Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias is condemning a rash of bomb threats targeting libraries around the state.
The exact number of threats is not known, but several libraries in northern Illinois are known to have received them. No injuries have been reported and, at least at this point, police have been able to determine the threats were not credible.
“What the hell is wrong with people,” Giannoulias said at a Friday news conference. “You’re threatening to bomb libraries because you have librarians doing their job, which is nurturing kids. We should be putting librarians on a pedestal. To me it's a sad, sad week for Illinois and a sad week for our country.”
Giannoulias spearheaded the effort to pass a law punishing libraries that ban books. The governor signed the measure in June that allows withholding state funding to public or school libraries, the first state in the country to do so.
The measure, which takes effect Jan. 1, says public libraries must adopt the American Library Association’s (ALA) Library Bill of Rights or their own statement prohibiting book banning. The association’s Library Bill of Rights states that reading materials “should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval” or “excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.”
State Rep. Blaine Wilhour, R-Beecher City, said that is a false narrative of the left because there was never any talk of banning books.
“Nobody is banning anything,” Wilhour said. “I have yet to see one of these books that is not still available to be sold and purchased. That's a book ban. This isn’t a book ban, this is about age appropriate.”
Wilhour is part of the Illinois Freedom Caucus, which called on public libraries in the state to withdraw from the Chicago-based ALA after their new president proclaimed herself to be a Marxist on Twitter.