Oklahoma to Restrict Gay-Themed Books?
I can't think of a better example of the cultural divide that is currently splitting this country than this debate raging in Oklahoma. That said, I'm not sure there's any way to compromise with people who openly advocate censorship of books and the suppression of ideas. I do know that if this country is to survive, these people must be stopped.
March 17, 2006Read more
BILL RESTRICTING GAY MATERIAL AT OKLAHOMA LIBRARIES PASSES HOUSE
The Oklahoma house voted late Wednesday to withhold state funding from local libraries that do not segregate reading material with sexually explicit or gay themes from reading areas for children and young adults. House members voted 60-33 for the bill after more than two hours of questions and debate in which opponents said the measure was a form of censorship and an unfunded mandate that would remove local control from library boards.
The measure, which is opposed by the Oklahoma Library Association, now goes to the senate, where opponents predict it will be killed. "It doesn't seem that you can legislate morality," said Rep. Debbie Blackburn, a Democrat from Oklahoma City.
Blackburn and other opponents said an advisory board charged with developing an annual list of gay or sexually explicit material that must be placed in separate areas is the first step in an attempt to cleanse libraries of books some people consider offensive.
"I refuse to live under the Taliban," Blackburn said, referring to the nationalist Islamic fundamentalist group that effectively ruled most of Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001. "I refuse to live in Iran. This is America."
Democratic representative Ray McCarter said it is a parent's responsibility to decide what their children read. McCarter also said small rural libraries will have a hard time complying with the mandates because their facilities are small and there is no room for separate reading areas.
"The only place we can put the material is at the other end of the table," McCarter said. Areas without libraries will have to use an adults-only trailer on the back of the Bookmobile, he said.
The measure's author, Republican representative Sally Kern, said children deserve a period of "protected innocence" in which they are shielded from sexually explicit material she said is turning young people into "sex machines."
"You can't sell toothpaste without sex," Kern said. "The American Library Association is out to sexualize our children."