The Daily Caller clutched its pearls over news that the College of Charleston has assigned a graphic memoir featuring gay and lesbian characters to its incoming freshmen.
In an August 2 post titled "Public college freshmen forced to read comic book starring lesbian, child molester," Daily Caller education editor Eric Owens touted the concerns of the Palmetto Family - a group tied to the anti-gay hate group the Family Research Council - which has raised hackles over the assignment for incoming freshmen at the College of Charleston to read Alison Bechdel's 2006 memoir Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic.
Fun Home chronicles Bechdel's troubled relationship with her father and probes issues like identity, self-discovery, and belonging. The New York Times Book Review lauded the memoir as “a pioneering work, pushing two genres (comics and memoir) in multiple new directions.” Salon called the book "extraordinary." The Boston Globe called it "brilliant." The Quarterly Conversation declared that Fun Home is “a graphic novel autobiography that easily rivals the best works in the field."
The Daily Caller, on the other hand, was appalled at the book's sexual content and the presence of openly gay characters:
Guess which book the College of Charleston spent around $39,000 buying up to assign to 4,000 or so incoming 2013 freshmen students for ostensibly required summer reading.
The book's plot concerns a woman who is coming out as a lesbian. She has a closeted gay father. He's an English teacher who owns a funeral home. He's also on trial for a sexually molesting a young boy. Among much else, there's an illustrated masturbation scene to boot.
In addition to dropping nearly $40,000 on the glorified comic books, CofC will generously give $13,000 from its public coffers to Bechdel when she speaks on campus in October, according to Campus Reform.
The assignment and the pricey speaking engagement have generated criticism from a conservative Christian organization called Palmetto Family, which works with a couple national groups: Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council (both founded by James Dobson).
An out-of-state parent notified Oran Smith, Palmetto Family's president and CEO, about the contents of the book, reports The Post and Courier. Smith then sent an email to approximately 10,000 people entitled “A Shocking Summer Reading Assignment!”
“I found it very close to pornography,” Smith explained, “way over the top.” He also said that people who have received his email strongly agree.
The Daily Caller recommends skipping all of these readings altogether and instead reading something substantially better or just having a good time before freshman year begins.
A glance at Owens's past work indicates his problem with the book isn't that it might be too risqué, but that it exposes readers to gay characters. Owens has a history of anti-LGBT statements, including mocking the “big fuss” made by transgender students in seeking recognition of their rights and deliberately referring to transgender individuals by the wrong gender pronouns.