Barnes & Noble Is Selling Books To Children And These Virginia Republicans Will Not Stand For It!
Tim Anderson, an attorney and state delegate in Virginia and his client Tommy Altman made a frightening discovery. There are entire stores dedicated almost solely to "books," and that are willing to give these "books" to your children ... for a price. Probably about $17.99. There are even things called libraries that will lend them books for free, in hopes of getting them hooked on reading and also sin.
Outraged, the men took their case to the Virginia Beach Circuit Court, where a judge agreed with them that books are bad and not meant for children — and declared two of them, Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe and A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas, to be "obscene for unrestricted viewing for minors," which means they can now be restricted.
It seems that they are largely upset about Gender Queer because they're afraid it's going to turn their children gender queer, or perhaps just turn them into people who are not raging assholes about other people existing, and that A Court of Mist and Fury was kind of just thrown in there for plausible deniability reasons. Because if they're upset about a heterosexual sex scene in a fantasy book, that means they're not bigots for going after Gender Queer.
The two men are also seeking a restraining order on one such store, known as Barnes and Noble, in hopes of barring it from selling these two books to people under the age of 17 — though they have warned parents in a Facebook post that there are dozens of these "books" out there and that they should probably be very concerned about all of them.
Tim Anderson wrote on Facebook:
I am pleased to announce a major legal victory. Today, the Virginia Beach Circuit Court has found probable cause that the books Gender Queer and a Court of Mist and Fury are obscene to unrestricted viewing by minors. My client, Tommy Altman, has now directed my office to seek a restraining order against Barnes and Noble and Virginia Beach Schools to enjoin them from selling or loaning these books to minors without parent consent. We are in a major fight. Suits like this can be filed all over Virginia. There are dozens of books. Hundreds of schools.
The comments on this post were also really something.
"I am so grateful for this victory!!! Thank you!!! Along with [redacted shared Facebook profile for married couple] I have been fighting this issue for 5 months - and I have put my entire life into it," wrote one woman who is very upset about books, "I have refused to believe it when over and over I have been told that we can't remove the books because of First Amendment rights. Obscene materials are not protected by the First Amendment!!"
I am legally obligated to direct your attention to this same woman's banner on her profile, in which she describes herself as a Christ-follower, Life Coach and Collagen Rep.
I am deceased.
In order to be considered "obscene" to the point of not being protected by the First Amendment, a work must meet the following criteria, known as the Miller Test:
(1) Whether ‘the average person, applying contemporary community standards’ would find that the work, ‘taken as a whole,’ appeals to ‘prurient interest’
(2) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law, and
(3) whether the work, ‘taken as a whole,’ lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.
It is very clear that neither of these books meet this standard, which means that they are protected by the First Amendment, whether Serena Joy over here approves of that or not.
There are hundreds of other comments from other parents who are also just finding out about books for the first time ever. They'll probably be even more upset when they find out their kids could be reading things like this:
When she carried on her whoring so openly and flaunted her nakedness, I turned in disgust from her, as I had turned in disgust from her sister. Yet she increased her whoring, remembering the days of her youth, when she played the whore in the land of Egypt and lusted after her lovers there, whose members were like those of donkeys, and whose issue was like that of horses. Thus you longed for the lewdness of your youth, when the Egyptians handled your bosom and pressed your young breasts.
That's from a little book called The Bible. Ezekiel 23:18-21. There's a lot of other weird shit in there as well, like a guy trying to get a bunch of gay dudes to rape his daughters (ostensibly to protect some angels who could probably just disappear if they wanted because of how they are angels and not people), who then, in turn, rape him and have his babies. These parents should be very concerned!
In one article about the lawsuit, one woman shared the story of her quest to get the book Gender Queer banned from her local schools.
Stacy Langton, a Fairfax County mother of six, has been waging this battle with Fairfax County Public Schools for months.
On several occasions she has taken it upon herself to read excerpts from "Gender Queer" in school board meetings.
She tells 7News she will follow Anderson's lead.
"This shows there's a higher authority," said Langton. "There's another pathway here. And if a judge adjudicates it and rules the book to be obscene then, from my understanding, it would have to be removed (here) as it will be down in Virginia Beach schools."
She followed that up with, "If we allow this filth to be taught to our seniors, the next you thing you know, it'll be in our high schools, then our kindergartens, and before you know it, we have babies in thong underwear. Is that what you want?"*
Langton isn't just some nobody. Mother Jones credits her with starting the Right's War on Books, so she's a bit of a censorship celebrity.
All jokes aside, this is actually horrifying. Going after schools and school libraries is disturbing enough, but actually going and telling booksellers and regular libraries what they are allowed to sell or lend is just beyond anything we've seen in decades. It is incredibly important that young people have access to books that help them understand themselves and safely explore the things and ideas they have questions about, including their own gender identity and sexuality. This is especially the case when these kids have parents like Stacy Langton or our friend the Christ Follower/Life Coach/Collagen Rep who are probably going to mess them up pretty badly.
Let kids read all the books! All of them! The "dozens" of them that exist! Books are the safest way to explore anything when you are a kid — whether it's something scary, something embarrassing or something else. They're also a great way to learn empathy for other humans. Perhaps if these people had read more books growing up or even now, they wouldn't be the strident, closed-minded assholes they are today.
*CORRECTION: That was not Stacy Langton, but rather Marcia Langdon, the character from the television show Parks and Rec. So easy to get these things confused.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse