Republican Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy grilled Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias over school children being exposed to books containing pornographic content.
Kennedy read excerpts from the books “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe and “All Boys Aren’t Blue” by George M. Johnson, which both contain sexually explicit scenes. Johnson’s book includes a scene where the narrator graphically described having gay sex, and Kobabe’s book includes a character promising to give another “the best blow job of [their] life.”
“What are you asking us to do? Are you suggesting that only librarians should decide whether the two books that I just referenced should be available to kids? Is that what you’re saying?” Kennedy asked.
“No,” Giannoulias replied.
“Okay, tell me what you’re saying,” Kennedy said.
Giannoulias said he is not advocating for children to read pornographic content, but is advocating for “random parents” not to have the ability to “challenge the worldview” on LGBTQ issues.
“You’re getting conceptual with me,” Kennedy pushed back.
“I’m not getting conceptual,” Giannoulias said.
“Yes you are, yes you are, because I want to know what you’re recommending. It sounds to me like what some of you are saying is the librarians should decide who gets to see that book,” Kennedy said. (RELATED: NBC News Dragged For Hiding Sexually Explicit Details In Book Taught To Middle Schoolers)
“I’m saying when individual parents are allowed to make a decision of where that line is and ‘To Kill A Mockingbird,’ which involves a rape scene, should that be pulled from our libraries? I think it becomes a slippery slope,” the Illinois Secretary of State said.
“I think you ought to think about it a little bit more before you come here—” Kennedy said.
“I’ve thought about it, senator,” Giannoulias interrupted.
“If you’re going to propose something, you ought to be able in 30 seconds to explain what you’re asking us to do,” the senator said.
Kennedy then asked left-wing activist Cameron Samuels if only librarians should decide if children read those books in their schools libraries. Samuels claimed the excerpt in “All Boys Aren’t Blue” is “not erotic” since it is about sexual abuse and kids who do not read it cannot learn about this abuse.
“You come here and you say censorship is bad, and of course it’s bad. But the obvious response is, okay, you heard the books we’re talking about. Okay, we’re not talking about ‘Cather In The Rye,’ so tell me who gets to decide and all I’ve heard is the librarians, and parents have nothing to do with it,” Kennedy said. “And if that’s your response, what planet did you just parachute in from? Or what country, more appropriately? This is not China.”
“Parents, senator, with all due respect, parents absolutely have a say. My parents were immigrants, came to this country, we never checked out books without our parents seeing what books we were reading. They encouraged us to read books,” Giannoulias continued.
“Mr. Secretary, I understand this is good for your politics back home,” Kennedy said, leading Giannoulias to say it has nothing to do with politics. “But, of course it does, it has everything to do your politics! But you came here with a problem, and I’m trying to understand the solution and you don’t have one other than to tell us that if we don’t agree with you, we’ll be on the wrong side of history.”
Giannoulias said they solved the conflict over pornographic books for children in Illinois by banning “book bans.” Democratic Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a bill prohibiting “book bans” while standing in front of a display of books including “Gender Queer” and “This Book Is Gay,” which is seen as a “how to” guide for the LGBTQ community that gives tips on hand jobs and anal sex.