I was quite distressed after reading in Friday's Collegian about Gerald Allen's proposal to ban so-called homosexual literature. Not only was I concerned for the poor children in Alabama who may be unable to find "A Catcher in the Rye" in their school library, but it also caused me to reflect on the state of America.
Although this proposition is likely to fail, Rep. Allen obviously feels he is gaining political ground by presenting this bill. The American public has made it rather obvious that it is less than tolerant of homosexuality. Many treat it as some virus that is going to rampantly infect society if given the opportunity – therefore, everything having to do with homosexuality must be treated as infected material and disposed of, whatever the cost.
At the same time there has been an insurgence of "patriotism." America flags. "Proud to be an American" signs. The cursed label of "un-patriotic." But what is patriotism? Many would describe it as loving one's country and supporting it. I would like to add another aspect of patriotism – the belief in, and if necessary, the defense of, the ideals that one's country was founded upon. One of these founding ideals was the importance of individual rights and thus the protection of the minority from the masses. The Bill of Rights was created in response to this notion. Another ideal was that dissent and differing opinions is required for the proper functioning of a democracy. Hence, the first amendment.
Allen's bill violates both of these ideals. It supports the discrimination of a minority and restricts the expression of ideas. A true American patriot would agree with Voltaire – "I disagree with what you say, but I would defend to the death your right to say it."