Thursday, February 20, 2014

Homophobes run the state.

Last night South Carolina state representative Garry Smith cut $52,000 from the College of Charleston's budget as punishment for CofC presenting Alison Bechdel's Fun Home as this year's book for our College Reads program.  $52,000 is how much it costs to put on the program.

I've written all the details here, in my City Paper article (which I wrote incredibly quickly between two classes today so that it could be online the day after this hateful bill was passed).

But let me add a few additional things here:  Bechdel was uncontroversial during her talk on campus.  Do you know what she talked about?  The techniques she uses to do her incredible drawings.

And when Bechdel spoke, many students and alums who are LGBTQ came and listened to her.  They felt that the college was validating their identities.  They stayed after the event, and Bechdel stayed and talked with them.  Do you get what a big deal this is?  In a terribly homophobic state--and state where no elected officials know what trans* means--these students and alums were being told that they have human validity.  It matters to them.  It matters to me.

Finally, we should adore Bechdel if for no other reason than she invented the Bechdel test, which I use all the time.

Last night a friend said, "We moved to South Carolina voluntarily.  But I'm beginning to question that decision."


  1. Well, you could always move to North Carol-- no, wait. Well, back to Tenness-- damn.

  2. If Rep. Smith had ever seen the books I had to buy for my Sexuality, Alternatives, and Society class in college he would have taken the entire budget from Salisbury University.

    One of the problems with things like this is people hear the word "gay" and immediately think you're trying to indoctrinate them. I've actually read this book and the sexuality aspect of it is minimal compared to familial ciaos. People seem to forget that your sexuality doesn't define who you are. It's just a small piece, that along with your personality, and values, determines who you love.

  3. Oy.

    But then, at least you're not Florida!

  4. Alison,
    Bill of Attainder in SC Constitution prohibits Rep. Gary R. Smith from cutting funding to CofC as a "punishment" because, the Legislative Branch is prohibited from assigning "guilt" as that is the job of the Judicial Branch.

    SC Constitution: "Section 4. Attainder; ex post facto laws; impairment of contracts; titles; effect of conviction." ... means ... Legislative Branch is NOT allowed to single out any person or group or institution with defunding or cutting funding unless the individual, group or institution has been found "guilty" of a crime by the judicial branch.

    In short, Section 4 of SC Constitution prohibits the Legislative Branch from "punishing" people, groups or institutions PRIOR TO the Judicial branch finding the party(s) guilty of a crime. Hence the wording "no ex post facto laws; impairment of contracts;..."

    Please get the word out as I cannot because I am leaving town for the weekend.

  5. I am a grad student at CofC and attended the lecture. I was raised in a religious home in the north, and while my parents were open minded our faith community was not always so welcoming. I want to keep my faith, but also think critically about the world I live in, and it's exactly these kind of books and events that open the door for all kinds of people to judge and weigh ideas for themselves - not simply regurgitate doctrine. I'm glad I graduate this term because I'm sorry to see things going the way they are with funding cuts and the potential merger.

    In general support of CofC:

    I have never felt that I could not be myself at CofC - a person of faith - because some "liberal agenda" was being pushed on me. My courses are challenging; my classmates are excellent scholars from various backgrounds; my professors are intelligent, thoughtful people who have never criticized me when I mention my faith in office hours and express my anxiety over feeling like I have to give up being religious to be a serious academic. In some religious communities, they tell you this is not the kind of thing one will find at a liberal arts college, but at CofC people live up the meaning of tolerance. Tolerance is not acting indifferent or ignoring people, it is caring enough to enter dialogues with those who may differ from us on topics we deeply care about.

    People can not all accept ideas and change at the same rate, bu people can learn to be gracious enough to listen and consider matters carefully so that a mutual understanding is reached even if opinions are not changed. This demonstrates real love for a neighbor and is much different than punishment and silencing.

    1. Thank you for this incredibly thoughtful comment, Belva-Rae. I'd suggest you make it into a letter to Rep. Smith and the CofC Board of Trustees.

    2. If you (or anyone) is interested, I posted my letter with his response on my blog. But I warn you, his end is underwhelming.

  6. Alison

    Here is the exact language from the SC Constitution Section 4 that prohibits Garry R Smith from "punishing" and assigning "guilt" to two colleges:
    "No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, law impairing the obligation of contracts..."

    It is very serious and very ILLEGAL for the Legislative Branch to assign "guilt" and "punish" prior to a person, group or institution being found "guilty" in a Court of Law (Judicial Branch)

    Basically, Garry R. Smith is violating two laws:
    1) SC Constitution Sect 4
    2) Separation of Powers

    1. I love the research you're sharing with us, anonymous!

  7. While I'd like to think this, and the recent attempts in KS, etc, are the gasping last breaths of a lost cause, I still marvel that adults in this country, in this century are still such colossal hate filled ass wipes. Boggles the mind.