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Iowa Senate President Jake Chapman is leading the charge against the sexually explicit, obscene and likely illegal materials being found throughout school libraries across Iowa.

Chapman discussed his concerns at a reconsideration hearing for materials in Johnston one day after local elections earlier this month. While a portion of Chapman’s presentation at the meeting last week has garnered attention from the liberal media in Iowa, it seems they missed his comments from the meeting earlier this month.

He pointed to Iowa Code Chapter 728, which deals with obscenity. Obscene material is defined as “any material depicting or describing the genitals, sex acts, masturbation, excretory functions or sadomasochistic abuse which the average person, taking the material as a whole and applying contemporary community standards with respect to what is suitable material for minors, would find appeals to the prurient interest and is patently offensive; and the material, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, scientific, political or artistic value.”

It would seem the book “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” falls under such a definition. Squarely.

Chapman told the committee he was “disappointed” that Johnston Superintendent Laura Kacer didn’t decide to stay and listen. He said he appreciates local control, but it is the responsibility of legislators to create the laws for Iowa.

“And if you don’t like those laws, there’s a process to put your name on the ballot,” he said. “You can go out and you can knock doors, you can get elected and you can change those laws. In fact, I think we had an election last night and there was quite a big change here in this school district. I think probably because of some of these things.”

His focus, however, is Chapter 728.

“I called for a criminal investigation last week of the Waukee School District,” he said. “And quite frankly, I’m not sure that you guys shouldn’t be investigated as well. This is obscene material. Schools and school employees, particularly I feel for you as the librarian, I do. You’re put in a terrible position in this. But you are culpable of this crime. If you are disseminating obscene material under 728, it’s a serious misdemeanor.

“School employees and administration are not above the law. Just like legislators are not above the law. We’re all held to the exact same standard. Don’t believe me, go take this book – I talked to my sheriff – if I gave that to a kid across the street I guarantee you law enforcement would be knocking at my door, talking to me about obscene material. The definition is very clear.”

Chapman said it is against the law to disseminate obscene materials.

“And I can tell you as the President of the Senate, I’m going to do everything I can to enhance the penalties – to make it a felony for a school employee to disseminate this type of garbage,” he said. “It’s garbage. There are 130 million books published across the world. And we’re picking these type of books to teach kids? I have to tell you, I’m not a Johnston resident. I feel for you. I can tell you, I sit in these meetings – Johnston, Ankeny, Waukee – you guys have become the topic of conversation. Not in a good way. I’ll just tell you that.

“This is the garbage I am talking about. I’m just really disappointed that we have this committee, this reconsideration. How did this garbage get in the schools to begin with? How did it get in? It is obscene material in my opinion.”

Chapman said there is no artistic value to the book and no literary value.

“It’s a direct violation of the definition found in 728,” he said. “I’m going to do everything I can and I am certain I have the support. We have talked about this in the Senate. In fact, just a couple of days ago we talked about this. I can promise you there will be legislation to enhance the penalties and enforcement when it comes to this. Parents are mad. Parents are upset. You saw it all across the elections last night. So to even have a conversation about whether or not we are going to keep a book or not keep a book that in its very nature is criminal – what are you guys doing? I mean really, what are you doing?”

He closed by saying if the committee members believe there is a First Amendment right to have this “garbage” in their school, he said the Supreme Court would disagree with that. Chapman noted that freedom of speech is not absolute.

“Freedom of speech has limitations,” he said. “And we have a compelling reason as the government to restrict this kind of garbage from our schools.”

Author: Jacob Hall