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Free speech defender David McAvoy on how to nip book bans in the bud, Jonesboro-style

Published in the Arkansas Times on December 6, 2021

Bad news, everyone. Book banning is back.

In Arkansas, Craighead County was the canary in the coal mine on this latest wave of censorship rolling across the country. First Amendment defenders in Jonesboro have been busy for months fending off calls to scrub books on puberty, sexuality and gender from the shelves. One of those 1A defenders is David McAvoy, a paralegal by day and a clear-thinking, dedicated organizer of the group Citizens Defending the Craighead County Library by night. The group notched a win by defeating a proposal to give library board members veto power over materials they deemed inappropriate. But they took a hit in November when library Director David Eckert quit to pursue a job in a different, presumptively more forward-thinking state.

McAvoy shared what it takes to hold the gates to knowledge open when so many are trying to push them shut, and what he sees ahead in the fight against censorship.

"There were a lot of exaggerated things said about it that were just not grounded in reality. Then our state senator, Dan Sullivan, put a call out on Facebook to go complain to the Quorum Court in July to try to get funding cut for the library. It turned out they couldn’t do it, because a bunch more people showed up in support of the library," explained David McAvoy.


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