Earlier this month, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed a bill that would have required teachers to warn parents if they were planning on teaching any books including “sexually explicit content” and then allow parents to opt out of lessons that they found too explicit. The bill stemmed from a campaign waged by one mother against the Pulitzer Prize winning Toni Morrison novel “Beloved,” which also figured heavily in the legislative debate over the bill.
A few weeks ago, Gawker published a remarkable email exchange between one English teacher who opposed the bill and Republican state Sen. Dick Black, who accused her of defending “moral sewage.”
What Gawker did not mention is that Black also happens to be the Virginia co-chair of Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign.
In one email, he wrote to the teacher:
I was surprised by your personal advocacy of the book “Beloved.” That book is so vile – – so profoundly filthy – – that when a Senator rose on the Senate Floor and began reading a single passage, several other Senators leapt to their feet to interrupt the reading. Susan Schaar, the Senate Clerk, quickly had embarrassed Senate Officials rush the teenage Senate Pages from the Senate Floor in order to protect them from exposure to this moral sewage.
After she noted that Morrison’s novel reflects the “atrocious and vile” reality of slavery in the U.S., Black responded:
I want teachers who won’t teach such vile things to our students. Slavery was a terrible stain on this nation but to teach it does not mean you have to expose children to smut. The idea that you would oppose allowing parents the opportunity to be better informed about what their child is reading is appalling and arrogant. You do not know better than the parents.