Another Bad Book Banning Bill

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a really bad bill in the North Dakoa Legislature, HB 1205, which starts banning books from our libraries. I’ve since learned there’s another one, just as bad, SB 2123, which pretty much does the same kind of thing. One’s in the House, the other in the Senate, and both have had hearings and should come up for a committee vote pretty soon.

The state’s librarians have rallied against them, as I urged them to do in my earlier column. My own librarian here in Bismarck sent me a fact sheet and asked me to help spread it around. Here’s what it has to say. Read it carefully and act, as they urge you, if you want to.

Dear North Dakotans,

The North Dakota State Legislature is in session and two censorship bills have been presented that, if passed, would directly impact libraries across the state. Here’s a quick summary of the bills, why they matter, their status, and what you can do to help.
What are the library censorship bills? 

House Bill 1205, sponsored by Representatives Lefor and Steiner of Dickinson, relates to “prohibiting public libraries from maintaining sexually explicit books.” With vague definitions, this could include romance novels, movies with sex scenes, and any materials that reference LBGTQ+ identity. As the bill is written, if a public library has in its collection any material that anyone deems explicit, the library must remove it and librarians may be charged with a class B misdemeanor, fines, or both.  

Senate Bill 2123, sponsored by Senator Beard of Williston, prohibits any organization open to minors from displaying “objectionable materials,” whether image or written format, including visuals or descriptions of “partially denuded human figures.” With this bill as written, as just one example, a book or film containing a visual image or written description of Michelangelo’s sculpture of David could be reason for incrimination. Based on someone’s subjective definition of objectionable content, librarians may be charged with a class B misdemeanor, fines, or both.
Why do they matter? 
If these bills become law, it will demarcate a new era of censorship for North Dakota’s public libraries, including holding librarians criminally liable for any materials any member of the public deems explicit or objectionable. This government overreach would create a logistical nightmare for libraries to administer, attempting to maintain collections based on vague, subjective definitions with an overall diminishment of intellectual freedom. 
What can I do to help? 

  1. Sign the ND First Amendment Defense Group’s petition.
  2. Write your state senators and representatives with a “do not pass”recommendation. You can email them here.
  3. As the bills are still in committee, you can also write the committee members directly with a “do not pass” recommendation, their email addresses are listed below.

House Judiciary Committee members:

Senate Judiciary Committee members:

  1. Write a letter to the editor to your local newspaper. Tell your community you don’t agree with government censorship and want to choose for yourselves and your children what information you have access to!

Signed: North Dakota’s Librarians

Well. There’s your assignment. Now would be a good time to contact your own legislators and urge a “No” vote, and to write to the committee members. Maybe you can talk some sense into them.

7 thoughts on “Another Bad Book Banning Bill

  1. Are we trying to out do the 1940’s when Bill Langer, Gerald Nye and many others were trying to gung ho this state and this country into being another HITLER type country? What is wrong with freedom as we mostly know it? Why do these people think they are so wonderful that they need to wield this big stick. As far as I can tell, not one of them has managed to get the killer drugs off the streets, not one has lifted a palm of welcome to any immigrants, and not one of them apparently knows what the HELL THE BILL OF RIGHTS is supposed to do for us. With this silly stuff I spose it comes straight from ALEC that group who wants to be HITLER or worse. Did any of these so called purists ever serve in the military, fight for our country in a WAR?
    I am so disgusted with all this absolute pissing around these stupid idiots have to do every damm time the legislature meets.
    Why doesn’t Gov Burgum tell them to go take a cold shower? DAMM, I get so mad!d


  2. Marvelous strategy, Jim! I have fotwarded this to my local librarian. She said she enjoyed your first column, which I also sent her.


  3. Please, please, please take 30 seconds to send an email to both the house and senate judiciary committees simply saying, “I oppose HB1205 or SB2123. Please vote do not pass!” That’s all it has to say, numbers matter. We need to flood them with this message.

    The librarians need your support – I have heard from many who are considering leaving the state and some leaving librarianship altogether. This is soul crushing for those of us who believe in everyone’s right to read. And if you think it will stop with just these “pornographic books,” you can guess again. They will not stop once the ball is rolling!


  4. I write the congress persons from my district all the time and don’t get a response. So I wrote all those suggested in the article. I didn’t say anything real bad, but guess it peeved a few, since they immediately wrote back and said If I’d be NICER, maybe I would get a response. Well, heck, five out of that crew did respond all of course critical of ME, that’s way above my local average. Laughing all the way! I am sure none have any mind to change, but after a third response from one, I said now we are friends, take your name off those bills or veto them!
    This is the most fun I’ve had this year!


  5. Jim, I thought you might have a post about the fact that the NORTH DAKOTA HORIZONS magazine was ending publication at the end of 2023. It has been a great publication and had many good articles about people and places in ND. The legislature should put some money into it so it can continue to publish.


  6. David, Tourism Director Sara Coleman seems to be on top of this. She says there is money in her budget before the Legislature to help. Keep fingers crossed.


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