The National Coalition Against Censorship has sent a letter to Texas State Representative Jared Patterson calling out his attempt to censor books by intimidating and misleading every school district in his state.

On March 2, Rep. Patterson and 21 other members of the Texas House of Representatives wrote a letter asking the superintendents of every school district in the state to sign a pledge that they will not “partner with, purchase from or associate with in any way” a vendor who has supplied “pornographic” material or “child pornography” to public schools. The pledge also commits the signer “to root out and remove explicit and obscene books” from school libraries.

The signers of Rep. Patterson’s letter know that it will not help a single child, even if every school district adopts the pledge. It appears that the point of the letter is simply to intimidate school officials, bully librarians and attempt to score political points by feeding a cultural hysteria that has led some extremists to call teachers, librarians and other educational professionals “pedophiles”.

As Rep. Patterson well knows, no school district in Texas has ever purchased obscenity or child pornography. As a member of the Texas legislature, Rep. Patterson is aware that “obscenity” and “child pornography” are legal terms, with very specific definitions. A book is not legally obscene unless it meets the three-part test established by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Texas obscenity statute provides that nothing is obscene unless: 1) that the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find it appeals to the prurient interest in sex; 2) that it depicts or describes specified sexual acts, and 3) “taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, and scientific value.” The Texas child pornography statute is even narrower and the Supreme Court has declared that only depictions of actual children being sexually abused can be punished.

Rep. Patterson and his co-signers are not protecting students from obscene and explicit content. They are censoring books and denying students the well-rounded education that is essential to preserving a healthy democracy.

NCAC is joined in signing by the American Society of Journalists and Authors, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Defending Rights and Dissent, and the Woodhull Freedom Foundation.

See the full letter below. Click here for a full screen view: