Pro-Trump Republican wants to jail librarians who promote LGBT equality and it all sounds eerily familiar

Nick Duffy January 17, 2020
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Nazis burn LGBT+ and Jewish works at the Institute of Sex Research in Berlin in 1933

Nazis burn LGBT+ and Jewish works at the Institute of Sex Research in Berlin in 1933 (Photo: Public Domain)

A Republican lawmaker in Missouri has proposed a bill that would jail librarians who allow children to access LGBT+ content.

Missouri state representative Ben Baker, a Trump supporter, filed HB 2044 – which would ban libraries from allowing minors to access “any description or representation” of sexuality.

Republican bill threatens librarians with a year in jail.

Under the proposed law, all books available to children would be required to get approval from an elected “parental library review board”, which would also have the power to “order any material deemed to be age-inappropriate sexual material to be removed from public access”.

Librarians who violate the ban on content not deemed “age-appropriate” could face a year in jail and a fine of $500 under the extreme, broadly-written bill, while libraries deemed not to have complied will have their state funding cut off.

Pro-Trump Republican lawmaker Ben Baker
Pro-Trump Republican lawmaker Ben Baker (Photo: Ben Baker for MO)

Speaking to local news station KOAM, Baker said the bill is a response to ‘Drag Queen Story Time’ events, which have led to far-right freak-outs across the US.

He said: “The main thing is I want to be able to take my kids to a library and make sure they’re in a safe environment, and that they’re not gonna be exposed to something that is objectionable material.

“Unfortunately, there are some libraries in the state of Missouri that have done this. And that’s a problem.”

Pro-Trump lawmaker Ben Baker: ‘It’s not censorship to take books away from children.’

Ben Baker denies that his plans amount to censorship because children’s books deemed to violate the rules would be permitted to stay in the library if they are moved to a restricted, adults-only section of the library where under-18s cannot access them.

He said: “I just think that there’s a line between what is open and available access for our children.

“Even the bill specifies it wouldn’t be taken out of the library, it would just be put in a section that’s not for children.”

It is unclear how many Missouri public libraries have adults-only restricted sections.

The plans have been strongly opposed by library officials.

Carrie Cline, Neosho Newton County Library Director, told KNWA: “Libraries are very much against censorship in of any kind, we are one of the last institutions left alive where no matter who you are ethnically, religiously, politically you are welcomed at the public library.

“We believe in your right to view, to see anything you want to see, to read whatever you want to read and we’re not going to get in the way of that.

“A good public library has something in it to offend everyone, or we’re not doing our job.”

For absolutely no reason whatsoever, we’re reminded of the story of Magnus Hirschfield – the doctor and LGBT+ activist who became a Nazi target.

Related topics: Donald Trump, homophobic, Missouri, Republican

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