Class Warfare Exists.com
November 15, 2013

Meet Lindel Toups, a Lafourche Parish Councilman who wants to defund libraries around his county to build a brand new prison. Don’t worry he’s got really good, not racist, not crazy reasons:

First, explains Toups, libraries are teaching “Mexicans” how to speak English.

“They’re teaching Mexicans how to speak English,” Toups told the local Tri-Parish Times, referencing Biblioteca Hispana, a Spanish-language section of one of the nine branch libraries. “Let that son of a bitch go back to Mexico.”

Also, libraries are full of drug addicts, long haired hippies, and poor people.

“There’s just so many things they’re doing that I don’t agree with. … Them junkies and hippies and food stamps [recipients] and all, they use the library to look at drugs and food stamps [on the Internet]. I see them do it.”

Yes, he has seen them do it. He’s seen poor people go to the library and learn about food stamps (a program intended for poor people). Have they no shame?

Immigrants have to put up with a LOT of crap in this country but attacking their right to visit a public library and learn English is something I have never heard of. Why Toups finds a person immersing him or herself in the native language offensive is baffling. And why would a junkie go to the library to look at drugs? Can you get a contact high from googling pictures of weed?

More baffling still, Toups thinks the money spent on libraries would be better served as seed money for a new prison. Nothing quite exposes Toups feelings of contempt for the poor and immigrants than closing a resource intended to help them and opening one that disproportionately incarcerates them.

Toups thinks libraries have been hoarding too much money. “Big Library” has got its fingers in the taxpayer’s wallet and is robbing them of money that could go towards jails.

“They’ve got too much money,” Toups said. “We’re giving the public the chance to raise the jail money without raising taxes. Any blind man can see that."

The library staff and supporters say that cuts to library funding would be devastating.

“If we lose this millage, we cannot operate our libraries on $800,000 a year, and that’s what we would have left after we (cancel other revenue with the cost of) salaries. Somewhere we will make cuts; there’s just no other way around it.”

Suggested cuts would result in reduced hours at less-used satellite branches, less money for technological costs and fewer available materials offered free to people with a library card, Sanders said. [source]

But hey, with a brand new prison, who needs a library card or access to books?

Whether or not to take money from libraries and put it towards a prison will be up for a vote in a ballot measure on Saturday. EveryLibrary, a non-profit organization supporting libraries around the country, called the vote “the worst library election in the country.”

If this were a movie, this would be the time that a scrappy, young librarian stands up to the mob and gives an impassioned plea for the importance of learning and equal access to technology and resources that otherwise would be unavailable to the poorest people, but instead we just have Library System Director Laura Sanders who gave this awesome response to Toups’ plans:

She noted that for Toups, the issue of the jail’s condition is a personal one. “He does have family members that are incarcerated,” she says.

I like her speech better. Burned.