Ben Baker is used to getting pushback. A conservative in the Missouri statehouse, he's been on the wrong side of the fringe Left before. But nothing compares to this. The dad of four is getting death threats at his office, violent messages on his phone -- all for trying to give parents a say on Drag Queen Story Hour.
"It's been unbelievable," he said on "Washington Watch." On his Twitter feed, he's posted pictures of some of the mail he's gotten, including, he says sarcastically, "a friendly note of tolerance" from "All the librarians in St. Louis City and County." "STOP IT," the handwritten card says, "with your imbecilic proclivities." This is the world we live in today, Ben shakes his head. Trying to protect children from inappropriate content in our libraries could get you killed. "It seems we no longer live in a society where you can have civil discourse about ideas."
Ironically, his bill, the Parental Oversight of Public Libraries Act, is all about debating ideas. What he's asking is for parents to have a say in what's taking place at their local library. "Look," he told me, "it seems like every week we hear another story where these things are happening in our library that are very disturbing. And it's happened several places in Missouri, [which] is what really sparked me to take on this issue -- just realizing that we have got to do something about our public libraries being used as a tool, as a vehicle, to push the LGBTQ agenda onto our children. This is a public space funded by our tax dollars, and it shouldn't be allowed in those situations."
Instead of filling their heads with knowledge, these libraries are filling kids' heads with political agendas. With some sort of community scrutiny, Ben hopes that moms and dads finally have a voice. But of course, that's exactly what the far-Left doesn't want. "The opposition that's happened [is] really unprecedented for me," he explained. "[T]his has been, by far, the most hate and vitriol that I have received... Death threats and threats of violence. I think part of it is the American Library Association (ALA) is at the heart of this problem, and their policies are atrocious."
After digging into this issue, he realized just how extreme the ALA's LGBT agenda is. "They encourage drag queen story hours," he points out. "They discouraged any restrictions when it comes to age or grade level for library content or library events -- and they call that 'censorship,' if you attempt to do that. And they've riled up the troops to push back on this. And I hate to say it -- but they're effective, because it makes it appear that they are the majority, and I know that's not the case. But it's something that we're up against."
Along with a liberal media that doesn't seem interested in the facts. There've been headlines like, "Missouri Republican Wants to Jail Librarians Who Allow Drag Queens to Read Books to Kids" and "Missouri Lawmaker Proposes Bill Criminalizing Public Libraries' Drag Queen Story Hours." But the reality is a lot less sensationalist. "We have standards," Ben explained, and tying them to taxpayer dollars is completely appropriate.
"The language in my bill regarding objectionable sexual material is Supreme Court precedent language..." And yet, Ben told listeners, "the way the media addressed it was, 'He's banning books and jailing librarians.' Well, the penalty provision was the exact same penalty [as] if they [didn't] put Internet blocking software on the library computers. It's the same. So I'm asking: why can't we apply this same principle of protecting our children to other content?"
Good question. One we hope the leaders of every state start asking themselves.