Why is the book “Gender Queer” withdrawn from public school libraries and “obscene?” “| DFA 90.7
The book “Homosexual gender: a thesis“has been described as” sincere “and” valuable. “South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster calls some of her images” obscene. “He said” Gender Queer “contains sexually explicit and pornographic representations , which âeasily meet or exceed the legal definition of obscenityâ.
Lisa Worf of the WFAE joins WFAE All Things Considered host Gwendolyn Glenn in discussing the claim.
Gwendolyn Glenn: So Lisa, first of all, how did this book get Governor McMaster’s attention?
Lisa Worf: In his letter to Spearman, he says he heard about it from concerned parents in Fort Mill. Maia Kobabe’s book was available in the libraries of three high schools. It is a graphic novel that tells the story of the author who grew up in a non-binary way, that is, someone who does not identify exclusively as a man or a woman, or someone one who does not identify with either sex.
Parents and politicians in several states have asked school libraries to remove this book, citing a few images – one showing the adult author in a sexual act with an adult romantic partner, the other is what appears to be a teenager. about to engage in a sexual act with a bearded man, with an allusion to Plato’s Banquet.
North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson cited âGender Queerâ as an example of what he called âfilthâ in public schools.
Marc Robinson: The idea that our children should be taught about transgender and exposed to sexually explicit material in the classroom is abhorrent.
Worf: Now the book is in some high school libraries in North Carolina and South Carolina, but there is no indication that it is taught in the classroom. You will no longer find it in the schools of Fort Mills. After an administrative review, the district this week discovered that the book contained images that are not “age appropriate” for students.
Glenn: So back to McMaster. He said some images in Gender Queer meet or exceed the legal definition of obscenity. Is that the case?
Worf: I put this question to a few law professors specializing in constitutional law because it really is a First Amendment question. What’s this Thomas crocker had to say.
Thomas Crocker: It’s almost negligent, because any lawyer knows that the definition of obscenity is that exceptionally high bar to meet.
Worf: He is a professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law, the same law school from which McMaster earned his law degree.
Crocker: Usually they are not chased very often because reaching the level of obscenity is a really high bar.
Worf: What kinds of things can be called obscene?
Crocker: I mean, when I teach this in the First Amendment, it’s really hard to find a work that really qualifies and has no redemptive artistic or literary merit. You have to imagine things that I cannot imagine.
Glenn: What is the South Carolina law regarding obscenity?
Worf: Well, the work must be judged as a whole as devoid of serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value. Mary-Rose Papandrea, a professor at the UNC School of Law, says this fits word for word the standard set by the Supreme Court to define the category of speech called obscenity that falls outside of First Amendment protections.
Mary Rose Papandrea: I understand that the book is a story about a non-binary individual and that it would also have literary, political, scientific, probably artistic value.
Worf: She says under the First Amendment and South Carolina law, there is additional leeway for documents deemed obscene to minors. But even under that standard, she says the book is valuable.
Glenn: Now, most of Gov. McMaster’s letter called on the state superintendent to investigate how âGender Queerâ ended up in public school libraries. But he’s also asking the head of South Carolina’s law enforcement division to further assess the matter. How did the division react?
Today I wrote a letter to SC Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman asking her to immediately begin a full investigation into the presence of obscene and pornographic material in public schools in South Carolina. pic.twitter.com/txQEmSltU1
– Governor Henry McMaster (@henrymcmaster) November 10, 2021
Worf: A spokesperson for the division said Chief Mark Keel had received the governor’s letter and was in the process of assessing the circumstances – and had been in contact with the governor’s office and the superintendent of education . I asked if the division was considering an investigation, but did not receive a response on this. I asked Papandrea what an investigation would consist of.
Papandrea: It wouldn’t take very long. They were looking at the book and they were looking at the law and they would say this book is not obscene under South Carolina law.
Worf: Now, if it has its place in public school libraries, she points out, it’s a different debate.
Glenn: Thanks, Lisa.