William Baer, a practicing attorney and father has been charged with disorderly conduct after causing a ruckus at a school board meeting where he was protesting the school’s decision to assign a book with sexually explicit themes to his ninth grade daughter.
The man came to lose his temper during a meeting Monday night at New Hampshire’s Gilford High School while violating his ‘two minute speaking time’ and causing a scene.
The school board had come to meet with concerned parents over the appropriateness of ninth grade students being given Jodi Picoult’s Nineteen Minutes – a novel about a school shooting that contains themes of bullying and sexual violence.
Parents had met with the school to express their anger that they had not been notified that the book contained sexually explicit material or been given the option to opt out of it.
Vexing parents is an explicit scene in the book which graphically describes rough sex between two teenagers including the words: ‘She could feel his erection, hot against her stomach.’
William Baer expressed his outrage that his daughter had been assigned the reading material and when he asked to read the concerning passage aloud, the school board refused.
‘Sir, would you please be respectful of the other people?’ a school board member asked.
He replied: ‘Like you’re respectful of my daughter, right? And my children?’
Upon being asked to leave by a police officer who was present at the meeting, William Baer responded: ‘Because I violated the two-minute rule?’
‘I guess you’re going to have to arrest me,’
From there the police officer ordered the attorney to stand up before leading him by the arm out of the library meeting.
The father was then placed in handcuffs and charged with disorderly conduct.
Told William Bear to EAGNews: ‘I was shocked when I read the passage, and not much shocks me anymore.
‘My wife was stunned by the increasingly graphic nature of the sexual content of the scene and the imagery it evoked.’
Another parent Doug Lambert told WCVB: ‘You are also cheating the kids out of being exposed to real literature in front of them. This is garbage.’
Jodi Picoult also weighed in on the debate over her book.
She wrote: ‘Another parent is challenging #19Minutes bc it contains a sex scene far more vague than anything on TV. Sad to focus on that & not bullying.’
Nineteen Minutes was published in 2007 and debuted at number one on the New York Times Best Seller list.
Picoult’s fans jumped to her defense over criticism of the novel.
Jolene wernig wrote:[email protected] My 2 girls went to #GHS and LOVE your books! Re-reading 19minutes this week.’
Holly Soave tweeted to the writer: [email protected] as a teen, #19minutes changed my life & the way I think about bullying & how actions affect everyone around us. I’m grateful.’
The school board apologized ‘for the failure of the school district to send home prior notice of assignment of the novel’ but added that it had been part of the school curriculum since 2007 and there had been no complaints.
Superintendent Kent Hemingway told WND that the book was ‘thematically important’ because it allowed students to explore issues surrounding a fictional school shooting.
The school’s mission statements include the belief that ‘learning occurs best in disciplined, safe, and respectful environments where community members are valued and expected to play their roles in education and be accountable for their actions’.
WMUR writes that Baer, who told the outlet he thinks his First Amendment rights were violated, plans to “fight his arrest.”
SUITABLE FOR STUDENTS AGED 14? EXCERPTS FROM ’19 MINUTES’
The lines which caused parents’ concern in the class-assigned text:
‘Relax,’ Matt murmured, and then he sank his teeth into her shoulder. He pinned her hands over her head and ground his hips against hers. She could feel his erection, hot against her stomach.She couldn’t remember ever feeling so heavy, as if her heart were beating between her legs. She clawed at Matt’s back to bring him closer. ‘Yeah,’ he groaned, and he pushed her thighs apart. And then suddenly Matt was inside her, pumping so hard that she scooted backward on the carpet, burning the backs of her legs. He clamped his hand over her mouth and drove harder and harder until Josie felt him come.Semen, sticky and hot, pooled on the carpet beneath her.
And then there were these comments on the web that made me wonder as well:
Too many of the school boards today think they have ultimate power to do whatever they want and that they don’t have to be held accountable to anyone.
What alarming times do we live in where parents cannot voice their concerns about the education of their children without being dragged off school grounds in handcuffs ?? And what worries me more than anything is that there are obviously enough people who believe that arresting parents who voice their concerns is justified! What have schools become, if not to teach students that having a personal opinion now is a crime?? Doesn’t anyone see the madness in all of this??
This dad really needs to grow up. When i first saw this i thought it was a elementary school we were talking about here. If she’s in 9th grade your daughter has already read and seen it all! especially if she hjas the internet. when has school book bans ever worked?! The political correctness of parents like this is exactly why there teens then intentionally read more challenged books (Harry Potter, Fifty Shades, Hunger Games, Twilight, etc). If anything the edgier portions of that book is probably gonna keep your daughter more engaged in there material. Sorry but that does NOT qualify as pornigraphy. Your daughter is a teenager now so I’m sure she can mentally tolerate teenage-issues centered books. some might disagree with me but thats the reality.
I’ve read that book and would have to give serious consideration to letting my 14 year old read it. It’s not just the one graphic scene. The entire book, despite the fact that the topic is important, is written for a more mature reader, the things that happen in the book can be very disturbing. Kids all mature differently, as a parent I’d want to make the decision if my kid is ready for it, not have some school board make a blanket decision about it. Shame on them for having this parent arrested for pointing out their failure.