Commentary: Both Sides of the Spotsylvania Books Issue Must Work Together | Columns






Participants at a Spotsylvania County School Board meeting raise their hands in support of speakers criticizing the board for suggesting that sexually explicit books be banned in county schools on Monday, November 11, 2021. The meeting was held in Chancellor High School auditorium to accommodate the overflowing crowd.


PETER CIHELKA / THE FREE LANCE-S


By Bernadette Chimner

To Spotsylvania County School November 15

At the board meeting, I handed out my “I read forbidden books” t-shirts, signed up to speak, and found my place in the auditorium. Once the public commentary started, I found myself nodding and applauding for the views I agreed with.

By the second speaker, I realized that the woman I was sitting next to was on the other side of the question. And I wondered if I should change seats, not because I was against sitting next to someone with different points of view, but because I was worried about social awkwardness. to sit for more than three hours as we tried to ignore each other.

When she corrected the pronunciation of “Abuismail” for someone, I asked her to repeat it, and she smiled and told me that she was Rabih Abuismail’s sister.

And so this Monday night was very different from what I expected.

Because I was sitting next to her and she was so willing to chat, I started to get insight into some of her and her brother’s views. By having the unique opportunity to see some of the speakers through his lens, my perspective on the matter began to broaden.

First, I don’t believe now that Abuismail’s agenda was ever to take LGBTQ books off the shelves. It may be the wish of others, but it is not his. Its trigger is pedophilia, especially books that might glorify sex or violence against children.

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