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"Read-In" held at Bismarck Library, to protest censorship bills in the Legislature

Beth Schatz

More than 200 people gathered outside Bismarck’s Veterans Memorial Library to protest bills at the Legislature to keep certain books off library shelves.

Two bills – HB 1205 and SB 2360 – would prohibit people from accessing books and other materials deemed to be “obscene” – and would subject library directors to fines and or jail time for not complying.

The protest was called a “Read-in.” The people gathered in a “quiet” protest. They brought their own books, and quietly read them in the library plaza.

"A lot of people are upset and disappointed," said "Read In" organizer Beth Schatz Kaylor, who is the director of the Bismarck Library Foundation. "This would take away a lot of literature and a lot of educational materials from not only children, but adults as well. It's across the board, and it's very far-reaching."

Historian Clay Jenkinson was there. He brought two books. Jenkinson said the protest showed how much people care about free expression and libraries. And he said people who try and act as censors look "foolish" in the eyes of history.

"I brought Thomas Jefferson with me, and Christopher Hitchins," Jenkinson said. "And both of them view that anyone who is for censorship is basically 'moronic,' and that we should know better here in North Dakota."

The two bills passed in their houses of origin – and will now be considered in the other chambers.

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