They've Found This Year's Culture War And It's Drag Queens, Books
Oh, and put those damn fool librarians in jail, too, for America.
A Missouri state representative has heard about all these Drag Queen Story Time shenanigans at public libraries, and he is very upset at the thought of all those communist preverts practicing their commie preversions in the sight of little kids, what with the drag queening and the reading and the proximity of people wearing things he does not approve of in the presence of children. Clearly, the answer is to comb through library collections and censor all the books that might upset parents, which is why state Rep. Ben Baker has introduced the Parental Oversight of Public Libraries Act , which would require all library districts to elect a review board that would have the authority to approve all library materials and events. Any library that failed to set up such a censorship board would lose its state funding.
Baker told NBC News the bill isn't aimed at censoring anything, heavens no! Instead, he explained, he just wants these danged drag queens stopped.
They've had these drag queen story hours, and that's something that I take objection to and I think a lot of parents do [...] That's where in a public space, our kids could be exposed to something that's age-inappropriate. That's what I'm trying to tackle.
See? Not a bit of censorship; Baker just wants to protect the innocent children from people reading picture books while being fabulous. And if any librarian allows "age-inappropriate sexual material" in the library, that would be a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $500 fine. Gotta let those com-symp Library Science majors know who's boss. No word on whether the bill would also take action to eliminate the "sexy librarian" stereotype.
In an interview with the Neosho Daily News,his hometown paper, Baker made clear he's simplyvery concerned:
We have a situation where events and materials are being promoted by our libraries that are inappropriate for minors and disregarding dissent. Our local library is great and is exactly what a library should be with great people at the helm that care about protecting children. However, there is an agenda by certain groups to introduce children to inappropriate adult themes using the vehicle of the tax funded library to do so and I think we need to address it. My intention is to protect our children from objectionable materials and events that are being allowed in some libraries.
And what particular event was he worried about? A drag queen story hour in Houston last year where a convicted sex offender read to kids. Yes, the library should have screened the volunteers! But no kids were harmed at the event and the guy was never left alone with kids. By that reasoning there'd be a better statistical case to close all schools and Catholic churches than to end the drag story events.
Baker continued: "There are many other stories that will turn your stomach that are happening across the country and some in our own state. This bill is both reactionary and preventative." Like, if the very idea of people in drag turns your stomach, mostly.
He also explained that there's simply no truth to the notion that his bill would violate the First Amendment, because INTOLERANT LIBERALS and they want to silence him and the guy really is full of conservative victimhood talking points. (Assholes have been threatening him, he says, and that's wrong -- but it doesn't mean he's right, either.)
As to whether his bill amounts to censorship, the text of Baker's non-censorship bill is pretty clear. The review boards would have the power to "order any material deemed to be age-inappropriate sexual material to be removed from public access by minors at the public library." The boards' decisions would be final, so no damn liberals in libraries or municipal government could reverse a ruling on materials. The bill does generously allow that a judge could order library materials back to the shelves, so there's that.
Baker insists that's not censorship, it's just making sure parents can make wise parenting decisions:
They claim I want to ban books and censor literature. There is no provision for that in the bill. All content would still be available for a parent or guardian to provide to their children.
Isn't that nice? No more worries that a 14-year-old who's unsure about their sexuality would encounter even the most chaste YA novel suggesting being gay is normal. Damned if they'd ever ask mom or dad to check it out for them. Instead, the kids could continue being sure they're freaks, like in the good old days.
Not that this bullshit would ever pass muster with the courts.
Also, for all Baker's fretting about drag queens, the bill is far more specific about giving local would-be censors the power to eliminate dirty books and other materials from libraries than anything else. The bill specifies that "Age-inappropriate sexual material" means
any description or representation, in any form, of nudity, sexuality, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or sadomasochistic abuse that
(a) Taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest of minors;
(b) Is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community with respect to what is appropriate material for minors; and
(c) Taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors;
Read strictly, that wouldn't even apply to drag queen story events, seeing as how the readers tend to leave their clothes on. But of course the bill seems aimed at letting the local boards define stuff like "sexuality" as broadly as possible, so sure, this would presumably treat even fully-gowned drag performers as if they were actually part of Miss Divine's Cavalcade of Perversion .
But whatever Baker says, the bill only specifically mentions library materials, not events or programs -- this is a censorship bill through and through, and is clearly aimed at restricting young people's access to ideas conservatives don't like. The American Library Association is dead set against it.
Gosh, It's almost as if Baker's trying to take advantage of conservative outrage over drag queen story hours so he can push through a far more sweeping measure to sanitize public libraries. How shocking that is.
And exercise YOUR right to read by joining us Sundayfor the second installment of our latest Book Club, OK? We're reading the Iraq War expos é Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War , by Michael Isikoff and David Corn, chapters 8 through 14. You don't even need to have done all the reading!
Yr Wonkette is supported by reader donations. Please send us money to keep the lights on and the writers paid!