A new bill advanced by Alabama lawmakers could result in the prosecution of librarians!

Alabama senators adopted legislation on Thursday that could result in librarians being punished under the state’s obscenity law for giving “harmful” materials to children, the latest in a string of proposals in Republican-controlled states targeting library content and decisions.

The Alabama House of Representatives approved the bill 72-28, which now proceeds to the Alabama Senate. The measure comes in the midst of a surge of book challenges, many of which focus on LGBTQ content, as well as moves in some jurisdictions to prohibit drag queen story readings.

“This is an effort to safeguard children. This is not a Democratic bill. This is not a Republican bill. During the discussion, Republican Rep. Arnold Mooney, the bill’s sponsor, stated that it is a people’s bill aimed at protecting children.

A new bill advanced by Alabama lawmakers could result in the prosecution of librarians!

Alabama’s obscenity statute no longer includes an exemption for public libraries. It also broadens the definition of prohibited sexual conduct to include any “sexual or gender-oriented conduct” at K-12 public schools or public libraries that “expose minors to persons who are dressed in sexually revealing, exaggerated, or provocative clothing or costumes, or are stripping, or engaged in lewd or lascivious dancing, presentations, or activities.”

According to the bill’s procedure, a librarian in a public library or public K-12 school may face a criminal penalty if she fails to remove material or discontinue conduct that violates the state’s obscenity law within seven days after receiving a written complaint from the public.

Opponents warned that the idea would subject librarians to criminal prosecution if community members disagreed with their book and program selection judgments.

“This process will be abused and used to jail librarians you dislike, regardless of whether they committed any crimes. “It’s because you disagree with them,” Rep. Chris England, a Democrat from Tuscaloosa, stated during the discussion.

According to Craig Scott, president of the Alabama Library Association, libraries have long-standing systems for examining content acceptability and allowing the public to lodge challenges if they disagree with a decision.

“Why are they coming into libraries or thinking that they can come in and run the place better than us as professionals?” Scott remarked during a phone interview. If the bill becomes law, he predicts that the state will lose “lawsuit after lawsuit”.

In July, a court temporarily blocked Arkansas from enforcing a similar legislation, which would have permitted criminal charges against librarians and booksellers for providing “harmful” items to kids.

Scott, who began his job in 1977, claims he has never witnessed anything like the current situation. He noted that at the Gadsden Public Library, where he works, one person challenged 30 volumes before advancing to a position in library governance. The majority of book challenges are for novels that discuss gender identity. However, they have also included a book about a youngster who aspires to be a ballet dancer, he said.

“We stand for the entire community. We need to be. We have several books in here that are far right. We have several books on the far left. However the library serves the entire community. “We have to stay in the middle as much as possible, and they want to push us far to the right,” Scott remarked.

Republican Rep. David Faulkner, who worked on a substitute version of the bill that was approved by the House, denied that it may have far-reaching consequences. He explained that courts have long interpreted what constitutes obscene material.

According to Faulkner, the measure removes the immunity that public libraries had under the obscenity law while also limiting when prosecutions can occur.

“It’s only going to be a misdemeanor, and it’s only if, after knowing about the material, they didn’t do anything about it,” said the law enforcement official.

Rep. Neil Rafferty, a Democrat from Birmingham, expressed worry that the bill’s phrasing would allow someone to “target and harass people who might be dressed up in a Halloween costume” or wearing summer apparel that was deemed too exposing.

“I feel like this is a violation of the First Amendment, and it’s easily going to be abused,” he was quoted as saying.


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