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Fear and loathing in a small Idaho town

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Jim Opionin by Jim Powers

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Bonners Ferry, Idaho is a small town with a public library, which is always an asset to a community. And the residents are glad it is there. Sadly, there are some folks, though, who believe that books are a threat, rather than an asset, and they have put the continued existence of that library at risk.

A group of Christian activists have lately descended on the community and started showing up at the local library board meetings, guns on their hips, and demanding that the library remove a list of 400 books that they oppose. And despite the board telling them that the library has none of the 400 books they want censored, they just keep disrupting the board meetings.

You might ask why, other than making for some long board meetings, that there is a problem. If they don’t have the books, it’s no harm, no fowl. Well, the company that carries the library’s insurance has informed them that because of the threat of violence from all those folks showing up with guns they will not renew their insurance. Without insurance, they can’t continue to operate. They will have to shut the library down.

While you may not like the word, there is a simple term for folks who use threats of violence to get their way. They are terrorists. Terrorists acting in the name of Christianity. And it looks like they might win.

I have a lifelong love of books. I’ve read thousands of books over the decades. Had a personal library of thousands of books. The accumulated knowledge of billions of people over thousands of years is accumulated in those books. A record of every moral, social and political failure of mankind. We have a roadmap of mistakes we made and need never repeat. There are religious and political terrorists whose agenda is being thwarted by that knowledge, and they want to destroy it.

Those who want to destroy books are far more dangerous than the books they want to suppress. Demanding libraries remove books you do not agree with is removing books others do agree with. We have no right to censor ideas. Let them live or die on their own merits, not through misguided religious crusades. 

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