Friday, August 19, 2022

Idaho Library Board Meeting Swarmed By ... People Who LOVE Libraries!

Here is your Culture Wars Nice Time story for today! In Meridian, Idaho, a “bedroom community” of Boise (where housing prices mean you’re lucky if you can afford an entire bedroom), Wednesday’s monthly Library Board meeting drew a far larger crowd than usual — upwards of 100 people, according to Boise State Public Radio, or around 200 people, according to local TV station KTVB. While there was a small group of organized rightwing protesters there to decry all the porn and Marxism they were sure are taking over Idaho (yes really), the vast majority of people at the meeting were there to show they appreciate the public library system and to make clear they don’t want fear and intimidation to change how the libraries operate.

For once I’m pretty darn proud to live in Idaho, at least in the People’s Socialist Republic of Boise.

When we first learned of the meeting via a Twitter post with video of the wingnuts, we were worried, because get a load of some of these loons with their bullshit “groomers!” chants and their complaints that the libraries are perverting young minds with tiny cartoon genitals — yes, the very tiny cartoon genitals that so vexed former SNL doofus Victoria Jackson years ago, albeit in a newer edition, with the same tiny cartoon genitals but 20 percent America-destroying, because pronouns.

Now, if you’re wondering about that “Paw Patrol” thing, that is an Idaho Liberal joke about an actual rightwing group here that calls itself the “Idaho Liberty Dogs” because they fiercely defend American Values and also tend to bark their heads off at imaginary threats like the imminent takeover of Idaho by Gay Marxists driving electric cars. The Ezra Pound Puppies (get it? He was a Nazi sympathizer!) didn’t organize the protest at the library, but helped promote the Fear-In that was put together by a different bunch calling itself “Concerned Citizens of Meridian” because apparently “Anodyne Generic Civic Groupname” was already taken.

One thing about calling publicly for a big Protect The Children From Books protest, though, is that there’s always the danger that a lot of people who are sick of all this Culture War crap will show up to say they like their library A LOT, which is what happened, HOORAY.

One of the Uptight Citizens Brigade members, who can be seen in the video, said she definitely didn’t want to ban any books, but simply wanted to

make sure the library conforms to the wishes of Concerned Citizens of Meridian, especially responsible parents who want to protect their children from Marxist indoctrination that seems to be sweeping our country. We believe this insidious growth that’s happening in our world must be stopped in its tracks and one way we intend to do that is by restricting the kinds of subversive materials available to our children in our libraries.

But not by banning books, just by restricting them, you see? She also explained that she didn’t want her tax money going to promote perversion and Penguin Lust. We bet she’d also say she doesn’t hate gay people, just the ones who “have no personality outside of gay,” which is all of them.

My money does not support grooming children, showing private parts in a library to five-year-olds. Men and women, men and men on top of each other. This has nothing to do with being gay. I know that is everything some of these people are about. They have no personality outside of gay. I just don’t like other people’s ideologies being crammed down my throat and them trying to force me to accept their evil behaviors.

We’re pretty sure she’s talking about the cartoony illustrations in It’s Perfectly Normal, which we should point out is aimed at fifth and sixth graders, but not kindergarteners, unless they’ve been left back a lot of grades. We should also note that none of the Meridian libraries actually carry the current edition (one branch has the parent-teacher guide of an older version), although you could certainly request it from other Boise-area libraries. Pretty sure not many kindergarteners are using interlibrary loan.

But let us not focus on the negative! Another audience member, Don Gelsomino, called out the bigots very directly:

I’m a proud Meridian citizen, I’m a Christian, I’m a conservative, I’m a parent, and I’m gay. […] The accusations of grooming, a common dog whistle by bigots, implying LGBTIQ is a choice, I can speak from personal, profound spiritual experience that it is not a choice.

Another member of the audience defended tiny cartoony genitals, even if they came from another library or a bookstore:

I use the library a lot with my children. We used the book It’s Perfectly Normal when my husband was deployed and I had to teach my children, my sons, about sex ed. It was not a very comfortable topic when it came up and my husband was on a ship, so I used the book.

Others talked about how essential libraries are to democracy and being an informed citizen, and about how developing a love of reading is just wonderful.

UPDATE: Somehow I missed this sequel video featuring defenders of the library. Some of them are simply wonderful.

Oh yes, also, the librarians pointed out that many of the books the groups had complained about just plain aren’t in the children’s sections, other than Perfectly Normal and the goofball Captain Underpants series, which are not in with the picture books for little tiny tots but are in the “Juvenile” section for older kids. Also yeesh, Captain Underpants bothers them? Do they think that were it not for that series, kids would not think underwear is hilarious?

In conclusion, hooray for good libraries, which are good for communities, and hooray for tiny cartoon genitals, too, the end.

[Boise State Public Radio / KTVB-TV / Idaho Statesman]

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