South Carolina Republicans Slash State School Budgets as Punishment for Assigning Gay Books

South Carolina Republican lawmakers voted to slash funding to the College of Charleston and the University of South Carolina Upstate in Spartanburg because the schools gave freshmen assignments with gay themes, CNN reports:

SmithLast summer, the College of Charleston provided incoming freshmen with a memoir, "Fun Home," in which the author deals with coming out as a lesbian. The University of South Carolina Upstate, meanwhile, assigned "Out Loud: The Best of Rainbow Radio," which features an account of South Carolina's first gay and lesbian radio show.

Rep. Garry Smith (pictured), a Republican from Simpsonville, proposed the cuts in the House Ways and Means committee and says they were prompted by a complaint from a constituent whose teen daughter was going to one of the schools. They would strip the College of Charleston of $52,000 and the University of South Carolina Upstate in Spartanburg of $17,162 for making the assignments.

The budget is to be considered by the full House this week.

Said Smith:

"I think the university has to be reasonable and sensible to the feelings and beliefs of their students. That was totally ignored here. I was trying to hold the university accountable. Their stance is 'Even if you don't want to read it, we'll shove it down your throat.' It's not academic freedom — it's academic totalitarianism."

The College of Charleston meanwhile, says the book is not required reading.

The WaPo adds:

Several state senators have also complained that public universities are not following a nearly century-old law requiring schools to teach the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Harris Pastides, the president of the University of South Carolina, said the law would pose constitutional challenges: It also requires students swear a loyalty oath to the United States before receiving a college degree.


  1. Gordon says

    People like this are why America is falling behind in education. Other countries look at us and laugh at how backward America has become. From the leader of the world, to some third world country America is on a slide to mediocrity.

  2. Jacques says

    It sounds to me like the representative has a constituent who’s mommy needs to butt out and let her adult child grow up.

  3. Sam says

    I’m a College of Charleston graduate and this sort of bull is appalling. Heaven forbid students should read about new ideas.

  4. Chris K says

    From the linked article…

    “One of the things I learned over the years is that if you want to make a point, you have to make it hurt,” state Rep. Garry Smith (R), who pushed for the cuts, told The State newspaper. “I understand academic freedom, but this is not academic freedom. … This was about promoting one side with no academic debate involved.”

    So it looks like College of Charleston has 11500 students per their website, so they will lose $4.52 per student and South Carolina Upstate has 5,500 students per their website and will lose $3.12 per student.

    What a joke, this guy can’t even grandstand with integrity…

  5. Mike in the Tundra says

    “This was about promoting one side with no academic debate involved.”

    No sir, this is about coercion.

  6. ToThePoint says

    What this backwoods, blowhard, hick has done IS “academic totalitarianism.”

  7. Bill says

    Bet it would be “one sided” too to have a reading assignment in which students would be exposed to Rosa Park’s account of what it was like to sit in the front of the bus for the first time. After all, we have to be “fair and balanced” by not making students read something that might offend the KKK.

    Seriously, though, when these Republicans say “This was about promoting one side with no academic debate,” they are showing themselves to be so daft as to think a reading assignment is a debate. An academic debate is supposed to be a serious discussion, not “talking heads” TV where they bring in “both sides” who talk past each other, ending up with them talking simultaneously so you can’t make out what anyone is saying.

  8. Bernie says

    wow! I wish my family would have complained about some of the books I had to read in college!! And ONE family complains, and the Republicans jump and claim they don’t think this should be shoved down anybody’s throat! It is the sheer mean spirit of the Republicans that is upsetting!! Also, this is Academia, not a church, so I am quite sure the student and family could have used the religion “card” so the student would not have to read the required reading……

  9. Ready says

    What books would be left if every student and his/her parents got to object and have it taken off the curriculum?

    I’m willing to bet he wouldn’t support an atheist student wanting any book with religious themes taken off any required reading.

    The time to debate the validity of something is after you have read it not before.

  10. Steve says

    Ah yeah, the usual “teach the controversy” and “every issue has two equally valid sides” BS. America is a joke.

  11. Vint says

    If any of these Republicans had actually read “Fun Home” they would be cutting off funds because a comic book (or, as the author would have it, a “graphic novel”) isn’t really college level material.

    Not that it’s not interesting, or that it didn’t make a fine musical, but let’s give the freshmen of South Carolina something that might enhance their ability to read at the college level.

    And it’s a little bizarre that someone would claim “Fun Home” is a one-sided view of ‘ho-mo-sex-i-al-i-ty’, as the lesbian author’s father kills himself because he’s gay…something I would think would qualify him for Republican sainthood.

  12. CodyJ says

    sensible to the feelings and beliefs of their students? yeah,ahhhh ,ok…right,long as their BELIEFS are ONLY fundamentalist literal interp of the Bible…Smith needs to resign ,and go help ken “half-baked’ Ham ,build his ark in ky.

  13. JackFknTwist says

    Ha ha ha.

    The Republicans are still stuck in the ‘Book Burning Era’….. now who were the last book burners ?

    Republicans have exposed themselves as mean spirits, mean minds, lives of KKK and irredeemable bigotry.
    The world is watching.

    “A complaint from a teenage daughter of a constituent…..”
    Gary Smith are you really that stupid ?
    Have you even read Edmund Burke’s ‘ Speech to the Electors of Bristol’…..a seminal work for any aspiring politician.
    If you had read it you would know that you are not elected to obey the likes/dislikes of your constituents; you are elected to exercise judgement based on rational analysis.
    Now go back to that teenager and her mother and tell them to grow up.

  14. roger says

    Is Andy Towle homophobic? I mean, what the hell is a gay book? Sounds like something a homophobe might say.

  15. Dr C says

    WOW… So happy I added LADY CHATTERLEY’S LOVER and FUN HOME as required reading in my literature classes…. come and get it!!!

  16. nirgal says

    So… should anyone complain about the Bible, creationist books and so, they would have the same reaction?

  17. Caliban says

    God forbid (literally, it seems) that a college student be exposed to material that reinforce what they already know and believe!

    Why, that’s…that’s… EDUCATION! We must prevent that from happening!

  18. Mags says

    WTF WHAT? I thought Colleges and universities were places meant to broaden ans diversify your EDUCATION AND VIEWS OF THE WORLD!
    They were never meant to be places were your prejudiced parents and grand-parents’ views limited your education!

    On the other hand, who is really surprised that a damned Republican of all people would move to limit higher education? Wasn’t it Santorum who said that aiming to go to College was elitist and liberal? Yeah, people need to be dumbed down to vote Republican, and you don’t need a Doctorate nor a christal ball to see this clearly. F**ing retards.

  19. Throwslikeagirl says

    Wow! This is about as bad as it gets. But it hasn’t passed yet, and probably won’t. My guess is the jerks that proposed it want to make a statement. Talk about a police state!

  20. Buck says

    My beliefs state that I don’t have to read anything ever or take any tests.

    Now I would please like all the degrees I am entitled to from the state universities of South Carolina.

    (Just kidding….I know they are worthless either way)

  21. Rob says

    The state that started the whole War of Southern Treason still sucks. First they wanted to keep slavery so badly they were willing to destroy the United States, and now, they hate gay people so much they take actions designed to to accelerate their decline into extreme education mediocrity and social ignorance. I say this as a resident of the neighboring state of Georgia. At least Georgia can still look down the list of ignorant states at South Carolina, Mississippi, and Alabama.

  22. JackFknTwist says

    Agree with @ ROB :
    South Carolina is responsible for the entire debacle of forcing Madison and Hamilton into keeping slavery, as South Carolina would have destroyed any putative Constitution without it.

    South Carolina has not changed its spots.
    Now its politicians are still little demagogues.

  23. Clayton says

    I made a donation to college of charlestons foundation and said it was to help replace the money stripped by the legislature.

  24. rallyxx says

    Forcing people to believe things they shouldn’t. Damn thi is way too easy at this rate, they should also propose to cut tax breaks for religious families for indoctrinating their children.

    This is why no one takes them seriously, they make themselves the punch lines of their own jokes. The irony…

  25. james st. james says

    No need to cut the budget. A group of angry villagers has stormed the university and the college with torches and burned the offending libraries to the ground.

    It is dangerous times we live in. The villagers have discovered fire.

  26. Pitt90 says

    I did my graduate degree at the main campus of USC and know some great people in SC … but every time I get just the little bit wistful for returning to live there, this happens and I remember why I moved back North…

  27. Bill says

    The other thing they won’t want on the reading list is Goethe’s Faust (the German play). It’s too embarrassing and too close to home. The Republicans made a Faustian bargain with the Religious Right, which has slowly been taking over the party as sensible people leave in disgust. The short-term gain (votes) had long-term negative consequences.