How Iowa’s Book Banning Manifests

Tim Weber writing about a database he and Samantha Hernandez built for the Des Moines Register:

Together, more than 450 individual works by more than 300 authors have already been pulled from the shelves of Iowa school districts as a result of Senate File 496. Our database will continue to be updated as we receive more lists from districts around the state.

I skimmed the list of titles from the Iowa City Community School District and found a number of familiar titles, including ones that were favorites of my own kid, classics including Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Joyce’s Ulysses and a favorite of my own, Y the Last Man.

It makes book banning so much more personal. These are abstract titles of “banned books.” These are favorites being pulled from the shelves at your kid’s school.

Totally unrelated1: there’s a City & School election on Nov. 7 and there’s some scary folks running . I’m voting for Molly Abraham, Charlie Eastham, Mitchell Lingo and Lisa Williams and you should, too.

  1. It’s completely related. ↩︎

Waterloo City Council Moves to Rapidly Repeal its Conversion Therapy Ban

The Courier, in an unbylined article:

Months after a conversion therapy ban was put in place, the City Council could repeal the divisive ordinance Monday.

A special session will be held at 4:30 p.m. in the council chambers of City Hall during which an amendment to the city code will be considered to repeal the conversion therapy ordinance. If the repeal is passed by the council and the rules are suspended to allow the second and third readings, the change could be adopted Monday.

The council approved a ban on conversion therapy within the city May 15 in a 6-1 vote, with Dave Boesen dissenting. Conversion therapy is the practice of attempting to change someone who doesn’t identify as heterosexual to become heterosexual.

The approval came months after the polarizing proposal was first introduced. People packed the council meetings where it was on the agenda with many making public comments in favor of or against the ordinance.

This story was published on a Saturday for a meeting called for Monday. Waterloo’s website doesn’t seem to indicate when the agenda was published (24-hour notice is required by law), but it would allow the council to immediately pass the repeal instead of taking the usual month and a half.1

Neither the article nor the agenda packet — which includes two pages of rules for public participation and an outline of city’s community vision — indicate why there’s a rush to repeal the ordinance.

What’s the rush to repeal something implemented just four months ago?

  1. Different city councils have different standards for when they’ll expedite action like this. I’m not familiar with Waterloo’s regular procedure. North Liberty’s council rarely waves readings, reserving it for cases where it is unavoidable, while Iowa City compresses the process with enough regularity that it has an appointed councilor with the move-to-suspend-the-rules motion language written down in a drawer at the dias. ↩︎

On Iowa’s Abortion Ban Bill

This bill outlawing abortion before the point most people would know they are pregnant will not lead to the end abortions in Iowa.

This ban will lead to unsafe abortions.

It will lead to unhealthy women.

It will lead to babies, known to be unviable while still being carried to term, to die outside the womb.

It will lead to dead would-be parents.

It will lead to unwanted or unsupported children.

It will lead to rape survivors being responsible for raising their rapists children.

It will not protect the living.

Instead it will force Iowans into childbirth.

If we trust Iowans, we must trust them with their own bodies, planning their own parenthood and their own medical decisions. The majority of Iowans — your constituents — believe abortion should be legal and safe.

Please oppose this bill.

Gov. Kim Reynolds Calls Special Session to Ban Abortion

Press release from Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds:

Today, Governor Reynolds announced she will convene the General Assembly of Iowa on Tuesday, July 11, 2023, at 8:30 a.m. for a special session with the sole purpose of enacting legislation that addresses abortion and protects unborn lives.


A Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll from March found 61% of Iowans said abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 35% said the procedure should be illegal in all or most cases.

Reynolds, previously:

“I trust Iowans to do the right thing.”

Republicans are Legalizing Child Labor After Nearly 80 Years of Protection

Academics John A. Fliter and Betsy Wood writing in The Conversation:

As scholars of child labor, we find the arguments [Iowa Gov. Kim] Reynolds and other like-minded politicians are using today to justify undoing child labor protections echo older justifications made decades ago.

In our view, Iowa has the most radical new law designed to roll back child labor protections. It allows children as young as 14 to work in meat coolers and industrial laundries, and teens 15 and older can work on assembly lines around dangerous machinery.

Teens as young as 16 can now serve alcohol in Iowa restaurants, as long as two adults are present.

U.S. Labor Department officials argue that several provisions of Iowa’s new law violate national child labor standards. However, the department has not disclosed a clear strategy for combating such violations.

It’s not ideal to have 16-year-olds serving booze late at night, and it certainly sets up situations where kids might be abused or exploited by both their employers and their employers patrons, but legalizing work in notoriously dangerous meat-packing plants and on assembly lines is irresponsible. As a nation we said no to this.

But, as our rural population shrinks and our overall population ages, conservative who oppose immigration have backed themselves into a workforce corner, and so increasingly need kids to fill dangerous jobs.

Mass Shootings as Pro-Gun Propaganda

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo:

We often hear statistics about “mass shootings” in the United States. But those aren’t really what most of us think of as mass shootings. Most news and policy organizations use an FBI-derived statistic which looks at firearms incidents in which four or more people are shot, regardless of the severity of the injuries. That can include stick-ups gone wrong, family disputes, gang hits, everything under the sun.

When most of us think of mass shootings we’re talking about school shootings, or the seemingly related kinds of indiscriminate mass shootings we just saw in Allen, Texas, the one last year in Buffalo and the countless others. They’re different in kind from other shootings. And we know them when we see them.

[…]the statistics we see about mass shootings don’t really take these salient factors into account. If anything they understate the rapid growth of this kind of mass shooting. It’s frequently said that the mass shootings in this category get outsized attention compared to the vast numbers of people who die everyday in “ordinary” shootings, or firearm suicides. And that’s true in terms of toll in human life. But that ignores the salient point. Mass shootings as I’m defining them here are a form of terrorism and a successful one. Their indiscriminate nature is meant to instill a generalized terror and demonstrate the power both of the individual shooter and guns themselves.

America’s continued infatuation with guns and tolerance for gun violence has myriad reasons. But significant is our willingness to put up with it — and, in fact, increase the likelihood of being victims of gun violence ourselves — is the self-reinforcing pro-gun propaganda of mass shootings in Marshall’s definition (indiscriminate, goal to maximize death, shooter’s expectation to die).

Because the policy solutions are so impossible (not because they aren’t clear, but because they feel so impossible politically), we can feel like the only accessible solution to these events of indiscriminate mass-death terrorism is to arm ourselves. More guns feels like the only solution when someone might just kill you for not reason other than instilling fear.

These mass shootings, and others, are, ironically, pro-gun propaganda.

Feinstein Remains Unwilling to Entertain Discussions about Leaving the Senate

The New York Times:

Senator Dianne Feinstein, 89, whose recent bout with shingles included contracting encephalitis, is frailer than ever. But she remains unwilling to entertain discussions about leaving the Senate.

Being a trailblazer can’t be easy, and you almost certainly get used to people telling you what you can’t do or what you should do, and you become a trailblazer by ignoring and defying those naysayers.

But knowing when to step aside is a critical skill of leaders, often easier for outsiders to see. Feinstein, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg before her, are only hurting the causes they care so deeply about and have fought so hard for.

Under Iowa’s Theocratic Governor, No Wonder Young People Flee the State

A former Iowan writes to the Los Angeles Times:

The current governor, in my opinion, is a threat to social progress and basic academic freedom. She has supported banning books from school libraries, eliminating gun safety, banning almost all abortions, restricting LGBTQ rights and more.

Is it any wonder that young people leave Iowa after graduating from its public universities? Young people in Iowa and elsewhere are being deprived of obtaining an education in which controversial subjects are discussed. Democracy cannot flourish in such an environment.

If you are a person in your 20’s or 30’s, looking to start a career and, maybe eventually, a family, would you stick around a place that would make planning for those big decisions difficult at best? I sure as shit wouldn’t.

Who Can Ruin Their State the Best?

Emine Yücel in Talking Points Memo:

For some time now, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott have been locked in a high-stakes competition, using anything and anyone as props — including vulnerable migrants and children — to score points with Trump supporters and collect MAGA clout at a national level.

Meanwhile, Red State Trailblazer Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds is heading down a similar path without the national fanfare. Attacks on transgender kids? Check. Abortion ban? Check. So-called parental rights? They went big and bold on “school choice” that will cost millions and continue to hammer away.

Reynolds’s is currently working to reorganize the entire state government, which looks to take control away from county officials and consolidate power in the governor’s office.