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Fun Home at the Fun House

During the budget debate, the Democrats tried to restore funding to the College of Charleston and USC Upstate that was lost over their requirement that freshman read certain homosexual-oriented books (or in the case of College of Charleston, a comic book entitled Fun Home). Click here for my last update on that subject.

The Democrats criticism can be summed up as follows:

1. The General Assembly has no business micro-managing the curricula of state colleges.

2. Freshman should be forced to consider controversial subjects as part of their education.

3. Homosexuals are part of our community and by criticizing the books in question, we are engaged in discrimination.

They also implied that Republicans are book burners, censors, moralizers, racists (their standard – and overused – condiment for whatever stew we are debating) and generally ignorant of what a university education should be.

Here’s the problem with their criticism:

The books were required reading for all freshman. The original complaint came from a father who did not want his 17 year old daughter at College of Charleston to be forced to read and be graded on a comic book containing graphic drawings of lesbian sex acts. His complaint was followed by many more.

He also did not feel that he should have to pay the fees that went to purchase the book. He asked the college to make the book optional reading. They refused. He complained to his SC House member. Since the House elects the trustees who oversee our state colleges and since the House budgets the funds that support our state colleges, his complaint required us to look into the matter.

These two colleges claim they are promoting diversity and that students can make their own decisions about the subject matter. Our other nine state colleges have managed to promote diversity without resorting to this level of controversy.

If these two colleges are truly interested in debate and objectivity, they would require students to read a counter-argument. The books in question are nothing more than highly praised propaganda pieces and colleges know that this type of propaganda works.

Which reminds me of an observation by Andrew Lytle, a member of the original Southern Agrarians at Vanderbilt University, editor of Sewanee Review and English professor at University of Florida. He said, “It should be obvious that polemics is one discipline and fiction another. If you are going to preach, get into the pulpit; if you want to bring about political reforms, run for office; social reforms, behave yourself and mind your manners . . . When a novel obviously makes an appeal other than its proper aesthetic one, you may be sure it was written with the left hand.”

The Democrats lost the vote to restore funding over this issue. The budget has now gone to the Senate. We shall see what they do.