Legislators in the Palmetto State are attempting to yank funding from two public higher education institutions as political revenge for the schools' use of "books on homosexuality" in their campus orientations for new incoming students.
The state House's budget committee approved a Republican bill to cut token amounts from the budgets of the two schools: $52,000 from the College of Charleston and $17,142 from the University of South Carolina Upstate, according to an AP report:
Last summer, the College of Charleston assigned the Alison Bechdel book, "Fun Home," to incoming freshmen. Bechdel's book describes her childhood with a closeted gay father and her own coming out as a lesbian.
USC Upstate assigned "Out Loud: The Best of Rainbow Radio," referring to South Carolina's first gay and lesbian radio show, for a required course for all freshmen, which included lectures and other out-of-classroom activities meant to spark discussions about the book. Social conservatives complained about the colleges' selections.
The budget cuts are supposed to represent the amounts each school spent on its respective reading campaign.
Rep. Garry Smith said he made the proposal after college officials refused to give students an option to read something else. Making a point requires impacting colleges' wallets, he said.
"I understand diversity and academic freedom," said Smith, R-Simpsonville. "This is purely promotion of a lifestyle with no academic debate."
Here is a picture of Rep. Smith, a small businessman, who understands diversity and academic freedom.
Rep. Jim Merrill, a fellow Republican from Charleston, expressed reluctance about Smith's measure, telling the AP, "This might make us feel better, but it's kind of stupid."
Nevertheless, Merrill eventually joined his colleagues in voting against a Democratic proposal to stop the defunding.