Last week, a judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by a librarian against the conservative organization Citizens for A New Louisiana, its president Michael Lunsford, and “Bayou State of Mind” Facebook page operator Ryan Thames. The lawsuit, which was filed by middle school librarian and president of the Louisiana Association of School Librarians Amanda Jones, accused the organization and the two men of defaming her in a series of posts criticizing her for opposing the relocation of sexually explicit books from the children’s section of the Livingston Parish Public Library to the adult section.
From The Hill:
A Louisiana judge has dismissed a defamation lawsuit that a librarian filed against two men and a conservative organization last month over statements they made criticizing her for supporting the inclusion in a library of books involving the LGBTQ community.
Amanda Jones, who is a middle school librarian and the president of the Louisiana Association of School Librarians, filed the lawsuit after she said she was publicly attacked for opposing censorship and “book policing.” The conservative advocacy group Citizens for a New Louisiana, led by Michael Lunsford, and Ryan Thames made a series of posts online criticizing Jones, but the judge ruled that their statements were ones of opinion and not fact.
Jones spoke at a meeting of the Livingston Parish Library Board of Control on July 19 after a member of the board requested the board review the content of books that she believed to be inappropriate. Jones spoke against the restricting of books, saying that the censoring or relocating of books would be harmful to the community.
The lawsuit states that Citizens for a New Louisiana posted on its Facebook page the next day, saying that “’anti-censorship’ folks” opposed moving “sexually explicit and erotic materials targeting eight to ten-year olds” to the adult section of the library.
A second post from July 22 accused Jones of “fighting so hard to keep sexually erotic and pornographic materials” in the children’s section. A photo of Jones included in the post is surrounded by a red circle that Jones said appears similar to a target.
The account made additional posts throughout July and August referencing Jones.
The lawsuit alleges that Thames, who operates a Facebook page called “Bayou State of Mind,” posted a meme of Jones showing her smiling behind a desk and accusing her of advocating the teaching of anal sex to 11-year-olds. Thames allegedly continued to publicly mock her afterward, according to the lawsuit.
The judge got this decision right. Jones filed the lawsuit to shut down criticism of her, which is ironic because she claims to be opposing censorship. Criticism is part of the price anyone who enters the political process faces. If you cannot stand the heat, don’t come into the kitchen.
In addition, the removal of sexually explicit books from the children’s section of a public library to the adult section of the library is not “banning books.” There is no right for children to have unimpeded access to sexually explicit content in a library or anywhere for that matter. To suggest otherwise is simply sick.
Judge Erika Sledge found that Jones was a “limited public figure” due to her position as president of the Louisiana Association of School Librarians. In addition, Sledge found that the remarks targeted at her were not defamatory because they were opinions, not fact.