Jason Rapert (file photo)

Please give the women, especially those who respect the First Amendment, a round of applause.

I refer to the women on the Arkansas State Library Board — even Shari Bales, the one recently appointed by Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Thanks to them, former state senator Jason Rapert did not get a second on a motion today to defund libraries pushing back against a new state censorship law.

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Today was the first meeting of the seven-member State Library Board since Sanders appointed Rapert and Bales. As expected, Rapert talked more than any other board member, tapping his foot on the floor much of the time. His motion was to suspend funds to any library suing the state or Arkansas taxpayers pending the outcome of litigation.

Libraries that would have been immediately affected include the Central Arkansas Library System, the Fayetteville Public Library and the Eureka Springs Carnegie Public Library. They are among the plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the new state law, Act 372, which seeks to impose criminal penalties on librarians or others who make supposedly “harmful” materials available to minors. The challenged portions of the law are on hold pending a bench trial, set to begin Oct. 15 at the earliest.

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To keep funding those libraries amounts to writing them a check to help pay for the lawsuit, Rapert said.

Board member Pamela Meredith countered that defunding would not only hurt the libraries but also their communities. Further, Meredith said, such an action would amount to the board’s “taking a stand, a political stand,” which she said is not the panel’s responsibility.

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Rapert said his proposal was not a political statement but would be “simply doing good business.”

Later in the meeting, Rapert wanted to know if Arkansas libraries contain certain books that some have found objectionable, such as “Gender Queer.” Not surprisingly, Rapert chose to focus on books with LGBQT+  themes and not those with extreme violence or steamy heterosexual sex scenes. Arkansas State Library Director Jennifer Chilcoat suggested that he email her details of his request.

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Rapert, a former state senator from Conway, is founder and president of the National Association of Christian Lawmakers and Holy Ghost Ministries.