Weekly Obsession: 'Don’t Say Gay’ bill dreams of time that never was

Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 10:05pm

After two years of failure, it was reasonable to expect that the “Don’t Say Gay” bill wouldn’t be revived.

But when it comes to the Tennessee General Assembly, reason has nothing to do with it.

Smirking Knoxville Republican Sen. Stacey Campfield boldly refiled the controversial legislation — which seeks to restrict discussion, or even mere mention, of LGBT issues in elementary and middle schools — last week and in doing so, renewed the debate on whether he is genuine or just some sort of incredibly elaborate piece of satirical performance art.

Not content to simply bring back the failed bill as it died, he added a new wrinkle. Allegedly addressing the concerns raised by opponents of the measure that it would discourage kids who were being bullied from telling an adult about the abuse, Campfield made sure to include a provision protecting counselors and teachers in such an eventuality. But in a deft piece of concern trolling, Campfield’s addendum requires that a teacher or counselor should inform a student’s parents if their child is engaging in homosexual activity.

Thankfully, this legislation has little chance of passage. While it very well may clear the Senate, the House has become the saucer that cools Tennessee’s legislative coffee. Defying cliché, it is Tennessee’s lower chamber that’s more deliberative, that stands in the gaps against reactionary, ill-conceived, mean-spirited laws like that which Campfield is proposing.

Such pragmatism about the ultimate fate of the law is cold comfort to a gay teen afraid of being outed to his parents or to the thoughtful counselor afraid of losing her job — or worse — if she doesn’t make the state-mandated phone call.

It doesn’t ease the minds of the hundreds of thousands of gay Tennesseans who are — not to shock the senator’s sensibilities — in our children’s schools, on our police forces and pretty much everywhere else we go.

And while Campfield claims he’s flying the flag for conservatism, he’s in fact clumsily defending a caricature of mid-century Southern moralism that never existed in reality.

The touchstone of such aw-shucks values is The Andy Griffith Show — whose main character was a single-father widower helped out around the house by his never-married aunt while palling around with his man-about-town cousin, who had more girlfriends than sense — which isn’t exactly the definition of a traditional family.

It’s interesting then that the revival of Campfield’s gag order law came the same day news broke that Jim Nabors — known for his portrayal of the lovable, dimwitted Gomer Pyle on the show — married his partner of 38 years in Seattle.

It’s telling that little shock was expressed that Nabors married or even that he is gay.

Most of the surprise, surprise, surprise was that Nabors was even still alive.

Nabors didn’t get the fuss either. His response to questions about his marriage was a shoulder-shrugging no-big-deal. He and his husband just wanted to be legal, that’s all.

What horror must have befallen Campfield to learn that the mechanic-turned-Marine in his beloved Mayberry is as gay as Commander Sulu.

And that, of itself, illustrates the illogic of Don’t Say Gay and bills like it.

Campfield and his ilk claim to be preserving these Great American Family Values, but what they are defending is a reality that doesn’t exist and never did.

Sticking your fingers in your ears, muzzling teachers and making counselors snitches on the students they are supposed to help doesn’t erase the fact that you have neighbors — and Nabors — who are gay.

And it’s always been that way. Even on the sepia-toned TV shows you want life to reflect.

26 Comments on this post:

By: Ask01 on 2/6/13 at 5:50

Television of the 1950's and early 60's reflected an imaginary reality to which middle America aspired, and censors of the day pretty much enforced, being sensitive to the puritanical ideals and laws which ruled the day. The entertainment industry, to make money, joined the charade gladly.

It is sad Mr. Campfield is stuck in that fictional world. Perhaps he would be happier living in "Pleasantville" if the movie was not also make believe.

I hate to be the one to break this to Mr. Campfield, but at least by middle school (we called this stage 'junior high' in my day) most kids are pretty savvy about sex. They may not understand everything, but they are aware. I somehow feel certain students of today are even more sophisticated, considering the content broadcast on primetime television, in readily avaiable periodicals, and just on the streets.

Of course, he's just typical of the rube image the other 49 states have of Tennessee.

By: daytonsdarwin on 2/6/13 at 8:24

Now that Senator Campfield is attempting to turn school teachers and kids into Gay Gestapo agents (suspicion of being gay) this would be a good time to hire the Republican Evangelicals Agents as school officers.

God's own Homosexual Hit Squad like Senator Campfield and some of the other religious fruitcakes could become "Gaydars for God."

Turn them loose in school bathrooms, locker-rooms, broom closets, under the bleachers, in art and music classrooms where these Gaydars, with official badges and guns, to be the instruments of the State and Church to sniff out anyone suspected of being 'different.'

Give them brown shirts and tall, black shiny boots. They could noisily goose step down the halls so everyone knows they're protecting the morals of the fatherland. Short, thick mustaches and skull-patches on their brown shirts would also look good on these men of the SS (Secret Snitches). These same men could assist with book-burnings, eugenics studies, and help the school nurse tattoo those under suspicion.

Since this group always expresses undue and unnerving interest in gay people, they could go on stall patrol or hide in bathroom ceilings, and take video of all activities. Then they could watch the footage for hours to see if little 5 year-old Johnny was engaging in laughing, skipping, or putting his arm around one of his 5 year-old buddies on the playground.

These Gaydars could proudly become professional "Queer-Baiters - To Suspect, Peep, and Report."

At last America can rest easy. Senator Campfield and his SS Gaydars are on patrol.

By: freddy on 2/6/13 at 8:46

Like so many who protest too much, Stacey Campfield is probably gay himself and is terrified of and hates his own tendencies. Maybe his parents wanted a girl (Stacey?) and raised him as one. Fact: homophobes respond to gay porn at a much higher rate than self-described straight men. Will someone please run against this jackass in the next election?

By: pswindle on 2/6/13 at 9:57

The GOP in TN has gone crazy. They now want women to undergo an invasion ultrasound before an abortion. The TN Legislative needs the same invasion treatment before they can make such laws. If you do not want an abortion, don't have one, but don't take away others rights who believe differently. They do not want government in their lives, but since Haslam and the GOP took control of TN Legislative that is all that they have passed. Our rights are falling away one bill at a time. Who keeps electing Campfield? You should be ashamed of yourself. Does he think that if you do not say "gay" that wil will go away?

By: Jughead on 2/6/13 at 10:13

I am sick of the gay agenda. I once did not care whether a person was gay. Now, I dislike all of them because of their incessant whining and complaining.

By: Left-of-Local on 2/6/13 at 10:20

It will be so nice to see all the losses and setbacks the backwoods general assembly is going to face as they slowly learn that the whole world is way ahead of them. Slowly we are seeing the bible become less accepted and relevant to our government, whether these assholes like it or not.

Looking forward to embarrassing defeat for them.

By: Jughead on 2/6/13 at 11:05

@Left-of-local: Turds like you preached the same message as Marx and Stalin took power. You are an ignorant dbag, and I look forward to the day when fire ants consume your tiny liberal brain. I truly despise you and hope you die soon.

By: Jughead on 2/6/13 at 11:23

Say no to "gay rights." Enough is enough. I am SICK of the gay agenda.

By: jsabrown on 2/6/13 at 12:09

Seems to me Juggie should be coming out of the closet. Methinks the lady doth protest too much.

By: Jughead on 2/6/13 at 12:59

@assbrown: Yawn. Did you say something relevant? You need to find a new insult, sweetie.

By: daytonsdarwin on 2/6/13 at 1:34

God died a long time ago; the ignorant continue to hold his wake. That imaginary deity was replace by science, reason, and logic. There's no big, bad, wolf, nor the paranoid-schizophrenic Jehovah of the Bible.

The Bible is a collection of poorly written stories, myths stolen from long before Noah, and full of contradictions, along with hate, rape, slavery, intolerance, and genocide all promoted by a nutty deity.

All the backwoods, mouth-breathing preachers and religious fanatics can not prove any evidence of Jehovah, a Super-Jesus or the Holy Spook.

Belief in these fairy-tales do nothing but return humanity to the Dark Ages of ignorance and intellectual poverty.

As Mark Twain said, "Religion was born when the first con man met the first fool."

It's still a con game.

By: Jughead on 2/6/13 at 1:42

@daytonsidiot: OK--smart guy--show me the empirical evidence in your favor. C'mon--I"M WAITING---oh, you do not have anything tangible either? Imagine that, oh enlightened one.

What you really hate is that people have faith. Faith. Liberals cannot stand it, and Marx and Stalin saw the necessity of destroying faith. Go forth, dayton, and do the work of fascism.

By: daytonsdarwin on 2/6/13 at 2:00

You claim there's a Jehovah? Then it's up to you to provide the proof.

Hitler loved Christians. They made up the majority of his SS, army, and supporters.

Faith is not proof. If you have proof, you don't need faith.

You have no proof. But you do worship an evil, impotent imaginary fairy-tale god, whose power couldn't light a mouse fart.

So put on your Jerusalem cruisers, wear flowing robes, and carry your cross on your Hoveround to Wal-Mart where you'll be at home.

But keep your imaginary dead deity out of schools, government, and tax-supported facilities. Keep that mumbo-jumbo in the dark recesses of your mindless sycophant pea-brain who needs a superstitious sugar-teat to relieve their anxiety about living in reality.

By: freddy on 2/6/13 at 2:24

Recent evidence indicates Neanderthals disappeared earlier than thought, and may not actually have had contact with homo sapiens. But how does that explain Neanderthal genes in much of modern man outside of Africa, and specifically Jughead?

By: daytonsdarwin on 2/6/13 at 2:35

You have the ancient Neanderthals by lineage and Neanderthals* by choice like Jerry Falwell, Pat Roberson, Billy Graham, Mike Huckabee, Jimmy Swaggert, Stacey Campfield, and Jughead.

*Apologies to the ancient Neanderthals for the modern-day versions, but these guys are really stupid.

By: Jughead on 2/6/13 at 4:51

Your jealousy is showing. Feel free to return to your miserable, pathetic, and meaningless lives.

Don't forget many hours of Call of Duty. Your intellect will be challenged. Love puddles, maggots.

By: daytonsdarwin on 2/6/13 at 5:57


Your Christian love is showing. Is your son in the house and your Gaydar going off again?

By: daytonsdarwin on 2/6/13 at 5:57


Your Christian love is showing. Is your son in the house and your Gaydar going off again? Like father, like son.

By: Ask01 on 2/7/13 at 5:33

If Mr. Campfield longs so desperately for the "time that never was," one must question he doesn't long for the whole package?

Lawmen who never carry a gun, (we already have the incompetent deputies) jail cells never used. except for the town drunk, who locks himself up, and towns which actually practice the Golden Rule. In the stories anyway.

I fear, no hope, I will burst his bubble, but most of us live in the real world, in the present. The overbreeding (or would that be overinbreeding) of the uneducated, unsophisticated, blinder wearing, self serving right wing has forced many progressive thinkers outside the scattered islands of sanity to hold their tongues for fear those who disagree will exercise their Second Amendment rights.

At least Mr. Campfield and his ilk are keeping comedians working poking fun at Tennessee.

By: BigPapa on 2/7/13 at 7:49

You guys might have a good gay-dar but you are terrible at picking out a troll/flammer.

Realize when you're being trolled and dont take the bait.

By: Jughead on 2/7/13 at 9:55

Say NO to gay rights. It is not about "rights", it is about destroying anyone who doesn't jump on the gaywad bandwagon.

I ain't getting on, your damn fairies. Please continue spreading Aids amongst yourselves.

By: bfra on 2/7/13 at 12:04

Gay Gay Gay Gay

I have a good friend named "Gay". What am I supposed to call her?

By: nashvegasdude on 2/7/13 at 2:09

I absolutely love Nashville, but I'm embarrassed to live in TN! I don't subscribe to either Democrats or Republicans, I think they're both idiots! All anyone cares about at the end of the day is how much money is in their wallet! Live and let live!

By: chakracon on 2/7/13 at 3:11

Only in TN will you find bills for the right to carry guns in bars...just what every drunk needs ... a gun...and how in the hell can you actually prevent anyone from using words for christ sake? There are some really stupid mother ******* in office in these stupid, riduculous, 2-faced, bullsh*t southern states

By: nashvegasdude on 2/7/13 at 3:45

We were even spoofed on Colbert Report a few years ago with the guns in bars bill -http://current.com/entertainment/comedy/90447235_political-humorist-stephen-colbert-spoofs-tennessees-guns-in-bars-bill.htm

All this nonsense doesn't help our economic development folks recruit business to TN! Tax incentives help, but companies are also aware of public perception and all this silliness just proves how backwards and stupid we are!

By: Jughead on 2/7/13 at 4:33

I don't give a damn what some Hollywood nimrod says about Tennesse law. In fact, I am proud when one of those morons speaks out.

Guns in bars? Sure. You cannot drink if you are carrying, and that is taught in EVERY HCP class.

You libs would rather be the sitting duck when you get slaughtered by a madman, then blame someone else. Whining, pathetic, wussies.