WARNING: Mature content is discussed in this article.
SC Code 16-15-385
- A person commits the offense of disseminating harmful materials to minors if, knowing the character or content of the material, he:
- Sells, furnishes, presents, or distributes to a minor material that is harmful to minors; or
- Allows a minor to review or peruse material that is harmful to minors.
A person does not commit an offense under this subsection when he employs a minor to work in a theater if the minor’s parent or guardian consents to the employment and if the minor is not allowed in the viewing area when material harmful to minors is shown.
- A person commits the offense of exhibiting a harmful performance to a minor if, with or without consideration and knowing the character or content of the performance, he allows a minor to view a live performance which is harmful to minors.
- Except as provided in item (3) of this subsection, mistake of age is not a defense to a prosecution under this section. It is an affirmative defense under this section that:
- The defendant was a parent or legal guardian of a minor, but this item does not apply when the parent of legal guardian exhibits or disseminates the harmful material for the sexual gratification of the parent, guardian, or minor.
- the defendant was a school, church, museum, public, school, college, or university library, government agency, medical clinic, or hospital carrying out its legitimate function, or an employee or agent of such an organization acting in that capacity and carrying out a legitimate duty of his employment. (emphasis added)
- before disseminating or exhibiting the harmful material or performance, the defendant requested and received a driver’s license, student identification card, or other official governmental or educational identification card or paper indicating that the minor to whom the material or performance was disseminated or exhibited was at least eighteen years old, and the defendant reasonably believed the minor was at least eighteen years old.
- A person who violates the provisions of this section is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, must be imprisoned not more than ten years or fined not more than five thousand dollars, or both.
Effective April 26, 2004.
In 2004, our legislators in SC Code, Title 16, Article 3 (16-15-305 et. seq.) went to great extents to make it a punishable criminal act to distribute obscene materials to minors, yet they exempted schools, churches, etc. while carrying out their legitimate function.
As you’re reading this article, ask yourself, is it the legitimate function of a school or public library to proffer obscene materials in areas where minors have unrestricted access? For the entire law, see Code of Laws – Title 16 – Chapter 15 – Offenses Against Morality And Decency (scstatehouse.gov)
I’ve been hearing rumblings about obscene books in high school libraries for several months now. Then one day, screen shots posted by The Overton Report | Corey Allen | Substack showed images of a facts of life children’s book written for 4-7 year-olds that very descriptively explained extramarital sexual intercourse along with a drawing of a naked couple in bed together (My Body is Growing by Dagmar Geisler, which apparently even now Amazon has removed). On a whim, I checked our local library, and sure enough, a digital copy was available through their digital book service, Hoopla. I called the library and the person that answered the phone brushed me off, saying that nothing could be done about it and she wasn’t concerned because a) she didn’t have kids and b) she didn’t use Hoopla. I asked for a call back from the librarian the next day.
After being brushed off, and from what I was hearing around the country about the way these issues were being handled, I made copies of the inappropriate pages in the book and went to the Aiken County Council meeting and raised awareness as to the type of books that are being made available for children in our small conservative town’s library.
Before we go too far, I want to address the fact that some of you will accuse me of censoring or banning books. Maybe so, but oughtn’t we take care when it comes to the future of our posterity? When we think of eating a healthy diet, we think of consuming a variety of fresh vegetables, fruit, meats, and consumption of pre-processed junk food ought to be kept to a minimum, if eaten at all, especially when a child is young and their appetite is being formed. Likewise with books. There are many books out there for young people that would constitute a ‘healthy’ reading diet, even newly published books, yet I contend that our public libraries are filling themselves not only with the equivalent of pre-processed junk food, but also with things we have long sought to limit exposure of at a young age: erotic sex, prolific use of profanity, and other topics such as illicit drug use and rape.
While I am aware that desiring a public library to carry books that will challenge our youth mentally may be a lofty idea (and why I am an advocate of building home libraries as much as possible, I think it is time for us to advocate for material that would normally carry an R- or X- rating in movies not to be shelved in the Juvenile (age 6-12) or Young Adult (age 12-18) section of the library, where minors have unrestricted access..
As such, some parents may consent to their kids reading such materials, so if the library has them, I am of the opinion that they ought to be placed in the adult section. Many parents send their children to the library for summer reading programs and the librarians act in loco parentis, and as such and should have the peace of mind that the librarians are recommending materials that are age-appropriate, and wouldn’t carry an X- or R-rating if they were a movie.
After that initial county council meeting, I received a phone call from the head librarian, informing me that there was a form that the library has available called a ‘Request for Reconsideration’ that patrons can submit if they have an issue with library materials. It would appear the library would like to hold the existence of this form close to the chest and make it available only to the squeakiest of wheels. It’s not listed on their website anywhere, even 2 months after I requested they put it on their website at a monthly board meeting. Additionally, do you remember what I said happened the first time I called the library? I was brushed off. I was NOT offered the opportunity to fill out a form. Interestingly enough, after talking to friends who have voiced concerns about materials at the same library, they also were not given the option of filling out any forms. I wonder how many others would have done so had they known of its existence? The form, which is 2 pages long, is a deterrent in and of itself, since it requests the person filling out the form (requesting materials either to be removed from the library’s collection entirely or moved to a different section of the library) not only to make recommendations of books to replace the one in question, but also to justify why the recommended replacement would be superior! For what it’s worth, I was told I didn’t need to fill out the entire form in order for them to look at the books, so that could ease the process then.
Over the course of the next few days I was introduced to others who are ahead of me on this journey. I learned that there are A LOT of books that have highly questionable content that are being labeled as appropriate for Young Adults by ‘reputable’ book reviewers. My next step was to search out some of those books. I went to the library and checked out as many as I could carry – over 15 books! Over the course of the next 2 months I proceeded to read all of the books and create a document for each, detailing obscene content in each of the books. I then requested an opportunity to speak at the next library board meeting and was granted permission.
Just prior to the meeting, I attended the county council meeting one more time and invited the board members to attend the library meeting as well. A handful attended. Prior to my time slot, the head librarian gave a lengthy presentation detailing how the library procures books for their collection, along with a number of details, including the 4 resources the library holds as the authority for book reviews: Booklist (published by the left-leaning American Library Association), Library Journal, School Library Journal, and The Horn Book, Inc.
Sidebar: After the meeting, I was browsing a couple of the above websites and discovered that they had a very similar feel to them. A quick scroll down to the bottom of the page confirmed for me that not only do the Library Journal, School Library Journal, and The Horn Book, Inc. share the same phone number, but they are all under one parent organization: The Vistria Group. Upon further investigation, I found that the Senior Partner, Co-Chairman & Co-CEO Marty Nesbitt is not only the Chair of the Obama Foundation, but he also happens to be a close friend of Obama. I ask, are these journals in fact providing independent reviews? Or are they pushing books that fit an agenda that serve to further divide families and promote moral decay?
After the meeting, I submitted 15 ‘Requests for Reconsideration’ to the library for the following books. Click on the hyperlink to read excerpted passages, all of which I personally read, with the exception of number 14, which was an audio CD at our library so I relied on an outside review:
- The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater (Juvenile Non-Fiction, moved to Adult Non-Fiction) https://drive.google.com/file/d/1O2MbAt0qT8Ie05kyTIiQtMFRp81sGa4l/view?usp=sharing
- It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris (Juvenile Non-Fiction, moved to Adult Non-Fiction) https://drive.google.com/file/d/1yK5C2YxD90eBoDSAFgR95uAI6AwREK4S/view?usp=sharing
- Wait, What by Heather Corinna (Juvenile Non-Fiction, moved to Adult Non-Fiction) https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Qe18bXBJdpSzwLRtWKIaiPapPK0s2RPu/view?usp=sharing
- I Never by Laura Hopper (Young Adult, removed from collection) https://drive.google.com/file/d/1NcxjSPpYHvbapspNN7Nxw6X4Ko3cso8q/view?usp=sharing
- Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) by L.C. Rosen (Young Adult, removed from collection) https://drive.google.com/file/d/10KWL2HcXmAxFrjmaQQylqbH6n21XymZv/view?usp=sharing
- This Boy by Lauren Myracle (Young Adult, removed from collection) https://drive.google.com/file/d/1DI-LWrjATV6nUYvTw79idA3wnZqQcQ9k/view?usp=sharing
- Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (Young Adult, Aiken Library to retain in Young Adult collection) https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Co_0YEKGFB3t5VdMyZYBeruvTrV6PnBQ/view?usp=sharing
- The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang (Young Adult, Aiken Library to retain in Young Adult collection) https://drive.google.com/file/d/1aJrrP7zKdJwIBSGY2mQA5nAGz-dgkfhm/view?usp=sharing
- The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed (Young Adult, Aiken Library to retain in Young Adult collection) https://drive.google.com/file/d/15Rl1AjFcan1bQE9UwcEnDNB7t8N5zsoq/view?usp=sharing
- I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez (Young Adult, Aiken Library to retain in Young Adult collection) https://drive.google.com/file/d/1wdVArq4SiJ8ytPcc9r_3D2SN6bZqZvpR/view?usp=sharing
- Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo (Young Adult, Aiken Library to retain in Young Adult collection) https://drive.google.com/file/d/1RB22n9Dkm9o9JAt4KrvjT3uZs7FPLqD2/view?usp=sharing
- Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe by Preston Norton (Young Adult, Aiken Library to retain in Young Adult collection) https://drive.google.com/file/d/1N9Z2cFhEm3MlnkZNEoxQ0GUn_HvgPp69/view?usp=sharing
- Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli (Young Adult, Aiken Library to retain in Young Adult collection) https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ZHx77ZBKcwFPSQLnNDAf_kSJpdCeTxcH/view?usp=sharing
- City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare (Young Adult, Aiken Library to retain in Young Adult collection) https://drive.google.com/file/d/1lfD27tl-9vNdBGJGQuJukLiFrQWuGsSI/view?usp=sharing
- The Haters by Jesse Andrews (Young Adult, Aiken Library to retain in Young Adult collection) https://drive.google.com/file/d/1sC2dA1OnnY0GssK9BVrRd8TLMfcCZ9Gf/view?usp=sharing
Over the course of the next month, the library’s determinations trickled in. The first three books the library agreed to move to Adult Non-Fiction from the Juvenile Non-Fiction. The next three books the library decided were not of sufficient literary quality to maintain in their collection. I agree – those three books were X-rated and yet had been shelved in the Young Adult section. This is a small victory, but many of these authors have written multiple books, some of which have similar content and are in many libraries.
For the remaining 9 books the library has dug its heels in and maintains that they will retain them in the Young Adult section of the library (as opposed to moving them to the Adult Fiction section where I believe they would be more appropriately shelved). The library cited review sources such as the above-referenced ones, in addition to others, like left-leaning Kirkus. I ask, when did it become appropriate for Young Adult books to contain multiple obscenities, and graphic (sometimes erotic) descriptions of sexual intercourse? If these books were movies, they’d carry an ‘R’ rating. Why are libraries not only making them accessible to children as young as age 12, but oftentimes showcasing them on display shelves?
The library maintains that ‘some materials may offend or shock some readers while others find them enjoyable, meaningful or significant.’ While that may be the case, why are we trying to shock young people? Adults can pick up a book and make an informed decision whether or not the book is to their liking. That is not the case for children.
As I read, forced my way through, those books, I noticed a trend. Books written over 10 years ago might have had one or two objectionable items, that if you skip that page, you could still read the book. Now, these books hold nothing back. The writing style has changed as well. Where previously someone would say ‘He kissed me.’ Now, the entire act of the kiss is described in a very erotic manner. And then some. Please. Check your public libraries. Check your school libraries. These books are in there. Check them out. Read them for yourself. And ask if it’s really appropriate for libraries to be proffering these materials as appropriate for minors simply because it’s at their lexile level or because the main character happens to be 17 years old. And then, if you agree with me, fill out a Request for Reconsideration form at your library. Fill out a dozen. Contact your local county council representative. Attend a library board meeting and ask to speak. I would hazard a guess that your library board members are just as much in the dark as you were before you read this. And share this article. We need to raise awareness. Maybe if our libraries – public and school alike – had books in them that challenged our youth intellectually, South Carolina wouldn’t rank so low academically. And why are our taxpayer dollars being spent on the corruption of the minds of our youth?
I’d love to hear from you on what’s going on in other parts of South Carolina. What are you doing in your area to address this issue? We would love to highlight the activities of other individuals or groups throughout the state as well. If you want to get involved, please reach out to us.
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