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While we’ve all breathed a collective sigh of relief that Moms for Liberty-endorsed candidates were mostly trounced in last week’s elections around the country, there’s no time to rest here in Nebraska. One of Pete Ricketts’ parting gifts to Nebraska state government turned out to be the appointment of Tiffany Carter to the Nebraska Library Commission, and Nebraska’s contingent of book-banning minions have quietly been lining up behind her over the course of the last year.
Who is Tiffany Carter? You probably haven’t heard of her before, unless you have the misfortune of having friends among hateful extremist Nebraska groups like the Douglas County Moms for Liberty, Nebraskans for Founders Values, the Nebraska Family Alliance, Protect Nebraska Children or Nebraskans Against Government Overreach. She hasn’t been a public figure or run for office. Instead, she was simply appointed to the Library Commission by Ricketts, despite having no background in library administration.
Here’s a little of the wonky background about how state agency appointments work here in Nebraska: we have “code” and “non-code” state agencies under the executive branch. The governor can directly appoint the directors of the code agencies, while in non-code agencies, the governor appoints commissioners, who in turn choose their agency directors. Historically, this appointment process in non-code agencies has been non-controversial: those agency directors maintain a list of potential appointees that gets passed to the governor’s office, and they almost always select someone from that list. Alternatively, there is an application form on the governor’s website that anyone can fill out, volunteering to serve for vacancies on any number of boards or commissions. Historically this was used to fill the occasional position, but during the Ricketts administration, it became more of a norm, as he attempted to stack these public service roles with his political cronies instead of folks who already know a thing or two about the commission they suddenly appear on.
As it turns out, Tiffany Carter does know a thing or two about books, but her focus is rather narrow: she is the founder of EducatingParents.org, which also presents itself as “Mama Bear 29:7” on social media. This site helpfully archives testimony before the State Board of Education, our state legislative committees, and school boards regarding books that the group finds offensive–you’ve heard about these hearings already, in which members of these extremist groups have gotten up one after another to read passages they find offensive into public record (where future generations of kids will also be exposed to them, by the way–oops!). It also archives a list of books that various groups like this around the country have deemed offensive, cross-referencing them with which libraries in Nebraska hold them: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1qhwRc90UaO2W4bMxLoRNmjQdc5iHF4y5RgnrCz4AxAI/edit#gid=1970431867
As detailed by Flatwater Press earlier this week (https://flatwaterfreepress.org/surge-of-book-removal-requests-turning-nebraska-libraries-into-cultural-battlegrounds/), libraries around the state are experiencing a significant increase in “requests for reconsideration,” the diplomatic term used by most libraries to describe requests by members of the public to remove or reclassify books in their collections. While these groups have generally not had much success, they have wasted significant taxpayer dollars complaining about books that don’t meet their own narrow perspectives on “morality,” as library staff have to stop doing their real work to read or re-read these books, which usually means the libraries actually buy MORE copies of the books so their reconsideration committee members can all read a copy at the same time. And almost everywhere, the reconsideration requests are denied–these books have all been talked about hundreds of times over, here and around the country. At least now we have more copies of them available because of reconsideration requests, lol.
But in some places in Nebraska, these groups (whose members rarely read the books they’re complaining about–they just pass around the “dirty” quotes as collected by booklooks.org) have had some success, and we need to be vigilant to keep them from destroying our public institutions. Keane Memorial Library in Fremont, for example, has been subjected to several rounds of attacks over the last year, which has resulted in the creation of multiple levels of age-specific library cards (https://fremonttribune.com/news/fremont-nebraska-library-policy-changes-approved/article_fe4f7b0c-5d7d-11ee-9c59-df06b71a9185.html), an idea that was otherwise left behind in the 1950s in this country. Librarians themselves have been harassed and threatened, and state Senator Joni Albrecht has been attempting to introduce a bill that would criminalize the materials selection choices of school librarians, public librarians and public school teachers in the state of Nebraska in the event that a complainant alleges an item in a library collection should be considered obscene. Most recently her bill was introduced as LB441 last year, and it is presently stalled in committee. Can you imagine your friendly school librarian or neighborhood branch librarian literally getting jail time because someone doesn’t like a book in the library? Can you imagine turning your local police officers and court systems into the morality police like we’re back in the era of black and white movies? Apparently it’s living the dream for many of these groups.
Commissioner Tiffany Carter has continued to run her anti-library website and its social media components while serving in her public service role. She has also been giving “reports” about the Library Commission to extremist groups like Moms for Liberty and Nebraskans for Government Overreach (https://nago.group/2023/01/17/moms-for-liberty-douglas-county/). She has appeared on radio spots for the anti-LGBTQ hate group Nebraska Family Alliance, in which she distorts the definition of intellectual freedom: https://nebraskafamilyalliance.org/the-nfa-daily-spotlight-equipping-parents-to-safeguard-their-childs-education/ . And one has to wonder if she is connected to a call to action that came from local Christofascist hate group Nebraskans for Founders Values last week, which has requested that supporters of book banning come to the next Library Commission meeting to speak during the public comment period (although they got the date wrong in their email blast, lol). You might remember that we’ve discussed NFFV’s take on library resources before, after their co-founder and president Marilyn Asher (who has been happily platformed by the Fremont Tribune despite being the leader of a hate group) demonstrated last year that you can “find porn” on library resources provided via the Library Commission’s NebraskAccess databases. Her demonstration, though, was an embarrassing sideways maneuver into journal articles to eventually find one with a link to PornHub:
Ok, boomer: there are several problems with this. One, any kid that clicked on this link in a school library or public library wouldn’t get through to the link, because there are filters on all of the internet computers. Ditto for kids using their school Chromebooks. And all of this seems to ignore the obvious fact that any kid could go straight to the website on a smartphone without the weird diversion through academic journal articles. If you’re worried about your kids getting on those sites (and worse), that’s the place to focus your attention.
At any rate, if any of these folks who hate sex in books while seemingly exclusively reading the sex scenes in books manage to figure out the correct date for the next Library Commission meeting, then they’re going to be making their insider plant Tiffany blush with “pride” on Thursday morning. And these folks don’t represent normal people. Normies, if you have a minute on Thursday morning, you too can make a public comment at the next Library Commission meeting and let them know that you’re proud of the work they’re doing and the professionalism they’ve been demonstrating in the face of these unwarranted, semi-literate attacks. Here’s the deets: https://nlc.nebraska.gov/commissioners/Agendas/November2023agenda.pdf