Saturday, April 30, 2005

Alabama's Answer to Educational Ineptitude

As of the latest Morgan Quitno 2003-2004 rankings , Alabama’s educational system checks in at a spectacularly underwhelming 46 out of 50, sliding 5 positions from its 2002 -2003 ranking. So what is Birmingham lawmaker Gerald Allen proposing to do in a move intended as “protecting the hearts and souls and minds of our children”? He was going to try and ban some books.

Under Allen’s proposed legislation that was under consideration earlier this week in Alabama’s House of Representatives, any books or plays written by a gay author or containing a gay character would be banned from public school libraries across the state. Judging by Alabama’s educational ranking, the impact of this legislation probably would have been minimal. I doubt that few of Alabama’s public school attendees, particularly those unfortunate enough to be currently attending Representative Allen’s old alma mater, would even have noticed them missing.

Ever since the civil rights movement of the 1960s the Republican Party has been afforded an image, a grotesquely unfair one in this day and age, of being a refuge of the elite, particularly within the blue state that I currently live in. If the GOP really wants to connect with the common man, it needs to show some tolerance for diversity. Now, I am not proposing that Representative Allen strap on some leather butt-less chaps and go off struttin’ his juicy booty at the next Gay Pride parade but public displays of such vindictiveness against a minority group only enhances the Democratic propaganda arsenal against conservative causes. I believe it to be an obstacle to Republican efforts to reach out to other minority groups and, even to my right-of-center ideological leanings, smacks of Gerald Allen having a desire to impose a policy of state imposed censorship. Luckily, there were not enough Alabama lawmakers interested in Allen’s proposal to hang around for its introduction, automatically killing the measure.

Of late the image of the Republican Party, particularly the media portrayal of it, seems to be focused upon the evangelical aspect of conservatism. Though undeniably a significant part of the party, they are by no means representative of conservatives as a whole. There are those of us who do not go to church on a regular basis, think the state has no business advocating religion in public schools and figure that we have bigger things to worry about than the sexual orientation of Tinkie Winkie, the purse-carrying Teletubbie (unless of course, we have consumed enough distilled spirits to find ourselves sitting at the far end of the bar getting hit on by the pervert). We are the fun side of the right, the South Park Conservatives, the Republican Party Reptiles, the people who are happy to have Condoleeza Rice championing our cause in foreign affairs, but would be even happier to have her as an adversary during an impromptu strip-poker showdown at a Georgetown U sorority house. We believe that the Republican Par-TAY is no different than any other sort of celebration in that the more people who attend, the merrier it will be. I personally welcome everyone to the Republican revelry, including the Christian Coalition. After all, every party worth it's salt is going to need a large contingent of designated drivers.

And a final word to Representative Allen: Before embarking upon a crusade to dictate what your children should NOT be reading, you should first spend some energy ensuring that they have the ability to read it. Otherwise, it’s a moot point.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

How is it that no one has commented on this article yet?
I guess I'm the only person in Alabama to read it, which makes for a pretty good argument on the local educational system.
Oddly enough, though, Alabama has one of the hardest exit exams in the country and although the average on standardized test scores statewide is among the lowest in the country several districts in Alabama are among the highest in the state.
(replaces tape on bridge of glasses) Now if you'll excuse me I here the lines are stacking up for the Star Wars boxed set available 20 years from now

11:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

** among the highest in the country, not the state...damn

11:35 PM  
Blogger JEP said...

Oooooooooh that was close! I had a great retort about your "highest in the state" comment but you beat me to it. Anyway, glad to hear from you and glad to see you survived the Alabama school system!
(And yes, I think you are the only JEP Report reader from Alabama).

5:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps my overworked, underfueled brain was thinking "state" in the mildly german "stadt" form of the word. Still I did use "here" instead of "hear" so that's not likely.
Believe it or not I make my living by writing, but thank God other people make their living by editing.
How is it you seem to write so concisely?
Does someone read your blogs before you publish them.

3:35 PM  
Blogger JEP said...

Nope. In fact, I usually don’t even proofread them until after they’ve been posted for a couple of days if at all. I’m in too much of a hurry to get them out (a fatal flaw of someone who’s dreaming about trying to make a living out of writing).

By the way, I appreciate the compliments on the writing. Coming from a professional writer, that means a lot. Hope you hang around and comment more. Any critiquing or criticism, good or bad, is always welcome here.

4:35 PM  

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