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National exposure for threats on librarians includes Arkansas

Arkansas News Headlines
Arkansas News Headlines

The New York Times reports today ond as political activists attempt to strip shelves of books they don’t like, particularly concerning sexuality.

Naturally, Arkansas figures in the illustrations from around the country.

Wrote the Times:

As highly visible and politicized book bans have exploded across the country, librarians — accustomed to being seen as dedicated public servants in their communities — have found themselves on the front lines of an acrimonious culture war, with their careers and their personal reputations at risk.

They have been labeled pedophiles on social media, called out by local politicians and reported to law enforcement officials. Some librarians have quit after being harassed online. Others have been fired for refusing to remove books from circulation.

In many communities, putting books on the shelves has become a polarizing act and has “turned librarians into this political pawn,” said Ami Uselman, the director of library and media services for Round Rock Independent School District, in Texas.

“You can imagine our librarians feel scared,” she said, “like their character was in question.”

Arkansas represents the trend in cases familiar to Arkansas Times readers.

First in Cabot, where police found little to be concerned about — though school officials did — when an angry protester was recorded making a comment about  shooting librarians.

In Cabot, Ark., the local police department investigated a woman who said that if she had “any mental issues,” staff at a local school library would be “plowed down” with a gun, according to a police report. The police determined that the incident, which took place at a meeting of Moms For Liberty — a group that has pushed for book bans around the country — was not made in context of a threat and there was no need to file charges.

Then there’s Jonesboro, as we’ve reported before.

Tonya Ryals quit her job as the assistant director of the Jonesboro Public Library, in Craighead County, Ark., in February after her library board introduced a slate of new policies, including requiring board approval for every new book acquired for the children’s collection. The policies were voted down, but the vitriol she encountered online became too much, she said.

“There were comments about library staff, calling us groomers and pedophiles and saying we needed to be fired, we need to be jailed, we needed to be locked up, that all the books needed to be burned,” she said. “It got to a certain point where I thought, do I want to live here? Is this something I can subject myself to?”

Cancel culture is public policy in Arkansas these days.

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