Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Last Call For Throwing The Book At Them

North Dakota Republicans, ever the bastion of "freedom of speech and expression", are now considering throwing librarians in jail who refuse to enforce the state's proposed bans of LGBTQ+ material.
Books containing “sexually explicit” content — including depictions of sexual or gender identity — would be banned from North Dakota public libraries under legislation that state lawmakers began considering Tuesday.

The GOP-dominated state House Judiciary Committee heard arguments but did not take a vote on the measure, which applies to visual depictions of “sexually explicit” content and proposes up to 30 days imprisonment for librarians who refuse to remove the offending books.

The proposal comes amid a national wave of Republican-backed laws to ban books that feature LGBTQ subject matter — though usually those bills have been limited to school libraries, not public ones.

Supporters of the bill said it would preserve children’s innocence and reduce their exposure to pornography.

But critics said the measure is “steeped in discrimination” and would allow government censorship of material that is not actually obscene.

House Majority Leader Mike Lefor, of Dickinson, introduced the bill and said public libraries currently contain books that have “disturbing and disgusting” content, including ones that describe virginity as a silly label and assert that gender is fluid.

Lefor argued that a child’s exposure to such content has been associated with addiction, poor self esteem, devalued intimacy, increasing divorce rates, unprotected sex among young people and poor well-being — though did he did not offer any evidence to support such claims.

Stark County resident Autumn Richard also spoke in favor of the bill, giving examples of explicit content in the graphic novel “Let’s Talk About It: The Teen’s Guide to Sex, Relationships, and Being a Human” and the kids’ comic book “Sex Is a Funny Word” — both available in public libraries.

Richard argued the books might have beneficial knowledge about contraceptives, body image and abusive relationships, but many sections provide information that she said was harmful for minors.

Though supporters of North Dakota’s bill repeatedly called the sexual content “obscene,” opponents said the material in question is not actually considered legally obscene.

“Nearly 50 years ago, the (U.S.) Supreme Court set the high constitutional bar that defines obscenity,” said Cody Schuler, an advocacy manager at the American Civil Liberties Union of North Dakota, who testified against the bill.

Obscenity is a narrow, well-defined category of unprotected speech that excludes any work with serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value, Schuler said. Few, if any, books have been deemed obscene, and the standard for restraining a library’s ability to distribute a book are even more stringent, Schuler added.

The definition of pornography is also subjective, opponents of the bill said.

Library Director Christine Kujawa at Bismarck Veterans Memorial Public Library said the library has a book with two little hamsters on the cover. At the end of the book, the hamsters get married, and they are both male.

“It’s a cute book,” Kujawa said — but it would be considered pornography under the bill because the book includes gender identity.

Facing criminal charges for keeping books on shelves is “something I never thought I would have to consider during my career as a librarian,” Kujawa added.
Frankly, not only do I expect the Roberts Court to strike down obscenity laws and "leave those up to states" but I expect North Dakota won't have any libraries soon anyway, so this won't be a problem anymore. 


Our Little White Supremacist Domestic Terrorism Problem, Con't

In a post-January 6th world, white supremacist domestic terrorism groups have no problem operating in the open in America, saying the racist part out loud for all to see...and to fear.
The leader of a New England neo-Nazi group and a second man are accused of hanging a hateful banner over Route 1 in New Hampshire this summer, an act that the attorney general says violates the state's Civil Rights Act.

The charges stem from actions of the National Social Club-131 (NSC-131) members on July 30, 2022. NSC-131 is a neo-Nazi group with chapters in New England, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

The New Hampshire Attorney General's Office alleged Tuesday that Christopher Hood, the leader of NSC-131, and Leo Anthony Cullinan were among members who hung the banner, which read "keep New England white," from an overpass over Route 1 in Portsmouth. Doing so involved trespassing on public property, investigators said.

"The only reasonable interpretation is that the slogan and group’s intention was to discourage people of color from residing in or visiting and making them feel unwelcome and unsafe in the New England region, New Hampshire, and Portsmouth," the complaint read.

The motivation, paired with the fact that the banner was hung from a highway overpass and interfered with the lawful activities of others, raises it to the level of a potential Civil Rights Violation, prosecutors said.

Hood and Collinan were each charged with violating the New Hampshire Civil Rights Act via civil complaint. The group itself, NSC-131, could also be held liable for violating the Civil Rights Act, prosecutors said, noting that authorities continue to try to identify the members involved in the incident.

Each violation can carry a penalty of up to $5,000. If found in violation, the court can also restrain the defendant from committing future violations of the Civil Rights Act and other hate-motivated conduct for three years. The complaint is looking for $10,000 in fines against Hood and a $5,000 fine against Collinan.
Neo-Nazi groups openly hanging white supremacist signs from bridges is bad enough. History tells us that maybe they start hanging other strange fruit from highway overpasses next.

Fines and probation are going to stop these assholes the next time they decide to "make a statement".

The Circus Of The Damned, Con't

Ringmaster of Hell Kevin McCarthy handed out committee assignments this week for his troupe of clowns, and the show is about to begin.

Republican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona have been given committee assignments for the new Congress, after being booted from their committees by Democrats and some Republicans for their incendiary remarks, sources told CNN.

The House GOP Steering Committee on Tuesday agreed to place Greene on the House Homeland Security Committee, which has jurisdiction over the border and will likely play a role in potentially impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

And Gosar got a seat on the House Committee on Natural Resources, where he previously served.

Both decisions were made unanimously by the steering panel, sources told CNN, which is stocked with members who are close to and a part of House GOP leadership. The committee rosters will still need to be ratified by the entire House GOP, but typically the conference approves whatever the Steering Committee recommends.

Greene and Gosar were also among several GOP hardliners – which also included Reps. Lauren Boebert of Colorado and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania – added to the House Oversight Committee, according to Republican sources.

The addition of Greene is notable since she had lobbied for that spot and was a prominent defender of Kevin McCarthy’s during the speaker’s race. Gosar, who like Greene lost committee spots in the last Congress as Democratic retaliation for incendiary remarks, voted against McCarthy but later flipped to him.

McCarthy has long vowed to put Greene and Gosar back on committees, while he has pledged to kick some House Democrats off of theirs.

Perry also ultimately supported McCarthy after opposing him. Boebert helped McCarthy win by voting “present.”

The addition of the hardliners will give them the ability to shape some of the most aggressive investigations into the Biden administration.

Both chambers of Congress are out of session for the week, but the Steering Committee is meeting Tuesday to nail down committee assignments for members of the Republican Conference. Capitol Hill observers have been waiting to see which lawmakers will end up on which committees in the new GOP-controlled House, given the role those panels will play in investigating the Biden administration.

Rep. Roger Williams, a Texas Republican who is chairing the Small Business Committee, told CNN that embattled freshman Rep. George Santos of New York will be named to his panel. Santos has faced calls for his resignation, including from Republicans, following revelations that he repeatedly lied about his resume and identity.

“I don’t condone what he said, what he’s done,” Williams told CNN. “I don’t think anybody does. But that’s not my role. He was elected. He represents a million people.”

Santos was also awarded a seat on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, according to multiple GOP sources.
A 9/11 Truther and January 6th insurrectionist will be on the Homeland Security Committee, an avowed white supremacist will be making laws on environmental racism, and a known con man with multiple aliases will be on both the Small Business and Space and Tech committees. McCarthy knows what kind of people he wants in his circus, and we're all going to be paying the ticket price in the years ahead.
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