Texas Bigots Demand Safe Space From Reality In Public Libraries
Here’s some shocking news, presuming you are easily shocked, like when you find a penny in the “leave a penny/take a penny” jar. The critical race theory panic has spread from public schools to anywhere in the public where young minds might learn something. Education is airborne and there’s no vaccine. The only treatment is a good, old-fashioned book burning.
The Texas Tribune reports that the Llano County Library will shut down for three days this week so librarians can conduct a “thorough review” of every children’s book in the library, as commanded by the Llano County Commissioners Court. The “mission” is to ensure the reading material is “age appropriate” for younger readers. This is leading exactly where you think it is.
Llano County is about 80 miles and 80 years northwest of Austin. Llano County Judge Ron Cunningham said, "I think we owe it to all parents, regardless if it’s a school library or a public library, to make sure that material is not inappropriate for children.” However, Texans are allowed to enter public libraries with handguns, as long as they are concealed or holstered. Guns are more dangerous than books, but some Texas busybodies disagree.
This latest attack on free speech comes after state Rep. Matt Krause, a candidate for attorney general, challenged the inclusion of more than 850 books about race, equality, and sexuality. Llano County has suspended its online library service, which cuts off children in oppressive homes, as well as elderly and disabled residents.
Over in Victoria, Texas, Cindy Herndon wants the public library to remove Dean Atta’s The Black Flamingo, a coming-of-age story about a multi-racial gay teenager who becomes a drag artist.
“It’s nothing that I have against anybody in any community,” said Herndon, 64. “I don’t have any resentment or lack of respect for them. It’s just about protecting the children and exposing them to things that they really don’t need to see right now.”
Don’t look! Don’t look at the unconventional person!
Herndon read the book, and because she doesn’t like it, she must make sure no one else reads it. She’s like an online Twitter critic. Herndon claims the book “sexualize[s] children, especially into alternate lifestyles, and make them want to be someone else than who they were born to be.” The next time she’s at the library, she should stop cruising the YA section and check out some philosophy books that explore determinism versus free will. It’s not anyone’s destiny to exist in the fashion that makes Herndon comfortable.
According to Dayna Williams-Capone, the director of library services in Victoria, the number of book complaints her office has received recently are the most she’s seen in her 13 years at the Victoria Public Library. In August, there were 40 formal requests for a review of books for children, and the forbidden topics were consistent — same-sex relationships, sexuality, and race. I doubt we’ll see many challenges to The Great Gatsby or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Williams-Capone and her staff reviewed the requests but kept the challenged books on the shelves. Residents appealed the decision for half the books to the library’s advisory board, which also voted to keep the books.
Libraries are a public good — more of that socialism, you know — but nothing is preventing these people from starting their own private bookstores where queerness doesn’t exist.
Amy Garvel, 43, led a group of neo-Puritans who put together a Grinch’s naughty list of more than 200 books in the Victoria Library’s catalog they considered offensive. Garvel herself demanded the removal of Meredith Russo's If I Was Your Girl, which features a trans character, and Alex Gino’s Rick, whose title character joins an LGBTQ group to explore his sexual identity.
Here’s how this horrible woman justifies herself:
My goal is really to protect the children in our community in general, not just my own children. I’m hoping that [the library] sees that we’re not trying to censor books that we’re trying to protect our children. I mean, the library was one of the last places that we could feel safe.
The library isn’t a safe space for bigots. They already have churches and the Republican Party. Libraries are, though, a place where young people could find books that might help them understand themselves better or realize they aren’t alone. Garvel and her ilk want to deprive them of this sanctuary. Like any Afterschool Special villain, Garvel is a self-described conservative who is “very careful” that her nine-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter never realize the outside world exists.
This is the true “cancel culture,” and it’s only getting worse.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."