Whatever Happened to the Library Smut Bill?

 

Whatever Happened to the Library Smut Bill?

Rep. Chad Christensen (R-Ammon) was recently suspended from Facebook. His offense? Sharing photocopied pictures of books available in the children’s and young adults’ sections of local libraries.

The images were undoubtedly pornographic. For example, one illustration from the graphic novel Gender Queer portrays a character performing oral sex on a teenage boy.

Shockingly, Gender Queer is available in the Boise High School Library, as are other graphic novels like Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, which graphically depicts a young lesbian girl masturbating and performing sex acts on her girlfriend.

As Rep. Chad Christensen told me a few weeks ago, “It is ironic that Facebook put me on a three-day suspension for posting materials that our children can access in their school libraries.”

And it’s not just school libraries. Our public libraries regularly stock their children’s and young adults’ sections with erotic novels and other pornographic books that sometimes even portray sexual acts by children.

One such erotic novel, All Boys Aren’t Blue, is available in both the young adults’ section at the Post Falls Library and at the Boise High School Library. It includes many nauseating and inappropriate sex scenes, including one about two children who are cousins:

 

“Then you got down on your knees and told me to close your eyes. That’s when you began oral sex on me as well…. You began humping me – back and forth, back and forth – never penetrating me, though. It was just our bodies on top of each other… You began stroking yourself in front of me. I just stood there nervous because I didn’t know what to expect.”

 

It should be disturbing to all clear-thinking Idahoans that such pornographic material is readily available to children in school and community libraries.

 

House Bill 666

That’s why Idaho Family Policy Center helped champion House Bill 666, which was courageously sponsored by Rep. Gayann Demordaunt (R-Eagle) in the face of incredible opposition. The bill would have removed an existing statutory exemption that effectively allows librarians and schoolteachers to distribute obscene and pornographic materials to children.

Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the Idaho Library Association and local media outlets lobbied hard against the legislation by disseminating fake news about the bill, which ultimately failed without ever receiving a vote in the Idaho Senate.

First, local reporters incorrectly asserted that school and community libraries do not make obscene and pornographic material available to children, despite ample evidence to the contrary, including testimony from local librarians and current library catalog listings.

Second, the Idaho Library Association and local media erroneously claimed that obscene and pornographic “material harmful to minors” is not defined in statute. They also sounded alarm that the legislation could be weaponized to ban Harry Potter, Twilight, civil war histories, or other controversial books.

This couldn’t be further from the truth—Idaho law plainly defines “material harmful to minors.” Furthermore, Idaho law expressly specifies that no work with literary, artistic, scientific, or political value for children qualifies as “material harmful to minors,” meaning that neither Harry Potter nor Twilight would end up as book burning fodder, as several librarians alleged.

Moreover, library emails acquired in a public records request reveal some librarians vowing to “fight this to the end,” even if the legislation were signed into law.

As an aside, it is worth noting that the Idaho Library Association is affiliated with the American Library Association, which unsuccessfully sued the federal government over a law that prevents children from accessing internet pornography on federally funded library computers.

 

Killed By Senate Leadership

All this fake news created confusion in the Idaho Senate over the extent of the problem, as well as the practical effects of House Bill 666.

Even though the House passed the legislation with a veto-proof supermajority, Senate leadership refused to give the bill a committee hearing, and it never came up for a vote on the Senate floor.

Remarkably, Senate President Pro Tem Chuck Winder (R-Meridian) publicly described our effort to restrict children’s access to porn in libraries as “mischief” and “craziness.” He also confirmed that he had assigned the bill to the Senate State Affairs Committee so it would be put in a “drawer” and never see the light of day.

 

We Need Better

It is disappointing that Senate leadership shelved the bill and prevented it from receiving a vote. And it is also unfortunate that Senate leadership rejected House Resolution 23, which simply affirmed the legislature’s responsibility to ensure children are protected from sexually harmful material in public libraries and schools.

Regrettably, Senate leadership attempted to split the difference by promising to organize a working group that will “study” the problem. But we don’t have time to waste. The innocence of our children is at stake.

After all, pornographic images and books that can get you banned from Facebook don’t belong in schools or public libraries. And Idaho parents should reasonably expect that their children will not encounter material harmful to minors while making use of taxpayer-funded library services.

It’s time for state legislators to show some backbone. Children need to be protected. We will stay on top of this issue and keep you updated,

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