Redefining Pornography

The Heritage Foundation is joining with Moms for Liberty to wage war on the LGBTQ+ community and attack the First Amendment rights of all American students

Redefining Pornography

One look at Ron DeSantis's sinking poll numbers will tell you that book banning—a centerpiece of his insipid campaign—is a losing issue.

The majority of Americans oppose censorship.

Importantly, Americans also oppose the idea that one parent—least of all an angry, semi-coherent member of Moms for Liberty—should be allowed make a decision that censors the reading choices of another parent's child, let alone the availability of books at an entire school or school district.

But that's not stopping the vicious political operatives at Moms for Liberty in their war on Black history and the LGBTQ+ community.

This supposedly "grassroots" organization—best known for its Hitler-quoting, Proud-Boys-loving ways—has a major ally in their campaign of hate, bigotry and lies.

Underscoring the reality that M4L is actually part of a much larger, more nefarious network of right-wing forces, they are joined-at-the-hip with the Heritage Foundation, one of the main sponsors of their recent "domestic terrorism" convention in Philadelphia.

Nominally a "think-tank," the Heritage Foundation is to "thinking" what Clarence Thomas is to "jurisprudence"—a sponge that absorbs limitless amounts of dark money and lives only to further the increasingly-fascist, anti-democratic agenda of right-wing billionaires.

The book-banners' problem: No actual pornography

The "thinkers" at Heritage have spent the past several months trying to figure out how to best help the "moms" known as Klanned Karenhood advance their rabid, anti-LGBTQ+ agenda.

But these "thinkers" had a real problem.

Mom for Liberty and Ron DeSantis were claiming in the media that book banning was a "hoax" and that all they were doing was removing "pornography."

Unfortunately for DeSantis and the Karens, these claims were exposed as total B.S. and have been widely ridiculed.


Because the books that they were calling "pornography" included works such as Jodi Picoult's novel "The Storyteller" about the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor.

Also deemed "pornography": An illustrated edition of "Anne Frank's Diary" authorized by the Anne Frank Foundation and co-written by a child of Holocaust survivors.

Other "porn" these anti-LGBTQ+ crusaders banned included "And Tango Makes Three," a picture book telling the true story of two males in Central Park Zoo who raised a baby penguin together. And also the picture book "Everywhere Babies" for the apparent crime of showing two women caring for a baby at the same time.

Of course, some books in schools have content about sex.

Most sensible people would agree that books are a great way for kids to learn about sexual matters and their changing bodies at a pace that's right for them.

Some educators might even argue that, in age when 10-year-old rape victims are being forced to give birth, that teaching tweens and teens about the birds and the bees (and the penguins and the seahorses) is more important than ever.

Moms for Liberty members routinely read aloud "shocking" content at school board meetings. They post out-of-context images on social media. And, despite claiming to be protecting children, they even hand out pamphlets they deem "obscene" to young and unsuspecting children.

The only problem: Even the content they deem most problematic fails to rise to the legal or colloquial definition of pornography. From a legal standpoint, the "Miller Test" includes the need to consider "whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value."

The guys at Heritage know what real pornography is

One of the most banned books of the moment is called "Gender Queer," a 240-page graphic novel that contains a few drawings of sexual experiences that, in the context of memoir about what it means to be nonbinary and asexual, are not likely to arouse a reader in the way that real pornography is explicitly designed to do.

What is real pornography?

The traditional definition is that it is visual or written content created with the intent to "cause sexual excitement."

For example, even though no copies of Hustler have been found in a school library, Heritage's Jay P. Greene and Dr. Jay Richards are clearly aware of the magazine.

They understand that Hustler magazine is pornography and tweet about it very knowledgeably.

The specific argument they appear to be making in these tweets is that it would be easier to achieve the goal of banning books with LGBTQ+ content if only there were some actual pornography (like Hustler!) in school libraries that could be banned at the same time.

I'm not sure why anyone claiming the necessary expertise to dictate what America's children are allowed to read in schools would compare Hustler magazine to Gender Queer, a sensitive and award-winning 240-page memoir that School Library Journal calls "a great resource for those who identify as nonbinary or asexual as well as for those who know someone who identifies that way and wish to better understand."

Frequently banned author Judy Blume recently told Variety that Gender Queer was "wonderfully enlightening" and added, "I learned a lot, and became even more empathetic. That’s what books are all about."

By contrast, while Heritage's Jay P. Greene and Dr. Jay Richards may have learned a lot from Hustler, the magazine has a reputation as a publication that is not only "degrading" to women but, as Gloria Steinem said in 2012, has a history of depicting "sexualized violence against females–including children."

Perhaps the experts at Heritage were hoping to inspire some of their followers to plant some copies of Hustler in school libraries.

Whatever they were getting at, they clearly they failed.

But these Hustler fans weren't willing to give up just yet.

They put their "thinking hats" back on, determined to find some way to justify the big bucks Heritage's billionaire donors were paying them.

The book banners' solution: It's pornography if we don't like it

The solution the Heritage Foundation has dreamed up is as simple as it is moronic.

Having failed to find any pornography in schools, they simply decided to redefine the word "pornography" to include all the LGBTQ+ books Ron DeSantis and Moms for Liberty seek to ban.

If a few other sex-filled books—such as The Bible—get thrown onto the fire too, they'll just ask forgiveness from the almighty Koch.

In new "Policy Recommendations for School Board Members" issued this week, Jay Greene and Madison Marino of the Heritage Foundation and Max Eden of the American Enterprise Institute state:

The traditional legal obscenity standard is too strict to apply to schools, as virtually any book that has characters and a plot – in addition to pornographic passages, would be permitted under it... the school or the school district will need to invoke its administrative authority. As Adam Kissel, visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation has outlined, the library and the classroom... are not by legal definition a “public forum”... there is almost no free speech right for teachers.”

In other words, Heritage has admitted defeat in its quest to find copies of Hustler in school libraries.

It is now pushing a made-up definition of "pornography" so broad that it would include classic Shakespeare plays and acclaimed literary works such as “The Color Purple,” “Catch-22,” “Brave New World” and “The Kite Runner.”

But hold on.

Who the f**k is Adam Kissel and why should his brain farts be allowed to overturn the established rights of teachers and students?

Here's the footnote that explains it.

Adam Kissel has noted the legal distinctions in public vs. non-public forums in his testimony titled “How to Think About Age-Inappropriate Library Books,” at the Superintendents’ Roundtable hosted by The Heritage Foundation on April 19, 2023.

In other words, a guy who works for Heritage pulled a new definition of pornography out of his ass at a Heritage roundtable and now every school in America that wants to censor books should feel free to "invoke its authority" to do so on the basis of Adam Kissel's say-so.

To impress their donors, Greene, Marino and Eden included this nonsensical recommendation in a 77-page report, which sounds substantial. In reality, pages 10 through 77 are simply clippings from the mostly gay books they and Klanned Karenhood don't like.

The Heritage clippings don't appear to have included any of the dirty parts of The Bible, so I'm assuming they still approve of books that recommend that daughters have sex with their fathers.

I'm not saying that the passage above is representative of the entire Bible, of course. And I'm not saying that a lifetime of reading Hustler magazine desensitized the Heritage staffers to such a degree they overlooked the ways the above Bible passage fits their new definition of "pornography."

What I am saying is that the idea that any sexual content whatsoever in a book-length work could open the door to it being banned because it is challenged by one person who objects to it (or who is working from a list of books supplied by an activist group like Moms for Liberty) is a direct attack on the freedom to read of all students across America.

(As I noted last week, the conservative war on books is also harming authors, especially authors of books with high appeal to Black and LGBTQ+ readers, some of whom have lost more than half their annual income due to lost sales and canceled speaking opportunities.)

"Liberty" + "Heritage" = Censorship

As America's anti-freedom, pro-censorship warriors continue their attacks on reading, part of their stated rationale is the notion that we should "let children be children."

But the idea that children should become less informed about sexuality and their bodies just happens to coincide with an aggressive new movement among conservative men to suggest that teenage girls should serve as their sexual playthings, that child marriage is acceptable, that marital rape cannot happen, and that the goal of the white Christian male is to control a submissive wife whose function in life is to be an "earthen vessel" for the production of future children.

Against this backdrop, the "let children be children" crowd are doing nothing to protect children from Republican sexual predators at home or at church—nor to safeguard children from gun violence or the trauma of active shooter drills in schools.

While innocent teachers, librarians and Drag Queens are falsely labeled "groomers" and "pedophiles," stories of incest, child rape and child porn rings involving Republican, conservative, and "Christian" men have become increasingly common.

Despite their supposed desire to protect children, "family values" voters continue to hold up famed child sexual predator Donald Trump as their moral leader.

Moms for Liberty have exposed their true colors by quoting Hitler and hanging out with the Proud Boys. The fact that they're now relying on the weirdos at the Heritage Foundation to make their case against fake porn, maybe it's time for them to admit they're the wrong side of history.

After all, burning LGBTQ+ books was quite literally how the Nazis in Germany got started 90 years ago.

Instead of respecting American "liberty" or embracing a national "heritage" in which boys were traditionally allowed to embrace the color pink, Moms for Liberty and the Heritage Foundation seek only to wage war on the LGBTQ+ community and, in the process, attack the First Amendment rights of all American students.

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