While most states exempt libraries and museums from obscenity laws, Arkansas recently passed legislation to change that. Luke McCoy of the Family Council of Arkansas tells AFN that is largely because material that is harmful to children is readily available to them, and no one is held accountable.
"There's a lot of other laws where we protect children from objectionable, obscene, harmful sexual material that contains nudity or sexual activity, and so this is really no different," McCoy tells about the new law.
But he says liberal interests are trying to "turn and twist things in a way that makes it sound like books are being banned and we're creating this huge burden on libraries."
The American Civil Liberties Union and a coalition of more than a dozen plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the measure in June, and now, some parts of it have been blocked.
One contested section establishes a new Class A misdemeanor offense of furnishing a harmful item to a minor. Individuals who knowingly provide a minor with a harmful item, or who knowingly make a harmful item available to a minor, could be imprisoned for up to a year if convicted.
The other disputed section sets a process for individuals to challenge the appropriateness of materials held in a public library's collection. Library personnel would be required to relocate the material to an area inaccessible to minors in response to a successful challenge. A decision not to relocate the material could be appealed to the local city council in the case of a municipal library, or to a quorum court in the case of a county library.
"What we've seen is the Left is exploiting this area, and they're taking advantage of the exemption and children by pushing harmful, sexual material on young brains," McCoy laments. "Act 372 is a good law. It removes the exemption that librarians have enjoyed when it comes to obscenities."
In his order granting the plaintiffs' request, U.S. District Judge Timothy L. Brooks wrote that because the two sections of the law "are likely to result in the abridgment of plaintiffs' First Amendment rights, plaintiffs will suffer irreparable harm if a preliminary injunction is not granted."
He blocked the implementation of the two provisions just three days before the new state law was scheduled to take effect.