LGBTQ Equality

Iowa Religious Extremist Who Burned Library Books Faces The Law

  Rob Boston

In October 2018, I wrote a blog post about Paul Dorr, an Iowa man who made a video of himself burning several books with LGBTQ themes.

Burning books because you don’t like their content is an extreme act of intolerance, but in this case, there was an additional wrinkle: They weren’t Dorr’s books. He had checked them out of a public library in Orange City.

Today I’m pleased to report that Dorr has been punished for his act of vandalism. He was found guilty of criminal mischief earlier this week and fined $125 in fines and court costs.

Dorr got angry because OC Pride, a local LGBTQ rights group, had held a festival in town that included a storytime for children. In response, Dorr checked out four LGBTQ-themed books from the Orange City Public Library and made a video of himself tossing them into a barrel of fire as he read an anti-LGBTQ statement.

“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,” Dorr said during the video, which he posted on Facebook.

According to the Des Moines Register, Dorr attempted to argue in court that he was being singled out for his views. The judge was not buying it and told Dorr the message being sent to him is “that he cannot burn books that do not belong to him.” (That would seem to be a no-brainer.)

After the story of Dorr’s actions broke, the library heard from people all over the country who offered to replace the books he had destroyed. Others made cash donations to the library.

While I wish the fine had been higher, the fact that Dorr was arrested, charged and found guilty is proof that local authorities took this matter seriously. I’m sure the fine won’t change Dorr’s intolerant opinions, but perhaps it will lead other religious extremists in the area to think twice before they decide their dogmatic beliefs should determine what everyone can read.

(Photo: Screenshot from Paul Dorr’s Facebook video)

Congress needs to hear from you!

Urge your legislators to co-sponsor the Do No Harm Act today.

The Do No Harm Act will help ensure that our laws are a shield to protect religious freedom and not used as a sword to harm others by undermining civil rights laws and denying access to health care.

Act Now