LITTLE ROCK (KATV) — The Central Arkansas Library System board is taking on a new state law designed to prevent minors from viewing obscene materials.
The board has decided to challenge the law in court during a tense and crowded meeting on Thursday, May 25th.
Members of the board said they wanted clarification on the parts of the new law that were not clear.
Luke McCoy, a concerned father and staff member of the Family Council spoke in front of the board today.
"I am an elected official. I am a parent. I am a neighbor. I am a deacon at church. I am like a lot of other people across Arkansas. Protecting children is a paramount interest, and that is why I am here today," said McCoy.
McCoy said he supported Act 372.
"I think, they are for exposing children to obscene, objectionable, harmful material. I heard people inside the committee room at the State Capitol say, 'I feel completely comfortable, letting children check out material that some may find objectionable,'" said McCoy.
McCoy said he is a concerned father and said some of the content in the books was almost too obscene to talk about.
"There are books that talk about using sex, toys, and children can check out books on how to find instructions to use sex toys with other people or on themselves," said McCoy.
McCoy said this should be an easy choice to say children should not be able to check out obscene materials.
"I do not think once this law goes into effect that prosecutors are going to be flooding to the courthouse to press charges against librarians. I hope the law does what it intends. I hope the law does bring people to justice who break it. Unfortunately, I think the law does not go far enough but it is definitely a good step," said McCoy.
Scott Hamilton, CEO and President of the Urban League of Arkansas, opposed Act 372.
Hamilton said nobody wants the youth subject to different things they are not prepared for or things that may be damaging to them.
"But in this instance I think this is an over-broad attempt to address that. Do we need to address it? Absolutely. But this is not the way. We do not have an unfederated approach where one individual will complain about any book without some process to say what is the issue. That is what we are seeing, we are seeing it rapid," said Hamilton.
Hamilton questioned if this new law was taking away access to certain things that are educational and beneficial to children.
"With the fear of the law that has been put in place, librarians are scared to even take the time to do the research to say ‘What is offensive?’ and ‘What is dangerous?’ I think as a society we must do that but this is a little overbroad," said Hamilton.
The new law will go into effect in August 2023.