Conservative states across the country continue to use the power of government to impede individual rights. A Republican-led legislative push in Tennessee looks to stomp on residents’ first amendment rights to freedom of speech and freedom of the press by banning arbitrary books deemed “obscene” from schools across the state. On Wednesday, country music singer John Rich appeared at a public hearing to argue in favor of the book ban because he believes teachers and librarians pose a larger threat to America’s youth than “actual pedophiles” who rape and molest boys and girls.

Rich rose to fame as half of the duo of Big & Rich, which delivered the 2004 hit “Save Horse (Ride a Cowboy).” The popular song encouraged listeners to drink alcohol heavily and “give a dang about nothing” while encouraging women to stop riding horses and instead spread their legs open for cowboys. Now, Rich has made headlines for speaking out against books and calling public school teachers the biggest threat to America’s youth – although it is their sole job to educate the next generation that will one day inherit this country.

“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?’” Rich asked state legislators during the public hearing in Nashville. “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.”

Rich continued his assault on teachers and books by turning his rage to Twitter, the former social media channel of choice of President Trump, before he was banned from the platform for spreading misinformation and stoking violence across the country.

In his tweet, Rich identified himself as “the firewall between tyranny and freedom” and said that when he stood up at the podium to deliver his testimony at the legislative hearing, he was “going toe to toe with adversaries.”

Rich wanted to express his support of measure HB 1944, which would allow the state to ban any book they thought was bad for children by “making obscene materials or materials harmful to minors” unavailable in schools. Unfortunately, the bill does not define what constitutes an “obscene” book, which gives too much power to the government to decide what people should and should not be exposed to in a state that supposedly values personal autonomy and freedom.

Republican state Rep. Scott Cepicky sponsored the book ban. He introduced the prohibition in January to show his support of the McMinn County Board of Education’s decision to ban a book about the Holocaust. The department banned the graphic novel “Maus,” which won a Pulitzer Prize, from the eighth-grade curriculum because it includes “objectionable language” and depicts mice in a state of undress.

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