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Arkansas library director refused to remove obscene materials from children's sections. Now she's out of a job.
YouTube video, KTHV-TV - Screenshot

Arkansas library director refused to remove obscene materials from children's sections. Now she's out of a job.

The director of the Saline County Library in central Arkansas refused to relocate LGBT propaganda and content critics called "pornographic" from children's sections to age-appropriate areas in the county public libraries, despite an April court resolution requesting that she do so. On Monday, Patricia Hector discovered she herself had been removed.

Although the termination of an individual who unilaterally insisted on exposing children to inappropriate materials is ostensibly a win for concerned parents in the county and the democratic process, leftists are beside themselves. The ACLU of Arkansas has even made a thinly veiled threat of legal action against Saline County officials.

What's the background?

The Saline County Quorum Court convened in April to take up concerns about the presence of inappropriate materials in the children's sections of the county's public libraries. Members of the conservative group Saline County Republican Women were among those advocating for the relocation of "X-rated" material.

The meeting, during which 53 members of the community were given an opportunity to provide input, lasted two hours, reported KATV-TV.

The court ultimately passed a resolution, which reportedly paralleled Arkansas Act 372 — a law Republican Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders ratified on March 31, exposing librarians to criminal charges and possible jail time if they distribute content that is "harmful to minors."

The all-Republican Saline County Quorum Court's resolution ensured that inappropriate content would have no home in the library's children's sections.

The Arkansas Advocate indicated the court recommended that the library "relocate materials that are not subject-matter or age appropriate for children, due to their sexual content or imagery, to an area that is not accessible to children."

Hector, executive director since 2016, publicly refused to follow the court's recommendation, suggesting relocating books "is the same thing as banning" them. Additionally, she singled out SCRW, suggesting they wanted "to erase people of color and marginalize LGBTQ people."

SCRW, which had supported both the resolution and Hector's firing, subsequently shared images from one of the sexually graphic books Hector allegedly kept in the children's section of the Bob Herzfeld Memorial Library, which depicted various sex positions; promoted gender ideology and LGBT neologisms; had a chapter on masturbation; was full of images of cartoon genitals; and discussed various birth control implements.

On July 16, SCRW passed another resolution urging the county judge and quorum court to remove Hector "at the earliest possible time" and "that the county remove Director Hector and replace the three remaining Democrats on the library board."

The people come out on top

After months of Hector flouting its recommendation, the court approved an ordinance in August giving it broader control over the library system.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported that the justices of the peace voted 11-2 on Aug. 21 to strip library board members of their ability to hire or fire employees and regulate their salaries. Additionally, the ordinance subjected the library to an annual third-party audit and required that it have its budget approved by the Saline County Quorum Court.

"It's been turned into something complicated," said Clint Chism, a member of the court. "All along all of this was protecting children. If the books had been moved, we wouldn't be going through this tonight."

Jennifer Lancaster, president of SCRW, underscored she was not "in favor of banning any books" and that the effort was about "protecting children."

On Monday, several weeks after firing and hiring decisions were handed over to the court, Saline County Judge Matt Brumley met with Christy Peterson, the county human resources director, reported the Democrat-Gazette.

Brumley allegedly indicated Hector's services were no longer needed.

Trevor Villines, a spokesman for the county, confirmed Hector is out of a job and that "Leigh Espey has been named interim director."

Hector once again singled out SCRW, calling them "reprehensible," telling the Democrat-Gazette after her apparent termination, "They will eventually find that book banners are always on the wrong side of history."

The axed librarian told KATV, "What they did is terrible for this county. ... It's none of their business what books people read and since they challenged three of them, one of them was about race and two of them were about LGBTQ."

"You can't fire somebody for upholding the law," she added. "And I have an attorney."

David Gibson Sr., the chairman of the Saline County Republican Committee, told KARK-TV, "She was more committed to books than she was to children's safety. ... This move has everything to do with children. It has nothing to do with politics."

Defenders of obscene materials in kids' sections pipe up

Following Hector's replacement, the leftist Saline County Library Alliance said in a statement, "It's a dark day for the residents of Saline County."

The alliance added that it "has been hard at work on a ballot initiative to strip the Quorum Court and County Judge of the ill-gotten powers they have granted themselves."

American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas executive director Holly Dickson said in a statement obtained by the Arkansas Times, "These Saline county officials, who have proved themselves determined to ban books and target their librarian in order to do it, are likely to get an expensive education in the law they could have obtained for free by listening to their librarian and people in the community."

Billboard sparking controversy in Saline Countyyoutu.be

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