Derrick Van Orden, a Republican congressional candidate in Wisconsin, met his match in a local librarian after he allegedly confronted a teenage library worker over a book display marking Pride Month in June.
The incident—or incidents—took place at the Prairie Chien Memorial Library in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin on June 17.
Speaking to People, library director Nancy Ashmore said Van Orden showed up at the library three times that day.
The first time was to complain about the library display commemorating Pride Month.
The second time he showed up, he got a library card and checked out most of the books on the display.
And the third time, he came to return them.
"He's one of several people who complained, but because he's a politician, he got the most attention."
"He was upset when he came in the first time. When he came back later in the day, he was much more reasonable and calm."
But the kicker came when Van Orden complained about one book, A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo. Van Orden told Ashmore that the book was not true.
For context, A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo was written by Jill Twiss, a staffer from HBO's Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.
The titular character is the real-life pet rabbit of former Vice President Mike Pence, whose anti-LGBTQ+ views have been well documented.
Twiss's book is a loose parody of Marlon Bundo's A Day in the Life of the Vice President, written by Pence's daughter, Charlotte Pence, and illustrated by his wife, former Second Lady Karen pence.
Most importantly, the book takes a jab at the ex-Vice President by writing Marlon Bundo as in love with another rabbit of the same sex.
So Van Orden is right—the book about an anthropomorphic bunny is not a true story.
But did he have to file a formal complaint about it? In his complaint, he refers to the book as "historically inaccurate" and "propaganda."
Prairie Chien Memorial Library
Does he know Disney fairytale films aren't documentaries?
Ashmore issued the perfect response:
"He's quite right, it's not factual. But it's not supposed to be. It's fiction."
News of the incident quickly went viral, making Van Orden a laughingstock on social media.
A few also pointed out Van Orden probably shouldn't be running for Congress if he has such an issue with children's books not being historically accurate.
Local Man Who Threw Hissy Fit Over Book Display Meant for Children also Running for Congress https://t.co/5K7wkESWu8— Courtney Beyer (@Courtney Beyer) 1629674949.0
I read the article and again ask how this person is appropriate to have any governmental power. Please, SW Wisconsi… https://t.co/gzRgbsKLDc— Daven (a.k.a. Wreck) (he/him) (@Daven (a.k.a. Wreck) (he/him)) 1629657243.0
checking out every gay book in the library to own the libs https://t.co/cnqjfxWxs0— Sam Hoisington (@Sam Hoisington) 1629764046.0
So wait a minute, this guy Derrick Van Orden submitted a written complaint to his local public library that ‘A Day… https://t.co/m75c6xALVI— illusory tenant (@illusory tenant) 1629857768.0
He checked out all the kids' pride books and brought them all back unharmed a week later? Sounds like a big "thou… https://t.co/Ba0CMnQuKb— Jonathan Mertzig (@Jonathan Mertzig) 1629655719.0
Perhaps the most effective summation of the incident came from Kerrigan Trautsch, who was 17 and working as a page at the time of the incident.
She recalled how angry he was, saying Van Orden frightened her. She also noted that the majority of the library's staff are women:
"I was terrified that he would be outside, that there would be a collection of people outside waiting for me, waiting for anyone else. We were terrified."
Trautsch also said that the library never received an apology from Van Orden but said the lack of one is a sign he needs to do some soul-searching:
"This just means that he as a politician has to do a lot more learning."
"Not maybe so much about the laws that follow the LGBTQ community, but the actual people that may or may not be voting for him."
"If he cannot handle the new generation of voters coming in by telling them to shush, that we don't have a voice, I want him to know: I can vote now."
As for Nancy Ashmore, the library director, she's made clear that the Pride display isn't going anywhere, telling reporters that it grows every year because they receive new materials.
Guess that means Van Orden is going to have to spend a lot more time filing complaints.