Proponent of the Library Resolution Gives Point of View

During the April 17 meeting of the Saline County Quorum Court, a packed courtroom was filled with opponents and supporters of the resolution addressing age-appropriate material in the children’s section of the county libraries. Today’s post is our interview with Dallas Guynes, a member of the Saline County Republican Women group. Our meeting took place on May 5 in a conference room at the Bob Herzfeld Memorial Library in Benton. Requests for interviews were also sent to three other members of the group: Jennifer Lancaster, current president; Stephanie Duke; Angela Gray. Lancaster and Duke directly responded and declined interviews. Duke stated she forwarded the request to Gray and then subsequently submitting the declination as proxy. All three were offered to respond via email to a set of questions in place of a sit-down interview. Each declined.

For clarification, Guynes was asked if her interview would be as a representative of the Saline County Republican Women or as an individual. She responded, “Let’s just say as an individual. I mean, I chartered Saline County Republican Women. I am the past president. And I am a member. An active member.”

Dallas Guynes is the founding president of the Saline County Republican Women group and is currently an active member.

Guynes was asked to discuss her background for readers to gain an understanding of who she is and her interests and how she got involved.

“I started Saline County Republican Women Committee in 2020 before the election because, in the height of COVID, in all the polarity of that and all the polarity of politics – the Trump/Biden politics, the Trump/Clinton politics – I felt like Christian conservative voices were lost. Now, it might have been because the media played up the other side more so than the Republicans and I felt like, as a Christian conservative mother, I felt alone. I felt that there were people out there that felt like me, but I’m very vocal. So I know that there are strong women in our community that want Christian values, want Christian friends, want to make sure their children are in Christian settings, or conservative settings, or, you know, just traditional settings. And we didn’t have allies. It’s not that we’re against or we’re not diverse, but I think that the Left doesn’t, wasn’t diverse in the fact that they don’t accept Christians. They don’t accept conservatives. Conservatives and Christians are charged with accepting everyone, but the other side is not. And, safety in numbers. And, so, that’s why I started the Saline County Republican Women, because I felt like there was a need. If you get on the Republican National Women’s website, you can see there’s a whole gamut that the Republican women can do in our community. There’s literacy, helping veterans, I mean there’s just all these programs and it’s a wonderful organization. And I wanted to start that, to offer that for ladies in our community so we can meet other people who are like-minded.”

Guynes continued by saying that when the Saline County Republican Women started, there were less than 100 members, but “it’s grown a lot. The current president, Jennifer Lancaster, has done wonderful things, but she’s been involved in politics longer than I have. She’s more connected than I am, so she’s able to do things that I wasn’t able to do and I support everything she’s done.”

Specifically, Guynes mentioned “Constitution Camp”, a program that helps educate children about the United States Constitution. “This will be our third year,” she said, “and it’s phenomenal because our children can come there and learn the Preamble, the Constitution, the three branches of government. How it works and what our forefathers had in mind when they started our country. I think there’s a lot of misguided information and misconceptions about what our country was supposed to be when it started out. There’s nothing wrong with our constitution. People just need to read it. It’s very rewarding to see a seven-year-old come in and learn the Preamble, the Constitution and say ‘Well, John Locke said that’. It’s very rewarding because, unfortunately, our schools are doing that. They’re not teaching Civics. If they are, they’re not teaching an in-depth version. So, as a conservative, as someone that loves our country, and loves the constitution of this country, that is important to me and it’s an important goal to all our Republican Women. And we work very hard. We spent a lot of money to put that on that. But, you know, that’s the type of stuff that when I formed the Saline County Republican Women, that’s the sort of thing that I envisioned and that is what we continue to do. We grow and evolve and we see things that we need to address and we come together as a group and we do it. But now, some ladies may be like ‘that’s not my fight’ and I haven’t been heavily involved in the library situation. I’ve had personal things going on. My father’s very ill so I’ve been busy taking care of him with my mom. I’m an only child, so that’s kept me kind of out of the loop, but it’s not something I’m against. I support the women and what they are doing and I support the other people that have come onboard.”

We then discussed the resolution passed by the Saline County Quorum Court and the reactions to it.

“To say is this a Saline County Republican Women driven thing, no. But those women bring their kids in here to the library and see these things (books such as those presented during the April 17 quorum court meeting) said Guynes.

This writer has not seen physical copies of the books, only pages from them that have been posted on social media.

Guynes said she had. “I held them last night (May4) at the Saline County (Republican) Committee meeting and it was a packed room. We had a table completely full of these books. Now, let’s just take an example. When you go to the grocery store, Cosmopolitan magazine has some sexual topics and you know what they do? They have a piece of cardboard or a piece of plastic over that magazine where you can’t see it. You have to move it to see it. I’m not against freedom of speech, but there’s a reason why movies are rated. There’s a reason why they have the plastic or the cardboard over the magazine. We’re supposed to protect our children. You know, I’m not saying that somebody can’t come in here (library) and check that book out if they think that’s what they want to do. If that’s how they want to raise their child, that’s their business. But I shouldn’t have to worry about what my four-year-old is going to pull off a shelf next to Dr. Suess and it’s people having sex. People doing stuff that, as a 50-year-old woman, this is news to me. I don’t even know what that is. I think that’s not appropriate and I think it’s very correct for the community to come together and go ‘Hey, let’s don’t do this’. If you’re a Christian, and, you know, it says we’re supposed to have dominion over, you know, God made us all in his image and we’re supposed to have dominion. So if those are your beliefs, that sort of thing on a bookshelf in the children’s section of the library is outrageous.”

The topic changed to discerning the difference between what’s available on the free market versus availability in government owned or tax funded institution such as libraries.

“When you send your kids to school,” Guynes noted, “you expect them to learn reading, writing and arithmetic. You don’t expect them to come home and say ‘I’m a cat’, let’s get a litter box. I do see a difference in the standard as far as government is funded by taxpayers, so they must answer to the people. The people rule. That’s our state motto. So, yea, if I have a business and I want to put those books out on a shelf in my business, there’s really not a lot you can do except just don’t come into my business. But if you’re run by the government and you’re tax funded, you answer to me, you answer to her, you answer all of us.”

In regard to Act 372 which goes into effect July 1 in Arkansas and a reference to it in the body of the resolution passed on April 17 by the Saline County Quorum Court, Guynes explained her point of view. The resolution and Act 372 address placement of books in children’s sections of the library.

“I don’t have a problem with that,’ she said. “If y’all go to the movies, if I drop my fourteen-year-old off at the movies, they can’t go to an “R” rated movie unless I buy that ticket. I don’t have a problem with that. I don’t think anyone should have a problem with that. One of these ladies that has been heavily involved in this library situation actually posted some of these books and pictures on Facebook and guess what Facebook did. They had a problem with it and they took the post down. Case closed to me. So, what I’m saying is that, Facebook thinks it’s obscene, Hollywood thinks it. A parent needs to be in charge of it. So the tax payer funded library needs to listen to Facebook, Hollywood, and their constituents. The people that are paying and funding for this (the library) to be.”

Guynes then restated she is not against freedom of speech. She used the analogy of video stores of the past that kept adult videos in a separate area with restricted access, suggesting the same approach be taken at the library concerning books that have content that is not age appropriate for the children’s section.

Which brought us to the resolution, the understanding that it doesn’t compel action by the library, that a new state law is forthcoming that will compel action by the libraries and their staff. Why was it necessary for a resolution that “suggests” that “The library should enact policies to relocate materials that are not subject matter or age appropriate for children, due to their sexual content or imagery, to an area that is not accessible to children.”?

Guynes responded, “Is she doing it? Is she going to wait until the law goes into effect?” We asked Guynes what she thought. “It sounds like it”, was her response. She continued, “This is sounding an alarm. This is, ‘Hey, Saline County’. This has brought attention to people who don’t pay attention normally. This has brought it to light. So, now, someone that probably wasn’t paying attention has heard about this and they come into the library and they’re going to be more cautious about what is on the shelf. If the resolution wouldn’t have occurred, we’d all still be asleep at the wheel. There’s a lot of that. So that’s another reason why I chartered Saline County Republican Women because there are a lot of people that are just busy going to work and coming home and going to the ballpark and trying to make ends meet, that they don’t know what’s going on. Or they would like to be a part of trying to fix something, but it’s too big of a bite. So we have a lot of people doing little bites and we can make things happen, just like we have made this happen. We’ve made our community aware that there’s an issue in our library that needs to be addressed.”

Guynes continued, “I’ve been involved in legislation from education to guns, and I’m just going to tell you right now, most people don’t know what’s going on. Even when there’s a law passed, the people that are affected don’t even know what’s going on, especially when they don’t want to be fixing it. So if you don’t have people, especially if it’s not mandated, whether some sort of penalty and they don’t have to be financial, something that gets people’s attention, nothing changes. I’ve been a part of legislation that was nothing but paper. And, unfortunately, if you don’t do something, nothing ever happens. To me, a resolution is a strong opinion. Hey, this group of people, we feel very strong about this situation and we need to sound the alarm.”

There has been talk in the community that there is a master plan to defund the library, fully or partially, and to start banning books. We asked Guynes for comment.

“I know that there’s another state that defunded the library. Was it Indiana, Missouri or some place. I’m not for that.’, she said. “I’m for freedom of speech. I’m for people being able to read. I’m a big literacy advocate. I joke, I say I’m a modern-day Frederick Douglas. I’m all about reading and guns. So, you should listen to someone that used to be a slave. People should read what they say. I don’t think we should do away with libraries, but if they become to the point where they’re not a library, if they are just someone who is getting money that’s unchecked and they’re not doing literacy, they’re doing an agenda, then maybe it should be re-looked at. Maybe it should be re-invented.”

The question was then posed that if Guynes felt the law that is going into place will address that concern.

“Not if the people don’t”, she responded. “A law is just a law unless the people say, hey, you know.”

The new law places libraries under closer control of local government. A city library will report to the respective city council and county libraries such as Saline County will report to the quorum court. Is this something Guynes views as positive.

“They should be. The quorum court should be.’ Guynes said. “I went to a quorum court meeting over a year ago about, I don’t even remember what it was about. But when I was at the meeting they were taking a vote on some employees that they had hired, the library had hired. And, basically, it was just a going-through-a-motion type thing. They were going to approve or not approve the hiring of a couple of employees. And they voted on it. There was no discussion. Nobody said have you seen who these people are, nothing. And I asked the JP, what’s the deal with that? What’s going on with the library? Who’s really, cause that’s the kind of thing that fascinates me because I have watched education not be held accountable. Nobody holds them really accountable. So I was curious as to who is really holding the library accountable with their funds. That was over a year ago and I said something in passing to several different people. I said, what are we doing here? Who’s really in charge of the library? ‘Oh well, the JP. The quorum court really doesn’t have anything to do with it. That’s a board.’ I said so why are y’all even voting on it. ‘Well because the funds come from us.’ But the funds come from the county so the county should be holding the library accountable.

To me, I think I’m giving the county money for the library to provide the library with library services. Now, to me library services are information, books. Now here we go again with information. I’m for free speech. I’m not a big censorship person. But we have to protect our children. I’m not for sexualizing children, at all. I mean, whether that’s dressing my four-year-old up with make-up from head to toe with glitz and glamour and half-dressed and she’s gyrating out there on the stage, I am not for that at all. I’m not for any sexualization of children. I was a child. I was a big tomboy. I would take my shirt off and play football and get in the ditch. I was raised in the country, you know. No one ssid, I didn’t want to be a girl. I thought being a girl was stupid. So it scares me today to think that I could have made a statement that I think it’s stupid to be a girl. I don’t want to be a girl and somebody could have said ‘Oh, you’re not going to be a girl anymore.’ I probably would have went along with it. But today, I’m glad I’m a woman and I’ve had three children. So, it scares me when someone starts sexualizing a child and then when you look at the data that where these children have gone through the hormone replacement therapy and all that, it’s not good. Most of them, when they become adults, they have all sorts of problems. You start tinkering with anyone’s hormones, I mean just look at women when they go through menopause. When they start messing with hormones, you’ve got problems. I have a lot of concerns about that. I’m not for any type of sexualization of a child. Let them be a child. You have the rest of your life to figure out if you want to be a boy or a girl, or if you like boys or if you like girls. Let kids be kids. And, unfortunately, we’ve allowed children to make decisions, we’ve allowed adults with agendas and their own mental health problems to project that on children and we have to stop it. And I think taking that off the shelf of the children’s section is stopping it.”

We asked, “So what if all this gets put in place, the laws in place, the library is following the letter of the law, and there’s still an issue. Where do you see it going from there? What steps?”

“I don’t know. I think maybe it’s time for the quorum court to address who’s in charge if it’s still an issue. Because the people of this county have gotten together and said ‘Hey, this is what we want our library to reflect in our community. So if you have someone in charge of the library who has an agenda that doesn’t care about the wishes of the community or the taxpayers that pay her salary or his salary, then it might be time for them to move on to a different place where they’re a better fit. Where they can do their agenda.”

On April 24, one week following the April 17 quorum court meeting, the Saline County Republican Women filed paperwork to become a Political Action Committee, or PAC. We asked Guynes about the filing.

“One of the reasons we formed a PAC is so we can, Constitution Camp costs a lot of money,” she said. “I mean I spent thousands of dollars out of my own personal pocket to put on Constitution Camp. Not only me, other ladies. That’s just one thing. We’re heavily involved in trying to help teen mothers, teen pregnant mothers. There’s all sorts of things we want to do and we can do things.” She said that it allows the group to raise money for those efforts.

A final question was posed regarding the membership of the Saline County Republican Women and that the group is lockstep and no disagreement within it.

“I don’t agree with that,” she said. “I can think of several ladies in our group that may not agree with everything that the group is doing. But it’s not just the Saline County Republican Women that are wanting to address the library situation. So, it shouldn’t be that way. It shouldn’t be seen that way. It shouldn’t be told that it’s that way because it’s not. It’s not. There’s people that have never been to the Saline County Republican Women meeting that are upset about this and want to be part of it. People are getting involved in government and I think it’s wonderful.”

Next: The Library Responds


National Federation of Republican Women website

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