It seems as if California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is against gay rights, at first glance of his veto of the gay education bill. The bill’s intent is to protect gays, lesbians, transgenders, and others who may be discriminated based on sexual orientation, from being further discriminated by public school textbooks.
Why oh why would the Governator be against this?
Well, regardless of whether this was his actual intent in his veto, his reasoning makes sense: “I am vetoing Senate Bill 1437 because this bill attempts to offer vague protection when current law already provides clear protection against discrimination in our schools based on sexual orientation.” In other words, according to the Governator, this is redundant.
According to some, the Equal Rights Amendment is also redundant. However, a law being redundant does not make it unnecessary.
Yet, though I respect and understand (and, to a degree, support) the point the bill is trying to make, it falls dangerously within a grey “book burning” area that makes me a little bit twitchy. I remember when the black community made a stink over the use of the word “nigger” in Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn and insisted that it be taken out of English curriculum. Would this legislation dictate any use of the word “fag” in any piece of literature be banned from the classroom as well? Will Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night be ixnayed for its poking fun at tranvestites?
U.S. History is imperfect, hateful, barbaric and ignorant. However, it is also beautiful. It is beautiful to see how much we’ve grown as a nation, how much we’ve overcome. It is beautiful to read the words of great writers such as Twain and see history through their eyes while it was happening. It is important to take it all in – negative and positive – so that we can learn from our mistakes. Most children today could never imagine the kind of life that Jim lived, or that Huck Finn would be considered a fugitive for trying to do what we all now see as the right thing. Is it “discriminatory” toward blacks? Well, if you count the use of the “N” word, yes. If you actually read the context, it teaches us an important lesson about friendship, as well as standing up for what you believe in, even if it is unpopular.
Yet, in many schools across the U.S., it is banned. Because of the “N” word.
So, Governator, regardless of what you actually feel – because the excuse laid out in the veto message might well be BS – you make a good point. Let’s not give more reasons for banning books in schools.