A candidate for Missouri governor has said he wasn’t really burning books in a recent viral video, but if elected, he’d burn “woke pornographic books … on the front lawn of the governor’s mansion” rather than allow them in schools.
Porn, to be clear, is not in school libraries. Many Republicans have described topics and books with LGBTQ+ themes as sexually explicit, especially books related to gender identity.
Bill Eigel, currently a state senator, is seeking the 2024 Republican nomination for governor. The video shows him and another GOP state senator, Nick Schroer, setting cardboard boxes on fire with flamethrowers at a Republican fundraising event held Friday in Missouri’s St. Charles County.
The video was shared widely across social media, leading some to accuse Eigel of book burning. But he and other Republicans said the boxes were empty.
“In the video, I am taking a flame thrower to cardboard boxes representing what I am going to do to the leftist policies and RINO corruption of the Jeff City swamp,” he wrote on X, formerly Twitter, referring to Jefferson City, the capital of Missouri. “But let’s be clear, you bring those woke pornographic books to Missouri schools to try to brainwash our kids, and I’ll burn those too — on the front lawn of the governor’s mansion.”
Eigel, a state senator since 2017, has sponsored a bill to ban materials on gender identity or gender reassignment in schools, but it hasn’t passed. On the website for his gubernatorial campaign, he vows to “eliminate hate-based ideologies such as Critical Race Theory, the 1619 Project, and other ‘woke’ programs in public schools.”
He enthusiastically supported legislation that passed this year to ban gender-affirming care for transgender minors and some adults, and to bar trans student athletes from competing under their gender identity.
Missouri’s current governor, Republican Mike Parson, can’t run again in 2024 because of term limits. Besides Eigel, candidates seeking the Republican gubernatorial nomination are Jay Ashcroft, the current secretary of state, and Mike Kehoe, now the lieutenant governor. The only Democrat who has announced her candidacy so far is House Minority Leader Crystal Quade.
Quade issued a statement condemning Eigel’s stunt, The Kansas City Star reports.
“Bill Eigel and his extremist allies’ idea of campaigning for governor is using a flamethrower to burn whatever he doesn’t agree with,” she said. “Watching lawmakers use flamethrowers to intimidate folks they disagree with is a jarring reminder of how they view their jobs as a joke, while real people suffer from their cruelty. We deserve a government that’s going to work to solve real problems, not make political stunts.”
Pictured: Bill Eigel and the flamethrower video