Can a bill to protect become a bill to persecute? Some teachers in Kansas worry a new Senate bill might do just that. The bill, aiming to prevent display of “harmful material” (read, “sexual”) to minors, made it through the state Senate this week. If it becomes law, individuals who knowingly present or distribute such material to a minor could face charges of a class B misdemeanor, a fine, or jail time.
Of course, guarding innocent eyes and minds is a desirable aim. The bill’s supporters claim it will protect kids from topics or images that could be inappropriate or pornographic.
But what makes material “inappropriate or pornographic?” Because the dust-up started over a middle school poster, some teachers worry about what will be labeled harmful. Novels like “The Great Gatsby?” Michelangelo’s sculpture “David?” Anatomy slides or videos?
Common sense tells us these are educational vs. pornographic, but the bill clearly defines nudity to mean any state of nudity; it doesn’t differentiate between what’s at The Met and what’s behind the gas station counter. Additionally, it includes almost every format possibly imaginable: book, magazine, newspaper, pamphlet, poster, print, picture, figure, image, description, motion picture film, record, recording tape or video tape. That covers virtually every teaching material passed out in classrooms across the country every day.
Teachers insist the bill’s parameters are too obtuse. The avenues to criminal charges are often obvious, but the vagaries presented in this scenario could expose well-meaning advocates for children to criminal liability.If they have to hesitate before passing out novels, swallow their anxiety before showing a film, or dread current events when the kids start clipping the newspaper…what will the state’s protection cost the very children it seeks to shield?
Jeff Krigel is an attorney in Tulsa who focuses his practice on criminal defense. The Jeff Krigel Law firm is a full-service Oklahoma law firm dedicated to achieving your legal goals in a competent, trusting, and result oriented manner. The firm is based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and handles criminal defense, as well as other legal matters in all Oklahoma Counties. If you have been accused of a crime, it is important to seek the help of a qualified attorney. We offer free consultations and have payment plans available. There is no reason not speak with someone regarding your case. If you have questions regarding any criminal matter, call for a free consultation. 918-994-2340