Banning books is a fascist censorship effort to prevent people from reading about topics and subjects they deem undesirable in society. And a frightening new bill introduced by Missouri Republicans would give “review boards” the power to ban books and arrest librarians.

The Parental Oversight of Public Libraries Act, or House Bill 2044, is the creation of GOP state Rep. Ben Baker, a minister who clearly has a fundamentalist religious agenda.

His bill would create parental advisory boards that would keep a list of books deemed “inappropriate” for minors, which could include anything from the Harry Potter novels to books dealing with LGBT subject matter.

A Tennessee school library banned Harry Potter books just last year in an act of censorship that made headlines around the world.

Now the same kind of censorship threatens a range of books in Missouri.

“Books wrestling with sexual themes, books uplifting LGBTQIA+ characters, books addressing issues such as sexual assault—all of these books are potentially on the chopping block if this bill is passed,” PEN America deputy director James Tager told Common Dreams. “Every reader and writer in the country should be horrified, absolutely horrified, at this bill.”

If passed, any librarian could be fined up to $500 or imprisoned for a year for keeping a banned book on the shelves even though most of the books these right-wingers want to “protect” children from are harmless.

This new war on books is reminiscent of book burning by the Nazis, and it looks like we’re just steps away from witnessing book burning in our own country, fueled by right-wing religious zealots and bigots who seek to indoctrinate children instead of letting them make informed choices.

The Missouri Library Association strongly opposes the bill, and MLA President Cynthia Dudenhoffer released a statement of condemnation.

Fascism is already growing and spreading in this country. Banning books is just another step in the Nazification process and no book is safe. Missouri must reject this bill at all costs.

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