Woke politicians and journalists will expend a lot of energy this spring trying to construct a fable over proliferating bills addressing minors’ access to sexually explicit material in the public library system. Let’s dispel these myths right off the bat to understand the necessity of the bills.
So far, a pair attempts to restrict children from accessing age-inappropriate material. HB 25 by Republican state Rep. Paul Hollis doesn’t address the issue directly, but in its making explicit in state law that members of boards of library control serve at the pleasure of the governing authority it would allow such an authority to remove recalcitrant members that in its judgment failed to protect minors.
Directly addressing it is SB 7 by GOP state Sen. Heather Cloud. That would define objectionable sexual content in library materials for minors according to First Amendment jurisprudence, create a review process for patrons requesting that of the board for disputed material, give parents the option of restricting that material to their children, and would penalize noncompliant boards by negating their ability to have capital outlay bonds approved.
Naturally and particularly with Cloud’s bill, as well as with the related report issued last week by Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry that outlines laws regarding libraries, actions that patrons can take to trigger inquiries under existing state law and individual libraries’ policies or to petition for change, model legislation and policies, and exceptionally egregious examples of highly sexualized content specifically designed to appeal to children currently accessible by children in Louisiana libraries (one such example has a juvenile participating in a “sexting” conversation at a library terminal), these have stirred the leftist chattering classes. So much so, they already have gone into overdrive to distort this call for change, using the following flawed argumentation:
“It’s a problem in search of a solution.” Perhaps most risible is this claim, which advocates applying existing laws about obscenity and harmful materials to minors instead of legislation. But that misunderstands the entire issue, which is not that public libraries may have obscene materials; they don’t, because that’s illegal (although keep in mind that current jurisprudence makes little content of any kind obscene). It’s that non-obscene or material not objectionable to adults the sexual content of which can be inappropriate to children is in public libraries and potentially accessible by children. SB 7 merely creates a structure by which parents – not the library – can restrict that kind of material to their own children and nobody else’s or no other person.
“It’s censorship.” This claim completely distorts the bill’s intent. It doesn’t dictate what materials a public library may obtain and/or circulate (contrary to what one ignorant activist alleges that it “provides a process for government actors to decide what ideas can be in our library books without limits”). It merely asks that a library identify potentially inappropriate material to minors, including setting up a process so that the community can nominate such material, that parents may restrict in the cases of their own children.
“It forces public employees to make decisions on content that unconstitutionally discriminates without guidance.” But they already make content choices in obtaining material or not, and that often is driven by their ideological biases. For example, perhaps the most contentious debate on this topic has occurred in Livingston Parish libraries, where of nine books the report lists as available to juveniles it has three, but it doesn’t have Abigail Shrier’s Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters that takes a highly critical view of how some political and social institutions, with little scientific validation, intensely encourage children to physically change their sex according to their feelings at the time. Public employees chose to include the three books with material parents may object yet have not obtained access to another, a best-seller, that questions the ethos of those others.
And guidance is there in SB 7, as it sets as a guideline for determination according to the well-founded jurisprudential concept of “community standards.” And, again, this is to be used by librarians or board members not as a decision tool to obtain material, but to list it as reviewable by parents in regards to determining whether their children have access to it.
“It’s unfriendly to material about homosexual relations and transgender activities.” This claim denotes confusion between causation and association. That material with explicit homosexual or transgender themes often would end up on a minor-restricted list is not because of the themes, but because of the sexualized and explicit behavior and dialogue so often comes part and parcel as part of those themes. Understand that in identity politics, unlike in most instances where that is defined along immutable lines determined by biology, in this case it’s defined by behavior real or contemplated.
In other words, for example to “be” homosexual means defining oneself by one’s sexual behavior, not by any innate characteristics independent of behavior (such as, for example, race). Thus, often in literature to explore that theme authors choose to describe, graphically, sexualized behavior and musings (more skilled and/or less psychologically-indulgent authors manage to do this without the explicitness). So, it’s no accident that materials disproportionately dealing with these themes will end up on restricted lists, because its authors disproportionately intentionally include the objectionable material.
SB 7 is an entirely reasonable bill that empowers parents for legitimate reasons to mold their children’s development without outside interference. Indeed, no doubt some opposition to it comes from frustrated leftists enraged that parents be allowed to counteract their attempts to indoctrinate children towards their own warped agendas. Its enactment into law is essential, despite the unprincipled and illogical whining about it from its opponents.