Home > Uncategorized > Right-Wing ‘Review Boards’ in Missouri Would Pave Way for Arresting Librarians Over Books Deemed ‘Inappropriate’

Right-Wing ‘Review Boards’ in Missouri Would Pave Way for Arresting Librarians Over Books Deemed ‘Inappropriate’

January 17, 2020

Source: Right-Wing ‘Review Boards’ in Missouri Would Pave Way for Arresting Librarians Over Books Deemed ‘Inappropriate’

This chilling legislation would not warrant a comment if we didn’t have a demagogue in the White House, a party in control of the Senate and judiciary that supports “State’s Rights”, a state led by that same party that seeks to limit free speech, and a national lobby that makes it possible for this kind of legislation to go viral. This confluence of anti-First Amendment advocates and the money and mechanism to spread State level legislation makes it plausible that this bill could pass in Missouri and quickly spread to other states across the nation. The “selling points”— “local control” and the “protection of innocent children”— sound innocuous. But it is not difficult to see that local selection or election of “parental library review boards” would politicize local library boards and undercut their mission of building an informed community. Common Dreams reporter Julia Conley offers this quote from MLA President Cynthia Dudenhoffer in her article:

“Public libraries already have procedures in place to assist patrons in protecting their own children while not infringing upon the rights of other patrons or restricting materials… Missouri Library Association will always oppose legislation that infringes on these rights.”

Later in the article Ms. Conley offers examples of the kinds of books that might be targeted… examples that may scratch the surface:

“Books wrestling with sexual themes, books uplifting LGBTQIA+ characters, books addressing issues such as sexual assault—all of these books are potentially on the chopping block if this bill is passed,” said James Tager, the group’s deputy director of free expression research and policy. “Every reader and writer in the country should be horrified, absolutely horrified, at this bill.”

If “parental library review boards” are put in place and given the authority to remove books it is not difficult to imagine a scenario where those same boards deciding to replace books that uplift “liberal” heroes like Martin Luther King, Jr. with ones who bravely fought in the Civil War— for the Confederacy. 

I am the chairperson of our local library’s corporation. Our Board spends most of its time and energy working to unify our community, to ensure that diverse opinions are heard, that everyone in our town and in our region has an opportunity to develop digital literacy as well as having access to a wide range of books and other media. Any legislation that creates a board whose mission is to limit the books and/or media available to any reader or patron— be they a child or an adult— needs to be resoundingly defeated.

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