Judge dismisses librarian’s defamation lawsuit after conservative attacks on LGBTQ books

A Louisiana judge dismissed a defamation lawsuit brought by a librarian against two men and a conservative organization last month over statements they criticized for supporting its inclusion in a library of books that includes the LGBTQ community.

Amanda Jones, a middle school librarian and president of the Louisiana Association of School Librarians, She filed the lawsuit after she said she was publicly attacked To oppose censorship and “seize the books.” The conservative advocacy group, Citizens for a New Louisiana, led by Michael Lunsford and Ryan Thiems, made a series of online posts criticizing Jones, but the judge ruled that their statements were opinions rather than fact.

Jones spoke at a board meeting at Livingston Parish Library on July 19 after a member of the board asked the board to review the content of books she thought were inappropriate. Jones spoke out against restricting books, saying that censoring or moving books would be harmful to society.

The suit states that Citizens for New Louisiana posted on its Facebook page the next day, saying that “anti-censorship people” opposed moving “sexually explicit and erotic material targeting children between the ages of eight and ten” to the adult department of Library.

Another post on July 22 accused Jones of “fighting hard to keep sexual and pornographic material” in the children’s department. The image of Jones included in the post is circled in red that Jones said looked similar to a target.

The account provided additional posts throughout July and August referring to Jones.

The lawsuit alleges that The Times, which operates a Facebook page called “Bayou State of Mind,” posted a photo of Jones showing her smiling behind a desk and accusing her of advocating anal sex education for 11-year-olds. According to the lawsuit, the Times continued to publicly mock her afterward.

Joseph Long, an attorney for The Times, said in a press release that Jones had good intentions but could not stand the “heat of criticism” and used the lawsuit to try to win the argument over the books rather than win over better ideas.

He said, “The First Amendment wins when people of conviction fight for it.” “We hope this case will be a beacon of hope to those who have been put in a similar situation by the radical left.”

The Times said he does not support banning books, but rather protects children from “harmful content”.

Judge Erica Sledge In her judgment, she said Jones is a limited public figure for introducing herself as the president of the Louisiana Association of School Librarians at the meeting, but that didn’t matter because the remarks weren’t defamatory, according to The Advocate in Louisiana.

The threshold for proving defamation is higher for public figures than for private ones in order to facilitate free discussion. Public figures need to prove that defamatory statements were made with genuine malice.

Lunsford told The Hill that the lawsuit was “frivolous” and baseless, and Sledge determined that the organization was within First Amendment rights to free speech.

He argued that the inability to articulate a strong argument in the court of public opinion should not be followed by a civil lawsuit. He added that Sledge had determined that even if Jones was not a public figure, the statements would not be considered defamatory.

Lunsford said the organization’s responsibility is only to tell the public “what’s going on” and what the truth is.

Jones’ lawyer did not immediately respond to a request from The Hill for comment.

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