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MY TURN: In defense of children, not libraries

by KARA CLARIDGE/Guest Opinion
| March 18, 2023 1:00 AM

Coeur d’Alene Library Trustee Steve McCrea recently claimed libraries are being challenged by a small number of people in the community who believe the library is blatantly sexualizing and grooming children. As a weekly library patron, regular attendee of board meetings and mother of five children, my assessment is that a large majority of the community are mortified with what our local library now offers our children and teens under the guise of free speech. This can be proven in part by the people we elected to represent us in the Legislature, many of whom actively made cleaning up the library from pornography part of their platform. And who at this very moment are fighting to pass legislation in Boise that would protect our children.

The appeal by Mr. McCrea to uphold the rights of parents seems noble and I would agree, but what is being omitted is the glaring fact that even in the ideal situation where a parent is in the library looking for a book with their child, it has become a landmine of perversion, especially in the teen section. Though there is some attempt to have a selection of classics and some moral titles, much of what is on display is appalling. The content isn’t just a little bit naughty anymore, it is nauseatingly evil with no redemptive value.

Recently, Rep. Jaron Crane of Nampa and co-sponsor of the Library Protection Act, appealed to the Idaho Constitution, Article 3, Section 24 which says “the promotion of temperance and morality, the first concern of all good government is the virtue and sobriety of the people and the purity of the home.” Also worthy of consideration is the 2003 landmark case of the United States v. American Library Association in which all members of the United States Supreme Court agreed libraries have a legitimate and compelling interest in protecting young library users from material inappropriate to minors.

Thankfully, this is not China or Russia. But Mr. McCrea is missing the point. It’s not that there isn’t freedom to read or that parents don’t have the final say for their child. It’s that what is purchased at an ever increasing rate and displayed in the library might have you arrested if you gave it to minors at the local gas station — it’s that bad. It’s past time the Coeur d’Alene library trustees took the concerns of local citizens seriously and cleaned up the shelves from pornography and content harmful to minors.

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Kara Claridge is a Coeur d’Alene resident.