Of the nearly sixty minutes worth of testimonies given at the recent public hearing on HB 4654, there were a few noteworthy moments. The bill, in support of removing exemptions for criminal liability for schools and libraries allowing minors to access pornographic material, has come under fire by many West Virginia Democrats, the ACLU and the West Virginia Library Association. These groups defend pornographic material for minors in the name of “liberty”.
The testimony by Mickey Blackwell, Executive Director of the West Virginia Association of Elementary & Middle School Principals (the largest organization of its kind in the state, he wants you to know) was memorable. He spoke against the bill and in a condescending tone, invited all delegates to take note of his cell number—304-610-6680— so he can put you in touch with people “who actually know what’s going on in their schools and the folks who actually work”. As if those who pulled actual pornographic material made for children directly off public library shelves don’t know what they’re talking about.
Mr. Blackwell went on to express his beliefs in democracy and free speech, citing examples of controversial books from the past, such as “Huck Finn” by Mark Twain and “Howl” by Allen Ginsberg. The latter of which went to court in 1957 over obscenity laws. His point was that what our society deemed “obscene” in one generation has and should evolve into a more congenial form of literary acceptance for subsequent generations. Free speech, liberty and the American way. Right Mickey?
But let’s unpack this a bit. How interesting that he used “Howl” by Allen Ginsberg and the court case that ensued, as a beacon of literary freedom. You can find a portrait of pedophile Allen Ginsberg hanging in a hall at Winthrop University, where he is held in high regard for his literary achievements from the Beat Generation— and lending his infamous voice in support of NAMBLA.
Indeed, the North American Man/Boy Love Association has rarely had a more colorful and “playful” advocate, to use the word of NAMBLA columnist, Peter Herman. The celebrated poet and bold political activist who was arrested multiple times, including once for harboring stolen goods, also praised drug use for inducing creative flow in his work.
It’s not a great surprise that his homosexual relationships and forays into Hindu mysticism would produce an outlook conducive to the goals of NAMBLA— chiefly to work towards abolishing age of consent laws for minors to engage in sex with adults. Ginsberg tried to smooth over his endorsement in later years after this association caused him to have conflicts with his alma mater, Colombia University as well as Stanford University by saying that he only joined NAMBLA to promote free speech.
In Ginsberg’s essay, “Thoughts on NAMBLA” from 1994, he writes:
“NAMBLA’s a forum for reform of those laws on youthful sexuality which members deem oppressive, a discussion society not a sex club.I joined NAMBLA in defense of free speech.”
He worked with NAMBLA to promote an ideology that there is no true “age of consent” and believed that America was a sexually oppressed country.He goes on to say in the same essay:
“Various cultures and states offer widely varying definitions of the age of consent–age 15 in Czechoslovakia and some US states, 14 in Hawaii.
There’s no universal consensus on “consent.” It’s a fit subject for discussion, NAMBLA provides a forum.
Most people like myself do not make carnal love to hairless boys and girls. Yet such erotic inclinations or fantasies are average and are commonly sublimated into courtly sociability.”
While all of this is not that surprising for a cult icon from the Beat Generation, what is surprising is that Allen Ginsberg’s work was extolled in defending pornographic material for children in the state of West Virginia by the Executive Director of the WV Association of Elementary & Middle School Principals, Mickey Blackwell.
He shared his cell number in his public testimony if you have any questions: 304-610-6680.
You can watch the entire public hearing from Jan. 24, 2024, on WV HB 4654 at the link below. Mickey Blackwell’s testimony begins at the 50-minute mark.