Here are the Top 5 reasons Idaho Gov. Little should veto the library book ban bill | Opinion

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The Idaho Legislature has passed yet another iteration of a library book ban bill. When legislators did this last year, Idaho Gov. Brad Little showed courage and did the right thing by vetoing it.

He should do the same thing this time around. Here are five reasons why:

It’s a bogeyman. Vilifying librarians as groomers and falsely claiming there’s “pornography” in our libraries is just the latest bogeyman in the culture wars being waged by the far right. Kids aren’t getting porn from libraries.

It’s unnecessary. Libraries already have policies in place to handle complaints about books that some people don’t like. Adding this layer of civil action is unnecessary. We trust our librarians and local library board to make the right decisions.

While local librarians and their local library boards make decisions about what should be on their library’s shelves, this bill essentially gives veto power to anyone who doesn’t like some passage in a book.

It will disproportionately hurt small library districts. The bill states that a library has 60 days to address a concern from a library patron. That sounds fair, right? But what happens if the librarian and library board simply don’t agree that a book should be moved? That patron can then sue the library district. The 60-day limit really is meaningless in this legislation. The end result is still a possible lawsuit. This will particularly harm small, rural districts operating on shoestring budgets that can ill afford to defend themselves against even frivolous attacks.

It will have a chilling effect. The net effect of this bill will be to have a chilling effect on local librarians and local library board members, who, afraid of a lawsuit from some cranky outlier, will instead pull books from their shelves.

While supporters of the bill claim they want to go after what they call “pornography,” under Idaho definition, that includes any homosexual act. That’s really what this is all about: Trying to remove materials from the libraries so that LGBTQ-plus children don’t see representation of themselves on the shelves. Under this bill, any bigot can challenge any book that has two gay characters kissing, for example. If you think that’s not going to happen, you’re sadly mistaken.

Look who’s behind the bill. The self-proclaimed Christian nationalist organization Idaho Family Policy Center drafted “The Children’s School and Library Protection Act,” and then applauded passage of the “library porn bill.” Gov. Little may not consider himself a Christian nationalist, but by signing this bill, he’s siding with the Christian nationalists, and he should recognize that he’s being used as a tool for their purposes.

“My main concern is that the bill’s ambiguity will have unintended consequences for Idaho libraries and their patrons,” Little wrote when he vetoed the library bill last year. “This legislation makes sweeping, blanket assumptions on materials that could be determined as ‘harmful to minors’ in a local library, and it will force one interpretation of that phrase onto all the patrons of the library.”

When it comes to this year’s version of the library bill, Little could simply copy and paste those words into this year’s veto letter.

Statesman editorials are the unsigned opinion of the Idaho Statesman’s editorial board. Board members are opinion editor Scott McIntosh, opinion writer Bryan Clark, editor Chadd Cripe, newsroom editors Dana Oland and Jim Keyser and community members Mary Rohlfing and Patricia Nilsson.