Friday, May 03, 2024

The Book Police

Do you remember Fahrenheit 451 when you spotted a book you called the “Fire Department” to burn the book? Well the Book Police invaded a classroom looking for prohibited books…
The English teacher who was questioned by police searching her eighth grade classroom for a controversial book says she will file a civil rights lawsuit if the town and school district do not agree to participate in mediation.

The potential for litigation has prompted the town and the Berkshire Hills Regional School District to each schedule closed-door sessions with their attorneys Monday night, according to their agendas — one of which names the teacher, who continues to ask that her name not be published out of fear for "harassment and worse."
So what set off the fire drill?
The specter of a lawsuit has boiled up since Dec. 8, when a night custodian at the school complained to police about the possibly “pornographic” contents of a book in the teacher’s classroom. He also accused the teacher of allowing a student to sit on her lap.

What followed was a plainclothes Great Barrington police officer going to the classroom after school that day to question her about the book “Gender Queer: A Memoir,” by Maia Kobabe. He also tried to find the copy that she provides in her classroom as supplemental reading material that has to be checked out by students with her permission only. It is unclear where the book was located at the time of the search and where it is now. District officials previously said that its appropriateness would be reviewed.
I don’t blame the police, they received a complaint and they had to investigate, I blame the feeding frenzy that the conservatives have created, however the chief of police leaves a lot to desire.

The Berkshire Edge reported,
The report states that Officer O’Brien was the one who received the complaints from Yorke, and that, at the beginning of the investigation, O’Brien showed Chief Storti photographs of the book provided by Yorke. O’Brien states:

Two of the photographs were of the front cover of the book. The third photograph was two interior pages of the book. Chief Storti stated that the illustrations [from the book] were concerning because there was no context provided. Chief Storti stated that upon reviewing the information, as well as the photographs, it was his opinion that the Police Department had a duty to immediately follow up on the complaint.

Chief Storti was asked whether “he believed that the material was inappropriate and of a pornographic nature as contemplated by Massachusetts General Law c 272 29 (Dissemination of Obscene Matter).” The report states:

He replied ‘Yes.’ He added that this was based on, in part, because there were only three photographs, and no other context was provided. Chief Storti also explained that he was unable to determine the age of the individuals depicted in the illustrations and was unsure whether students had access to the book.

When asked by investigators, Chief Storti said that he did not believe that the Police Department needed a warrant to search the school for the book.


Under its “findings” section, the report states:

Comprehensive Investigations and Consulting, LLC, finds that the actions of Officer Joseph O’Brien, as well as the actions of the Great Barrington Police Department, regarding the incident at the W.E.B. Du Bois Middle School, on December 8, 2023, were lawful and proper.

Right next to the statement, the word “exonerated” is typed up in all capital and bold letters.
The Berkshire Eagle goes on to report…
“Our client, the teacher, has very substantial legal claims against both the Town of Great Barrington and the School District for violating her civil rights,” said Cooper, of law firm Todd & Weld LLP. “What happened never should have happened.”
So I imagine that the two sides will settle the law suit out of court and both sides will call it a victory, but we as the general public will pay the price with less access to books… the “Fire Department” did their job. Create fear about the books we read.

1 comment:

  1. Heck, nothing else to do today. I checked for the availability of this book at my local national bookseller's local store. It's available for pickup and it's on "Buy One, Get One 50% Off." Better call the book police and institute a raid! I noticed my national grocery store change has many teen same-sex relationship books right out in the main aisle. I wonder if the book police are searching for copies of the Bible in schools, especially those with color plates inside, showing this man nailed to a wooden cross and being stabbed with a spear? Terrible graphic content.