While testifying in support of banning "obscene" books from public schools in Tennessee, country music star John Rich declared that public school teachers and librarians are as bad, if not worse, than pedophiles.
This past January, the McMinn County Board of Education voted to ban Maus,a Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel which chronicles author Art Spiegelman's parents' experience surviving the Holocaust, from the eighth grade curriculum.
The board's decision to ban Maus was reportedly owing to concerns regarding "graphic language" and images of nudity.
The bill would prohibit public and charter schools in the state of Tennessee from having "obscene materials or materials harmful to minors" available in public school classrooms and libraries.
Speaking in support of the bill in Nashville this past Wednesday, Rich, half of the country duo Big & Rich, made a shocking declaration regarding public school teachers and librarians who were against the bill.
The Tennessee Holler shared a video of Rich's testimony on their Twitter page.
Y\u2019all \u2014- Today at the TN legislature, testifying for @CepickyTn64\u2019s pro-censorship bill, singer @johnrich accused schools/librarians of \u201cgrooming\u201d kids because there some library books may discuss sexual content. \n\n(Reminder: His big hit was \u201cSave a Horse, Ride A Cowboy\u201d )pic.twitter.com/KTVIiLoCxm— The Tennessee Holler (@The Tennessee Holler) 1645666769
"What’s the difference between a teacher, educator or librarian putting one of these books like you have on the desk of a student, or a guy in a white van pulling up at the edge of school when school lets out and saying, ‘come on around kids, let me read you this book and show you these pictures?'"
"What’s the difference in those two scenarios?"
"There is a difference, by the way: They can run away from the guy in the white van."
The right-wing country singer had more to say on Twitter, claiming he went "toe to toe with adversaries", and that he and other supporters of this bill were "the firewall between tyranny and freedom."
Testifying at the Tennessee House of Reps legislative committee today was quite a deal. Some supported, some dissented, but Going toe to toe with adversaries is necessary in these times. We must bring the fight to them. We The People are the firewall between tyranny and freedompic.twitter.com/9ixUHtfENf— John Rich (@John Rich) 1645675914
Rich went on to say that The Tennessee Holler sharing his testimony in an attempt to embarrass him only lit an even bigger fire in his belly, while also daring them to testify.
The fact that @TheTNHoller hates what I\u2019m doing puts a grin on my face:) I\u2019ll sleep well knowing they despise what I\u2019m doing. Here\u2019s a thought\u2026THEY should bring their voice to the chamber and try to move the needle. I dare em:)— John Rich (@John Rich) 1645678093
While Rich's proclamation was met with a certain amount of support from his fanbase, many other Twitter users were less than convinced.
Several were quick to condemn Rich for his ignorant comparison, while also calling out the general hypocrisy of book-banning.
If you\u2019d read many books you\u2019d realize that historically speaking the guys pushing to ban books aren\u2019t usually the good guys. And equating librarians and teachers to pedophiles in white vans was ignorant and classless, but I guess that\u2019s your fan base. Both your fans.— Shawn (@Shawn) 1645763948
I've asked you this question before, but you did not answer. Which books are pornographic or obscene? Name one or more. Because you're accusing teachers and librarians of "grooming" kids, you should be able to back up your accusation with facts.— Robin Littlefield (@Robin Littlefield) 1645703604
This reminds me of an episode of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. The preacher wants to ban books from the library in town. They end up burning most of them, including the Bible by accident. People pick and choose what they deem to be obscene.— wehaveafuture (@wehaveafuture) 1645798915
Please congratulate today's Idiot of Day Award winner, @johnrich. Please contact us to claim your prize! HuffPost: Country Star Compares Teachers To Pedophiles In Speech Backing Tennessee Book Ban.https://www.huffpost.com/entry/john-rich-ban-books-tennessee_n_6217b30de4b03d0c80353b7f?ncid=NEWSSTAND0001\u00a0\u2026— ElderJediMaster (@ElderJediMaster) 1645792183
Others questioned if Rich was any kind of authority as to what could be defined as "obscene", considering one of his best known songs encourages women to "Save A Horse, (Ride a Cowboy)."
@johnrich\nBan those dirty books! But listen to my music!\n\n "Save Horse Ride a Cowboy"\nA lot of barely dressed women on it for ya, with provocative dancing, you know!\n\nI'mhttps://www.yahoo.com/news/country-star-compares-teachers-pedophiles-182054576.html— Mike (@Mike) 1645762521
Nevermind @johnrich. He can write sexually explicit lyrics that we don't have a choice of young people to listen to but we should ban books because an uneducated country singer supports it.— Mark Burdsall (@Mark Burdsall) 1645734649
@johnrich how would you feel if people censored your music? It seems censorship of anything is a dangerous road.— Tom Rhodes (@Tom Rhodes) 1645667128
Country Star Compares Teachers To Pedophiles In Speech Backing Tennessee Book Ban https://news.yahoo.com/country-star-compares-teachers-pedophiles-182054576.html?soc_src=community&soc_trk=tw\u00a0\u2026 via @Yahoo John rich is completely nuts. Save a horse ride a cowboy but librarians like pedophiles? Wtf? #boycottbigandrichmusic— NCdemocrat (@NCdemocrat) 1645732731
Let me get this right. You are comparing librarians to child predators in white vans? This from the dude who wrote \u201csave a horse, ride a cowboy.\u201d— Donna Patton Hinrichs (@Donna Patton Hinrichs) 1645713845
Owing to time constraints, a vote on the bill won't take place until next week.
Perhaps the most notable feature of HB1944 is that nowhere in the bill does it define what sort of material is considered to be "obscene".