“Stop sexualizing the children!” Shouts anti-woke Republican representative of Florida, Cory Mills, as he attempted to amend title 18 of the United States Code. In this latest episode of Florida Gone Wild: we see publishers–both large and small–being faced with criminal charges, jail time, and monetary fines for distributing sexually explicit content to schools or educational agencies. At its core, this is a good idea. However, I’m going to explain why we shouldn’t take things at face value. But first, let’s learn about Mills’s proposed amendment to title 18.
Title 18 of the United States Code
You might be thinking, “what the hell is Title 18?” This is the main criminal code of the federal government of the United States of America. You might also know it by the Penal Code, Criminal Code, or Crimes Code. It’s broken up into five parts: Part I–Crimes, Part II–Criminal Procedure, Part III–Prison and Prisoners, Part IV–Correction of Youthful Offenders, and Part V–Immunity of Witnesses.
H.R. 863: End the Sexualization of Children in Schools
There isn’t a full text of H.R. 863 available in the House’s online database as of yet. However, the legislation is attempting to “amend title 18, United States Code, to prohibit a publishing house from knowingly furnishing sexually explicit material to a school or educational agency.”
Earlier this month, Mills released the following statement about his introduction of H.R. 863.
The battlefield for the future of our society is being fought within the classrooms of American schools. This bill targets the Left’s efforts to sexualize children in schools across the U.S. From school board meetings to new representation in local, state, and federal levels, Americans are waking up to the grim reality of woke indoctrination guised as a normal education. No more.Rep. Cory Mills Press Release
In an interview with The Hill, Mills answered
all most of the burning questions that I amassed while reading through the article.
The Dirty Details of H.R. 863
Mills is going the distance to ensure that children are protected from “the Left’s efforts.” The legislation states that any school or educational agency that violates the law will have their Federal funding stripped. Publishing houses that break H.R. 863 are subject to a “maximum $500,000 fine, while individuals in the company’s higher management would face similar monetary penalties.” Higher management could also be subject to up to five years of imprisonment, on top of the fines they would incur.
As of late, the term “material” has been used in a very broad context, thankfully though, Mills’s bill was quick to specify what types of materials would cause schools and education agencies to lose their Federal funding. This is included by not limited to photographs, drawings, books, magazines, newspapers, or e-books.
Public Reception of the Bill
Twitter was quick to react to Mills’s bill–and the reactions are both positive and negative. Those who are firmly against the bill are asking if H.R. 863 would remove the Holy Bible from schools. Supporters are commending Mills for taking a “necessary” step toward a better America. There’s also a third group of people who are questioning why publishers are in the equation at all.
In case you were wondering, the Bible is a protected text under H.R. 863: “Restrictions do not apply to materials with ‘serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value,’ according to the bill.”
Nadine Farid Johnson–managing director of PEN America Washington and free expression programs–told The Hill that there are already systems in place for determining the appropriate materials for use in schools. She then mentioned that there are even “constitutional parameters” that exist for determining what materials are not protected by the First Amendment.”
Of course, a common theme that we’re seeing in response to the bill is a flood of comments and retweets talking about the negativity of censorship, along with comments that discuss the eradication of LGBTQ+ and POC storylines and history from schools.
A spokesperson of Rep. Cory Mills had this to say:
Preventing pornographic materials from being taught in classrooms is completely distinct from naming freedom of expression or conversations being had across our society about gender and sexuality. In our view, any interpretation of this bill as an ‘assault’ on LGBT+ individuals is reading through biased lenses and are disconnected from reality.Spokesperson of Rep. Cory Mills, The Hill
A Personal Take on the Matter at Hand
Trigger Warning: my political opinion
As much as I try to stay as unbiased as possible when covering topics like book banning, censorship, or POC/LGBTQ+ erasure–it does get difficult. I am tested constantly when actions like this are taken by people in a position of power. I pride myself on being able to see both sides to as many decisions as I can, which is why I can deliver the content that I do with as much ease as I have. However, we’re getting to the point where my patience is running thin.
The efforts that Rep. Cory Mills is taking to ensure that children aren’t sexualized in schools is–at its most basic core–a good idea. The issues that arise happen when agendas are taken into consideration and are able to manipulate the words that people say.
Framing these efforts as fighting a battle for society is a flagrant misrepresentation. You are not going to war. Sexualizing children is bad, no one is arguing that. But, the way that you’re defining ‘sexualizing children’ doesn’t match what you’re saying people are doing. Kids are already fighting a battle for their lives because of much bigger things (i.e. mass shootings, drug abuse, sexual abuse, etc.). The issues that you’re raising are valid and I think they have genuine merit and deserve a place at the table, but they aren’t affecting you the way that you portray they are.
I do think that parents should have a say in what content their children consume. Do I think that the government should be the one enforcing that? No (and I thought that this was a core ideology of the Republican party–small government anyone?). There isn’t a singular guidebook on parenting that works for every single child in the world–that’s just not how it works. Everything in this argument is entirely subjective to each individual family and each individual child.
And yes, this includes the subjectivity of the Holy Bible or whatever text that you abide by. I do believe that there are parts of the Bible that don’t belong in schools, but you aren’t going to see the Bible being removed from schools. The same as you won’t see the Quran distributed in schools. The argument goes both ways. You have to approach things from all sides of the deck.
However, I can promise you–hand over my heart, swearing to whatever higher being you’d like me to–that “the Left” is not attempting to sexualize your children–at least not in the sense that you think they are. Kids seeing gay couples represented in popular media is not going to turn your child gay. Just the same as kids seeing heterosexual couples represented in popular media is not going to turn your child straight. Teaching sexual education should be required, but that’s a discussion for a different day.
I’m glad that there is a (sort of) contingency clause in H.R. 863 because there are some things that need to stay in school without the interference of political agendas.
I do think that Mills going after the publishers is an interesting choice. My thought process is this, if you go after the publishers for distributing to schools who could potentially distribute to kids then you are able to eliminate the issue at the start. I think that is what Cory Mills believes. An issue that I’m running into is that these are multimillion-, multibillion-dollar conglomerates and almost monopolies that you’re going after…what makes you think that they’ll stop?
The schools are a different matter. Threatening to eliminate Federal funding because you didn’t like what Johnny learned about in a fifth-grade unit? The only people that you’re hurting by removing Federal funding are the kids that you’re claiming to be protecting. Protecting the children is only effective when you truly keep the children’s best interests in mind. And many of you may say, “Well, in the long run, they are keeping the kids in mind because they’re wanting to keep them away from inappropriate content.” To which I ask, do you let them have a phone with Internet access? Do you allow them to watch movies with a rating over PG? Do you black out certain passages of their scripture because they’re too sexual? Or because they depict scenes of rape and incest? Think about that for a second.
We live in a time where everyone is able to access any type of information they want to with a touch of a button. This is the golden age of technology, making this the most educated time to have ever existed to date. It’s important to remove yourself from your opinion so that you’re able to make the most informed decision that you can.
Once you gather all the facts about a certain topic–from sources that support your ideas and those that don’t–you’re able to account for your morals and personal beliefs. It’s the only way things are going to be truly protecting future generations.
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