After last week’s stadium debacle, I thought we might just have a quiet week, free from controversy. But alas, this is Mobile. And we always have to be upset about something.
This week’s outrage comes courtesy of the “Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH).” Hosted by Rainbow Mobile, a local LGBTQ organization, DQSH is exactly what it sounds like. A drag queen reads books to young children for an hour, usually at a public library. DQSH is a national organization and they have held events around the country. The event in Mobile is scheduled to take place on Saturday, Sept. 8, at the Ben May Memorial Library in downtown.
It is also totally optional and no one is forcing anyone to go.
But some folks are still upset about it, many of whom I suspect haven’t set foot in any of our public libraries in decades.
At the Mobile County Commission and City Council meetings this week, members and pastors from local churches voiced their opposition to the reading.
“We have to understand that this is national agenda and a national plan to indoctrinate children,” said the Rev. Fred Wolfe, the pastor of the Luke 4:18 Fellowship. Wolfe also expressed to Lagniappe that while he knew people could choose not to go to this, he was concerned about those who just happen to go to the library that day — ones who don’t know about the event. I suppose that is something to consider, but no one is going to force them into the meeting room where this is being held and hold them captive. God was a big proponent of free will, last time I checked.
Woodbridge Baptist Church pastor Mack Morris also spoke of “indoctrination” and said this is “the opening salvo in a clearly defined cultural war.”
Both Wolfe and Morris said they feared this would eventually “infiltrate” the public school system.
For its part, the library has said it adheres to the standards of the American Library Association, which requires them to make meeting rooms available on equal terms to all groups of people, regardless of beliefs and affiliations of their members. They said if they exclude one group, they would have to exclude them all.
Some of the City Council members and County Commissioners expressed their personal moral concerns with the event, but for the most part said their hands were tied, citing the First Amendment. Councilman Fred Richardson reminded folks how much he didn’t like some of the Comic Cowboys’ parade signs, but his hands were tied there too for the same reasons. Commissioner Jerry Carl was probably the most outspoken against this, saying he thought the library’s budget should be examined if they are “wasting money” on such events.
To be clear, the library is not paying for this event.
The group opposed to this also took issue with the content of one of the books being read, “Stella Brings the Family,” in which a young girl must decide which one of her daddies to bring to a Mother’s Day event.
Rainbow Mobile says the event is designed to expose children to people who are different and promote tolerance.
Protesters and counterprotesters are expected to be outside the library on this day, including a Tea Party group protesting the reading, which seems a bit odd because I thought the Tea Party was comprised mostly of Libertarians. Did this change? Maybe so. It’s hard to tell what anyone thinks anymore. It used to not be cool to bang porn stars and lie about it — but apparently that too is no big deal with many ministers and pastors these days
Anyway, this is certain to be a spectacle.
And not a single person’s mind will be changed.
This whole thing is pretty pointless and counterproductive. If anything, it’s going to complicate any chance of bridging divides, as if we don’t already have enough of those in this country.
We know a member of Luke 4:18 or Woodbridge isn’t going to wander into the library during this and go “you know, I was soooo wrong about this. I think I may become a drag queen, y’all!” any more than a drag queen is going to pop into church next Sunday and start reading passages from Romans or belting out “Just As I Am.”
For the folks who have a problem with this, there is a very simple solution: avoid the library for one hour next Saturday.
As for the Drag Queen Story Hour folks, they know what they are doing too. These readings cause controversy and protests in just about every city where they’re held. Is this really about the children and promoting inclusion and change? My kids have been raised in the most tolerant of tolerant households, but I don’t want them used as pawns, either. And that’s what this kind of feels like. If this event is truly about bringing people together and changing people’s minds about the LGBTQ community, I’m not sure that mission will be accomplished with this event. If anything, all this has served to do is make folks become more firmly planted on their “side.”
The folks who will attend this already promote inclusion and tolerance in their households. They will get to feel good about themselves by looking down on the protesters with disdain and calling them intolerant bigots.
The folks who think like Wolfe and Morris will get to feel superior to the attendees and will pray for the souls of these poor “indoctrinated sinners” who are trying to destroy their “culture.”
But my guess is neither of these “sides” truly want to “understand” each other. They just want to continue ridiculing one another. And then they get to feel good about themselves for doing so — so I guess it’s really a win-win.
Sadly, such is life in America these days.
In Mobile, this is just what we will be outraged about until Sept. 8 at 1:01 p.m. Don’t worry, I’m sure we will have something brand new to get all worked up about by 7 p.m. that same evening.