Challenge to Pornographic Book Gets NH Dad Arrested: What’s Being Taught at Your School?

Challenge to Pornographic Book Gets NH Dad Arrested: What’s Being Taught at Your School?
By JBS President John F. McManus

Gilford, New Hampshire, resident William Baer attended a school committee meeting May 5th and ended up being handcuffed and arrested for disorderly conduct.

The father of a 14-year-old girl, Baer objected after learning that his daughter and her ninth-grade classmates were required to read a book he deemed pornographic. The offensive passage he pointed to in “Nineteen Minutes” by Jodi Picoult graphically described a sexual encounter between two teens. “It’s like the transcript for a triple-X-rated movie,” said one parent. Having read this passage myself, I concur that Ms. Picoult’s work is totally unsuitable for a school assignment, and should deservedly be described as pornographic.

Baer, an attorney and a fairly new resident of the Granite State, had taken the offending passage’s text to the editor of the regional Laconia Daily News. He was told by Editor Ed Engler that it could not be published in “99 percent, maybe 100 percent” of our nation’s newspapers. A spokesman at the state-wide Manchester Union Leader newspaper agreed.

At the meeting of the Gilford School Board, Baer protested the assignment given the ninth graders. Allowed only two minutes to speak, he did so and sat down. But when he interrupted another parent who was commenting favorably about the issue, he was told by a board official that he was out of order. A police officer intervened and Bear asked him, “You’re going to arrest me because I violated the two-minute rule? I guess you’re going to have to arrest me.” Baer was escorted from the room, shackled, and placed under arrest.

A school committee spokesman later apologized for not notifying parents ahead of time about the sexually explicit portion of the book, something that had been done every year beginning in 2007. She said the committee “forgot” to send notification this year. One can wonder why there were no parental objections in past years. Apparently, this school board official believes that the 2014 failure to notify parents should be the issue not the book’s controversial content. Gilford School Superintendent said the book was “thematically important.”

Reporter Ben Velderman of the Michigan-based Education Action Group Foundation recommended a “thorough housecleaning” of the school board. Commenting further, he stated:

The parent who exposed the district’s failure to warn families about the novel gets arrested for protesting too vigorously while all of the school district’s well-paid, highly trained employees who are responsible for the problem – from the superintendent down to the high school principal and English teachers – walk away scot free. If that’s not an outrage, then please tell us what is.

Incidents such as what happened in this small New Hampshire community occur repeatedly all over the nation. School officials respond to protests about course content by referencing freedom of speech, or the phony need for “separation of church and state,” or pointing to a need for majority rule. But all residents are taxed to support the schools, even those who have no children, or who avoid the public school system’s deficiencies by home schooling their youngsters. Compulsion in financing the schools should be an issue.

Contacted about the incident author and New Hampshire resident Jodi Picoult said she was “grateful for the support for the book” and claimed it was no more pornographic than what is shown repeatedly on television. She may be correct about that, but that isn’t the issue either. The issue is how far America’s moral compass has shifted in the last few decades. Do you know what is being taught in your local schools?

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