Senate President Jake Chapman kicked off the new 2022 legislative session with a series of attacks and accusations against teachers and the media, accusing them of a “sinister agenda” that they’re pushing upon Iowa school children.
“The time has come to take a stand,” Chapman began his opening speech this morning. “It has become increasingly evident that we live in a world in which many, including our media, wish to confuse, misguide and deceive us, calling good evil and evil good. One doesn’t have to look far to see the sinister agenda occurring right before our eyes.”
What came next was a follow-through on the threats he’d been making at various suburban Des Moines school districts in recent months, vowing to start imprisoning teachers over books available in schools that Chapman views as “obscene.” It’s been part of a long-running, far-right online effort to ban a number of books that describe experiences of LGBTQ people and persons of color because the books have a few sexually explicit passages in them.
“The attack on our children is no longer hidden,” Chapman continued. “Those who wish to normalize sexually deviant behavior against our children, including pedophilia and incest, are pushing this movement more than ever before. Our children should be safe and free from this atrocious assault.”
What Chapman is likely referencing on incest is from the book All Boys Aren’t Blue, where the author describes being sexually assaulted by their cousin when both were underage. The author very clearly labels it as abuse and explains working through the trauma. Chapman and others have often only focused on the passage describing the sexual encounter, and framed it as promoting incest as opposed to what the book does, which is literally the opposite.
His claim on pedophilia simply isn’t accurate if he’s referring to the group of books being challenged recently.
“Instead, we have some teachers who are disguising sexually obscene material as desired subject matter and profess it as artistic and literary valuable,” Chapman said. “The literature being pushed on our students should disturb all of us. And if you aren’t disturbed, I can only hope it is because you have not actually heard or seen the content.”
Chapman has previously stated at various school board meetings that his solution is to prosecute and imprison educators who disseminated the material in some manner. He again referred to the books in this speech as “criminal content.” Added in these comments were a plan to provide parents with funds to send their children to a private school, echoing previous Republican plans.
There are many legal issues Chapman will likely run into if he attempts to make certain materials illegal.
And he made clear that this would be his main push as one of the top leaders in the Republican-controlled Senate this year.
“Nobody, regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or occupation has the right to expose children to obscene material,” Chapman said. “It is for that reason that this body should use this session to address this very issue.”
Chapman closed out his speech with relatively routine remarks from a Republican leader on abortion, the economy, freedom and tax cuts.
by Pat Rynard