Remember this remarkable story of stealthy government suppression of ideas and books the next time leftists caterwaul about alleged conservative “book banning.“
In December 2022, actor and Christian Kirk Cameron requested an opportunity to read his faith-based picture book As You Grow at libraries across the country. Fifty-five libraries—many or all of which allowed drag queen story hours—refused his request. Cameron and his book publisher Brave Books pushed back and eventually, he was able to read his book about the fruits of the spirit at story hours attended by hundreds of families.
As enthusiastic support for these story hours grew, Cameron and Brave Books organized a national story hour campaign called “See You At the Library” to take place at community libraries across the country on August 5, 2023. They are encouraging community members to contact their local libraries to reserve a meeting room for readings of Bible stories, books published by Brave Books, or other children’s books about virtue.
Sounds like a wholesome and refreshing change from story hours in which cross-dressing adult men in woman-face read books intended to lure toddlers into Transtopia. Who would object to innocent books on love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?
As it turns out, opposition to virtue and diversity of ideas is coming from the strangest place: the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.
Two weeks ago, an organization called Library 2.0 held a worldwide webinar which included a presentation titled “Banned Books and Censorship” by Deborah Caldwell-Stone, the director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom and executive director of the Freedom to Read Foundation. Caldwell-Stone inadvertently exposed the hypocrisy of leftists when sharing her now not-so-secret plans to suppress story hour content that she hates.
She began by alleging that conservatives “exploit the open nature of public libraries to advance their agenda.” Exploiting libraries? Advancing agendas? Sounds like a conspiracy. Caldwell-Stone, also an attorney, evidently seeks to follow the letter of the law while engaging in viewpoint discrimination and suppressing public access to meeting rooms. Here’s what she told other leftist librarians:
Let’s look at how you can use … public forum doctrine to construct policies and procedures that will help you keep control of the library yourself. (emphasis added)
Not only do leftists believe your children are their children, but they also believe our libraries are their libraries. They’ve got the whole world in their hands.
She offers more tips on the fine art of government suppression:
Remember, libraries are for receipt of information. That means the First Amendment does not require the library to even offer meeting room spaces. So, in regard to the Kirk Cameron thing, you are not obligated to offer public meeting rooms spaces or invite the public in to use the library. Of course … [y]ou don’t want to deny your community access to a public meeting room to serve those community groups that really need to use it, in which case you need to develop policies that leave you in control of the library. …
You can have restrictions on the length of meetings or the availability of meeting rooms—you know, limited to business hours. You can choose not to offer meeting rooms on Sundays. … You can limit the frequency of using a room—you know, no more than once a week or a month. You can impose rental fees for rooms … or for the use of library equipment. … You can have capacity limitations. … You can make a priority for library-sponsored programs. What if your library decided to offer a whole host of programs in its meeting room on August 5th, making it unavailable for the public? That's another option for you. (emphasis added)
Beginning with a risible cover-her-arse comment, Caldwell-Stone reminds her minions about the heart of the mission for their libraries:
[P]olicy has to be applied equally to all, but you can start seeing how you can start constructing rules that might respond to individuals who want to exploit your meeting rooms … to promote a particular cause.
Caldwell will not tolerate the exploitation of her libraries for particular causes. No way. So, she’s going to exploit rule-construction to prevent library meeting room exploitation. She can’t have people like Cameron exploiting libraries for causes like promoting virtue—especially when drag queens need those meeting rooms for the promotion of no cause—none whatsoever.
In a video posted just three weeks earlier, Caldwell-Stone fretted that conservative parents are “seeking to control what young people read and see both in the school library and the public library.” Seems a curious thing to say just weeks before she outlined sneaky ways to control what young people see during story hours.
Freedom fighter Caldwell-Stone is nothing if not a dissembler. She accuses conservatives who object to books that contain pornographic content of “peddling a pernicious lie.” How does she rationalize that claim?
First, she relies on a strictly legal definition of pornography, saying it is “absolutely untrue” that libraries “make a point of acquiring illegal pornography.”
For the non-attorneys among us, “illegal pornography” is defined as “pictures and/or writings of sexual activity intended solely to excite lascivious feelings”—heavy emphasis on “solely.”
In another interview, Caldwell-Stone similarly relies on the legal definition of “obscenity” to defend the “right” of libraries to make obscene, pornographic materials available to minors. She explains that obscenity is defined in the law as “sexually explicit materials that are created solely for the purpose of causing sexual excitement—have no serious value, and … —are presented in a prurient fashion.” There’s that tricksy word “solely” again.
But here’s the rub, many parents have a more inclusive, expansive definition of pornography and obscenity. In the view of many parents, graphic depictions and descriptions of oral sex, anal sex, and the use of sex toys are pornographic and obscene no matter the context or some leftist’s belief that the text as a whole has some “serious value.”
The second way Caldwell-Stone dissembles is through the books she uses as proof that parental concerns about pornography are “pernicious lies.” She asserts that the books parents claim are pornographic are “books like And Tango Makes Three, a children's picture book that simply shows the true story of two male penguins getting together to raise a chick together, or a book called Drama by Raina Telgemeier which simply shows two pre-teens sharing a chaste kiss.”
Well, that’s kinda, sorta, maybe truthy-ish. Many parents do, indeed, object to their young children being exposed to these books but not because the books are pornographic. They object to their young children being exposed to them because the books implicitly espouse moral assumptions that are wrong and age-inappropriate. Espousing and affirming leftist moral assumptions about homosexuality are the goals of the books’ authors.
If Caldwell-Stone were honest in her discussion of parental objections to pornographic content, she would have cited books like Gender Queer, Lawn Boy, and All Boys Aren’t Blue. But that would have necessitated explaining how wrong parents are to consider pornographic drawings of strap-on dildos and sexually arousing descriptions of the pleasures of sodomy.
Those tempted to dismiss Caldwell-Stone as a nobody with no influence would do well to remember the law just passed in Illinois to ensure leftists and leftists only are allowed to continue banning books. This law requires libraries to adopt policies written by the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom—that Caldwell-Stone controls—in order to access state grants.
Caldwell-Stone claimed fealty to unfettered access to the full and free exchange of information that we can bring “into the marketplace of ideas … to use … when making judgments about what we want to do with our government”:
Libraries are all about access to ideas and information, all kinds of ideas and information: pro, con, objectionable, unobjectionable, unorthodox, all kinds of ideas.
Prove it, Ms. Caldwell-Stone. Halt construction on rules, policies, and procedures intended to ban conservative story hours. And admit that libraries belong to the public—not to sneaky leftist librarians.