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Hell Yes: Illinois To Become the First State to Ban Book Bans

Stack of books on table against bookshelves at a library

Update: Governor Pritzker signed the bill into law on June 12. It takes effect January 1, 2024, making Illinois officially the first state to ban book bans.

Maybe it’s because I watched Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade too many times as a child, but I always assumed it was a foregone conclusion that banning or burning books was universally regarded as bad. Hell, in high school, our English teacher would arrange a reading during Banned Books Week where we would do dramatic readings of excepts of books banned at our local Barnes & Noble and also explain why the book was banned to roaring laughter, and this was in the very red state of Alaska. But as the invitation to my 20th high school reunion is constantly reminding me, times have changed and America has seen an increase in book banning to the tune of 28 percent in the last six months. That is terrifying. Texas and Florida are the states that ban the most books, to no one’s surprise. One state, however, is fighting back against this nonsense.

The Illinois legislature just passed the first-ever ban on book bannings in this country. Can I get a hell yeah? This is what white conservatives get for constantly fear-mongering over Chicago. Per Bookriot:

The Illinois Senate has passed HB 2789, a bill whose terms dictate that state funding from public or school libraries that remove books from circulation will be withheld.

As per the bill, the $62 million of funding that goes to the state’s libraries will only be eligible for said funding if they adopt the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights” or “develop a written statement prohibiting the practice of banning books or other materials within the library or library system.

The bill was drafted by the newly elected Secretary of State, Alexi Giannoulias, in response to 67 (!!) attempted book bans in the state. Per the above source:

As to the cause of the increase in book bans, Giannoulias shared that, “All these efforts to curb reading materials have absolutely nothing to do with books. They are about restricting the freedom of ideas that certain individuals disagree with and that certain individuals think others should have access to.”

This hits the nail on the head—book bans are never about protecting anyone; they’re about control and restriction so it’s no surprise these ghouls are trying it now when so many other personal rights (like abortion and gender-affirming trans health care) are under attack.

The good news is, the bill was sent to the governor on May 22, so it will be signed into law any day now because as the above article points out, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker has already voiced his support for it. Somewhere out west, California Governor Gavin Newsom is throwing a mild hissy fit that California wasn’t the first to pass this kind of bill like it usually is. To him I say, let the Midwesterners have this. Winters are long and we need a well-stocked library to get us through them. To everyone else who might try a book ban in Illinois, good luck losers, you’ll never be able to stop anyone from accessing the magic that is the “we must, we must, we must increase our bust” chant from Judy Blume’s Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret from their local Illinois library ever again.

(featured image: Kenishirotie/Getty Images)

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Kate Hudson (no, not that one) has been writing about pop culture and politics for five years, and is a Contributing Writer at The Mary Sue. With a deep and unwavering love of Twilight and Con Air, she absolutely understands her taste in pop culture is both wonderful and terrible at the same time. She has probably seen Cliffhanger more times than you. Team Edward 4-Eva.