To advocate the passage of a law banning book “bans,” Maryland Delegate Dana Jones engaged in a series of logical fallacies. To a certain type of politician (i.e., a Democratic one), book banning issues are alluring. The party that now likes to brand free speech as “hate speech” and “disinformation” has found a First Amendment cause it’s still willing to champion: ensuring that children can browse and check out sexually explicit materials in their libraries. 

Well, that might not be a free speech issue, but that kind of reasoning hasn’t stopped the Democrats before. Before Maryland passed its “Freedom to Read” act last week, Jones argued that the legislation was necessary to keep good materials from being pulled from libraries. 

“This is about a slippery slope of censorship,” she said in a February hearing. “This is about taking books out of libraries, and when does it stop?” First you’re banning Gender Queer; next you’re censoring Aristotle. 

She also engaged in the fallacy of expertise: “I really want to leave the job of the library collection, the curation of the collection, to the highly-educated professionals that we have, and we’re lucky to have,” Jones said.

Librarians (who overwhelmingly vote Democratic, by the way) certainly have a level of much-needed expertise when it comes to what materials exist, what’s popular, and what ought to be available to readers. But it’s the last point that creates a problem: When librarians use our taxpayer dollars to stick sexually explicit materials in the children’s and young adult sections of school libraries, parents are right to be concerned. 

Maryland’s new anti-book banning law states in part that “materials may not be excluded or removed” from a school library catalog “because of partisan, ideological, or religious disapproval.”

Beyond being an unnecessary big government move — “We never like it when the state comes down and says, ‘We don’t like what you’re doing in your county, so we’re going to change things at a state level,’” Delegate Chris Tomlinson, a Republican, said — Maryland’s new law is overbroad, probably purposefully. 

It would not be hard to frame opposition to a book with graphic sexual content that involves gay or transgender characters as “religious disapproval.” Never mind that even the Washington Post found most parents who supported the removal of “LGBTQ books” were driven by “a stated wish to shield children from sexual content.”

The so-called book banning trend is not only wildly overblown but also targeted mainly at pseudo-pornographic materials. Yet Minnesota is now considering similar legislation, and Maryland politicians will now congratulate themselves for giving children easier access to sexual content in their own school libraries. But they shouldn’t pretend their recent effort is about freedom of speech. It’s an ideological campaign driven by a certain perverse view about what children should be reading. If you believe differently, you’re not a censor; you’re the adult in the room.