Mercedes Schneider: La. AG Jeff Landry Creates Tip Line to Expose the First Amendment
Mercedes Schneider is a teacher, researcher, and writer in Louisiana, and she reports that the state’s attorney general is trying to beef up his gubernatorial hopes by going after teachers. Reposted with permission.
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry wants to be Louisiana’s next governor.
On November 07, 2022, the Louisiana GOP was in the news for prematurely endorsing Landry a year in advance and to the ire of other potential GOP candidates. Note how some slighted candidates responded, according to the November 07, 2022, Advocate:
Two other likely Republican candidates, Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser and Treasurer John Schroder, lambasted the decision.
“There is nothing more conservative, nothing more (Republican), than competition,” Nungesser said on Twitter. “This endorsement process looks more like communist China than the Louisiana we know and love. Some think this is a coronation. Real Republicans will make sure we have an election, not a monarchy.”
Schroder said in a statement the decision is about “money and inside party politics.”
State Sen. Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell, another potential candidate for governor, said on Twitter that “the citizens of Louisiana do not need backroom deals and political insiders telling them who should be our next governor.”
The GOP comparison to communist China particularly stands out.
GOP-endorsed Landry has decided that free speech in the form of librarians (and teachers, and other school officials) suggesting books to children should be monitored by his office.
Apparently, America’s public libraries cannot possess content suitable to all audiences because jump to “protect[ing] minors from early sexualization, as well as grooming, sex trafficking, and abuse.”
Ironically, in this day of almost everyone having access to an iPhone (including small children who are ofren handed a parent’s phone in order to pacify the child), such issues are more of a porblem on social media– sites like the very Facebook that the Office of Attorney General used to post his librarian-teacher-admin “tip line.”
But let’s go with the “early sexualization” and “grooming” rampant in American public libraries.
A library should be a safe place to learn – a place where a child might develop a lifelong love of reading, discover intellectual passions, and pursue dreams for a fulfilling career. A librarian should connect child readers with data that will help them become more informed, more thoughtful, and more productive members of our society.
Librarians and teachers are neither empowering nor liberating our children by connecting them with books that contain extremely graphic sexual content that is far from age appropriate for young audiences.
If this type of taxpayer-subsided sexualization of children has impacted you or your family, tell us about it below. Please use the form to share your experience with librarians, teachers, school board members, district superintendents, and/or library supervisors.
Note that some of the language above comes from this October 03, 2022, Gonzales Weekly Citizen opinion piece written by Landry–and in which, he acknoweldges that books are more easily accessed online: “…Books are abundant, especially today when you can access almost any title online for less than the cost of a cup of coffee or even a pack of gum.”
Soo, it’s an internet access issue, right?
Nope. That makes it harder to scapegoat public servants.
Back to Landry’s tip form:
After Landry’s spiel comes a brief tell-all section for “your information”– with a footnote that what one writes may be subject to public records laws:
No snitching in secret. Any member of the public could request to view all comments. Note that Louisiana’s public records law favors the right of the public to view information, “with any doubt resolved in favor of the right of access” (First Commerce Title Co., Inc. v. Martin, La. App. 2 Cir. 2004).
Landry’s goal seems to be to get disgruntled parents to publicly register complaints about librarians, teachers, and other school officials vaguely “connecting” children with “books (note that internet is omitted) that contain extremely graphic sexual content that is far from age appropriate for young audiences.”
According to the December 04, Nola, com, “Critics are calling for criminal prosecution under a state law prohibiting the exhibit of material harmful to minors, specifically with sexual content. They are also seeking the possible replacement of library staff and board members, as well as parental oversight of book selection, among other demands.” There’s more:
Landry said he’s looking to help with bills to strengthen state laws. State Sen. Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell, also said she would do her part to strengthen laws “that will put parents in charge of what their children learn.”
But Landry cautioned the crowd that the existing state law is broad. “The books we felt were problematic, we do not believe fell under any Louisiana statute,” he said.
That’s likely because of the First Amendment. When laws become too specific– like, say, trying to regulate a public servant’s right to suggest a book to a patron– they tend to cross over into the realm of authoritarianism. You know, like China.
But how will Louisiana fight those library sex crimes?
From the December 02, 2022, LA Illuminator:
Landry declined to answer questions as to whether he has investigated sex crimes against children originating in libraries.
Where are those library sex crimes?
Landry offers no word about what will come of these complains that appear to be noting more than potential campaign fodder. However, in connection with trying to limit the First Amendment rights of others, Landry has had his ego slapped as he has publicly pursued a Louisiana college professor for criticizing him on social media. From the December 09, 2021, Nola.com:
State Attorney General Jeff Landry has called on LSU President William Tate IV to discipline a professor over a “disparaging” tweet criticizing his office’s latest attempts to block vaccine mandates in schools.
Robert Mann Jr., who teaches journalism and political communication at the university and frequently shares personal opinions with his 19,000 followers on the social media site, referred to a Landry staffer as a “flunkie” (sic) on Wednesday afternoon.
The definition of flunky, according to the Oxford Dictionary, is “a person who performs relatively menial tasks for someone else.”
Landry had sent his assistant AG to the Faculty Senate meeting to read a letter on his behalf Dec. 7, just a day after he participated in a lengthy legislative hearing at the Capitol where he shared misinformation about vaccines.
“Mann’s disparaging remarks about this LSU alumna can not be without consequence. I have spoken with President Tate and expressed my disdain and expectation for accountability,” Landry wrote in response to Mann’s brief critique.
LSU president Tate issued a statement on Thursday afternoon and said, “I am deeply committed to First Amendment rights. LSU is committed to free and open scholarship and the freedom to debate ideas and principles without interference.”
Earlier this year, he tried unsuccessfully to sue an Advocate reporter seeking public records about a sexual harassment scandal. He is also being sued by a former employee and whistleblower who claims Landry retaliated against him for reporting sexual harassment and that Landry’s office intentionally concealed records about it from the public.
In the meantime, Mann has since doubled down and called Landry a “jackass.”
There are apparenly some plans to spam Landry’s tip line because in 2018 he declined to set up the same for clergy sexual abuse:
In January 2022, Virginia governor, Glenn Youngkin, set up a similar tip line for the public to report “divisive practices” purportedly engaged in by Virginia teachers. Youngkin’s effort to get the nasty goods on Virginia teachers apparently backfired, with individuals instead planning to inundate the site with positive comments.
According to the November 05, 2022, NPR, in September 2022, Youngkin’s tip line was “quietly shut down”:
Some of his supporters were obviously very excited about this, but there was also enormous pushback from people who found the whole thing kind of Orwellian. Some people tried to undermine the tip line, or as they called it, snitch line by sending emails praising teachers or criticizing Youngkin. The governor argued this was private communication between citizens and his office, and he blocked public records request to see the submissions. NPR and other media outlets sued, and eventually the administration handed over 350 emails as part of a settlement. And they were a real grab bag. Many came from a special education advocate who argued the state had failed those students. Some related to local mask mandates in schools. There was some praise for teachers, too. One notable one came from a high school student who didn’t like the way their English teacher was discussing the epic poem “Beowulf.” The student wrote – I’m quoting here – “All my teacher wants to talk about is how the book is sexist because it portrays the warriors as men and not women.”
A spokesperson for Youngkin said they shut it down in September because it was receiving, quote, “little or no volume of responses.” Don Scott, the top lawmaker in Virginia’s House of Delegates, said the whole thing was designed to provoke the kind of divisiveness that Youngkin claimed he’s trying to prevent.
With Landry and others who promote tip lines that challenge the constitutional rights of public servants, divisiveness seems to be the goal.
And perhaps a hefty dose of spotlight for an inflated (or, as the case may be, injured) ego.