Father arrested for protesting graphic sex in student reading assignment

William Baer was arrested for speaking out against an explicit reading assignment. (Source: WMUR)
William Baer was arrested for speaking out against an explicit reading assignment.  (Source: WMUR)
William Baer was arrested for speaking out against an explicit reading assignment. (Source: WMUR)

GILFORD, NH — A proactive parent was taken to jail after he voiced his concerns at a school board meeting regarding a reading assignment that contained graphic descriptions of sex.   When the upset father spoke too long, violating the strict “two-minute rule,” he was placed in handcuffs and marched out of the meeting.

Several parents had voiced their concerns at the May 5th meeting because they felt that they should have been notified before were assigned assigned a novel containing mature content.

“I am utterly appalled that this book was in my son’s hands,” said parent Sarah Carrigan.

The novel assigned to students was Jodi Picoult’s “Nineteen Minutes.”  The story encompasses a fictional town’s struggles with dealing with a school shooting.  While generally receiving positive reviews from critics, some parents have raised eyebrows at the inclusion of a particular sex scene, which describes penetration and ejaculation.

“I’ve never read anything like this,” said William Baer. “It’s like the transcript for a triple-X-rated movie.”

Mr. Baer adamantly objected to the fact that he wasn’t informed of the assignment.  He made it clear that he wasn’t interested in banning the book, but he preferred that it not be a required reading assignment for his 14-year-old daughter.

Evidently the school board only grants 2 minutes for any parent to speak.  After those 120 seconds are up, that individual’s role in the discussion is over. “Sit down and shut up, basically,” Baer later described.

Some parents defended the book.  Mr. Baer had already spoken for 2 minutes but could not contain his frustration when another parent misrepresented his views and suggested that Baer opposed freedom of speech.

“That’s absurd,” Baer said in the meeting, out of turn. “Nobody’s talking about censoring the book.  Nobody’s talking about banning the book or burning the book or anything.”

Mr. Baer was chastised by a school board member and a police officer approached him.

“You are going to arrest me because I violated the two-minute rule?” Baer asked.  “I guess you are going to have to arrest me.”

The officer readily obliged, and grabbed his arm to place it into handcuffs.  Baer was led out of the room by police.

The parent who had just moments earlier claimed to oppose censorship said nothing as Mr. Baer was arrested.

Baer was charged with disorderly conduct and could be fined as much as $1,200.00 for speaking longer than 2 minutes.

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