The book banning brigades, astro-turfed by big GOP donors and organized by activist groups with folksy names that are headed by Koch-funded right-wing think tanks, have stretched out across the country attacking schools and libraries. The hope is to whitewash literature in the hopes of immunizing generations of young conservatives from questioning the problems that conservative parents and elected officials refuse to try and solve. There’s also the general political ideology of implementing a conservative Christian theocracy into power in our country.
In Tennessee, a group of concerned folks including former Saturday Night Live cast member Victoria Jackson spoke at a hearing in support of HB 1944, a bill that would ban “obscene material” that “is harmful to minors” from “public school premises.” The bill’s architects are trying to attack school libraries. The fact that there are already so-called “obscenity” laws that regulate public libraries from offering up pornographic magazines and such seems not to matter to these folks, because what they really want is to redefine the word “obscenity” to mean anything they would rather pretend didn’t exist, or wish their powerless God could actually eradicate—like the LGBTQ+ community and Black folks.
As Sharon Edwards, president of the Tennessee Library Association, attempted to explain to the subcommittee during the hearing, "If the intent behind HB 1944 is to keep obscenity out of the hands of minors, then our current Tennessee code and the sound professional judgment of our school libraries and school boards are already doing this.” The testimony supporting the bill is bananas cocoa puffs ridiculous and the fact that the lawmakers listening to this tripe voted 7-3 in favor of advancing the bill out of a House subcommittee is a sad statement about that subcommittee.
Victoria Jackson’s post-SNL career has consisted of saying a lot of unintelligent things concerning politics. She’s been an outspoken advocate for bad conservative talking points. She’s also repeatedly called people like Hillary Clinton a “socialist” and said President Barack Obama “wants to be [Fidel] Castro.” So, you can probably guess at the tone of some of the quotes you are about to read.
First up are some bullet point statements that Jackson made:
- “We are in a spiritual battle, Ephesians 6:12, ‘We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against powers principalities, spiritual wickedness in high places.’”
Did you get that? The closest translation I can get to what Jackson decided to paraphrase in the Bible she clearly believes is inerrant is from the old King James Version, which goes a little something like: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” You know, if you really believe this is the inerrant word of God, publicly botching it is akin to blasphemy, but maybe this is Victoria Jackson’s exegesis? I won’t mention that there’s a good chance that Paul didn’t actually write Ephesians at all. But what to do?
- “The Communist Party USA, their goals are happening.”
That was her second stated reason, after the biblical “spiritual battle” situation. You can read about CPUSA’s plan here. I mean, so far, they haven’t been nearly as successful as they might want to be. She could also take a look over here at the votes the Communist Party in the U.S. got at the height of its popularity in our country—back when it wasn’t even allowed on the ballot in many states.
- “People are stealing the innocence of children. My innocence was never stolen, that’s why I am the way I am.”
Let’s agree to disagree.
Then came more political operatives. “Concerned parent,” Robby Starbuck and his wife wanted everyone to know that while their kids are not in Tennessee public schools, they would like to decide how everybody else’s children should learn about Christianity. Oh, almost forgot to mention, this parent is running in the GOP primary in Tennessee’s 5th District. "Thank God that we did pull our kids out of school, because I know our oldest child who's 13 now, her peers in public school have been exposed to this material. It's had developmental harm, emotional harm done to them.”
You might remember Starbuck as the guy that monumental pathological liar and North Carolina Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn brought onto the House floor, violating House rules “without a doubt.” Starbuck’s wife also spoke and claimed that the plan with these mysterious pornographic books is to lower the age of consent for pedophilia. Just so you know I’m not being hyperbolic, her exact quote is: “And the real agenda is to lower the age of consent and promote pedophilia.”
Another Republican candidate for a school board seat, Mark Woodward, explained how powerful pornography was: "Pornography, it causes powerful chemicals to be released in the brain. It's a substance that can be very addictive. Would we leave heroin needles or meth out in schools?" As The Tennessean pointed out, all of this scintillating talk about the boatloads of pornography on school library shelves did not come with a single example of such pornography—not a single example.
But what was interesting to watch was the same Republican, Mark Woodward, almost lose his senses to hysterical laughter after another person made the monotone joke: “How many adults have mastered critical thinking while horny?” Woodward, as you will see below, barely contained himself.
Here are some of Jackson’s remarks, filled with the vapid and clunky stage performance that was her signature on the late-night sketch comedy show.
Here is a supercut with commentary from The Tennessee Holler.