The Orange City Public Library said it’s exploring legal options after a northwest Iowa man rented and then publicly burned several children’s books Friday.
The second annual OC Pride kicked off Friday with a story time for kids, a schedule shows. About an hour before the event, Paul Dorr started a live Facebook video, in which he stood near the Prairie Winds Event Center. The 27-minute video ends with Dorr throwing at least four books with LGBTQ themes that he claimed he rented from the public library into a burning trash can.
Dorr is the director of Rescue The Perishing, a religious group and website he calls a “crisis center and pro-life, pro-family movement.”
The majority of the live video shows Dorr reading a blog post from the site titled “May God And The Homosexuals of OC Pride Please Forgive Us!”
Dorr declined to be interviewed Monday.
Amanda Vazquez, the library’s director, said she learned of the video on Saturday. The library “alerted the board” and spoke with authorities to determine “next steps,” including possible legal action, Vazquez said.
The Orange City Police Chief confirmed that parties were discussing legal action, but declined to comment further.
“Frankly, I found it disgusting,” said Mark Stringer, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Iowa. “We are disturbed to see this.
“Burning books from a public library is a clear attempt to shut down the open sharing and discussion of ideas,” Stringer said. “It’s one person, or maybe a group, deciding that they’re the gatekeeper of ideas for the rest of the public.”
Earlier this year, a petition circulated in Orange City demanded that books with any LGBTQ content be separated from other books and labeled as such. More than 340 people signed.
The library later reorganized its books by subject rather than alphabetical order by an author’s name.
Three of the four books burned by Dorr were featured in that petition earlier this year.
Those include “Two Boys Kissing,” a young adult novel by David Levithan; “Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress,” a children’s book about a boy who likes to wear a tangerine dress, by Christine Baldacchino; and “This Day In June,” a picture book about a pride parade, by Gayle E. Pitman. The fourth book Dorr burned was Suzanne and Max Lang’s “Families, Families, Families!“, about nontraditional families.
“I think it’s important to make a distinction between what happened early this year and what happened this weekend,” said Dan Chibnall, vice president of the Iowa Library Association and Drake University STEM librarian. He said he could not speak on behalf of ILA, as the group has not yet released a statement.
The petition was “a civil way” to protest, unlike Friday’s book burning, Chibnall said.
“These were one person’s actions and beliefs, and they hopefully do not represent a group or the community,” Chibnall said.
Burning public property on video is a poor example for children, he added.
“It is disappointing to see folks break the law in a community where we believe abiding by the law keeps everyone safe,” OC Pride said in a statement Monday.
“We are thankful for the LGBTQ+ community here in NW Iowa for setting a positive example of building community in light of those who do violent, illegal things to prove a point,” the statement continued.
The group is collecting donations through a GoFundMe.
Orange City is the county seat of Sioux County, known as the most conservative county in the state. U.S. Rep. Steve King represents the area, part of Iowa’s 4th Congressional District.
Dorr, in the blog post, said his actions don’t represent “any political party.”
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