'Simply stupid': State and local Republicans slammed for shuttering public libraries

'Simply stupid': State and local Republicans slammed for shuttering public libraries
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In at least two states across America governments are trying to shutter public libraries in response to legal action attempting to overturn bans on books conservatives oppose, while one Republican U.S. Congressman is calling public libraries “liberal grooming centers.”

One Texas county is considering shutting down all its libraries in response to a judge ordering books some locals oppose to be returned to its shelves, as NCRM was among the first to report. A federal judge ordered Llano County to return books with LGBTQ and race-related content to library shelves, after seven local residents who wanted the books available to the public filed a First and Fourteenth Amendment lawsuit, saying removal of the books violated their civil rights.

In response to the judge ordering books be returned to shelves, Llano County officials will meet on Thursday to consider not only shutting down all its libraries, but terminating the employment of everyone who works in those libraries.

In an even more vindictive move, one Republican House lawmaker in Missouri was so enraged over a lawsuit from the ACLU, filed on behalf of the Missouri Association of School Librarians and the Missouri Library Association, that he pushed through legislation that defunds all public libraries across the state.

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That bill passed on Tuesday, stripping more than $4.5 million budgeted for public libraries from the state’s budget should it be signed into law.

The ACLU is attempting to have a court “declare Senate Bill 775 unconstitutional, a bill that has resulted in over 300 books getting banned from school libraries, many of which include LGBTQ characters or racial justice themes,” as Heartland Signal reports.

SB 775 was signed into law last year. It “made it a crime to provide minors with sexually explicit visual material, leading librarians across the state to remove anything from their collections that they thought could be considered criminal,” NPR reported. “Librarians or other school officials could face up to a year in jail or a $2,000 fine for violating the policy.”

Missouri House budget committee chairman Rep. Cody Smith “argued that the state should not ‘subsidize’ the lawsuit with government aid. But the Missouri Library Association, a nonprofit representing Missouri’s librarians, put out a statement stating they are not providing any funding for this lawsuit, as the ACLU is aiding them pro bono.”

Adding another wrinkle to the issue, a Tuesday MSNBC opinion piece notes: “The problem, though, is that Missouri Republicans aren’t the only ones mounting up against libraries. Late last month, Rep. Clay Higgins, R-La., tweeted: ‘Over time, American communities will build beautiful, church owned public-access libraries. I’m going to help these churches get funding. We will change the whole public library paradigm. The libraries regular Americans recall are gone. They’ve become liberal grooming centers.'”

Pointing to an NBC News report on Llano County considering to shutter its libraries, former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, a professor of law at The University of Alabama School of Law tweeted, “Just like public pools were closed in the south after desegregation was ordered.”

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Morgan Fairchild, the well-known actress and activist, weighed in saying, “I never want to hear another word from a Republican about Freedom, when they defund public libraries, a concept started in US by Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin, so that common citizens could better themselves.”

Journalist Roland Martin, a Texas native and author of four books including “White Fear: How the Browning of America Is Making White Folks Lose Their Minds,” served up an even more passionate response.

“I keep telling y’all the @GOP is simply STUPID. How in the hell do you defund all of the public libraries in a state? These are truly illiterate assholes,” he tweeted.

Award winning novelist, short story writer, playwright, poet, literary critic, professor, and editor Joyce Carol Oates declared defunding libraries and diversity initiatives, childcare, and pre-kindergarten programs, “sad but not surprising.”

“Republicans seem bent upon destroying the commonweal like public libraries,” she said on Twitter, adding: “their goal appears to be privatizing everything as in a feudal society in which serfs are subhuman, mere labor.”

Former Missouri Democratic U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill offered a multiple choice tweet:

“A primer on Mo GOP:
A) outlawed all abortions from moment of conception for rape victims
B) voted to allow children to openly carry AR-15s
C) defunded public libraries

D) All of the above. Ding ding ding (right answer)”

See the video and tweet above or at this link.

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