Actor and writer Kirk Cameron's tour to "promote free speech in our libraries and schools" has been met, on its first day, with a first attempt at cancellation.
The event, organized by the Christian book publisher Brave Books, and sponsored by Moms for Liberty, had three stops scheduled on Saturday, August 5, which would also feature former swimmer Riley Gaines. The second stop, however, was cancelled just two days before the start of "See You at the Library."
Join me this Saturday, August 5, for the first national 'See You at the Library' day with thousands of faithful Americans for a day of singing, praying and reading.
Join me this Saturday, August 5th, for the first National 'See You at the Library’ day with thousands of faithful Americans for a day of singing, praying, and reading.
1. TENNESSEE: We will be at the… pic.twitter.com/N9fK2EirAz
— Kirk Cameron (@KirkCameron) August 3, 2023
The managers of the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library, Alabama, announced that they had to cancel the event due to space and security issues.
"On Tuesday the Library learned that event organizers are now expecting over 300 people, a number that far exceeds any meeting room," alleged Jay Hixon, the institution's director of public relations.
He also wrote that "the safety of Library users and staff is of utmost importance" to the Library and that after consulting with the Police, Fire Department and the City of Madison, they had decided to cancel the event. The local authorities would have suggested, according to him, other possible venues for the assembly.
"It was a directive on how to manage our group and not the protesters," opined Emily Jones, president of the local chapter of Moms For Liberty that booked the room for the event, in remarks picked up by the Daily Wire. "To me, that just indicates that [the police chief] is not interested in making this event go well. He wants it to go away."
Jones explained that they decided to support Cameron's book reading because "we have family-friendly drag shows 20 minutes from my house." She also maintained that "God put this in front of us because he hears the cry of our community, our churches, and our leaders to step up and push back on them."
Brave Books reports irregularities
Cameron's publisher - which claims to be "fighting on the front lines for the hearts and minds of our children" by promoting "patriotic and Christian" events - shared an image that shows the library has the capacity to accommodate up to 360 people:
— BRAVE BOOKS (@BraveBooksUS) August 4, 2023
But that's not all. Brave Books had also posted days earlier about a campaign by the American Library Association (ALA), a publicly funded grouping of libraries and self-proclaimed world's largest, to "sabotage" meetings of Christian or conservative parents at its facilities.
In a video released by Brave Books, "one ALA director" can be seen explaining how to make policies and procedures for vetoing the use of classrooms, even making reference to Cameron's tour.
Suggestions range from not even offering public meeting rooms to limiting who can have a library card, adding provisions for canceling events in usage agreements, and prioritizing events sponsored by the library itself. And, about the latter:
What if your library decided to offer host a whole host of programs in its meeting room on August 5th making it unavilable for the public? That´s another option for you.
🚨 1/ BREAKING: We have obtained exclusive evidence that the taxpayer-funded American Library Association @ALALibrary is circulating guidance to sabotage conservative or Christian parent groups from gathering in public libraries on August 5th. One ALA director gave suggestions on… pic.twitter.com/iBqwIChNhJ
— BRAVE BOOKS (@BraveBooksUS) June 26, 2023
The American Library Association benefits from your tax dollars but is trying to violate your free speech rights. They’re hoping you feel demoralized and give up. But this is about more than just a story hour on one day. It’s about continuing a movement that gives a positive and healthy alternative to families and children at libraries. Go to http://BRAVEBooks.com and see our guide on how to locally host a “See You at the Library” event on Aug. 5.
10/ The American Library Association @ALALibrary benefits from your tax dollars but is trying to violate your free speech rights. They’re hoping you feel demoralized and give up. But this is about more than just a story hour on one day. It’s about continuing a movement that gives…
— BRAVE BOOKS (@BraveBooksUS) June 26, 2023
Senators Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Mike Braun (R-IN) have joined in the complaints, calling on the Institute of Museum and Library Services, to investigate the ALA for religious discrimination against Brave Books.
To the courts?
The law firm representing Cameron and his publisher warned Cindy Hewitt, executive director of the Huntsville-Madison County Libraries, that it would take legal action if she did not announce this Friday her endorsement for the event to take place the following day.
Jeremy Dys, the attorney who signed the letter, argued that if Hewitt does not recant, Hewitt "will have engaged in unlawful and unconstitutional religious viewpoint and content discrimination in violation of the Alabama Constitution and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution."
Dys argued that the Supreme Court has previously ruled against leaving it up to administrators - "whether librarian, mayor or governor" - to regulate protected speech. And that alleging space and security problems will not be sufficient argument to win in court - for example, instead of canceling it, it could have allowed the first arrivals to enter:
In short, whether over concerns of security or capacity, you have censored our client.