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Setting This Anti-Censorship Billboard on Fire Kind of Just Made Its Point

Conservatives proving once again that they don't understand irony.

Sideshow Bob hitting himself in the face with a rake on The Simpsons.

Earlier last month, a billboard created by a member of the St. Tammany Library Alliance was set on fire. According to Book Riot, the billboard was supposed to “raise awareness of book bans in the Parish and it was located on their private property.” The billboard itself was decorated in rainbow-colored letters with a child holding up a book text beside them that read, “Ban Hate, Not Books.” After the fire, the only word that remained was “hate.”

The reverse side of the billboard held a memorial for a woman’s deceased son, and unfortunately, it was also damaged by the blaze. Fortunately, there was a fund to help replace the billboard and set up security cameras around it, now closed to the public.

The St. Tammany Library Alliance was created by the citizens of Abita Springs, Louisiana, in response to the increasing pressure by right-wing groups to ban certain books from libraries. The alliance was formed to advocate for their library and raise awareness of both local and state-level legislation targeting public libraries.

It couldn’t have come at a better time, as Louisiana’s Attorney General Jeff Landry has created an open line where citizens can report professionals who have “inappropriate” materials in their libraries and/or allow young readers access to them. In his memo, Landry explained how citizens can spot sexualized materials in libraries and how they can act so they can “protect the innocence of Louisiana’s children.” In other words, Landry wants people in his state to start a witch hunt against libraries that dare to have any queer-themed materials on their shelves, a terrifying trend we’ve seen across the country.

Books are being banned across Louisiana and people are scared to go to work

We’ve been hearing stories across the country about books being banned (thanks Meatball Ron), so it doesn’t come as a surprise that library staff in Louisiana are starting to become fearful about just showing up to work because they’ve tried to speak out against this unjustified action.

Amanda Jones, a middle school librarian, spoke out against Louisiana’s censorship over the summer and has been getting non-stop harassment over it. According to PBS NewsHour, Jones filed a defamation lawsuit against the ownership of two conservative Facebook groups who falsely claimed she “‘shares sexually erotic and pornographic materials’” with children as young as six and “advocat[es] teaching anal sex to 11 year olds.” Of course, all of the claims against Jones are false, but it’s just another way for conservative groups to keep people silent as they try to force their own way of thinking on the entire country.

The beginning of the book banning may have started with the right-wing’s obsession with LGBTQ+ people and their quest to erase us from history, but by no means will they stop there. Recently, some school districts in Missouri removed the Holocaust story Maus—a graphic novel chronicling Art Spiegelman’s interview with his father, a Polish Jewish man and Holocaust survivor—from its library, along with six other Holocaust books, according to the Jewish Telegraph Agency.

The books were pulled thanks to an amendment to a new Missouri state law that deals with child trafficking and sexual abuse and also establishes a criminal penalty for providing “explicit sexual material” to students. Now, many children in Missouri won’t get the option to explore more works about one of the most tragic moments in history because their state lawmakers made that decision for them. No one is saying that children should have unrestricted access to all anything and everything, but if lawmakers get the final say in what kids get to learn, that’s definitely a bit fascist.

So much for the Home of the Free, I guess.

(featured image: Fox)

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Kayla Harrington (she/her) is a freelance writer who has been working in digital media since 2017, starting at Mashable before moving to BuzzFeed and now here at The Mary Sue. She specializes in Marvel (Wanda Maximoff did nothing wrong!), pop culture, and politics. When she's not writing or lurking on TikTok, you can find Kayla reading the many unread books on her shelves or forcing her friends to watch some random video she found. She's also a world class chef (according to her wife) and loves to try any recipe she can find.