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A coalition of Arkansas book enthusiasts is suing the state and its Republican governor over a restrictive new law that threatens librarians with jail time for making banned books available to minors, The Daily Beast reports.
The law would “subject librarians and booksellers to criminal charges if they provide 'harmful' materials to minors,” according to The Associated Press.
Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders in March signed Arkansas Act 372 into law. The measure is expected to go into effect Aug. 1.
The Arkansas Library Association and the Central Arkansas Library System are among the groups who filed the lawsuit jointly on Friday.
Critics say the law is extreme and unenforceable.
Arkansas Library Association President Carol Coffey is among those who have assailed the controversial measure.
“Library workers across Arkansas are rightly concerned that the overly broad edicts of Act 372 will prevent them from serving their patrons as they have always done, by providing a wide variety of materials to fill their information needs, and perhaps more importantly, materials that allow each child to see themselves in the books in their library,” Coffey said in a statement.
“The primary mission of the Arkansas Library Association is to support libraries and library workers and to defend intellectual freedom. We join in this lawsuit because it is the best way for us to fulfill our mission.”
The lawsuit alleges the new law violates the state’s constitution’s 1st and 14th amendment protections.
The Arkansas law follows a national trend.
Attempts to ban or restrict access to books at public libraries set a record in 2022 with more than 1,200 such challenges, according to the American Library Association, more than double of what was seen the previous year.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Deborah Caldwell-Stone of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.
“The last two years have been exhausting, frightening, outrage inducing.”
YouTube has reversed a policy that previously banned false claims about the 2020 election, according to a statement on the site.
The video sharing platform now says that the policy, which was enacted in December 2020, is a violation of constitutionally protected speech.
“Two years, tens of thousands of video removals, and one election cycle later, we recognized it was time to reevaluate the effects of this policy in today's changed landscape,” YouTube said in a statement on its website. The move was first reported by Forbes.
“In the current environment, we find that while removing this content does curb some misinformation, it could also have the unintended effect of curtailing political speech without meaningfully reducing the risk of violence or other real-world harm," the statement continued.
"With that in mind, and with 2024 campaigns well underway, we will stop removing content that advances false claims that widespread fraud, errors, or glitches occurred in the 2020 and other past US Presidential elections."
As Forbes points out, YouTube's policy change comes as social media companies loosen their restrictions on election misinformation.
In the wake of Donald Trump's 2020 loss, the former president and his allies embarked on a messaging campaign that falsely claimed the election was stolen by rigged voting machines and that Joe Biden was illegitimately elected.
Because New York State has gone Democratic in every presidential election since 1992, it has a reputation for being reliably blue. Yet parts of Upstate New York lean conservative, and people who voted for Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-New York) more than once are quick to point out that New York City doesn't reflect the entire state.
In an article published by Politico on June 2, journalist David Freelander reports on inroads the MAGA movement has been making in New York State.
"No state, except perhaps for the now sunburn-red Florida, bucked the national mood in the midterms quite like New York," Freedlander observes. "And while the GOP always had strength in rural counties upstate, in 2022 the party's gains came largely from the New York City suburbs, especially on Long Island, once a Democratic stronghold that has turned so sharply right that some national Democratic strategists wonder if they should just write off the area entirely."
The reporter adds, "Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority leader who regularly gets upward of 70 percent of the vote statewide lost both Long Island counties by a combined 15 points, the first time he'd lost either since his first campaign in 1998. (New York Gov. Kathy) Hochul ended up winning reelection by a narrower margin than fellow Democratic governors of states that are usually tougher terrain for Democrats — places like Michigan, Maine and Colorado."
Freelander adds, "The Republican strength has even begun to seep into New York City, where the GOP flipped a handful of state legislative seats in outer Brooklyn and Queens."
In NYC, Democrats were out of the mayor's office for 20 years — first under Mayor Rudy Giuliani, then other Mayor Michael Bloomberg (who served either a Republican or an independent during his years in Gracie Mansion).
But neither of them ran far-right mayoral campaigns. The Republican trend that Freedlander describes is decidedly MAGA.
"Figuring out what happened in New York has become one of the Democratic Party's top priorities as 2024 approaches," Freedlander reports.
"Democrats see the state as key to reclaiming their congressional majority, and as a way to figure out what the next stage of the Trumpist GOP entails. House Majority PAC, an outside group affiliated with House Minority Leader, and Brooklyn's own, Hakeem Jeffries is preparing to spend $45 million in the state next year."
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