EDITORIALS/‘The Queer Bible’ agenda
When Ridgeland’s public library went all out with “The Queer Bible” promotion in an LGBTQ+ book display earlier this year there was understandably public outrage.
When confronted, Madison County library officials quickly threw up patently false allegations of book banning by Ridgeland Mayor Gene F. McGee.
The book ban allegations predictably created hysteria among liberals and they quickly raised the $110,000 the city of Ridgeland is withholding while a contract that expired nearly a decade and a half ago is being reviewed.
Employing librarians to promote alternative lifestyles in prominent book displays at a public library is not a function of taxpayer monies.
Neither Mayor McGee nor anyone else has proposed banning books, but much concern has been justly expressed about the overt political nature of the “Queer Bible” display.
A Jackson political blog fanned the hysteria with a post under the headline: “Ridgeland Mayor Demands LGBTQ+ Book Purge, Threatens Library Funding.”
That characterization is false and misleading. The prominent display is the mayor’s concern and that concern was brought to him by citizens he represents.
The blog post began: “Ridgeland Mayor Gene McGee is withholding $110,000 of funding from the Madison County Library System allegedly on the basis of his personal religious beliefs, with library officials stating that he has demanded that the system initiate a purge of LGBTQ+ books before his office releases the money.
“Tonja Johnson, executive director for the Madison County Library System, told the Mississippi Free Press in an afternoon interview that she first reached out to Mayor McGee after failing to receive the City of Ridgeland’s first quarterly payment of 2022.”
A payment? Since when is a taxpayer contribution a payment due? Libraries are not entitled to taxpayer funding.
The report went on: “Johnson said the mayor informed her that no payment was forthcoming. He explained his opposition to what he called ‘homosexual materials’ in the library, that it went against his Christian beliefs, and that he would not release the money as the long as the materials were there,” the library director told the blog.
What they aren’t telling is that in the course of the controversy erupting McGee discovered the city’s contract with the library expired 13 years ago — or three municipal election cycles.
If library employees want to stay off the front page, we recommend leaving politics out of the library. Thrusting themselves into the public vortex with social media crusades that raise $110,000 is asking for justly deserved criticism.
Quiet librarians meekly minding their business is a thing of the past. They have a an overt “Queer Bible” agenda at the Ridgeland library and that’s a problem.
Library trustees are appointed by the county Board of Supervisors and that’s ultimately where the accountability rests.
Jerry Valdez is the president of the Madison County Library System Board of Trustees.
“We look forward to continuing our tradition of excellent library service in Madison County,” Valdez has said.
Valdez is one of nine members of the MCLS Board of Trustees. Each supervisor gets and appointee. The cities of Canton, Flora, Ridgeland and Madison also appoint a member each.
Valdez represents Flora. The city of Ridgeland’s appointee is Polly Hammett. The remaining library trustees are: Wallace Collins appointed by Madison, Penni Davis appointed by Sheila Jones; Arma Harper appointed by Trey Baxter; Connie Machado appointed by Gerald Steen; Shirley Washington appointed by David Bishop and Shirley Ann Sanders appointed by Paul Griffin. The city of Canton did not have an appointee on the board as of Jan. 11.
The notion that we are burning books in Madison County with Gene McGee carrying the torch is ridiculous.
The dignity of every human being must be respected including our LGBTQ+ friends and even the unborn, but don’t bring political activism into the public library and push a “Queer Bible” agenda that is certain to offend and inflame.