Plain Talk: ‘It’s not a book ban’ says state lawmaker promoting bills targeting libraries and bookstores


MINOT, N.D. — I have been an outspoken critic of legislation before lawmakers in Bismarck that seeks to implement new content regulations on libraries and private stores open to the general public. So when Sen. Janne Myrdal agreed to come on this episode of Plain Talk, she knew what she was getting into.

Kudos to her for coming on anyway to face questioning from myself and guest co-host Chad Oban (who makes a triumphant return to the podcast and predicts that surge in listens will crash our servers).

That remains to be seen.

As you might imagine, we three didn’t find much to agree on, at least when it comes to the book bills.

Myrdal, who says she supports librarians, nevertheless alleged that there is a concerted effort to make explicit content, and even pornography, available to children. She also denied that Senate Bill 2360, which has passed the Senate with her vote among those in favor, which she spoke in support of on the Senate floor, would ban books at private bookstores.

This despite language that makes a person, “guilty of a class B misdemeanor if the person willfully displays at newsstands or any other business establishment frequented by minors, or where minors are or may be invited as a part of the general public any photograph, book, paperback book, pamphlet, or magazine, the exposed cover or available content of which … contains depictions or written descriptions of nude or partially denuded human figures posed or presented in a manner to exploit sex, lust, or perversion.”

By my reading, that means romance novels, and even great works of literature by people like Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck, would have to be either shrink-wrapped or squirreled away from the public.

But Myrdal says that’s not so. She says the intent is to protect children.

Also on this episode, we asked Myrdal about a recent report noting that she turned her back on a pastor delivering an invocation about “differing colors, genders, races, ethnicities and language.” She said she feels the pastor had a political agenda, and that she would have similarly turned her back if an invocation backed a political interest like credit unions.

“Prayer should be vertical, not horizontal,” she said.

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