Country music star John Rich likened teachers and librarians to pedophiles trying to kidnap kids in vans at a hearing with the Tennessee House of Representatives legislative committee to discuss a controversial bill banning ‘obscene books.’
‘What’s the difference between a teacher, educator or librarian putting one of these books like you have on the desk of a student,’ Rich asked lawmakers at the hearing in Nashville. ‘Or a guy in a white van pulling up at the edge of school when school lets out and saying, ”Come on around kids, let me read you this book and show you these pictures?”’
He continued: ‘What’s the difference in those two scenarios? There is a difference, by the way. They can run away from the guy in the white van.’
Several attendees could be seen nodding, seemingly in agreement with Rich, 48.
The bill discussed in the hearing seeks to ban unspecified ‘obscene books’ in public and charter schools and was sponsored by GOP state Representative Scott Cepicky after a school district in the Volunteer State banned a book about the Holocaust.
Country star John Rich, 48, likened teachers and librarians to pedophiles trying to kidnap kids in vans at a hearing with the Tennessee House of Representatives legislative committee on Wednesday
Rich later reiterated his support for the controversial bill banning ‘obscene books’
Rich, who famously invited women to ‘save horses, ride cowboys’ in the lyrics of his 2004 song of the same name with Big Kenny, said the people are the ‘firewall between tyranny and freedom’
The bill would prohibit ‘the possession of obscene material by a local education agency; a public school, including a public charter school; or an employee or private contractor of a local education agency or public school if the obscene material is harmful to minors and possessed on public school premises.’
The bill was sponsored by GOP state Representative Scott Cepicky, after a school district in the Volunteer State banned a book about the Holocaust
However, the initiative fails to provide a specific guide of what’s considered ‘obscene.’
Rich, who famously invited women to ‘save horses, ride cowboys’ in the lyrics of his 2004 song of the same name with Big Kenny, later reiterated his stance on Twitter.
‘Testifying at the Tennessee House of Reps legislative committee today was quite a deal. Some supported, some dissented, but Going toe to toe with adversaries is necessary in these times,’ he tweeted.
‘We must bring the fight to them. We The People are the firewall between tyranny and freedom’
Hearings on the bill will continue Wednesday.
Cepicky’s bill was inspired by the McMinn County School Board decision in January to remove ‘Maus’ from its curriculum, due to ‘inappropriate language’ and an illustration of a nude woman.
Art Spiegelman won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992 for the work that tells the story of his Jewish parents living in 1940s Poland and depicts him interviewing his father about his experiences as a Holocaust survivor.
In an interview, Spiegelman told CNBC he was ‘baffled’ by the school board’s decision and called the action ‘Orwellian.’
‘It’s leaving me with my jaw open, like, ”What?”’ he said.
The bill, rolled onto next week after the hearing on Wednesday, fails to provide a specific guide of what’s considered ‘obscene’
In January, the McMinn County School Board removed Pulitzer Prize winning graphic novel ‘Maus’ from its curriculum, due to ‘inappropriate language’ and an illustration of a nude woman
Transcripts from the school board meeting indicate objections over some of the language used in ‘Maus.’
At first, Director of Schools Lee Parkison suggested redacting it ‘to get rid of the eight curse words and the picture of the woman that was objected to.’
The nude woman is drawn as a mouse. In the graphic novel, Jews are drawn as mice and the Nazis are drawn as cats.
‘It shows people hanging, it shows them killing kids, why does the educational system promote this kind of stuff? It is not wise or healthy,’ School Board Member Tony Allman said about the book, which was part of the district’s eighth-grade English language arts curriculum.
Instructional supervisor Julie Goodin, a former history teacher, said she thought the graphic novel was a good way to depict a horrific event.
‘It’s hard for this generation, these kids don’t even know 9/11, they were not even born,’ Goodin said. ‘
Art Spiegelman, author of the acclaimed graphic Holocaust novel ‘Maus,’ which was banned by a Tennessee school district, said the decision ‘left his jaw open’
Are the words objectionable? Yes, there is no one that thinks they aren’t. But by taking away the first part, it’s not changing the meaning of what he is trying to portray.’
The Tennessee school board emphasized in the minutes that they did not object to teaching about the Holocaust but some were concerned the work was not age-appropriate.
Although they discussed redacting parts of the book, that led to copyright concerns and board members ultimately decided to look for an alternative book about the subject.
The book isn’t the only one banned recently amid critical race theory controversy.
The decision came as conservative officials across the country have increasingly tried to limit the type of books that children are exposed to, including books that address structural racism and LGBTQ issues.
The Republican governors in South Carolina and Texas have called on superintendents to perform a systemic review of ‘inappropriate’ materials in their states´ schools