Another viewpoint: Senator’s ‘chilling effect’ may not be the kind he wants


Terre Haute Tribune-Star

“I hope it does have a chilling effect.”

Those are the words of Sen. Jim Tomes, R-Wadesville, an Indiana legislator who wants control of school teachers and librarians. He’s the author of Senate Bill 12, which advanced out of the Senate and to the House for consideration.

The bill would ban materials deemed “harmful to minors” in school libraries and would also allow felony charges to be brought against a K-12 school teacher, librarian or staff member for providing such material to students.

Under the bill, schools would no longer be able to defend the material in question as being used for “educational purposes.”

It also allows parents to submit complaints and burdens schools with having not only to defend every complaint but also to post a list of books on a website and in hard copy form for parental viewing.

“I hope it’s enough of a chilling effect that they will come to their senses, and have it upon themselves to see to it that for the kids entrusted in their custody, they will do their best to protect their innocence,” Tomes said.

We guarantee if you ask any teacher in the state of Indiana how they feel about their students they would be quick to declare that protecting them is of utmost importance. Suggesting otherwise is unfair.

According to Tomes, he is simply trying to shield “parents, their children” from “really, really, really bad books,” as reported by the Indiana Capital Chronicle. The senator wants to eradicate “raw pornography” from school libraries, the news service reported.

We wonder how long it’s been since the senator has been inside a school library.

We also wonder if someone should explain to him what real pornography is.

As for giving parents control? Why not do that by allowing them to decide what’s appropriate for their children when they do bring a questionable book home instead of using scare tactics against educators who are already leaving the profession and the state in droves because of such nonsense?

Bullying teachers into submission isn’t the way to protect children. In fact, it’s a waste of time.

If Indiana wants its future to look dim, go no further than legislation like Tomes’ that limits ideas and forms of expression. The state needs to do just the opposite in supporting its children: to nurture students who will become fully educated and well-rounded, who can come to the table as a college student, a job applicant or an employee well aware of ideas which are different from their own, able to make persuasive arguments and safe decisions for themselves and their communities.

Children growing up in states banning books and materials will grow up at a disadvantage. Another social gap will form, separating people who are well-equipped to solve problems and build relationships and those without the tools necessary to succeed in life.

Legislators would be smart to use their time more effectively instead of on legislation disguised as something that will ultimately protect children and their parents, which in fact only harms them, hinders their ability to think widely and openly and limits their chance to positively affect their future.


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