Monday, February 9, 2009

Queer News, this: a comment on how history threatens the State

Writes Greg Bluestein of the AP: 
State Rep. Charlice Byrd, R-Woodstock, took the House well on Friday to announce a "grassroots" effort to oust professors with expertise in subjects like male prostitution, oral sex, and "queer theory."
"This is not considered higher education," Byrd said
"Our Job is to educate people in sciences, business, math," said Hill, a vice chairman  the budget-writing House Appropriations Committee.  He said professors aren't going to meet those needs "by teaching a class in queer theory."

Usually, I don't engage with this sort of thing.  But I cannot help but point out that the Representative's arguments (which academics and opposing lawmakers retort with arguments that the argument is flawed, or that the university hires professors who investigate 'human experience') totally omit the humanities from  what should ostensibly be a university curriculum.  Now,  you would think that the GOP would want history, so they could teach students about all kinds of great propaganda points in so-called Amerc. history, about the grandeur of Rome as it moved from republic to empire, etc.  But no, they simply omit the humanities.  Queer theory, which the reporter even must put in brackets, is apparently so toxic to the state that if "History" or "English" or even "Religion" might harbor or shelter this little terrorist, we will have to root them out as well, no matter how conservative these disciplines might be.  

This brings up something I thought about quite a lot for a good while, in light of the Bersani-style gays should never be good citizens line from Homos against the Dinshaw-esque desire to save or produce or claim some kind of positive community.  Lately I tend to think these things aren't mutually exclusive for a number of reasons.  Derrida's "Pharmakon" essay is famous for reminding us that our task in the humanities, as it regards writing and studying writing, will not make us good citizens.  In Specters of Marx Derrida reminds us that to listen to ghosts is not to live 'better' but 'more justly,' leading me to believe that living more justly does not always mean being a good citizen.  

Queer Theory (without the quotes) may yet still have some of its threatening potential some would say passed away sometime in the 90's.  Queer Theory may be one of those things that is not better, but more just.  Toxic to the state, dead set on bringing down civilization in a kind of Benjaminian anarchic impulse, but opening up community all the while.   I applaud the fact that this sort of offense and ignorant legislative attempts are being covered my a journalist.  

Thanks to Karl Steel for the link to this story.  

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Scholars have always written, published, taught, lectured, etc. at the leave of their benefactor whether it be an aristocrat, churchman, wealthy merchant, politician, university, or government. And scholars have always whined about it. Nothing to see here. Why don't you all just move along now.