First, thanks to everyone who showed up and tuned in to the last-minute book ban hearing we covered last week.
As I mentioned at the hearing, we on the Government Oversight Committee just got word of the meeting last Thursday. We just got the list of speakers on Sunday. We just found out the books that they would discuss on Monday afternoon. That’s hardly enough time for any committee – especially one responsible for reviewing policy for an entire state – to have a serious consideration or discussion.
We were not allowed to add any speakers to the schedule. All five of them were advocates for the rightwing organization known as Moms for Liberty. We have no idea who selected them to speak or who invited them. We have no idea when parents like me who don’t want Moms for Liberty deciding what books my kid at a public school can and can’t read will be allowed to speak before the committee.
There was a lot of innuendo thrown around from the speakers about the process. The schools have the books. Parents can object to them to the school through a public process. If they disagree with that decision, they can publicly appeal that decision to the Iowa Board of Education. If the board doesn’t rule the way they want, they can always instruct the school library not to check a certain book out to their child.
Of the five individuals on Monday night, the public record showed that four did not utilize the full local and state review process. The one who did seemed to indicate that she didn’t agree with opting her child out of checking out books.
The speakers and the Republicans on the committee were adamant that they weren’t advocating for any book bans. The chair instructed the news media present not to say the hearing was about book bans. One representative said no one wanted to ban books. But the speakers were there advocating that libraries not be allowed to check out books from a long list that Moms for Liberty didn’t like. That’s literally the definition of banning a book.
Many of the local news organizations covered the stacks of books in front of me during the hearing. As I noted there, they were all books that I read in middle and high school at our Des Moines Public Schools. They all had an immense impact on me. Many of them are considered part of the American canon. And all of them have portions with sexual or violent imagery or curse words. For that, they have all been banned at one time or another in American history.
Again, those episodes in our shared history show why I don’t need Moms for Liberty determining what books my kid gets to check out. That’s what our public processes are for.
I noted that on all the doors I’ve knocked and at all the townhalls I’ve attended, not one person has told me that the highest priority for the state of Iowa should be banning books. I was challenged by a fellow representative that Northwest Des Moines isn’t representative of the rest of the state. Perhaps that’s true. But, as I noted, the five individuals from one political organization handpicked to speak on Monday night was even less representative of the 1.2 million families in our great state.
Finally, every book ban discussion seems to end with some truly Orwellian logic. Once our Republican friends could see that the hearing and the evening clearly wasn’t going the way they wanted, they began decrying the politicization of the hearing. Again, this was their last minute hearing that they decided would be solely dedicated to five members of one extreme political organization (along with one half of the national headline-making Ankeny Mama Bears for good measure). The crocodile tears about politicization from the same people who politicized it were truly staggering.
This was unserious. This was political. A book ban is a book ban by any other name. And I hope our friends from the opposing side can reflect on how badly this blew up in their faces and instead work in a bipartisan matter on the issues truly impacting the majority of Iowans.
Our kids deserve better. And we all know that Iowa deserves better.
Sean Bagniewski seems to be promoting teaching sex to kids in school like math or science as a skill that can lead to a successful career and prosperous life. Maybe he would even pimp out his own child after they are trained to build his wealth.