Monday, August 08, 2022

Conservatives are trying to wreck public libraries, but people are fighting back


According to a recent article in The Huffington Post, conservatives and others on the right have put the bullseye out on public libraries. They are not only attempting censor books, but are also trying to eliminate these public libraries altogether:

A public library in Vinton, Iowa — a small town with about 5,000 residents — temporarily shut down in July after most of the staff quit because of threats against its LGBTQ members. People in the town complained that there were not enough books about former President Donald Trump, that LGBTQ books were on display, and that members of the LGBTQ community worked there, according to the Iowa Starting Line. The library reopened with an all-volunteer staff. 

 In Llano County, Texas, the county commission made the public library system shut down for a few days in December in order to review the books available to children and remove any deemed questionable. They specifically targeted the 850 books that GOP state Rep. Matt Kruse had personally deemed inappropriate for kids earlier that year. He said his list of books included those that “might make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex.”  

Suzette Baker, a librarian in the county, reportedly refused to go along. She told local reporters in March that she had been fired from her job for not removing books, including a memoir by Jazz Jennings, a transgender teen. “It is her biography of her life growing up as a transgender teenager, and obviously this group thought that was too much for their children to read,” Baker said. “No one is forcing their kids to read anything.”

 . . .Free speech advocates have noticed that the targeting of public libraries isn’t just confined to one or two states. “It cannot be a coincidence that multiple people around the country are getting the same message,” Jonathan Friedman, the director of free expression and education programs at PEN America, told HuffPost. “They’re taking some of that ‘stolen election’ energy and directing it towards public schools and public libraries.” But there isn’t really a singular group leading the charge — instead different groups, including Moms for Liberty or Catholic Vote, are pushing the same narratives. 

 . .  .As Media Matters reported, Moms For Liberty is partnering with conservative groups to flood public libraries with children’s books they approve of, like an anti-trans children book or a book that paints Rush Limbaugh as hero — with no regard for how parents of LGBTQ or Black children may feel.

The article pointed how folks are fighting back. In Llano County, residents filed a federal lawsuit claiming that the book bans violate the First and 14th amendments.

And people are also fighting back in another state.

In Jamestown,  Michigan, thanks to a campaign echoing lies about LGBTQ  'grooming' and 'predators,' voters defeated a measure which would fund the Patmos Library, which is the town's public library.

But a GoFundMe campaign has garnered a lot of positive feedback with over $67,000 raised. The goal is to reach $245,000. The organizer of the campaign, Jesse Dillman, said the goal of the fundraiser is to keep the library open long enough to consolidate more community support for its funding.

Anyone wanting to donate can go Fund Patmos Library for 2023 GoFundMe page.

1 comment:

Frank said...

Those who are the loudest proponents of "free speech" are the first to ban books. And they fail miserably to see any irony in that.