Monday, August 18, 2003Although Matt Drudge's website currently has a link titled "'How to be Gay' course draws fire at Michigan; Professor calls it a class on culture...", the link doesn't lead anywhere. Nonetheless, I thought it my duty as an American to snip this one at the bud. Some visitors to this website will remember the first brouhaha in Fall 2000, when U-M english professor David Halperin created a class with the snappy title "How to Be Gay: Homosexuality and Initiation," which he describes as "... about how people who are already gay learn to craft an identity for themselves." A right-wing outfit named the American Family Association got wind of the course, gathered 15,000 signatures protesting the study of part of American culture, and the state House of Representatives came within 4 votes of passing a bill that would have cut funding to the U by 10 percent if they stopped doing anything to "promote homosexual behavior." Not only is that something the University has never done, even if the University did it and the law passed, it would most likely have been overturned because of the constitutional independence of the Regents in the Michigan State Constitution. Fortunately, saner minds prevailed, the class was not cancelled, and the religious fundamentalists went back to their usual business of trying to pass off mythology as science in high school classrooms, helping get Bush elected, and terrorizing patrons of medical clinics.
Fast forward to 2003, and the same thing is happening. The conservative group is furiously sending out press releases, trying to drum up some interest, and a few people have bit: The Michigan State News ("Gay course at U-M scrutinized by group"), and the Washington Times ("'How to be Gay' course draws fire at Michigan"). (Quick reminder: the Washington Times was started in 1982 by a wealthy religious cult, and as far as I know, never made a profit) And Prof. Halperin and the University are still insisting that it's a class about gay culture, and not some sort of liberal conspiracy to brainwash innocent students into being gay. If you don't believe me, read the course description.
> From the Washington "Times" article:
" University officials have been "inundated" with AFA-distributed postcards objecting to the course, says university spokeswoman Julie Peterson. But she does not expect the postcards to affect the university's support for Mr. Halperin. "He is a very popular professor," Ms. Peterson says, "and there is always a long waiting list for his courses. The list gets longer when stories like this happen."
Posted by Rob at 2:16 AM