Extremist GOP legislators are at it again, attacking our public libraries

The claim that Idaho librarians are dispensing pornography and other harmful materials to kids fell flat last year, but extremist GOP legislators are attacking once again. Nobody has been able to provide evidence that our librarians are handing out smut to kids, but that is beside the point. The issue has been popular amongst culture warriors across the country, so it should be good for some political mileage in Idaho.

Idaho’s public and school libraries are overseen by locally elected boards that are charged with applying local community standards. They have safeguards in place to prevent inappropriate materials from getting into the hands of minors. If people believe the boards are not performing property, they should produce real evidence and petition for change. Failing that, they can exercise their right to make a change at the ballot box.

People in some Idaho communities have taken the fabricated claims of the national culture warriors at face value and launched protests against their local libraries. Some protesters have produced lists of books they want removed from the shelves, but often have not read them or can’t show they’ve been checked out to minors.

Despite failing to show that specific libraries or librarians are dispensing smut to kids, the legislative extremists are back with another bill to address this imaginary problem.
House Bill 139 allows people to sue libraries for permitting their kids to “obtain” material “harmful to minors” and collect $10,000, plus “actual damages” and attorney fees for each instance. Interestingly, the bill would also apply to private school libraries.

So, if your kid goes to the library to “obtain” a naughty book, you could really clean up at ten thousand a pop. That is, if the kid could find a book with a “depiction of covered male genitals in a discernibly turgid state” or something similar. The statute book itself, with that kind of naughty wording, might qualify for the $10,000 reward.

I’m guessing the bill is designed, primarily, to intimidate libraries and librarians. One supporter of the bill suggested it was intended to drive up the insurance premiums of libraries, causing them to self censor.

What might make the legislation less obnoxious would be to make the remedy reciprocal. That is, if a person brought suit against a library and lost, the library would get its attorney fees for defending the suit. That would discourage meritless lawsuits.

The folks unhappy with pornography are attacking the wrong target. Libraries don’t traffic in pornography. That is the job of the internet. Studies show that from three-quarters to 90% of teenagers have seen pornography online. A person can find explicit sex on streaming services any time of day, any day of the year.

There is too little parental responsibility in protecting kids from smut. Why should parents not place controls on what their kids are exposed to online? If they are concerned about what they are checking out in the library, go with them. Meridian City Council member Liz Strader was right on when she said, “adults need to take control, and they need to help [kids] select their books. It is about personal responsibility.”

My daughter and her two kids, a teen and pre-teen, love to go to their Boise branch library to explore together. They bond by getting books, games, movies and videos from friendly, helpful and dedicated librarians. It is a wholesome atmosphere and I’m proud of my daughter for opening up the world to the kids in that little library.

I must say that I respect and admire the valiant librarians around the state who continue to give great service to the public despite the undeserved scorn heaped upon them by folks who have little knowledge of what is going on in these institutions of learning. The librarians at the Meridian Library District deserve particular praise for their dedicated public service. By standing up for the rights of their patrons, young and old, they are heroes to me. Please join me in thanking them for their commitment to enlightening the next generation and telling the extremists in the Legislature to leave our libraries alone.

Please follow and like us:

5 thoughts on “Extremist GOP legislators are at it again, attacking our public libraries”

  1. Mr Jones,

    Is there no avenue to make these legislators who are writing bills that imply they are providing a solution to a problem that does not exist financially accountable? Why can’t we sue them and make them provide the PROOF of the problems they want to solve?

    I am thoroughly disgusted at this year’s House legislators. Instead of examining the real issues that are making Idahoans less financially sound, or addressing the transportation issues of those who cannot afford vehicles, gas and insurance, they are spending our tax dollars for this legislative session doing nothing to help us.

    They were elected by pockets of conspiracy theorists (and out of state oligarchs) and that is their only motive in this waste of time and money they are perpetuating.

    1. I believe the only way to get rid of the crazies is to get rid of the closed Republican primary. It almost guarantees that the most radical candidate will win. There will be a top-four system, like Alaska’s, on the general election ballot next year. I think Idahoans will vote for it. We all need to join in to fix this problem.

  2. Thank you for your thoughtful commentaries.
    Firstly, I wholeheartedly agree with the contents of your last paragraph praising our librarians under attack. I would also include our teachers who are also under attack.
    Secondly, I would have to take exception with the characterization that these are extremist GOP legislators. Terminology has changed over the years so radically that these extremists regard themselves as “conservatives “ when in truth they are not. They are reactionaries who do not wish to govern. They wish to rule and be “the boss of you” without regard to democratic principles.
    Sadly, the GOP on both the state and national level is now so fraught with this kind of thinking that it is now mainstream. GOP state and national leaders are now openly calling for a Christian theocracy and a dissolution of our nation. They call anyone who is a moderate a socialist communist and evil without any idea of definitions. They support fascist dictators like Orban and Putin. They are in truth knowingly or ignorantly working for billionaire autocrats
    My father was a navy marine WW2 combat vet who volunteered at age 16. The whole extended family fought the fascists, but my dad with high security clearances warned the family in the year 1989 that their efforts may have only served to delay the spread of fascism in this country. Thankfully they are all gone and do not have to witness these attacks upon our country.
    Well, these are some of my thoughts. Maybe I have become an extremist in my aging years, but l have been watching and only wish people would study history and pay attention!
    Please continue your commentaries!

    1. Thanks, Randy. The Idaho Republican Party, controlled by Dorothy Moon and her John Birch friends, is traveling the road to fascism. If we can open up the primary election, there is a chance we can get rid of them. That’s while I’m working to get a top-four initiative on the ballot next year. Jim

  3. I am a spud also! Do politicians believe parents arent capable of seeing the books kids bring in. Censorship free press freedoms are all at risk. We are here with choice…..so i thought.Religious freedom will be closely behind this also. If you get ahold of the press, censor choice..we can rename Idaho: China…. By the age of 8 when most children KNOW things….its from home.ok lets put cameras in the home and censor that…sheesh.when will it stop. ty for the article so i may choose at home….Post where to take books offensive for review. These books go thru scrutiny first before they are placed.

Comments are closed.