Even as Republican-led book banning gets more aggressive, there are growing indications that the GOP may not be content to stop there. Pulling literary works from shelves and denying individuals the freedom to make their own decisions about what to read is one thing. However, some Republicans are taking things a dangerous step further, as they throw gravitas out the window while they play with fire.
This weekend, Missouri State Senator Nick Schroer posted a photo on X (formerly Twitter) showing him and fellow Republican State Senator Bill Eigel using flame throwers at the recent St. Charles County Freedom Fest in Missouri, an event organized by the St. Charles County Republican Central Committee. “Burning down the swamp!” he wrote. Soon, someone posted a video, leaving many to wonder if the two legislators were burning books or just cardboard boxes.
According to Eigel, no books were harmed in this Fahrenheit 451-style display of hate, which was accompanied by cheers, chuckling, and chants of “Let’s go, Brandon!” However, that does not mean that book-burning is off the table. In a subsequent statement, Eigel, who is running to be Missouri’s next governor, wrote that his actions show “what I am going to do to the leftist policies and RINO corruption of the Jeff City swamp.” He then threatened that if the wrong books make it into Missouri schools “to try to brainwash our kids,” then “I’ll burn those too – on the front lawn of the governor’s mansion.”
Schroer similarly warned on Facebook that “now that I think of it, this action is a precursor of what’s to come when the leftwing makes its way into the Missouri Senate.” In response, Democratic Missouri House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, who is also running for governor, slammed these Republicans for using flamethrowers “to intimidate folks they disagree with,” claiming that they “view their jobs as a joke while real people suffer from their cruelty,” according to a report from the Kansas City Star.
A new report this week from the American Library Association (ALA) reveals that so far this year (from January 1 through August 31), 695 attempts to censor library materials and services have been reported and 1,915 challenges to unique titles have been documented. Last year’s figures in the same reporting period had been the highest, but the number of books challenged this year has surpassed the record by 20%. Of course, it’s still not enough for some Republicans.