PolySciFi Blog

Thursday, April 28, 2005


Gerald Allen: Statesman, Writer, Imbecile

Andrew Sullivan points out this CBS News story: Gerald Allen, a state legislator from Alabama, doesn't want state funds spent on books that feature gay characters, or that are by gay authors. At least, that's CBS's spin on the story, and it seems clear from Allen's public statements that that is his intent in crafting the bill. But as is so often the case when a wingnut legislator feeds his wingnut base, the true impact of the bill as-written would be far worse. CBS and others have compiled lists of authors who would be banned: Auden, Wilde, Proust, Whitman. But that's just the tip of the iceberg.

As with all statesmen who suggest that books be destroyed (his specific instructions:"Dig a hole, and dump them in it"), Gerald Allen has a fine-tuned sense of language. (In an interview with the Guardian, he referred to Hamlet as "Hammet," for example). One imagines him sitting by the fire with a snifter of brandy, flipping through his well-worn Norton Anthology of Straight Literature. Given his literary pedigree, you would expect his bill to be well-written and precise. But it isn't. Here's the sentence in the bill, emphasis mine:
No public funds or public facilities shall be used by any state agency, public school, public library, or public college or university for the purchase, production, or promotion of printed or electronic materials or activities that, directly or indirectly, sanction, recognize, foster, or promote a lifestyle or actions prohibited by the sodomy and sexual misconduct laws of the state of Alabama.
Let's look at those sodomy and sexual misconduct laws. They're in Section 13A-6-63-65 (and still on the books, though they look to me like they violate Lawrence v. Texas). The sodomy laws all involve lack of consent; the broadest prohibitions are found in 13A-6-65, emphasis mine:
Sexual misconduct.

(a) A person commits the crime of sexual misconduct if:

(1) Being a male, he engages in sexual intercourse with a female without her consent, under circumstances other than those covered by Sections 13A-6-61 and 13A-6-62; or with her consent where consent was obtained by the use of any fraud or artifice; or

(2) Being a female, she engages in sexual intercourse with a male without his consent; or

(3) He or she engages in deviate sexual intercourse with another person under circumstances other than those covered by Sections 13A-6-63 and 13A-6-64. Consent is no defense to a prosecution under this subdivision.

(b) Sexual misconduct is a Class A misdemeanor.
Section 13A-60 defines "deviate sexual intercourse":

(2) DEVIATE SEXUAL INTERCOURSE. Any act of sexual gratification between persons not married to each other involving the sex organs of one person and the mouth or anus of another.

So Mr. Allen's bill would ban any purchase or performances of works that directly or indirectly sanction, recognize, foster, or promote oral or anal sex between unmarried heterosexuals. Furthermore, any work in which a man convinces a woman to sleep with him through any fraud or artifice is off-limits; that means pretty much no romantic comedy could be shown on a college campus. Because God knows the homosexual agenda includes screenings of You've Got Mail.

It's not surprising that Allen is stupid, or that he's written a bad law, or that he doesn't seem to have even read the criminal code his law references. It is surprising that the MSM has focused on this as "a law to ban gay authors and characters" (which is appalling), and missed the fact that the law as written is really "a law to ban gay authors and characters, unmarried characters who suggest that oral sex may be enjoyable, and male characters who have ever decieved women in order to sleep with them."

The question isn't what books, plays, and movies would be banned from Alabama schools, universities, and libraries. The question is what would be left.

Update: Hello, Andrew Sullivan readers, and welcome to Polyscifi!


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