Viewpoint: Referendum needed on Montana’s ‘obscenity’ bill
Before HB234 was passed during this session of Montana's Legislature, the obscenity law addressed only businesses that display and sell obscene material. This law did not cover any materials found in school classrooms or libraries.
But all that changed. Now profit-making businesses can still display and sell obscene material as long as minors do not see it.
But HB234 flipped-flopped something more important. Now Montana’s nearly 400 School Boards must adopt a policy covering what materials their teachers or librarians may display or offer to students.
In creating this policy, school boards must consider the views of citizens who likely don't agree on the definition of obscenity. And, some of these citizens might not have children in the schools.
State law doesn’t list the obscene books or displays that must be banned from schools. So, every School Board will try to appease their vocal citizens who themselves cannot agree on what is obscene.
Each Board will need the wisdom of King Solomon to find solutions. But consider an unanticipated problem--teachers and librarians don’t have to endure this strife. They can take their skills elsewhere. That would mean a quality education will become more elusive wherever community strife abounds.
The Legislature has created needless chaos. But, if voters use a Referendum to vote down HB234, Montana law will protect minors from obscenity and School Board meetings will avoid becoming an obscene battleground.