Skip to main content
Tags: west virginia | libraries | books | obscenity | fines | prison | librarians

W.Va. Librarians Could Face Jail, Fines for 'Obscene Matter'

By    |   Wednesday, 21 February 2024 10:40 AM EST

Librarians in West Virginia could face fines and prison sentences if a law is passed to remove protections from facilities in the event minors find what the state determines to be "obscene" materials.

The bill, which removes criminal liability exemptions for public libraries or museums that distribute or display "obscene matter to a minor," passed in the state House of Delegates on Feb. 16 and was introduced in the Senate, ABC News reported.

If the law passes, a librarian or museum found guilty of violating the restrictions and be charged with a felony, fined up to $25,000, and be put in prison for five years.

Proponents of the bill claim that it doesn't ban books or bring censorship since books can be purchased privately and that the measure will protect children.

"What this bill does do is stop obscene and pornographic material, sexually explicit materials from being available to children in public taxpayer-funded spaces," Republican Del. Elliott Pritt said at Friday's hearing, reported The Parkersburg News and Sentinel.

Critics say the bill will not only lead to book challenge increases, but could cause librarians to be punished for books that are not pornographic but include sexual content, such as those found in many sources, including classical literature.

Democrat House Leader Sean Hornbuckle said during Friday's meeting that if the legislation passes, it will cost counties and librarians if cases are in the court system, and said the legislation is "very dangerous."

West Virginia's state code defines obscene material as applying to items that "an average person, applying contemporary adult community standards, would find, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest, is intended to appeal to the prurient interest, or is pandered to a prurient interest."

The state code adds that "an average person, applying community standards, would find [that the material] depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexually explicit conduct; and a reasonable person would find, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value."

According to the American Library Association (ALA), obscenity allegations have been levied against libraries to challenge books about the LGBTQ+ community, sex education, race, and politics.

The ALA reported that in the first eight months of 2023, challenges on library materials increased 20% from the same period in 2022, which had seen the highest number of challenges since ot started compiling data over 20 years ago.

Sandy Fitzgerald

Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics. 

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


Newsfront
Librarians in West Virginia could face fines and prison sentences if a law is passed to remove protections from facilities in the event minors find what the state determines to be "obscene" materials.
west virginia, libraries, books, obscenity, fines, prison, librarians, minors, bill
399
2024-40-21
Wednesday, 21 February 2024 10:40 AM
Newsmax Media, Inc.

Sign up for Newsmax’s Daily Newsletter

Receive breaking news and original analysis - sent right to your inbox.

(Optional for Local News)
Privacy: We never share your email address.
Join the Newsmax Community
Read and Post Comments
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
 
TOP

Interest-Based Advertising | Do not sell or share my personal information

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved
Download the NewsmaxTV App
Get the NewsmaxTV App for iOS Get the NewsmaxTV App for Android Scan QR code to get the NewsmaxTV App
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved