From Publishing Perspectives:
This weekend, Maria A. Pallante, president and CEO of the Association of American Publishers prepared a message for the association’s membership, writing, “I am very pleased to report that District Court Judge Timothy Brooks has granted preliminary injunctions today in Arkansas on both of AAP’s challenges to Act 372, pending final resolution on the merits.”
Arkansas’ Republican governor, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, had signed the act into law in March, making it in the opinion of many one of the United States’ most severe measures among waves of US book-banning efforts. This law, which was set to go into effect Tuesday (August 1) would, as Pallante describes it, “subject librarians and bookstore owners to criminal prosecution for making content deemed inappropriate (by the state) available to minors, including older minors.”
So repugnant was the thought of criminalizing librarians’ and booksellers’ work that on June 2, the association announced that it was part of a coalition taking Arkansas to court. The association characterizes banning access to various books as a violation of the First Amendment rights of Arkansas’ reading citizens.
You’ll hear this court action referred to as injunctions, plural, and what that refers to is the bench’s temporary blockage of two parts of Act 371. As the AAP describes these two sections, “One component made it a crime for libraries, booksellers, and any brick-and-mortar establishment to display or make available works that might be harmful to minors. This would have required libraries and booksellers to limit all readers to books appropriate for minors or exclude all minor readers from their premises.
“The second provision made it possible for any person in Arkansas to demand the removal of a book the person deemed inappropriate, limiting readers to one person’s opinion about what books should be in the library, and it would have permitted or encouraged review boards to engage in viewpoint- and content-based discrimination.”
. . . .
What has resulted from the court’s Saturday grant is not only a stay against the law going into effect on schedule but also an extensive and what seems to be a deeply felt 49-page document from Judge Brooks.
At a couple of headers, he includes literary quotes, such as Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 lines, “There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running
about with lit matches.”
In one of his most compelling passages, Judge Brooks writes:
“For more than a century, librarians have curated the collections of public libraries to serve diverse viewpoints, helped high school students with their term papers, made recommendations to book clubs, tracked down obscure books for those devoted to obscure pastimes, and mesmerized roomfuls of children with animated storytelling. So, the passage of Act 372 prompts a few simple, yet unanswered questions.
“For example: What has happened in Arkansas to cause its communities to lose faith and confidence in their local librarians? What is it that prompted the general assembly’s newfound suspicion? And why has the state found it necessary to target librarians for criminal prosecution?
“To better understand the present moment and why these questions have surfaced, we must first understand the history, purpose, and function of public libraries in America.”
The Arkansas Library Association was part of the coalition of plaintiffs involved in the effort to stop Arkansas’ Act 372, as was the Central Arkansas Library system; the Freedom to Read Foundation; Pearl’s Books; WordsWorth Books; and the now-familiar core four national organizations which include AAP, the American Booksellers Association; the Authors Guild; and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.
Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives
PG says the Arkansas law was stupid in that it would almost certainly result in litigation that the state would lose. Although PG tends to be on the conservative side of some issues, he regards the law as a form of virtue signaling by the legislators who voted for it.
Local grassroots actions to engage librarians in discussions about how they handle books likely to offend some large portion of the local community is a much better approach in PG’s extraordinarily insightful opinion. Parents going to the library with their children would be the best approach to making certain the children didn’t cross any parental lines in their reading material.
That said, once children reach a certain age if they want to read a book, they’ll do so regardless of parental wishes or diligent supervision. This has been a pattern of behavior that has existed since the creation of libraries and probably before that in some other form.
Somehow, the world has continued and virtuous adults have continued to appear on a regular basis.