An Arkansas county librarian who was fired last month over her refusal to enforce a book ban is saying that those who targeted her were motivated by bigoted and fascistic viewpoints.
Patricia Hector, who had served as director of Saline County Library in Saline County, Arkansas, since 2016, was fired in early October after the Saline County Quorum Court passed a resolution to remove books deemed inappropriate from the children’s section. Hector refused to remove the books, noting that doing so would effectively “erase people of color and marginalize LGBTQ people.” In response to her stance, she was terminated.
“It’s a perverse world when we’re talking about trying to criminalize librarians,” Nate Coulter, executive director of the Central Arkansas Library System in Little Rock, said in response to Hector’s firing.
Hector described her termination as unjust, but also as a relief, since her ouster seemed all but certain for several weeks up to that point. The campaign to remove her library’s books included a targeted campaign against Hector, going so far as to involve billboard advertising on a local highway.
“It’s been very stressful, it’s been hard to do my job, but the staff we’ve just kept plugging along and I always thought any day now I’ll be fired,” Hector said after her firing.
In an interview that was published in The Arkansas Times last week, Hector elaborated on being removed from the county library.
“I’d rather be fired for upholding the First Amendment instead of sued for violating it,” she explained.
Hector said that those who lodged complaints against her were part of a coordinated effort to target libraries.
“They were not library patrons who happened to find a book they didn’t like. They had lists,” Hector said.
The people who sought to target books in the children’s section of the library were motivated by a desire “to take control and force others to align with their beliefs,” Hector went on, adding that they espoused the ideals of “bigotry” and “fascism” in doing so.
Hector also said that she wouldn’t change anything about the actions that led to her termination. “There’s nothing wrong with the library’s books,” she said, adding that there was “nothing salacious about those books” that received formal complaints.
She noted that the complainers were inconsistent in their logic, seeking to ban books that had LGBTQ or racial themes over supposed sexual content, but refusing to do the same for heterocentric media.
“They [county officials] said it was sex in children’s books, but really it was anything with LGBTQ issues or racism. Heterosexual sex doesn’t make their list,” Hector said.
Hector told The Times that her stand wasn’t just about combating book bans, but also about ensuring that texts remain accessible, saying:
Banning books is illegal according to the First Amendment. Moving books to a place people can’t get to is the same as banning. Moving them to an area that stigmatizes the books based on content also goes against the First Amendment.
Hector plans to sue the county over her termination. But if the Supreme Court eventually sides with book-banners, she indicated that she may take more drastic action.
“When the Supreme Court decides that it’s OK to ban books, then I’ll think about moving to another country,” Hector said.
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