Representative Ben Baker is looking to financially penalize libraries based on the content they contain

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SOUTHWEST MISSOURI — Who should determine what is appropriate and inappropriate for young people when it comes to content inside libraries?

Lawmakers, librarians, or someone else?

Newton County State Representative Ben Baker has introduced House Bill 2044, which is designed to financially penalize libraries that he says offer too much adult-themed material for young people.

His legislation, which isn’t in it’s final form would make sure that sexual material would not be accessible for kids.

The bill states, “age-inappropriate sexual material, any nudity, or sexual content that taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors.”

But Samantha Sowa who brings her family to the library says that shouldn’t be up to a legislator.

Samantha Sowa, Opposes Legislation, said, “I think that personally education should be available and if you don’t want to read something don’t pick it up and read it, um everybody should be able to chose what they want to read whether it be against someone else’s beliefs because we don’t all have the same beliefs.”

Carrie Cline, Neosho Newton County Library Director, said, “Libraries are very much against censorship in of any kind, we are one of the last institutions left alive where no matter who you are ethnically, religiously, politically you are welcomed at the public library”

Baker says the bill is aimed at oversight of events like the Drag Queen Story Hours that he claims are happening at libraries across the country and at some in Missouri, although none locally.

Cline says nothing of the sort is going on inside her library but she says different people can be offended by different things.

“We believe in your right to view, to see anything you want to see, to read whatever you want to read and we’re not going to get in the way of that, a good public library has something in it to offend everyone, or we’re not doing our job.”

If you want to read the proposed bill yourself, follow the link below.

https://house.mo.gov/Bill.aspx?bill=HB2044&year=2020&code=R

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