No on H384
❌ Myth: Libraries are full of obscene books and pornography.
✅ Truth: No matter how many times this is repeated, it just isn’t true. Obscenity is legally defined by the Miller Test, which demands books lacking serious value in literary, artistic, political, or scientific aspects to be considered obscene. There are already laws in place to protect against obscene materials so if the library was truly full of pornography there would already be legal challenges throughout the state. The reason book banners aren’t arresting library staff and bringing the libraries to court is because they know nothing in the library would fail the Miller Test.
In truth, many of the books falsely targeted as obscene or dangerous disproportionately feature LGBTQ or characters of color. It seems as if book banners care less about upholding obscenity standards and more about silencing dissenting voices.
❌ Myth: Libraries lack accountability. A law with punitive measures must be passed so libraries and their staff can be punished if they do something we don’t approve of.
✅ Truth: Libraries are already held accountable. Most are governed by a citizen-led board that is either elected or appointed by local government. School librarians are overseen by a school principal and district superintendents that are in turn governed by an elected board. By passing legislation that punishes libraries or staff for alleged misdeeds, the state legislature is trying to override local control and put themselves in charge of your library content.
❌ Myth: This is just about books in the children’s section.
✅ Truth: While this misinformation was repeated multiple times by the bill’s sponsor last year, the proposed bill targeted any book in the library. If a minor could find a book a parent found objectionable anywhere in a library building, including the adult section, the organization or its staff could be targeted for penalties.
❌ Myth: Libraries have no process for how they choose books, so one needs to be mandated by law.
✅ Truth: Every community or school library has an established procedure for vetting, shelving, and removing books. In fact, librarians are happy to explain this process, if asked. Library staff are dedicated professionals, many of whom have spent years obtaining degrees in library science, and libraries have long been integral to communities since the early 1900s. The legislature may introduce bills this session to wrestle these processes from the hands of professional librarians and impose a biased system that gives more power to people who want to ban books. They may even go a step further by forcing libraries to use citizen committees appointed by government officials to choose what books should be in the library.
❌ Myth: Books aren’t being banned. If a book is available at a bookstore or allowed in your home, it isn’t truly banned.
✅ Truth: Removing books from libraries due to legislation is the very definition of book banning. What’s more, book banning creates an access issue. Books are expensive. Libraries currently provide books at no charge. If the only way to read a book is to purchase it yourself, you’ve reduced access for anyone facing financial difficulties. Sadly, books are being removed from school and community libraries throughout the state due to political pressure, a trend that may worsen if bills similar to past sessions pass.
❌ Myth: This is a parental rights issue.
✅ Truth: This is true, but not in the way it’s being framed. It is a parent’s right to shield their child from media that conflicts with their personal views, but the proposed bills don’t stop there. A very small group of parents and politicians want to remove all materials from school and community libraries that they find objectionable, impinging on the rights of other parents who support their children's access to a wider array of books. (A report last year found that just 11 people are responsible for 60% of book ban requests across the US.) Even worse, some banners advocate for removing books from the adult section to help protect children, exemplified by Ada County Library's brief removal of a novel by Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison from the adult section last spring.
❌ Myth: Children accessing dangerous books from libraries is a common issue and legislation must be passed quickly to stop it.
✅ Truth: This is a non-issue, with an established process already in place to handle book challenges. The current concern over"dangerous books" mirrors the sudden, media-driven uproar over CRT or critical race theory (an issue both nationally and in our own Idaho legislature to indoctrinate). There was a panic that academics and teachers were trying to indoctrinate children into socialism by talking about equity, diversity, and racial issues in the classroom, and in response books by authors of color and books about slavery were targeted for removal. Fortunately, the public and politicians lost interest in the issue. Not because the problem was solved, but because most people realized the problem never existed in the first place.
We believe Idaho’s legislators should focus on pressing education concerns, from underfunded and crumbling school facilities to the national dip in academic scores after the pandemic, rather than squandering resources on a non-issue like "dangerous books" in libraries.