A Louisiana school librarian's defamation lawsuit against two men and one conservative group has been dismissed by a judge.
In the lawsuit, middle school librarian Amanda Jones — who's also the president of the Louisiana Association of School Librarians — alleged she had been publicly condemned for opposing messaging censorship and "book policing," through a series of online posts created by Michael Lunsford and Ryan Thames, who are connected to Citizens For A New Louisiana.
According to the lawsuit, on July 19, Jones spoke at a meeting of the Livingston Parish Library Board of Control after a board member requested a review of books initially deemed as inappropriate.
Jones reportedly spoke against the restricting of books, arguing that type of censorship would be harmful to the community.
The next day (July 20), Jones asserted, the Citizens For A New Louisiana Facebook page contained a general synopsis of the meeting, saying "anti-censorship folks" opposed moving "sexually explicit and erotic materials targeting 8- to 10-year olds" to the adult section of the library.
And then on July 22, the lawsuit claimed, Citizens For A New Louisiana accused Jones of "fighting so hard to keep sexually erotic and pornographic materials" in the children's section.
A photo of Jones allegedly accompanied the post, and the librarian's image was surrounded by a red circle, in which Jones was characterized as a potential target.
In the suit, Jones also alleged Thames, who operates a separate Facebook page called Bayou State of Mind, posted a meme of Jones showing her smiling behind a desk and alleging she was teaching sexually explicit lessons to 11-year-olds.
In her decision, 21st Judicial District Judge Erika Sledge ruled the statements or posts from Lunsford and Thames were subjective opinions — and not fact. She said Jones can be viewed as a limited public figure for identifying herself as the Louisiana Association of School Librarians president at the meeting.
The Advocate, a mainstream newspaper in Louisiana, noted the threshold for proving defamation is higher for public figures than for private individuals.
In a press release, Thames attorney Joseph Long said he believes the librarian meant well, but that she ultimately could not stand "the heat of criticism" and used the lawsuit to win the debate over the LGBTQ-friendly books, instead of simply producing better ideas.
"The First Amendment wins when people of conviction fight for it," read the release. "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."
Also, Thames said he does not support banning books. He was just protecting children from "harmful content."
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