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credit: bostononlyricopera.blogspot.com

In 1964, Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart wrote in Jacobellis v. Ohio words that would ever after be famous:

I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [“hard-core pornography”], and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it

Potter’s pithy observation will ever be spoken because it so well sums up the answer to a perennial question: what is obscenity—or pornography?  Circa October, 2022, it’s an issue very much on American’s minds because of the Trans and LGBTQWERTY++–etc. push to indoctrinate and groom school children.  Inevitably, they’ve brought their porn with them and are, with the willing help of Democrat/Socialist/Communist teachers, school administrators and librarians, pedaling those unseemly wares in the schools.  And nowhere is safe, as Clair McFarland at Cowboy State Daily, explains:

credit: cowboy state daily

Local school boards should control the themes of material available to students in Wyoming school libraries, but legislators will get involved if they have to, a state lawmaker said Tuesday.

Rep. Art Washut, R-Casper, told Cowboy State Daily that two sexually graphic books in the Kelly Walsh High School Library should not be there, and that the school should focus instead on the fundamentals of education.

Washut is a former police officer and an educator at Casper College who now serves on the Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Judiciary Committee, which oversees changes in criminal law.

He expressed disapproval of the books ‘Gender Queer’ and ‘Trans Bodies, Trans Selves,’ both of which survived challenges Sept. 1 and will remain in the Kelly Walsh High School library unless the Natrona County School Board considers an appeal against them.

Here, gentle readers, are some representative excerpts from “Gender Queer.”  What I’m leaving out is more graphic depictions–as if these weren’t more than graphic enough for children–of gay fellatio and more “street” descriptions of gay sex.

‘I can’t imagine why a school board would want this type of material available in the school library,’ said Washut. ‘I don’t see the value of it in terms of education.’

Washut is on the right track, but we’ll return to that shortly.

 ‘I’d expect that if the school boards across the state don’t address these types of issues, there probably will be a push within the Legislature to address the matter,’ said Washut, adding that it would not surprise him to see the issue addressed in the upcoming lawmaking session in January.

And on the other side of the aisle: 

credit: cowboy state daily

Rep. Karlee Provenza, D-Laramie, said Wyoming has large, diverse communities with varying opinions about what is pornography and what is educational literature.

NOTE: Laramie, home to the University of Wyoming, and Jackson Hole are to Wyoming what Austin is to Texas: blue islands of leftism in red seas of Normal Americans.

Provenza, who is a research scientist and serves on the Judiciary Committee with Washut, told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday that she does not think the controversy over the books is an appropriate cause for law changes.

‘If (parents) want to monitor what their children are reading and censor, that’s their prerogative, but it’s not their right to have that influence on other people’s households, or other people’s children,’ said Provenza.

And how, exactly, does not having a given book in a school library “…influence…other people’s households, or other people’s children…”? 

‘Some of the value of public education is that we’re trying to educate a broad base of people,’ she said. ‘And while someone may hold views other people don’t like, sometimes there are lessons to be learned about those things. What you may deem pornographic material, others may consider educational.’

Provenza said it is ‘problematic’ to begin censoring books because there are so many differing viewpoints in any one community.

‘Mostly in this state we’ve taken the attitude of ‘live and let live,’ she said.

Which is an attempt to use a fundamental aspect of individual liberty against Wyomingites.  By Provenza’s standard, what could possibly be inappropriate for “educational” purposes?  I’m quite sure the BDSM “community” is woefully underrepresented in our schools.  By all means, let’s have hands on, naked, bondage training with all the various gags, harnesses and insertable toys.  I’m sure, gentle readers, you could come up with similar suggestions—solely for scientific purposes.  By all means, take the link and read the rest of the article.  Lest any think me too prudish, there is a world of difference between what adults do consensually in private and what is appropriate for school classrooms and libraries.

While librarians may have a more expansive view of their place in the world, school libraries exist to support the curriculum.  Their funding is always limited, their collections constrained, and a dollar spent on political indoctrination—and books such as those under discussion are political indoctrination—is a dollar denied teachers who need additional resources.  Librarians these days are also in the uncomfortable position of having to defend the mere existence of books and libraries, so ubiquitous are computers of all kinds, which provide instant access to the world’s knowledge, and its pornographic entertainment and indoctrination, all at little or no cost to schools.  Most of my students visited the library for the first time in their lives only because I required at least one book source for their research paper project, and I had to spend at least one hour teaching them how to find things.

With this in mind, is it wise for librarians and other school staff and officials to be stoutly defending what is, by any reasonable analysis, gay and trans porn?  Won’t that make their next budget request for materials–oh what’s the word…controversial?  Won’t Normal Americans, responsible adult parents, be disposed to tell them if their judgement in materials for kids is no better, they don’t deserve a budget?  Won’t those parents tend to see them not as educators, but groomers?

Most folks in Wyoming know nothing makes people angrier than messing with their pets or kids.  Both are innocent and cannot defend themselves.  Apparently the Natrona County School Board has forgotten that, or thinks themselves invulnerable to the righteous rage of parents.  I suspect they’ll soon discover they are not.

The First Amendment does not mandate or guarantee the presence of any individual book in a school library, and of necessity, librarians—and parents—must make decisions about how to best spend scarce dollars, and about which books are inappropriate for school libraries at all levels.  They are different than public libraries.  Choosing not to buy a given book in a given library does not constitute censorship.  This is particularly so with the Internet; anything not in a school library can be easily found there, or at Amazon.  Usually, it’s not an issue because sane, responsible adults are involved.  Now it is.

As regular readers know, I am a retired high school and college English teacher.  That was my second career.  My first was police work, so I know a bit about the law, porn, and teaching literature.

Proposition: any materials that would not be part of a legitimate, professional curriculum, that would be inappropriate in the classroom, are equally inappropriate in the library.

As a teacher of literature, it was not my job to expose kids to every sort of “literature” each and every victim group considered “educational.”  One may argue porn, with closeups of engorged penises thrusting into equally engorged vaginas to the tune of rhymes grunts is, in at least some sense, educational, but few would argue it’s an essential part of an English curriculum.  Particularly in the lower grades, mastering other skills might reasonably be thought more important.  It was my job to expose kids to the best writing of the ages, writing that inspired the virtues and habits that would help them appreciate the work and sacrifice of all that came before them.  It was my job to show them the best of literature, the best to which human beings could aspire in writing, how to understand it, critique it and write about it, and then, to guide them a bit more on the path to becoming fully functioning human beings and useful citizens of our representative republic.  It was my job to imaginatively and competently teach the curriculum and nothing else.

There was never any question about what sorts of things were inappropriate.  I, a college educated, state certified teacher, was expected to know such things.  No nudity, no depictions of sex of any kind, no sexual or political indoctrination.  To be sure, it was sometimes necessary to clarify or explain various historical references—you can’t discuss the Bible or Shakespeare without it–but never in a salacious way, so I didn’t grin when I did.  I often told the kids times change, but people don’t.  That helped them understand.

I didn’t spend a moment telling my kids of my sexual preferences, listening to theirs, or encouraging them to have parts of their bodies lopped off.  It would have been unethical, unprofessional, illegal and there was no time for anything, not one second, I was not hired to teach.

There was never, for my colleagues or me, a temptation to discuss straight or gay sex, and certainly never to show the kids drawings, photos or video of gay fellatio or cunnilingus.  It never came up, because we were responsible adults and professionals who had a job to do with too little funding for books, and less and less time each year to teach the legitimate curriculum.

It was absolutely not my place to discuss intimate personal details of their lives with my kids.  When kids approached me with such things, I immediately referred them to a counselor who had the time to do that–that was their job–and I hid nothing–ever–from parents.  I constantly informed them about everything we were doing and invited them to sit in on classes whenever they wanted.

So what’s the problem with the folks at Kelly Walsh High School in Wyoming?  If it’s not appropriate for the classroom, if I could—and would—have lost my job for crossing those clear, bright lines, why is a Wyoming—Wyoming— school board crossing them?

Anyone who thinks depictions of gay sex, and a how-to trans manual essential to the “education” of their children has no lack of easily accessed sources for that kind of material.  Last I heard Amazon still delivered in Wyoming, and I’m sure they could find people of the proper sexual leanings to come to their homes and provide hands on demonstrations and instruction, though if compensated that might cross certain legal lines.

Is this a matter for the legislature?  As Mark Twain said, “no man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the legislature is in session.”  And when it’s not, the EPA and FBI pick up the baton.  If you’re getting the idea I’d rather not have the legislature involved on general principles, you’re right, gentle readers.  However, when school boards lack the common sense to remember the purpose of schools, there may be no choice.  It has been said that government is best which governs least, which is attributed to many, but I’ll give Thomas Jefferson credit if for no other reason than it sounds like him, and that’s the key to legislating on this issue.

If it’s not appropriate for the classroom, if it would be unprofessional, a waste of time and a boundary violation, if it could get a teacher disciplined or fired, how do we justify having it in a library, particularly when anyone can easily have as much of it as they like through a wide variety of sources?  So.  Clearly define the curriculum—parents get a large say—lay out consequences for failing or refusing to teach it, and apply those standards to school libraries as well.

Yes, I know: the devil’s in the details.  The difference between Potter Stewart’s wise comment and our contemporary issue is sane, normal people can indeed define what’s inappropriate for scarce school hours.  And if we can’t, if our elected school boards aren’t that smart or moral, we can run them out of office and turn it over to the legislature, and if they aren’t that smart or moral, we can do the same.  In this case, fortunately, all sane, normal Wyomingites do know it when they see it, and they can describe it too, though they’d rather not.