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Someone Didn’t Tell Kirk Cameron Authors Aren’t Owed Speaking Engagements

The library is not for self-promotion.

Kirk Cameron on Fox News talking to Tucker Carlson. Image: Fox News.

In promotion of his recent children’s book, conservative actor, author, and brother of Candace Cameron Bure, Kirk Cameron and his publisher, Brave Books, reached out to dozens of librarians in the hopes of booking speaking engagements with his title. Some didn’t reply, while others responded with rejection reasons like his anti-LGBTQ+ messaging being counter to their space. Unsurprisingly, Brave Books (a publisher whose titles feature classic children’s literature themes like border patrol, fake news, and abortion) claims that one library also denied Cameron because he’s white, despite 2020 reports showing over 70% of books published come from white authors.

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In addition to positioning this non-issue as a slight against Christianity and white men, most reporting on this has placed it against the fact that some libraries hold drag story hours. Drag story hours are essentially regular story hours with better makeup and costuming, but this publisher and Cameron are anti-LGBTQ+, so they have to bring it up, I guess. While Cameron’s title doesn’t appear to be outwardly bigoted, most titles from Brave Books are. They are the same publisher that hosts Steven Crowder’s book that is explicitly anti-trans.

Before getting into the issue that Cameron and Brave Books invented, let’s get the “culture war” nonsense out of the way. I can’t speak for all libraries, of course, but most public libraries have lots of religious children’s literature, and even in communities with a wide range of religious beliefs, Christian and Catholic books outnumber all other titles. Looking at the holiday book section is the starkest reflection of this. Cameron’s title is not a holiday book, but he and his publisher are pushing so-called “anti-woke” books under the guise of religious liberty.

Cameron skews the events in his favor

While Brave Books and Cameron have been able to guide most of the narrative, what they have revealed as statements from the libraries are telling on how complicated the situation is. Per usual, the outrage clicks and simplification are able to generate more money than the fuller picture. For example, one of the libraries in question (The Scarsdale Library), which is now working with Cameron to book space with them (with his publisher painting this as a victory over an initial denial), said that he wasn’t just trying to book a room through the official process to begin with. The Scarsdale Public Library director, Elizabeth Bermel, wrote an email to Fox News Digital that they didn’t deny him space, but that he never requested it. Cameron admits as much in his open letters that say, “consider this my formal requests.” The actual request process is at the top of the library’s landing page under “How Do I?”

Bermel told Fox News Digital that the library received a message on December 2, an inquiry on the 13, and an application on the 16. The first message read, ”We would love to schedule a story hour for Mr. Cameron’s book where we read As You Grow and speak to families about following the wisdom of the Bible, as well as discussing the harmful effects of woke ideologies, specifically CRT and the transgender agenda.”

Bermel wrote that the library replied, “Thank you for thinking of us, but we are not interested in this program.” A library program—what Cameron was actually turned down for—is a sponsored event by the library and is separate from a private space or rental, which is what he’s working on obtaining now.

No one owes you a podium

Cameron complained to Fox News Digital that the library wasn’t offering assistance. Regardless of whether it was him or anyone else, why would they? With libraries not interested in making it an actual library program, it would be a private event. The most that a library might do in regard to assistance is ask about how many tables and chairs they may need, or possibly assistance with AV equipment. So, if the library is allowing them to use the private space (that can be open to the public but is not associated with the library), then Cameron was never denied. It sounds like they sent a mass email inquiry to libraries and felt slighted that government employees weren’t bending over backward to cater to them. The library is for the community, not a touring speaker or any other private group.

Libraries are a shared third place for the community but aren’t free-for-alls regarding events, promotions, and more. Librarians and the staff curate books and experiences based on community wants and needs. If your proposed event doesn’t fit that process, libraries with the space will offer meeting spaces for free or cheap. When I started a book club at one of my local libraries last spring and had to pitch it similarly to Cameron, there was an aspect of it that was denied due to city policy. So, I had to find an alternative or pay for a meeting room (per meeting). It would be considered a private event in the library—not endorsed or associated with the library’s programming, just like Cameron’s.

Following the media storm on Fox News, it seems like some are firm in their convictions while others are going out of their way to be as accommodating as possible to prevent violence from breaking out at the library or staff getting doxxed. Both of these are becoming more and more common. Meanwhile, in addition to both painting himself as a victim and taking invisible victory laps, Cameron and Brave Books are rolling out initiatives to get conservative parent groups to do the rest of the leg work for them.

(via Fox News Digital, The Advocate; featured image: Fox News)

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Alyssa Shotwell
(she/her) Award-winning artist and writer with professional experience and education in graphic design, art history, and museum studies. She began her career in journalism in October 2017 when she joined her student newspaper as the Online Editor. This resident of the yeeHaw land spends most of her time drawing, reading and playing the same handful of video games—even as the playtime on Steam reaches the quadruple digits. Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3 & Oxygen Not Included.

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