Wednesday, June 1, 2011

It's okay to be Takei

Maybe you know (maybe you don't) but June is National Gay & Lesbian Pride Month.  & completely without irony it is also the traditional month for getting married.  & National Candy Month. & National Dairy Month.  As you also may know (& again, maybe you don't) late last month Tennessee passed a law (A LAW) making any discussion regarding homosexuality off limits for elementary & middle school students. 

More than one person has asked "should they really have that conversation with students that young, anyhow"? But this ruling does more than clamp down on a health & sex education class that was not taking place.  This means when homosexuality comes up in the course of a student's life, & since currently almost 15k foster children nationwide are in gay homes & not less than 300K children- again nationwide- have a gay parent, chances are good it IS going to be relevant even in Tennessee; it is off limits.  When it comes up in current events, say when the next politician is on the news explaining they were just friends (or my favorite how he happened to hire a guy who only advertises on a rentboy website to not help him with his luggage because of his bad back), the teacher is to ignore any story no matter how far reaching & talk about something else.  If asked what does that mean, the answer is "I am not allowed to say."

Pretending something does not exist & banning talk in the classroom is how Tenneessee traditional alters the transfer of information (think Scopes Monkey Trial). 
But it turns out a traveler across space & time has a solution.  This is how it goes: when you might say "gay", say "Takei" (which rhymes with gay; I had no idea-ay).  Then let whomever is policing your vocabulary infer what you mean from context clues, if they don't have their hands full with other problems in their school, say sexual predators or domestic violence or bullying or drugs.  It is so bend-over-backwards absurd that it does take some of the pressure off.  At least until the Tennessee legislature rises up & bans Star Trek in the classroom. Or until they grow up, whichever comes first.  Given that it has been almost 100 years since the Scopes Monkey Trail, I would not hold me breathe on that one.

Just for fun, I went looking for other things banned in Tennessee, just to see what's up.  In Tennessee it is illegal to possess synthetic herbs that provides the same high as pot.    You cannot produce porn in the state but you can possess it (so, careful where you point that camera; don't worry about the dirty pictures though).  & apparently it is illegal to be an illegal alien in Tennessee.  Seems a duplication of effort to me but whatever.  Tennessee did manage to lift another local ban on bringing handguns to local parks.  Also, apparently Jack Daniels had been playing fast & loose with some obscure law since the 1930s & they are trying to fix that.  Leaving us with this memorable quote:
 "Today, if a 13-year-old started making whiskey, they'd chop up his still, send him to reform school and arrest his parents," Niceley said. "That's our biggest problem today - overregulation."
On the other hand if today a teacher were to say maybe you shouldn't pick on that other student because you think he acts gay, is gay, his parents are gay, his parents might be gay, his parents are not gay but the 13 year old cooking up whiskey in his spare time cannot think of anything else to hit him with well it is not overregulation to stop that conversation, it is just good common Tennessee anyhow.

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