Wednesday, June 14, 2023

It's About Damn Time


J. B. Pritzker

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday signed into law a bill that he says will make Illinois the first state in the nation to outlaw book bans.

Illinois public libraries that restrict or ban materials because of “partisan or doctrinal” disapproval will be ineligible for state funding as of Jan. 1, 2024, when the new law goes into effect....

WBEZ --“Book bans are about censorship, marginalizing people, marginalizing ideas and facts,” Pritzker declared at the Harold Washington Library, the crown jewel of Chicago’s public library system. “Regimes ban books, not democracies.”

NYTimes -- “While certain hypocritical governors are banning books written by L.G.B.T.Q. authors, but then claiming censorship when the media fact-checks them, we are showing the nation what it really looks like to stand up for liberty,” Mr. Pritzker, a Democrat, said...

Governor Pritzker appeared to call out, though not by name, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, a Republican who has staked his 2024 presidential candidacy in part on his status as a driver of Conservative policies addressing cultural issues.

Governor DeSantis supported state laws aimed, at least in part, at limiting access to some reading materials in public schools. Books targeted to be removed have dealt primarily with L.G.B.T.Q. and social justice themes, with some groups objecting to materials on gender and sexuality in books that schoolchildren could read.

Other states, including Georgia and Kentucky, have followed suit with laws that could make it easier to lodge complaints about specific books and influence library or education boards, according to EveryLibrary, a political action committee that advocates for increased public library funding and tracks proposed book regulation laws across the country.

“Libraries are not in the book banning business, but they are becoming sites of censorship by groups that are oftentimes not even reading the books,” Tracie D. Hall, executive director of the American Library Association, said in an interview.

Efforts to censor books doubled in 2022 over the previous year, according to a report of the library association, which counted 1,269 attempts to remove books and other reading materials....

...the “vast majority” of materials targeted for removal are about or are written by people of color or members of the L.G.B.T.Q. community.

Even librarians have found themselves targeted by groups seeking to pull materials from shelves. Many have been “chased out” of their jobs, according to Ms. Hall. The association’s fund to support librarians facing job losses, she said, is constantly depleted.

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