Delegate Tim Anderson (R-Virginia Beach) wants to create a ratings system for books sold in Virginia, according to comments he made after a court dismissed an obscenity lawsuit against Barnes & Noble and Virginia Beach Public Schools.
“Every other medium has ratings associated with them, such as movies, music and video games,” Anderson said in a Tuesday statement. “Creating a rating system that warns purchasers and consumers that books contain strong sexual content will be a first step for the legislature to look into and I intend to start that conversation next year.”
Anderson is representing former VA-02 GOP candidate Tommy Altman in a lawsuit against the school and the bookseller, seeking to have the books Gender Queer: A Memoir and A Court of Mist and Fury removed from the school and access-restricted in stores. Previously, Anderson has described the court tactic as an alternative to complaining to school boards about obscene books.
On Tuesday, Virginia Beach Circuit Court Judge Pamela Baskervill threw out the lawsuit, saying that Virginia law doesn’t allow circuit courts to determine if books are obscene to minors, and said that Virginia’s existing obscene book law violates the U.S. Constitution’s freedom of speech protections, according to 13NewsNow.
“In the 1970s the Supreme Court set a one-size fits all obscenity standard that applies to adults and juveniles. We asked the court today to carve out a different standard for obscenity for materials in the hands of juveniles. The court declined that request,” Anderson told The Virginia Star. “Ultimately, my client believes some materials that may not be obscene to adults in some cases should be obscene to children in certain circumstances. Crafting legislation that places age-appropriate restrictions on materials children have access to will probably have to come in a broader bill dealing with book ratings.”
In a Facebook post, Anderson said, “Mr. Altman is reviewing his appeal options. Fundamentally, my client believes there should be a different standard of obscenity for children than currently exists for adults, but that will require review by higher courts to conclusively answer this question and possibly additions to the code by the General Assembly.”
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