NEW ORLEANS – The ACLU of Louisiana released the following statement in response to Attorney General Jeff Landry’s call for new restrictions on library collections. In addition to special library cards to restrict minors’ access to certain material, lawmakers have proposed legislation that would create a vague process to remove books from libraries altogether if the local government disapproves of them. The statement should be attributed to ACLU of Louisiana Executive Director Alanah Odoms.
“Today, Attorney General Jeff Landry and legislators proposed new restrictions on circulation and access to public library collections. Although parents have an important responsibility to judge what material is appropriate for their own children, overbroad laws restricting free speech and the free exchange of ideas run contrary to the First Amendment.
“Today’s proposals would empower state and local officials to pick and choose what material is “sexually explicit” and, therefore, restricted or removed from circulation entirely. In any government censorship regime, there are winners and losers. And it is not lost on anyone that the vast majority of titles and authors criticized by the Attorney General today are by and about people of color, women, and the LGBTQ+ community.
“Politicians do not have the right to determine what we read or which ideas we can access. Material that some find offensive may be enlightening and enriching to others. In the United States, it is never the proper role of the government to choose what speech, art, or ideas are appropriate for the community. Restrictions on free speech and artistic expression are a dire threat to democracy and to future generations of Louisianans.”