Republicans Take Next Step In Book Ban Laws: Jailing Librarians

Republicans claim they only want to keep “harmful” material away from children (except for guns, of course) but their new book-banning laws prove they really want to regulate thoughts and ideas. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be trying to punish librarians and school personnel with ruinous fines and felony jail time merely for having a different philosophy about what reading and other material is suitable for the public.

But, as The Washington Post reported, at least seven states have passed such laws, 12 more considered similar Thought Police crackdowns and half of those are likely to come up again in 2024. In all cases except one, Republicans or Republican-dominated committees introduced the laws.

More from The Post:

Some of the laws impose severe penalties on librarians, who until now were exempted in almost every state from prosecution over obscene material — a carve-out meant to permit accurate lessons in topics such as sex education. All but one of the new laws target schools, while some also target the staff of public libraries and one affects book vendors.

One example is an Arkansas measure that says school and public librarians, as well as teachers, can be imprisoned for up to six years or fined $10,000 if they distribute obscene or harmful texts. It takes effect Aug. 1.

The consequences vary slightly between states: The Indiana law, signed by the governor in May, says school staffers can be forced to pay up to $10,000 or serve 2½ years in prison for providing obscene or harmful material to minors. A 2022 Oklahoma law says school employees and public library staffers can be fined up to $20,000 or serve up to 10 years in prison for facilitating “indecent exposure to obscene material or child pornography.” One of the Tennessee laws, passed this year, says book publishers, distributors and sellers can face up to six years in prison and up to $103,000 in fines for providing obscene matter to K-12 schools.

The Post also noted, “Library administrators across the country say the flood of obscenity laws are already instilling terror in librarians.”

Terrorizing librarians is the obvious point. If they face terrible consequences from putting any books on shelves that someone might find “harmful,” they’re more likely to avoid any risk of that in the first place. Or to put it another way, the censorship will stop before the material is on the shelf.

Without irony, The Post notes that right-wingers “contend that the legislation is necessary to prevent children from exposure to pornographic and sexual content that will harm their mental health and warp their development.” As if guns are not a more serious threat. And these same phony “child advocates” are also fine with tanking the U.S. economy for the sake of cutting child nutrition, child medical care and Head Start, e.g.

The bans and jail threats are awful enough. But nobody should let a single Republican make believe that protecting children is their goal.

Republicans Take Next Step In Book Ban Laws: Jailing Librarians

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