Paul Dorr, a fundamentalist Christian, streamed himself on Facebook Live in October 2018 as he burned a string of LGBT-inclusive books from the library in Orange City, Iowa, which has a population of 6,004.
The evangelical blogger made anti-LGBT comments as he destroyed the books, including young adult novel Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan, illustrated LGBT+ history book This Day in June by Gayle Pitman, Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress by Christine Baldacchino and Families, Families, Families! by Suzanne Lang.
Dorr was found guilty of 5th degree criminal mischief in Sioux County District Court on Tuesday (August 6).
The state of Iowa had sought the maximum penalty, a fine of $625.
Dorr, who represented himself, had told the court: “My motive was to honour the Triune God in whom my faith resides and to protect the children of Orange City from being seduced into a life of sin and misery.”
LGBT+ campaigners condemn ‘reprehensible’ burning of library books
Courtney Reyes of One Iowa told Iowa Public Radio: “Libraries are safe havens where every person has free access to all ideas and expressions without restriction.
“Dorr intended to deprive the children of Orange City that access, to isolate LGBTQ youth from reflections of themselves in stories, to take from all youth the opportunity to empathise with people different than themselves. Such an act is terrible, and we are glad justice was served today.”
Bettis Austen of the ACLU of Iowa said: “Burning public library books is the destruction of ideas, and that’s reprehensible.
“The destruction of books from a public library is a clear attempt to shut down the open sharing and discussion of ideas.
“No one person or even group should decide that they are the gatekeepers of ideas for the rest of the public.”
Dorr has previously expressed the belief that people become gay because of “the harm that adults did to you as children” and urged LGBT+ people to “walk away from your degeneracy… repent and turn back to Christ.”
Explaining his actions, Dorr had said: “I cannot stand by and let the shameful adults at the Orange City Library Board bring the next group of little children into their foul, sexual reality without a firm resistance.”
LGBT+ content still dominates the American Library Association’s annual listof most-banned and challenged books.