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Opinion | Alabama’s kids face lots of problems. Libraries aren’t one.

Our elected leaders keep focusing on phony issues because they have no idea how to solve the real ones.


Alabama has the third-highest gun death rate among children in the U.S., according to a study published in the journal “Pediatrics.” The average death rate nationally is 5.8 deaths per 100,000 kids. Alabama’s gun death rate was nearly double, at 11.4. 

Guns are the number one killer of kids in this state, eclipsing automobile accidents and accidents. 

Alabama ranks fifth-worst in the nation for food-insecure children, according to Kids Count. That’s children who aren’t sure where their next meal will come from, or if there will be a next meal. More than 1 in 5 kids in Alabama are facing such a situation. 

Alabama has the fifth highest teen birth rate in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control. The CDC statistics also show Alabama as fifth-worst for infant mortality and the state ranks in the bottom three for overall child healthcare. 

These statistics are not anomalies – the result of a surprise uptick in deaths or due to changes in the way the statistics are gathered. We’ve ranked in the bottom for a long, long time in all of these categories. 

Our children, particularly the poor children, are suffering and dying before our eyes on a daily basis and it’s been going on for decades now. 

So, it causes me to raise an eyebrow when our governor and her staff send out a second multi-page press release, with detailed questions posed to the director of a state entity, under the guise of “protecting children,” and those questions aren’t related to any of the very real causes of death and suffering mentioned above. 

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In fact, they’re not related to anything that’s actually causing harm to children. But instead are merely the latest pandering to a group of insane people screaming about yet another made-up crisis in the bubble of conservative fever dreams. 

This one is about libraries around the state failing to protect children. Apparently, in addition to offering books to the public, librarians are supposed to be monitoring what young kids are reading to ensure that whatever is in the book falls in line with whatever random limitations their parents – who are apparently dumping these kids at the front door and driving off for lattes – have set.

Unbeknownst to the rest of us, there is apparently a new fad among kids these days in which they bypass all the porn on the internet and opt instead to sneak around the public library learning about straight and gay sex from cartoon characters in books. 

It’s such a problem that our governor’s office has now devoted hours to addressing this out-of-control crisis, and it took the extraordinary step on Wednesday of telling the library director that we’re going to start basing state funding for libraries on the libraries’ ability to protect kids from books with mature themes. 

Because if there’s one thing we’re all certain will fix any problem, it’s the clowns in Montgomery getting involved in every decision. 

Looking at our teen pregnancy rate, which is nearly double the national average, it might not be the worst thing in the world if a few of our kids picked up a book or two on sex. Especially since they’re not getting much sex ed in schools, thanks to our absurd policies on abstinence-only teaching and the ridiculous liabilities teachers face for straying from that teaching. 

But if you’ve ever wondered why it is that Alabama stinks in so many quality-of-children’s-lives measurements, and why it never seems to get better, this is why. This is what we do. These are the people we elect. 

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There’s a five-alarm fire raging among the kids in this state and our elected officials, from the top on down, are out back peeing on a brush fire. And missing. 

Honestly, how could you skip past ALL the other problems facing Alabama’s kids and Alabama’s parents and choose to devote actual time and energy to this farce? 

You know how? It’s because they have no idea how to actually solve the real problems facing our kids. Or, more likely, they have no intention of making the hard, politically unpopular decisions that would lead to fixing those problems. 

They lack the courage to tell people hard truths – like that our history of discrimination against the poor has led to generations of poverty for certain groups of people and that we need to take radical, expensive steps to rectify our sins – and so instead they play a conman’s game in which they distract the masses with phony, overhyped nonsense while the true issues go unaddressed. 

A lot of people keep falling for it. And kids are actually dying because of it.

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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