch of the HRC in Birmingham! I'm such a bad fag.")
I'm probably anxious about the paper and exam I have due next week, too, even though I'm already mentally on Christmas break. Fnarr.
Okay, I can't stand it. I can't say "I've got the guy's email reply" and then, in any conscience, not tell you what he said. I was only able to make myself glance over it, in my nervousness, but he seems to have an interesting critique of our (read: my) approach, and since Rep. Gaines, of all people, knows how the other legislators tick, keep what he says in mind:
Thanks for the email. I've not read Rep. Allen's bill yet so I will not take a position on it until I do. From what I read in the paper his bill may extend as far as public libraries and colleges - that would be a stretch. But again, I need to read the bill.
As to "book banning" or "censorship" in elementary schools, middle schools and the like, we have and do ban and censor what our children read as well we should. What is banned and censored is generally left up to the local school systems with, in theory, parental input. The middle school removed a horrible book my daughter brought home when she was in the sixth grade. I won't get into the details of the book, but we have an established system and review process to "censor" or remove books from the school library.
If you are seeking my advice as to approaching legislators in voicing your opposition to Allen's bill I would definitely try to avoid reactionary arguments such as "We should never ban or censor any book anywhere." Every parent censors what their children read either directly or indirectly - or at least they should. I would also advise you not use the argument that Alabama would be "backwards" if we passed such a measure. And I would not argue that we would look bad to the "rest of the world." I don't believe those arguments would do anything to advance your cause and might even have the opposite effect. Finally, with respect to this issue or any other, threats to defeat a legislator at the polls if they don't vote a given way never ever works and only results in the legislator tuning out everything you have or will say on the subject. They know better than anyone what issues will or will not get them in trouble with voters.
I would keep your arguments on an intellectual level and avoid rhetorical statements. You may even do better to concede that censoring what our children read is not only acceptable but responsible. We all censor in every aspect of our lives to some degree. "Censor" is not a bad word - it can have bad applications. I did visit your web site and noticed you rather openly censor the comments to your web site. I'm not being critical. It's just an observation.
Thank you again for your email and I hope you will write often. I'll look forward to reading the Allen legislation as the next regular session of the Legislature approaches.
ETA: My reply:
Thanks for replying so promptly. I appreciate your taking the time to give me a very thoughtful critique of our approach. It's easy for us to be indignant about something, and indignation can get change started, but I don't think that it's the prime mover in the end.
I had to laugh when you noted the censorship on my journal--it's true, even though I've never felt the need to do that before. My argument would be, however, that the First Amendment "protects the right to (...) freedom of expression from government interference." It's one thing for one person to prohibit expression on a single website that she pays for; if another Livejournal user wants to express himself, he can go to his own journal. The problem, as I'm sure you see, is this (I'm quoting from the al.com article here):
"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. (...) His bill also would prohibit a teacher from handing out materials or bringing in a classroom speaker who suggested homosexuality was OK, he said."
I had to reconsider my definition of censorship, but yes, you're right: censorship is useful and necessary. The problem is that one group here is deciding what should be censored for the entire state, as opposed to more individual decisions--a school deciding not to teach "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," a parent deciding that her child shouldn't read "Heather Has Two Mommies." I'm free to censor my own journal; if someone disagrees with me, he may not be able to reply directly, but he can post a rebuttal in his own journal. A bill like this takes the freedom of personal censorship away, if that makes any sense.
But this is something I wouldn't have been able to articulate if you hadn't brought it up in the first place. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this with me. I've been invited to a meeting of the Birmingham Human Rights Campaign, and I'll be sure to bring up some of the points you've mentioned--as emotional as we may feel about the issue, I agree, it's probably not the best way to argue it. Thanks so much again.
I can't believe I ended up arguing for "the right of personal censorship," but hey, if that's the language the legislature will understand, I'll speak it.