A New Hampshire man who refused to stop objecting to a book about bullying read by his daughter’s high school English class was charged with disorderly conduct.
“Nineteen Minutes,” by New Hampshire author Jodi Picoult, has been part of the Gilford High School curriculum since 2007. The book also deals with a school shooting.
William Baer complained that parents should have been notified the book was being read because it contains a sexually explicit passage. At a recent school board meeting, Baer was given two minutes to speak, the same amount of time allotted to others. He protested the limit and challenged the board to arrest him. A police officer led him away. “I’ve never read anything like this,” Baer said at the meeting. “It’s like the transcript for a triple-X-rated movie.”
Baer said the board violated his First Amendment guarantee of free speech but the board maintains it imposed the two-minute rule to give everyone a chance to speak. He was escorted out after he began arguing with a parent who did not object to the book being read in class.
Following the meeting, the school board issued a statement saying, “The board apologizes for the discomfort of those impacted and for the failure of the school district to send home prior notice of assignment of the novel.”