October 24, 2007

Suggestion as Distribution

by PG

Here's an investigation that the prosecutor would be very stupid to charge:

TUSCOLA, Texas (AP) -- A popular English teacher has been placed on paid leave -- and faces possible criminal charges -- after a student's parents complained to police that a ninth-grade class reading list contained a book about a murderer who has sex with his victims' bodies.
Kaleb Tierce, 25, is being investigated for allegedly distributing harmful material to a minor after the student selected Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Cormac McCarthy's ''Child of God'' off the list and read it.
Tierce's action fails to meet the elements required for the offense under Texas law (McCarthy's novels could only appeal to a minor's prurient interest in sex, nudity or excretion inasmuch as trying to get through them might occasion the minor to think "sex, nudity, excretion, anything's gotta be better than this"; Tierce has an education defense provided by the statute). The aspect of the possible criminal charge that befuddles me the most is the equation of suggestion = distribution. I could see how Tierce might get in trouble if he was handing out copies of books about necrophilia, perhaps, but merely suggesting that students read the book cannot be the same thing. If it were, the Radcliffe Publishing Course should be in trouble for every minor who picks up Lady Chatterley's Lover based on its list.

October 24, 2007 01:01 AM | TrackBack
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