A New Hampshire dad was arrested after speaking his mind over a book that is part of the curriculum for his daughter’s high school English class. “Nineteen Minutes” by New Hampshire author Jodi Picoult is the book this Gilford father protests, claiming it contains a passage that reads like a “transcript for a triple-X-rated movie, according to Newsmax on May 7.
The protest took place at the school board meeting when the dad, William Baer, complained about the book and the lack of parent notification that the book was part of the kids’ school work. Like all the other parents that come to these meetings, he was given two-minutes to state his case, which he protested.
MSN News reports that Baer cited the First Amendment and his right to free speech and protested being told he had to stop speaking after the two minutes allotted. While protesting the time limit he challenged the board to have him arrested and that is just what they did. A police officer led him out of the room in handcuffs. Baer was arrested for “disorderly conduct.”
The school board did not have him arrested for protesting the “racy” novel, but for refusing to step down from the podium when his two minutes were up. There is no information available on how many other parents, if any, in the past were arrested for disorderly conduct when going over the two-minute time limit.
After Baer had protested the book, a parent in the crowd disagreed with him and began arguing with Baer how they didn’t object to the book being read for the class. This book has been part of this Gilford High School’s English class curriculum since 2007. It also deals with a school shooting.
Baer said the meeting functions in this order; “you make a statement, say what you want and sit down.” After the meeting he told the media what he had just experienced:
“Sit down and shut up,” basically, and that’s how you interact with adults.”
Baer will fight the arrest, but he could face up to a $1,200 fine if convicted. The school board then saw the opportunity to issue a statement of apology:
"The board apologizes for the discomfort of those impacted and for the failure of the school district to send home prior notice of assignment of the novel."
It is not known why “Nineteen Minutes,” which was published in 2006, continues to be part of the curriculum of the English class. On the author’s website, the book’s short synopsis explains how a 17-year-old kid endures years of bullying and retaliates with an “act of violence” that forever changes the landscape of the small New Hampshire town of Sterling.
The author’s website also has a section for educators interested in using this book as part of their school curriculum. The book doesn’t just tell the story of a violent act, but how it effects people who were there and even the people who weren’t. One being the judge who is about to oversee the trial of the teen perpetrator.
The book covers the effects of this violence from the possibility of kids covering things up to parents searching through the deep archives of their soul to see where they went wrong. It sounds as if it takes the horrific event of violence and analyzes it through a story of how it originates and how changes lives forever. While this might not be such a bad lesson to teach, it's the sexual content in the book that this parent is protesting, not the lesson.