Mr. Snicket, Alabama would like a word with you

by Ted on April 28, 2005

Republican Alabama lawmaker Gerald Allen says homosexuality is an unacceptable lifestyle. As CBS News Correspondent Mark Strassmann reports, under his bill, public school libraries could no longer buy new copies of plays or books by gay authors, or about gay characters.

“I don’t look at it as censorship,” says State Representative Gerald Allen. “I look at it as protecting the hearts and souls and minds of our children.”

Books by any gay author would have to go: Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote and Gore Vidal. Alice Walker’s novel “The Color Purple” has lesbian characters.

Allen originally wanted to ban even some Shakespeare. After criticism, he narrowed his bill to exempt the classics, although he still can’t define what a classic is. Also exempted now Alabama’s public and college libraries…

“It’s not healthy for America, it doesn’t fit what we stand for,” says Allen. “And they will do whatever it takes to reach their goal.

Hi, I’m the bloody corpse of satire. Rep. Gerald Allen, you have defeated me in mortal combat.



M. Gordon 04.28.05 at 2:04 pm

I think the “satire/irony is dead” meme is getting a bit tired. Where did that one get started anyway?


Delicioius Pundit 04.28.05 at 2:20 pm

“And they will do whatever it takes to reach their goal.”

I always knew that NPR pledge-drive tactics would backfire in the end.


Delicioius Pundit 04.28.05 at 2:21 pm

Also, why no preview button here on the walls of Sal’s Famous Pizzeria?


Steve LaBonne 04.28.05 at 2:26 pm

Ignorant religious bigotry is an unacceptable lifestyle. To whom do I apply to get it banned?

Lately, Ohio has been threatening to overtake Alabama in the Republican-led race to the bottom. I guess Alabamians felt they really had to dig deep for that little something extra in order to stay in the lead.


Steve LaBonne 04.28.05 at 2:29 pm

And don’t anybody even think about making any tasteless jokes about “race to the bottom”. As soon as I hit the “post” button I thought, “maybe I should have worded that differently…”


Henry 04.28.05 at 2:29 pm

I think the “satire/irony is dead” meme is getting a bit tired. Where did that one get started anyway?

With Tom Lehrer, I think. When Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Prize for Peace, Lehrer “retired”: as a performer; “It was at that moment that satire died … There was nothing more to say after that.”


Dan Goodman 04.28.05 at 3:10 pm

This would ban books about King James and J. Edgar Hoover. And, depending on what percentage of Evil Content is allowed, it might bar all history textbooks currently in use. Even if they don’t mention what Alexander the Great (among others) did in bed.

I presume the Old Testament would get the classics exemption.


Scott 04.28.05 at 3:18 pm

That’s why they call it Talibama. :-)


luci phyrr 04.28.05 at 3:46 pm

Wall of the hinterlands from the coasts, an’ give’em subsidized budweiser, guns and crystal meth. The problem should sort itself out in a decade or two.


Barry Freed 04.28.05 at 3:46 pm

I think it’s a stealth move to cover-up the disgraceful and woefully underfunded state of public education in Alabama. IIRC, this past election a ballot measure put forward by the Republican governor of the state to raise state taxes primarily for the purpose of funding public education was defeated. So perhaps Allen is trying to ease public education’s budget crisis.


dbn 04.28.05 at 3:54 pm

I suppose that _To Kill a Mockingbird_ would have to be banned, as well. After all, Truman Capote is one of the main characters.

How appropriate.


Uncle Kvetch 04.28.05 at 4:03 pm

Please secede, Alabama. We won’t try to stop you this time. Just go. Take all your neighboring states with you, while you’re at it.


Rob 04.28.05 at 4:14 pm

Since King James was gay, I gues the King James Bible is right out. Rep Aleen wants to ban the Bible!!!! Godless Heathen!!!!


modus potus 04.28.05 at 4:14 pm

The death of irony is dead. Long live the death of the death of irony!


Barry Freed 04.28.05 at 4:25 pm

The primary symptom of the death of irony: The fetishization of sincerity.


Ted 04.28.05 at 4:45 pm

I was in a hotel recently at the same time as a SincerityCon. Goddamn freaks.


M. Gordon 04.28.05 at 5:38 pm

With Tom Lehrer, I think. When Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Prize for Peace, Lehrer retired as a performer; “It was at that moment that satire died … There was nothing more to say after that.”
Ah, yes, now I think I remember that. I wasn’t aware that that was where it had started. I always remember, years later, when asked why he no longer wrote songs about politics, he said, “I feel a little like a resident of Pompeii being asked for some humorous comments on lava.”


Carlos 04.28.05 at 5:42 pm

You’ve got a Purdy mouth.


B. Kallikak Moran 04.28.05 at 6:25 pm

Ridiculing the seriousness and activism of the religious right is up there with group masturbation on the big list of politically effective strategies and techniques.
The religious right assumed power in the US, dominant power, while smarter more sophisticated people giggled at their buffoonish superstitions and illogical pronouncements.
Yuk yuk.
Bush got re-elected while you guys were snickering at his constituency.
Yuk and yuk.
What is Rep. Allen really concerned about?
Social decay? Do we have social decay? Huh? Do we?
Possibly Rep. Allen has misdiagnosed the problem, possibly homosexuals aren’t to blame for what’s wrong. Possibly it’s the fault of less-easily identified spineless assholes, who’d rather self-gratify with cheap yuks than confront the dire truth. Cowardice is more to the point.
Allen’s right about there being a problem, and he’s right that the children of Alabama are threatened, seriously threatened. Right there your laughter and ridicule become inappropriate.


Barry Freed 04.28.05 at 6:43 pm

Want another symptom:

It seems that Edvard Munch’s modernist masterpiece “The Scream” which was stolen last August, I believe, has been incinerated by the thieves.


David All 04.28.05 at 7:18 pm

Back in the late 1980s, I worked with a white woman from Alabama who was in early 50s. She once said that every time she thought be able to tell people she was from Alabama without being embarassed, “some durn fool would do something” to make the state a laughing stock all over again. Having seen first the state Chief Justice Moore make a “durn fool” of himself over displaying the Ten Commanmants and now this ever greater idiot, you can certainly sympathize with her!
She also said once, “I do not know why the Good Lord ever created the state of Mississippi, ‘less it was to give folks from Alabama somebody to look down upon!”


Steve LaBonne 04.28.05 at 8:03 pm

When I lived in Mississipi for 3 years back in the 80s, folks there used to say the same thing about Arkansas. ;)


trotsky 04.28.05 at 8:45 pm

In New Mexico, “Thank God for Mississippi” is the state motto.


Barry Freed 04.28.05 at 8:54 pm

Some moran wrote:

Ridiculing the seriousness and activism of the religious right is up there with group masturbation on the big list of politically effective strategies and techniques.

Personally “group masturbation” is on my big list of fun things to do (it’s not near the top, but it’s not near the bottom either) not on my “big list of politically effective strategies and techniques. But maybe that’s just me.

When it comes to the powers that be and those powers that aspire to be (and to dictate to us what we may do with our bodies and minds) laughter and ridicule is not only appropriate but down right necessary.

In fact, I’m laughing right now.


cbl 04.28.05 at 9:23 pm

“Books by any gay author would have to go…”

I don’t want to be overly dramatic, but doesn’t this seem a little, umm, 1930s-Germany-esque? I mean, there seems to be some kind of family resemblance between the social stigma attached to homosexuals now and that attached to Jews for most of the past 2000 years, at least in Europe.

However, I am too ignorant of history to make such broad generalizations without a historian around to set things straight…Is there a historian in the house to comment on this assertion?


Minivet 04.28.05 at 9:42 pm

>In New Mexico, “Thank God for Mississippi” is the state motto.

Texas too, at least among people up on public welfare policies.


B. Kallikak Moran 04.28.05 at 11:20 pm

If my point was to call attention to the self-satisfied nature of a solid majority of what should be, and considers itself to be, the moral opposition to the stridently vocal and increasingly severe intolerance of the not-insignificant portion of the American electorate Rep. Allen is this week’s lightning rod for – and it was – then you’ve proved its apposite nature in spades.
I repeat, in so many words:
George Bush is enjoying his second term. The damage he’s done is nearly irreparable. Scorn away, impotent twits!
I elaborate, using new words:
We’re witnessing social decay that Caligula and Louis XVI would be familiar with, and, aside from a few lone voices here and there, the only clear public support for attempts to achieve a healthy environment for the young – most of whom seem to have been fluted away into the mountain caverns of a techno-Hamelin, following a glittering tune of inhuman and decidedly non-parental seduction – are coming from the congregations Allen would recognize as his own.
As cbl timidly remarks, though not in so many words:
This thing is going somewhere, somewhere dark.
My point – you better catch that drift while you still can.
What Allen misreads as a homosexual agenda is something much less natural, but that doesn’t make his concern inaccurate. It’s the target, the causative force he’s missing; he’s not mistaken about the threat. His concern deserves respect, and needs immediate redirection.
In that context, snarkiness is just complacency with a nihilist hard-on and nowhere to put it.


Barry Freed 04.29.05 at 2:31 am


You should definitely read the distinguished historian Fritz Stern’s speech he recently gave upon accepting the Leo Baeck Medal. Stern specializes in the study of European fascism and he was himself a refugee from Nazi Germany. NYT’s Chris Hedges wrote about it, see this:

Here’s the text of Dr. Stern’s speech:

Now as to the homosexual/fascism angle you should buy this month’s issue of Harper’s which has a number of very important articles. The one I have in mind is not so coincidentally by Chris Hedges. Here’s a short excerpt, I think you’ll find this very interesting.

Just for keeping tabs on such stuff in general I very highly recommend journalist David Neiwert’s indispensable blog:

Mr. Moran: Don’t be coy, just say it plainly. OK, I’ll take a stab in the dark at it. It’s the Jews, right?

Please, stop, you’re killing me here.


bad Jim 04.29.05 at 3:44 am

I wonder if artists and musicians are also to be banned as producers of entartete Kunst. Farewell to Michelangelo and Leonardo, as well as Byron and Whitman, Proust and Tchaikovsky, Bernstein, Copland and Sondheim.

All books can be indecent books
though recent books are bolder
for filth, I’m glad to say,
is in the mind of the beholder.
When correctly viewed
anything is lewd
I could tell you things about Peter Pan
or the Wizard of Oz – there’s a dirty old man!


Dianne 04.29.05 at 11:04 am

Satire isn’t dead, it’s just been in a permanent vegetative state since Kissinger won the Nobel Prize for Peace. Tom DeLay will be putting forward a bill to keep it alive by artificial means any day now. That’ll be what finally kills it.


B. Kallikak Moran 04.29.05 at 3:02 pm

Freed- You tell me.
It’s absurd no matter how you look at it; from the stage. Or the cockpit.
But the imminent threat’s not diminishing, it’s building. If that doesn’t concern you I’d suggest you might be more complicitous than you’re willing to admit.
More fun is pretending there is no threat. No threat! Nothing wrong! Things have never been better!
For who? Not Allen’s people.
Also tell me whether or not Allen’s wrong in his assessment that the children of his constituency are in danger. That doesn’t bother you too much though does it? They’re expendable, ignorant, bigots. Away with them!
That he himself presents a danger to what he’s trying to protect, in his misguided attempt to do something about it, doesn’t mean he’s wrong.
Scorn is still the hallmark of cowardice. That it’s so common now is an indictment of the age.
We need, as Rep. Allen does as well, tighter terms, more accurate descriptions.
“The Jews” is meaningless, and it allows thugs to hide behind the innocent – “See? All the same! Innocent!”
No. Not all the same.
And it wasn’t what I meant at all.
But it’s a great way of stopping what little debate there was.


eb 04.30.05 at 3:54 am

Debate, kallikak? I have some difficulty believing you’re not an automated commenter…

What’s the source of that deep danger to the chirren of Alabama? Spell it out or begone.


James 04.30.05 at 1:08 pm

Dear M. Moran:

Cracking a few jokes on a website is not the same as “doing nothing.” Christ, even the most Dedicated Of Activists can’t be on Hyper Sincere Mode all the time. That’s how people burn out.

In other words, please step down off your high horse.

And by the way, what exactly IS the threat Allen is rightfully responding to? You’ve said it isn’t homosexuality, so what is it? This cryptic stuff is bullshit.


Nell 04.30.05 at 5:05 pm

So what did you mean, Moran? What is the great danger to the children of Rep. Allen’s constituents?

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