Ben Johnson

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Dad arrested while protesting sexually graphic book assigned to 14-year-old daughter (video)

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GILFORD, NH, May 6, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The father of a Gilford High School student was arrested at a school board meeting on Monday night after objecting that the school had assigned his 14-year-old daughter to read a pornographic book without his knowledge or consent.

William Baer, an attorney who moved to New Hampshire from New Jersey, registered his complaint about the book Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult, which includes a graphic depiction of sex between two teenagers, at the local school board meeting.

He asked the school board to read the offending passage, but members refused.

He also wanted to ask members why the school's ninth grade English teacher had the class read the material without sending out notice – a policy the school had followed in previous years – but board members turned away questions. Instead, they said the question violated protocol and told Baer that his two minute time allotment had expired.

Another parent, Joe Wernig, said he supported the reading of the 2007 book, warning that if the school board bends, ''these people will be dictating what we can and cannot read.''

“That's absurd,” Baer replied from his seat. “Nobody's talking about censoring the book. Nobody's talking about banning the book or burning the book, or anything.”

The school board then warned him to be “respectful.”

“Like you're respectful of my daughter?” he retorted.

At that point, local police Lt. James Leach approached Baer and told him to be silent or face arrest.

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

Lt. Leach then grasped Baer's forearm, walked him outside, and handcuffed his hands behind his back, charging him with disorderly conduct.

“This is a civics lesson,” Baer said as he was led away.

"I feel that I'm in the process of being violated by the state of New Hampshire's education system,” Baer said after the arrest. “It was extremely frustrating that I couldn't make any comments with anybody.” He accused the board of effectively telling him to “sit down and shut up.”

“That's not how you interact with adults,” he added.

Baer asked local newspapers to print the passage in question, which he says a family friend discovered by opening the book at random, so parents could make up their minds about its propriety.

But both the Laconia Daily Sun and the Manchester Union-Leader declined, saying it was unfit to print due to its graphic content.

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School Board Chairman Sue Allen offered an apology on behalf of the board, not to Baer, but "for the discomfort of those impacted and for the failure of the School District to send home prior notice of assignment of the novel.”

She said from now on the district will send out "notification that requires parents to accept controversial material [or] opt out,” before their children read the material.

Baer says that's all he wanted, but he still got arrested for asking for it.

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