They’re Coming For Those Subversive Librarians…

I regularly read Juanita Jean, The World’s Most Dangerous Beauty Shop, to keep up with the governmental insanities we’ve come to expect in the Lone Star State and elsewhere. A recent post reported that a Texas county has joined the battle against those dangerous librarians who are threating…something or other.

Poor Llano County. Some federal judge has just ordered the county to return twelve (yes, count ’em, 12) children’s books to their public library shelves. It seems that the books offended the sensibilities of some adults who object to the racial and LGBT+ issues that are raised in them.

So rather than complying with the judge’s order, Llano County Commissioners are considering an old and accepted recourse: the equivalent of filling in the swimming pool.

Rather than bend to the Feds, the Llano County Commission is studying on nose-thumbing (and nose-cutting/face-spiteing) by closing all of their county libraries.

It’s a really great solution, see. No one can blame them for depriving their children of learning about racism and gender issues if no one in the county can learn about anything at all.

The Commisioners later backed down in the face of ferocious public pushback.

Texas isn’t alone. Republicans all over the country are moving against these purveyors of books with language or ideas that the GOP finds unacceptable. In Missouri, House Republicans recently voted to defund all of the state’s public libraries.  The Republican chair of the budget committee was quoted as saying  that cutting the aid was retaliation for an ACLU lawsuit to overturn a new state law banning sexually explicit material in school libraries.

Apparently,  books and libraries are  “woke.”

Librarians are reeling from the onslaught.In one instance reported by the Guardian, library personnel who had planned to launch a bookmobile in a bus that would visit various sites across town, including three schools, abandoned that plan when a law criminalizing anybody “who makes visually explicit materials available at a school” went into effect. They decided to keep the bookmobile away from schools, noting that violators of the new, nebulously worded law would face up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. As one of the librarians explained, “We are unsure on what someone can interpret as sexually explicit.”

The quotation reminded me of a passage in Nadine Strossin’s 1996 book, Defending Pornography. Since “porn” is in the eye of the beholder,  Strossin wrote “If it turns you on, it’s pornography. If it turns me on, it’s erotica.”

Throwing around and misusing vague labels, of course, is what those who have appropriated and misused the label “conservatives” love to do.

Conservative parent groups that formed to oppose masks during the pandemic, only to pivot to the fight against “critical race theory”, have now begun to focus on scrutinizing books, often by and about queer and Black people, and lobbying for their removal from library shelves. Politicians have hopped on the bandwagon, drafting legislation to supposedly protect children against indoctrination and predation, calling out books by name and making it impossible for the people who run schools and libraries to do their jobs. Fringe activists and government officials are taking to social media, holding meet ups, and riling up their bases with reports of indoctrination, propaganda and the supposedly pornographic materials that lurk on the bookshelves of public institutions.

The culture warriors out to terrorize Marian the Librarian are seeing considerable success. In an Urban Library Trauma study conducted in 2022, more than two-thirds of respondents reported encountering violent or aggressive behavior from patrons at their library.

Conservative parent groups such as Moms for Liberty, No Left Turn in Education and Parents Defending Education aren’t the only ones invested in the fight against books by Black and LGBTQ+ authors. Rightwing extremist groups have also adopted the cause. Proud Boys have taken to storming into Drag Queen Story Hour events, for instance, causing serious fear for patrons and librarians.

Lest we give these censors the benefit of the doubt, thinking they are identifying mostly trashy books, it’s instructive to consult the AIA’s annual list of the most frequently challenged books. Among others, recent lists include Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, and Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye.

The list as a whole is revealing: challenges are overwhelmingly aimed at books by or about LGBTQ+ people, and books critical of racism. According to Google, the most censored books of all times are 1984, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Catcher in the Rye, The Color Purple,The Great Gatsby, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and
Lord of the Flies.

Twentieth -century political philosopher Alexander Mieklejohn said it best: People afraid of an idea–any idea–are unfit for self-government. 


  1. Yes, yes, yes: get on the Republican bandwagon to ban children’s books and others which adults should not be reading while they support porn stars and mass killings of children and other living things.

    Indiana has basically been ignored in the national public spotlight, being a “given” as a staunch Republican state is now in the glare of the public eye as the gathering place of the NRA, Trump and Pence during this lead-in to the Republican presidential campaigns for the 2024 election.

    I much preferred being backstage, behind the scenes as a resident of the “Hoosier” state; a term which has never been defined as far as I know. Please let us return to being known as the home of the 500 Mile Race, the Greatest Race In History, something to be proud of on the national and global levels.

  2. When we returned to the homeland after three years living and working in Jerusalem, we lived near Kingsland at our family place on the banks of the Llano River in Llano County. I visited the library and took out a library card. Perusing the collections, I would not describe the ambiance or presentations of literature particularly excessive on the side of progressive at all. Actually, it seemed middle ground just being a public library providing free access to fine literature. The problem is not the library exceeding its mandated role. After all, a public library offering open access to information and published works has always served a fundamental principle of an open and free democracy. To cancel or compromise that role is to cancel democracy.

  3. And when will the Wrong Wing ban blogs like this?

    I support changing the label from Right to Wrong. If the label on a package of food must be honest, why not political labels?

  4. Morton, good point. I’ll try to do that from now on.

    I don’t know about the rest of the commenters on this blog, but I have become a huge fan of Jaime Raskin. He recently addressed book bans in a short rant on the House Floor. He brought copies of 3 books that had recently been banned: “The Kite Runner”, ” The Handmaid’s Tale”, and “1984”. He attributed the banning of “1984” to the fact that the wrong wing had no sense of irony. IMHO that’s the best line in the recent history of House discourse.

  5. I lived right next to Llano County for 15 years in adjacent Burnet County. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the saying around this area, about 60 miles west of Austin, is that Jesus his own self could run as a Democrat and he’d lose 72 – 28.

    Llano (pronounced LAN-O in Texas) mean plains. Plains are flat. And this is in the middle of the famous Texas Hill Country. The only thing flat there is the politics which tends strongly toward backward which is fueled by remarkably militant churches that have those folks trembling in their boots about just about everything not white, Christian and straight.

    It’s a pity, really. The countryside IS beautiful – and hilly – and there ARE some good, decent, thoughtful, fair-minded fold living in that general area. The pity is that very few of them run for office. So, like Georgia – 14, their representation is an utter embarrassment.

  6. There was good article in the NY Times about why LGTBQ+ issues have exploded into the conscience of the Anti-Woke GOP and it follows a well used pattern. It is an easy issue to fire up the “conservative christian” base. It raises tons of money, and more importantly it will dupe enough voters into thinking candidates actually have a platform (if you don’t think too hard about it). Unlike the Abortion issue there is only a small percentage of the population you’re going to disenfranchise if you actually succeed in banning X, Y, or Z.

    After all, who wouldn’t want to “protect the children”.

  7. No amount of effort by people can make Science, facts, or an idea go away. Libraries are the most important building in a community.

  8. Fox News/Dominion trial put on hold so Fox can talk “settlement”. What better way to cover up their ugly history, which continues being made daily? I hope Dominion is more interested in clearing their name as ballot box providers than making money; the closeness of elections is both a pro and con issue to consider.

  9. LBJ’s Hill Country ranch was across the Llano River from us. Lady Bird left a legacy of bluebonnets that bloomed a large swarth down to the river. With Pack Saddle Mountain on the near horizon, it is a very scenic view not to disappoint. The county commissioners never reflected the more erudite discussions with our neighbors. When elected officials become consumed with divisive politics, prosperity is significantly compromised. When a business puts up a shingle the first dollar is easy. What is difficult is to earn that last dollar that drives margin for profit and new prosperity. When a small engine repair shop puts up a Trump sign thinking good for business …. wrong. They lose the last dollar.

  10. Every time the Wrong Wing targets another group they swell the ranks of their opposition. Blacks, Jews, women, LGBT folks, book lovers and librarians. Their hatred is creating a coalition of enemies. Even some of the oligarchs, seeing where this is headed, are pulling back their support. Smart people don’t want to live in the kind of world the Wrong Wing is trying to create.

  11. Brilliant, Marcus. Brilliant!

    Another thing we should all be saying to people like this is, “By “woke,” you mean educated, right?” That’s really what they are after. Small minds resent great ones.

  12. Watching today’s Republican Party implode is getting more interesting every day. No matter how hard they try, they won’t be able to turn back the hands of time. I hope!

  13. I predicted yesterday that the Dominion/Fox trial might be continued with a settlement in view, and why? Because, as Rupert admitted under oath, it’s all about “the green.” Perhaps, as he may have reasoned, handing over a billion or so in settlement to Dominion is cheaper than the loss of green which could well occur with the loss of viewer base if his dirty laundry were shown at trial.

    The name of the game is advertising revenues, and though Fox’s viewers have in the past seemed not to care about the propaganda excesses of Fox’s liars and propaganda meisters so long as they are being told what they want to hear, why take the risk of having their dirty laundry shown 25 hours a day in perpetuity by their competitors? If Rupert can afford to pay Tucker 35 million dollars a year for keeping a straight face while lying through his teeth he can afford to lay a billion or so on Dominion and have the Wall Street Journal (which he also owns) play down the settlement among his advertisers while his lying commentators ignore there was an adverse holding on the motion for summary judgment and that their defamatory rhetoric damaged the plaintiff.

    In my some 35 years of civil and criminal practice, I have found that judges are constantly complaining about their “crowded dockets” and are thus gratified to see cases set for trial settled and dismissed, especially cases set for jury trial, which take much longer than court trials, so I would not be surprised to see this Dominion case settle or be again continued today. Personally, I would like to see this case go to trial since I think the result would be a welcome addition to Clark and Sullivan First Amendment lore.

  14. What’s one of the first things that burgeoning authoritarianism tries? Stupify the population!

    The presently do it in Russia, they do it in China, they’ve done it in Germany, and Japan! And let’s not forget North Korea.

    The plan? Acquire absolute power so they can absolutely run a corrupt government. Guns guns guns? Guns for everyone? People think that in Nazi Germany they actually tightened gun ownership among the population. But they did not. It was expanded! Just certain people were refused access to unfettered weapons ownership.

    Lugenpressur (fake press) was a campaign that’s actively going on here, but worked well in Germany. If they could get rid of the books in the libraries, they had to do something about the press! Everyone in Germany was not stupified, but those were afraid turned a blind eye to what was going on.

    Large swaths of this planet are turning into absolute authoritarian enclaves. The BRICS block, attempting to usurp the dollar as the go to currency backing everything, seeks to exert more authoritarian control on the world. I mean, Iran, turkey, Syria, China, Russia, India, Saudi Arabia, very populous countries, especially compared to the west.

    This is the same thing that’s happening in our local governments. It’s a microcosm of what’s happening throughout this planet. And, it’s rapidly deteriorating! This is something you can’t fix by forming or joining political action groups. That can has been thoroughly punted out of reach.

  15. Vernon – Based on your description of the terrain of Llano being hilly, rather than flat plains maybe those in power should be concerned about changing their county name to give it a more truthful/honest description.

    While reading today’s blog I started wondering how many of those book banning crusaders subscribe to porn magazines that are within reach of their children or their children know where they are kept.

    I’m truly fed up with ignorant holier than thou right wingers who stay busy judging everyone else while forgetting to look at the liar/sinner in the mirror.

  16. Is anyone else suffering from rage fatigue? It seems every day, shoot, every other hour there is some news on another enraging bill, tactic, etc…I guess it is lucky I don’t own a weapon. I would be at the local range which is pretty much on every other corner along with a church here in the south. When I lived in metro-Indy I only knew of one range, Don Guns because Don loves Guns. Truly, here in the south I am surrounded by gun ranges. I was snarky with a woman who was a professed Christian and how one Sunday she had to go to the range. I snarked–So, in the south you all go to church in the morning and then the range to become proficient killers? I find it fascinating how churches and ranges go and hand in hand down here.

    I will keep voting but I admit to growing tired of the chronic assaults on everything–EVERYTHING

  17. Elaine,

    It’s just a sign of the times! Those folks who want to be proficient in killing by going to the gun range the same day they claim to go to church, is definitely not Christian conduct.

    It becomes not a matter of self-defense anymore, but preparing to fight the government for whatever Q’anon conspiracy they decide to swallow.

    When they can proclaim that old 45 is the son of God, well, right there is a huge red flag at the very least. They are followers of men rather than followers of Christ.

    We tend to demonize Christ and demonize his father, but it’s not them who are doing this stuff.

    I believe I’ve pointed out before, the best way to shut it down is to know what scripture actually says! So when they start their babbling about fighting the government and being prepared for war, Jesus Christ actually said the opposite. I can quote you chapter and verse concerning this, but, way too many refuse to hear it! But it takes something that they actually believe in, or claim to believe in like the Bible, and that particular book will eviscerate their beliefs! In the end, they have no counter argument, so then they’ll try to shoot you lol! I thought I was joking about the shooting of an individual for pointing that out, but I think it’s probably not a joke!

  18. John – none of them have read the Bible let alone understand it. Although personally, that would be the first book I would ban….

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