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Louisiana Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Filed By Librarian Against Conservative Org That Criticized Her Stance on Explicit Children's Books

A Louisiana judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a middle school librarian against a conservative organization and two individuals that criticized her position on explicit children’s books.

Amanda Jones, president of the Louisiana Association of School Librarians, claimed that she was defamed in a “public campaign” by Citizens for a New Louisiana in a lawsuit filed last month.

Jones said that she was targeted by the group in social media posts after she spoke at a Livingston Parish Library system board meeting about her opposition to removing sexually explicit books from the children’s section of libraries.

Several LGBT-themed books have become the subject of fierce debate nationwide for featuring significantly sexually charged language and images.

In a Facebook post on July 20, the lawsuit claims, Citizens for a New Louisiana criticized people supporting “sexually explicit and erotic materials targeting eight to ten-year-olds.” Two days later, they referenced Jones specifically, asking why she is “fighting so hard to keep sexually erotic and pornographic materials” in the children’s section, The Hill reported at the time that the lawsuit was filed.

Michael Lunsford, who runs the organization and was named in the lawsuit, had commented on the post saying Jones was on the “public payroll” and was “advocating for having erotica in the kid’s section.”

Ryan Thames, who runs a Facebook page called “Bayou State of Mind,” was also named in the lawsuit after posting a meme of Jones. The meme featured her photo and said that she advocates for teaching anal sex to 11-year-olds.

Citizens for a New Louisiana published an explainer about their side of the situation, in which they included multiple photos of books that were found in the children’s section of the Livingston Parish Library.

WARNING: The following images from a children’s book are blurred, but explicit.

“The public library should be a safe space for everyone, especially children. However, it appears that many sex rights activists want the opposite,” the organization’s post said. “That’s because, by all appearances, the content we’re talking about would qualify under LA RS 14:91.11 as ‘material harmful to minors.’ The penalty for violating this statute can be up to two-thousand dollars ($2,000) and one year in prison.”

The organization argues that they are not for censorship, but for protecting children from harmful content.

In her ruling, Judge Erika Sledge said that Jones was a “limited public figure” for her role as the president of the Louisiana Association of School Librarians — but that it didn’t matter anyways because the commentary was not defamatory.

There is a higher standard for defamation cases against public figures, including the need to prove “actual malice.” Private individuals only need to prove that false statements were made recklessly.

The attorney representing the defendants, Joseph J. Long, said in a statement that they “hope that this case will stand as a beacon of hope for those who are put in a similar situation by the radical Left.”

“Harry Truman once said, ‘If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.’ Ms. Jones meant well, but when entering the fray, she could not stand the heat of criticism and resorted to this lawsuit instead of trying to win the debate with better ideas,” Long said in a statement posted to Facebook. “The Court ruled that Thames and Lundsford’s comments were opinion, and that nothing they said was either malicious or false. The First Amendment wins when people of conviction fight for it. We hope that this case will stand as a beacon of hope for those who are put in a similar situation by the radical Left.”

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