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MY TURN: Summarizing the sheriff's library book situation

by ED LOCKWOOD/Guest Opinion
| October 7, 2023 1:00 AM

Let me see if I have this Sept. 27 Press article (“Sheriff Scopes Books”) right.

The sheriff becomes aware of a community disagreement about how public library books should be shelved. Group A thinks certain books should not be in certain sections of the library. Group B thinks that parents should raise, and guide, their own children based on their kids’ maturity.

The sheriff is confused by this controversy. He doesn’t know what to believe.

So, the sheriff goes to a couple of local libraries to have a look for himself. Likely in uniform, he brings crime investigating equipment with him. He finds a couple books in the Young Adult section that “shocks” and offends him because these books use explicit, dirty words. In his personal opinion, these books are “inappropriate” where they are placed. Like the parents in Group B, he wouldn’t want his teenager looking at these books.

Teenagers are, after all, curious about these things. In his professional opinion, the Sheriff speculates that some of these kids could try out what they read on younger kids. Perhaps become predators.

The sheriff personally believes that some parents in Group B are not trustworthy. Some of them could kids dope or booze or porn.

Apparently, to prevent future crimes from happening, the sheriff takes the books that personally offend him from the library. And he says that he’s not giving them back — although he might buy them. [How often has the sheriff heard shoplifters offer to pay for the item after being caught?]

The next time the sheriff is in a reading mood, he might want to take a look at Idaho Code Section 18-2403(1). It says here, “A person steals property and commits theft when, with intent to deprive another of property or to appropriate the same to himself or a third person, he wrongfully takes, obtains or withholds such property from an owner thereof.”

Evidently, the sheriff has found clarity from his initial confusion. Although he includes himself in Group B when it comes to his family, he’s siding with Group A when it comes to other people’s families.

So, what’s a proper summary to this story? “Morality police confiscate library books,” or “Sheriff confesses to theft of public property.”

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Ed Lockwood is a Coeur d'Alene resident.