If aspiring young reporters want to get a sense of what it must be like to be a journalist in a theocracy or a banana-republic, they should look no further than the case of a high school principal in Woodlan, Indiana, who is threatening to fire a journalism teacher over a student editorial in the school newspaper calling for GASP!! SHOCK!! HORROR!! tolerance towards gays and lesbians. The
tinpot dictator principal is also demanding that all future stories be vetted by himself personally, and has issued a written warning to the teacher in charge "for exposing students to inappropriate material".
The full editorial is available via the previous link, but here's the gist of it:
A sobering reality-check, one would think, for all those doe-eyed and naive students who were under the impression that their country still values a free press.
The editorial in question was Chase’s first-person appeal for tolerance and equal protections for gays and lesbians. She said she was inspired by a friend who told her he was gay.
“Would it be so hard to just accept (gays and lesbians) as human beings who have feelings just like everyone else?” she wrote. “Being homosexual doesn’t make a person inhuman, it makes them just a little bit different than the rest of the world. And for living in a society that tells you to always be yourself, it’s a hard price to pay.”
(Via Dispatches from the Culture Wars)
UPDATE: The war on TEH GAYS continues closer to home in small-town Tasmania, where a gay couple have become the subject of a hate-mail campaign because of their plans to open a residential development in the town of Penguin. Evidently the pamphlets were of the COVER YOUR ARSES AND LOCK UP YOUR 15-YEAR OLD SONS!!!!!!! kind that Western Australians endured a few years back prior to the Gallop Labor government's gay law reforms.
Rodney Croome, who played a leading role in the push to reform Tasmanian law regarding homosexuality in the late 1990s, takes the fact that the mayor of Penguin almost immediately condemned the hate mail campaign as a sign that things are improving:
Beyond a dramatic shift in laws and attitudes, Tasmania has witnessed a demographic transformation with hundreds of same-sex couples moving to the state's regional and rural areas from interstate and overseas. Many of these couples have started small tourism and food production businesses, established strong links to their adopted districts and profoundly impacted on local attitudes to same-sex relationships.Read his full post here.
Sometimes there is a backlash to this impact. But just as often gay immigrants are embraced. Indeed the intensity of both responses often match. Of this, there is no better example than Penguin.
In short then, Penguin lies on the fault line in Tasmanian identity. Whenever the tectonic plates we call the old and new Tasmania shift Penguin quakes.