Author Urges Library Staff to 'Bow Out' on August 5th for Kirk Cameron & BRAVE Books Nationwide 'See You at the Library' Events
The First Amendment ensures institutions respect freedoms, defines rights for expression and belief, and protects and promotes respect for others' rights too.
Author Kelly Jensen aka Buttered Jorts is calling for library workers who will be hosting Kirk Cameron’s BRAVE Books nationwide “See You at the Library” events on August 5th to either stay home or wear masks so as to not be easily identified if being photographed or filmed that day.
Jensen is listed as editor at Riot Media Group, which owns Book Riot, Book Riot Comics, and Tailored Book Recommendations (TBR). “We center diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as a core value,” the Riot Media Group website states. More on this later.
Jensen posted the following on her Substack on July 25th, 2023:
“For libraries that are hosting the Kirk Cameron Brave Book events, it is time to have a plan to let staff bow out that day, since the chances of their faces and bodies being photographed by bad actors is not low. Imagine you're just doing your job and then you're on right-wing media. In a lot of cases, you don’t need to imagine because you’ve seen it happen again and again. If you have a staffing issue which doesn’t make this possible, that’s worth examining in and of itself. Encourage those staff members unwillingly put in this position to wear masks or clothing to keep them as unidentifiable as possible and to not wear name tags that can impact their right to privacy–a first name and place of employment are more than enough for creating real harm in their lives.
Absolutely none of this has been secret or hidden and the information has been available months in advance. Libraries that allow it to happen–and they can, even if it is ill-advised–need to be prepared for the reality of who is going to be there.
These are the people who've been making your life hell now for 2+ years. They'll be coming in to do it, to take photos and point to books they don't like as "proof' of an agenda, then plaster images of people with the words you know they like to misapply to you (“groomer,” “evil,” “indoctrinator”). The folks who vilify you and who demand you stop having certain books or hosting certain programs are exercising their rights to continue harassing you and making a show of their bullshit right in your own home.
These people cry that their First Amendment Rights are infringed if you don’t let them do these private events while saying no one should have access to the books in your library. While claiming your books are grooming children and that your staff deserve harassment.
Libraries too often operate from assumption of good intent, in part because of this nonsense insistence of neutrality. This is one time you need to operate from a different place than that. It is likely this will be a wakeup call for the public libraries who have not yet experienced this first hand.
We have evidence here of malintent. Assuming less puts you in needless danger.
If you over-prepare and nothing happens, then what?
If you don't prepare and something happens, then what?
You can only guess.
There are going to be people who show up in support of the library for these events, and that’s great. However, the same protection of privacy and safety needs to happen, too. Cover your faces. Don’t wear anything identifiable. Maybe even be cautious about where you park your car–at right-wing events local to me, people took photos of cars and license plates of counter-protestors.
Be safe, be smart, and stop begging for neutrality when there is nothing neutral about this.”
The Book Riot editor had originally written the sentiment on Twitter (𝕏), ensuring her following of 11,000 remembered the event and alerting any library workers to not show up on August 5th during the story hour Kirk Cameron and BRAVE Books will be hosting.
Per the BRAVE Books website, there are “See You at the Library” story hour events scheduled for August 5th, all across the country. “We are calling on all families who love God and love America to gather at our local public libraries to pray, sing, and read BRAVE Books and other books of virtue,” the website reads.
So why are members of this community calling for admittedly understaffed libraries to have workers simply not show up at all on August 5th where the “See You at the Library” events are being held? There have been zero issues with safety at any of BRAVE Books’ past story hour events. Are they simply concerned about being in photos or videos? Why? Normally, when people are strong in their beliefs, they’re more than willing to sign their name to what it is they’re defending. Are they just concerned about having to take a deeper look and challenge their belief system? Cognitive dissonance anyone?
That’s the key tool used in Marxism. Chaos. Nothing is binding. Nothing is for sure, nothing is for certain. When there is nothing fixed, they can swoop in and determine what the “norm” is that week and then police those words and ideas.
It seems Jensen has been on the case for quite some time. In this excerpt from Book Riot, BRAVE Books points out Jensen’s call for libraries to speak with lawyers about “someone like Cameron” and see what their options are under the guise of the story hours qualifying as “a public safety concern”.
BRAVE Books received a leaked email in June from the New Jersey State Library Children’s Services Coordinator, Sharon Rawlins, where she says the publishing company’s titles promote “right-wing ideology.
Rawlins then directly cites Jensen’s June 5th Book Riot piece “BRAVE BOOKS, KIRK CAMERON PLAN PUBLIC LIBRARY EVENTS AUGUST 5; PUBLIC LIBRARIES NEED TO PREPARE”.
In this article, Jensen clears up any confusion about meeting rooms. “Meeting rooms, however, are provided as a public service that is open and available to everyone equally. We do not choose who gets to use our meeting rooms or what they are allowed to say or believe. That would be government censorship and a violation of the First Amendment.”
She continues, “The Library is committed to intellectual freedom, which we believe is essential to a healthy democracy, even when viewpoints expressed do not align with Library values. We have heard from some in the community asking why the Library is allowing this booking, citing the author’s views on abortion, LGBTQ+ rights, and more. Censoring these viewpoints is counter to Library policy and the associated laws that ensure intellectual freedom for all people.”
Jensen also states, “These are coordinated efforts to prove a point; in the sake of Cameron and Brave Books, it’s to find a ‘gotcha’ with censorship. If you don’t give them what they want, they can cry censorship, even if they themselves are the perpetrators who purposefully subvert the rules and policies.”
But nothing could be further from the truth. She even says as much in the last passages of this article. “…advocating for First Amendment Rights of all…”. Rules for thee, not for me?
Now, watch how quickly that tone changes. She immediately shifts gears saying, “…you can continue to educate your patrons about why some books get purchased and included in the collection, while others, like those published by Brave Books, do not.”
She continues, “Cameron and Brave Books do not have good intentions with this. They have ideological plans and the support of well-connected right-wing media.” This is very personal and a direct attack on BRAVE Books specifically.
The American Library Association’s website states:
“The First Amendment prevents public institutions from compromising individuals' First Amendment freedoms by establishing a framework that defines critical rights and responsibilities regarding free expression and the freedom of belief. The First Amendment protects the right to exercise those freedoms, and it advocates respect for the right of others to do the same.”
What Jensen has failed to mention is the funding received by the American Library Association (ALA), which in 2022 alone received $211 million in federal funding.
This year, the ALA received $1 million to use for tools and resources, including hiring lawyers to sue any concerned citizens who challenge books at public and school libraries. According to a July 15th article from Black Enterprise, Jay-Z also donated $1 million “to offer completely pro bono legal representation to teachers, librarians, and other academics who are the victims of state policies to ban books.”
The article also mentions Brooklyn Public Library as being the hub for Jay-Z’s program, and a new campaign called “Books Unbanned,” promised to be one of many. The campaign’s website also gives a hat tip to the ALA’s Freedom to Read Statement as inspiration.
“The outlet explained that the Brooklyn Public Library in New York is the brick-and-mortar center for their programs. The first of many released campaigns, ‘Books Unbanned,’ will provide books of all kinds to kids for free.
The campaign’s website reads, ‘Brooklyn Public Library joins those fighting for the rights of teens nationwide to read what they like, discover themselves, and form their own opinions. Inspired by the American Library Association’s Freedom to Read Statement, BPL’s Books Unbanned initiative is a response to an increasingly coordinated and effective effort to remove books tackling a wide range of topics from library shelves.’
The website allows people to quickly get involved, request books, donate to the cause, and report a library needing additional resources.”
Like clockwork, Jay-Z’s good buddy, former President Barack Obama also called for his following to join the ALA’s Unite Against Book Bans organization.
The “See You at the Library” story hour events look much different than Drag Queen Story Hour, where grown men in dresses, sometimes donning a full mustache or facial hair dance around, and some do the splits or worse while reading LGBTQ-themed books to children.
See if you can spot the differences:
Why do library workers and staunch supporters of the American Library Association not want rights for everyone? Isn’t that one of their main points of contention? Equal representation is what they scream from the rooftops, so why all the pushback from an author and publisher wanting to take one day to read their books to children at local libraries?
“Libraries that allow it to happen–and they can, even if it is ill-advised–need to be prepared for the reality of who is going to be there,” Jensen says. Not once has there been any violence on the part of Cameron or BRAVE Books at any story hour event.
Back in December of last year, Cameron was attempting to read his book As You Grow in The Indianapolis Public Library (IndyPL). BRAVE Books said their request to book a room at the library was initially denied. According to Fox News Digital, “When they first reached out to IndyPL about a potential story hour, an unnamed employee was ‘not encouraging’ and said the organization looks for authors who are ‘diverse’, especially ‘authors of color.’”
BRAVE Books’ Chief of Staff Zac Bell said at the time, “When we initially reached out, the IndyPL was very clear that they were not supportive of a Kirk Cameron storytime. We were not given options. Instead, we were told they would not advocate for a story time with Kirk Cameron, and they have a strategic plan in place on who they allow doing story times. Kirk Cameron did not fit that plan. We sent them the letter to which they immediately caved and we are now scheduled to do a story time.”
American Library Association Director for the Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF), Deborah Caldwell-Stone, recently told attendees of the Library 2.0 “Banned Books and Censorship” conference how to thwart any undesirable patrons groups from renting out meeting rooms at local libraries.
Deborah Caldwell-Stone also discussed Kirk Cameron's BRAVE Books “See You at the Library” book tour, which she refers to as his "Library Takeover Campaign" wanting to rent meeting rooms & how libraries can adjust certain policies already in place to limit accessibility or make it more difficult for certain patrons groups to use.
Caldwell-Stone says library staff can schedule a library-sponsored Pride event on the same day as Kirk Cameron’s story hour and "fill the library with rainbows and have other programming in place. You can put posters on the wall that make clear what the library's missions and commitments to inclusion and diversity is [sic]."
In the June 8th session, Caldwell-Stone discusses implementing workarounds so as to not violate the current library policies, but also how to limit those who seek to rent out meeting rooms that they (ALA/OIF) may find undesirable or not in alignment with their own political views.
She also says another “option”, specifically for when the “See You at the Library” tour is scheduled is to “offer a whole host of programs in its meeting room on August 5th, making it unavailable to the public.”
Kirk Cameron and BRAVE Books are up for the challenge. Cameron recently announced his plans to sue the ALA for religious discrimination. This has also caught the attention of Senators Marco Rubio, Kevin Cramer, and Braun, who have demanded an investigation.
An institution that prides itself on neutrality, is making this very political.
For more information and further analysis, I would encourage you to listen to the latest podcast from James Lindsay’s New Discourse titled “The American Library Association is Queering the Catalog.’ Lindsay goes over the self-described “Marxist lesbian,” and newly installed president of the American Library Association, Emily Drabinski’s 2013 publication “Queering the Catalog: Queer Theory and the Politics of Correction”.
The latest video from Kirk Cameron on the upcoming nationwide events:
You can find your local August 5th “See You at the Library” event by searching here.