Committee On Obscene Books In The County Schools Holds 2nd Session

Wednesday, February 23, 2022 - by Thea Marshall
- photo by Thea Marshall

Veteran School Board member Rhonda Thurman held a Hamilton County Board of Education meeting Tuesday night to further discuss the issue of obscene books in libraries. She asked community members, teachers and librarians for recommendations.


“What about this policy do we need to fix in order to remove these books?” asked Ms.

Thurman.


The committee’s last meeting saw opposing views regarding several topics and Tuesday’s meeting was more of the same. However, this time, the debate centered around what is deemed as “obscene.”


“I send my kids to school to be educated, not to learn explicit material,” said a committee member. “These books should not be in public schools for children to just pick up.”  


The other side argued that this infringes on First Amendment rights and “no one gets to speak for everyone.” They also argued that it was “viewpoint discrimination,” and the definition of obscenity is subjective. The opposing committee members said the book content was unnecessary and inappropriate. They said there is a community standard to uphold. 


Looking For Alaska by John Green was put in question for allegedly “giving instructions on how to perform oral sex.” It was apparently found in a K-8 school. The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas allegedly has multiple cuss words and scenes of police violence - it was recommended to 8th through 12th graders. On the Come Up, also by Angie Thomas, was questioned for anti-police messages, excessive violence and vulgar language. Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood was another book questioned not only by Hamilton County but on a national level for sexual content.  


A committee member asked if parents were complaining about this issue and the response was that three have. Ms. Thurman said she did not care how many people were complaining and would rather know about policy changes. Debate then continued about “subjectivity” in the policy. 


“We wouldn't have any books if we followed the code of conduct - including the Bible,” said a committee member. 


The committee discussed possible solutions like a level system where parents fill out a form claiming the level of access their child has to books that could be considered obscene. Another member said they should wait until a book comes into question to have it reviewed by the principal and librarian. Ms. Thurman said a group should already be reviewing books. Right now, choosing books is in the librarian's job description. They are selected based on criteria from the library handbook and recommendations from students, parents and teachers.


“There has to be more than one person that knows a book is there,” said Ms. Thurman. “This is about the trust in our school system.” 


The committee will meet again on March 8 to further discuss. 



Police Blotter: Woman Attempts To Pay At Family Dollar With $100 Bill Marked "United States Play Money"; Woman's Purse Left On The Back Seat Hidden Under A Sweater In Her Unlocked Car Is Stolen

Commission Approves Funds To Keep Silverdale Jail Expansion Moving; Reserves Right To Seek Reimbursement

County Commission Votes ARC Funds For Tivoli Renovation, Volunteer Fire Departments, Urban League And The Bookworm Reading Program


A woman was attempting to buy groceries at the Family Dollar, 2101 E. 3rd St., and gave the cashier a fake $100 bill with the words "United States Play Money" inscribed on the top. The woman ... (click for more)

The County Commission on Wednesday narrowly approved paying $250,881.36 in connection with a construction delay in expanding the Silverdale Jail. County Commissioner Tim Boyd said the architect ... (click for more)

The County Commission on Wednesday approved $2 million to assist with renovation and restoration of the Tivoli Theatre using funds received through the federal American Rescue Plan Act. The ... (click for more)



Breaking News

Police Blotter: Woman Attempts To Pay At Family Dollar With $100 Bill Marked "United States Play Money"; Woman's Purse Left On The Back Seat Hidden Under A Sweater In Her Unlocked Car Is Stolen

A woman was attempting to buy groceries at the Family Dollar, 2101 E. 3rd St., and gave the cashier a fake $100 bill with the words "United States Play Money" inscribed on the top. The woman said she received the currency as cash back at another store. The false currency will be logged in to Property. * * * While sitting behind Harbor Freight, 5839 Brainerd Road, police observed ... (click for more)

Commission Approves Funds To Keep Silverdale Jail Expansion Moving; Reserves Right To Seek Reimbursement

The County Commission on Wednesday narrowly approved paying $250,881.36 in connection with a construction delay in expanding the Silverdale Jail. County Commissioner Tim Boyd said the architect and contractor were responsible and should not put the cost off on taxpayers. The cost is for a temporary roof over a new section of the jail. Officials said when the permanent roof ... (click for more)

Opinion

Dangerous Dam At Ketner's Mill Has Claimed Too Many Young Lives

Something must be done about the dangerous low head dam at Ketner’s Mill on the Sequatchie River in Whitwell, Tn. (Marion County). This dam is a dangerous public safety hazard that has claimed the lives of many young people through the years. It seems to me to be grossly negligent for the owner of this dam (which no longer serves any purpose) to continue to allow unknowing ... (click for more)

Uncovering Chattanooga’s Hidden Gem

Missionary Ridge is Chattanooga's "diamond in the rough" that can spearhead a new era in our city's growth. Way back on Nov. 25, 1863, soldiers under the leadership of General Ulysses S. Grant stormed Missionary Ridge and broke the back of the Confederacy. The Battle of Missionary Ridge demonstrated the superior forces of the industrialized North and gave their soldiers a chance ... (click for more)

Sports

Former Lee Goalkeeper To Start For Northern Ireland

Former Lee University All-American goalkeeper Jackie Burns will lead Northern Ireland in net as the country makes its debut in the Women's UEFA Euro 2022 Championship. Northern Ireland opens on July 7 against Norway at St. Mary's Stadium in Southampton. Burns and Northern Ireland will then play Austria on July 11 and wrap up Group A play with host England on July 15. Andy ... (click for more)

Dan Fleser: Vols Baseball, Basketball Get Top Transfers

Whether it’s entire universities or individual athletes, college athletics continues to be a fluid situation. Something or someone always seems to be moving somewhere. Usually there’s nothing going on during the languid days of late June and early July. But news last week of Southern Cal and UCLA joining the Big 10 Conference in 2024 was a whole lot of something. During ... (click for more)