Rapides Library Board of Control member James Morgan. (Photo by Frances Madeson)
With regards to “AG Jeff Landry asked to weigh in on Rapides library policy,” by Frances Madeson, Jan. 19, 2023
I am writing in response to the long-awaited public comments from James Morgan on the merits of his proposed amendment to the Rapides Parish Library Collection Policy as mentioned in the recent Louisiana Illuminator article. It is believable that Mr. Morgan wrote the amendment himself as he has stated because it is so poorly worded and unvetted by legal counsel and the Library Board of Control.
However, he was not the first to push such a policy because there is a coordinated campaign across the state, as well as the country, to infiltrate local libraries, school boards, municipalities and other agencies with far right policies that have failed at the national level. They invoke the same strategy of exaggeration, deception and fear mongering to drive public support from their constituents, which is a useful tool that enables them to fundraise and boost their conservative bonafides even with failed attempts.
They turn around and use the public opposition and their defeats to feed their conspiracy theories that there are covert “gay agendas,” “attacks on the traditional family,” and “demonic forces” working against them. These extremist views are delusional.
White Christian nationalism has a well used playbook to keep women subservient, people of color oppressed and immigrants exploited.
The reality is that the political and religious landscape of our country and our community is changing within our lifetime. Those changes are frightening to people like Mr. Morgan and religious extremists who wish to remake our culture with their version of fundamentalist Christianity.
No matter how hard the far right continues to push these kind of discriminatory policies, it will not change the avalanche of shifting demographics in our country that threatens the Mayberry version of life to which religious conservatives would have us return.
White Christian nationalism has a well used playbook to keep women subservient, people of color oppressed and immigrants exploited. The attack on LBGTQ individuals and families, especially transgender persons, is only the latest use of the same tactics we have seen and, “thank God Almighty,” have overcome time and again in this country.
Mr. Morgan’s policy does not even address pornography as he claims to be concerned about, and the presence of actual pornography has not been proven to even exist in our library system. Furthermore, the current collection policy has a review process in place for complaints and staff who are educated and experienced in the procurement and review of any possible truly inappropriate materials. His policy contains no details of how or when it would be implemented nor definitions of the words he uses which are open to a wide range of interpretation.
Mr. Morgan would have us to believe that young children who cannot even read might accidentally see the cover of a book on the shelf that would be so offensive or it’s illustrations so explicit that it would either scar that child developmentally or cause them to become gay.
That is absurd. Sexual orientation and gender identity are not passed on like COVID, precautions for which the far right fought hard against in the public domain even though it was actually debilitating and life threatening.
There are no book covers or illustrations in the children section that begin to rival the tabloid covers in the grocery store that children see everyday or daytime soap operas or evening dramas broadcast on public airwaves that their parents may have on screen, not mentioning the unfettered access to anything available on the internet. Perhaps the same parental discretion utilized at home could be used when those parents check books out for their minor children at the library.
One of the many reasons I consider myself a follower of Jesus of Nazareth is that He loved the least, the lost, the outcast and overlooked in his society, people who were deemed to be deviates, misfits, blasphemers and untouchables. He loved them with his presence, his friendship and breaking bread with them.
It is my belief that today Jesus would still be championing the cause of the poor, minorities, immigrants, disabled, orphaned, transgender and queer people everywhere rather than demonizing them.
However, none of my religious views should guide policy in the public library anymore than Mr. Morgan’s should because the library belongs to all of us. It is my opinion that this amendment should be rejected.
Rev. Lyndon Marcotte
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