Ignorance is Bliss, So Throw Another Book on the Fire

Today, CNN is reporting online about the charming little town of West Bend, Wisconsin. There, a group of residents are protesting the inclusion of "pornographic" books for young adults, including some that they target as "gay-affirming" in the young adult section. They advocate moving the purported smut to the adult section of the library in order to "keep our library clean." Their position further includes putting warning labels on the books, and not allowing them to be checked out by minors except with the permission of their parents, as reported by the National Coalition Against Censorship.

Additionally, they demand that the library start purchasing books by such people as "ex-gay" writers, and from more faith-based perspectives, in order to keep the shelves fair and balanced.

Books are certainly important in the ConsimWorld universe, and indeed one of the most popular forums is titled What are you reading? So there probably is a vested interest among many in defending rights of all, including teenagers, to read what they want, and to keep the libraries relatively free of special-interest propaganda.

There are also some members who might be concerned about what sort of material is there for their children to read, watch, and experience on their game consoles.

My personal view is that the activists campaigning against the West Bend Community Memorial Library are small-minded mental defectives, motivated by self-righteousness and a compulsion to enforce that upon others. If parents are worried about what their children are reading, they should sit down and talk to them about it, and perhaps present some guidance. They should be moms and dads, not moral policemen for the entire community. If nothing else, that passes the buck for involvement in their childrens' intellectual and moral development to someone else, someone who does not necessarily have those duties in their job description.

The library story actually gets worse, as the debate spreads to Milwaukee. There, four old men, comprising the Christian Civil Liberties Union, moved that the "pornography" in the library be burned, suing for the right to do so.

I've posted here about freedom and expression and its repression in other countries, especially Iran and Venezuela. Those who know me know that I am a fair radical when it comes to the Bill of Rights, including all of the freedoms guaranteed in all of the amendments. I criticize the ACLU quite frequently, not because they are too aggressive in defending civil liberties, but because they are too selective in that mission.

So when issues of censorship, book-burning, and aspirations toward theocratic nonsense arise in this, my own country, it gets my attention.

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Comment by Lee Massey on July 23, 2009 at 11:02pm
What's your book, John?
Comment by John Bobek on July 23, 2009 at 10:57pm
Good call Jim. Now how about a campaign to get my book into libraries?
Comment by Lee Massey on July 23, 2009 at 9:17pm
I'm a moderate and I don't expect a small group of people to force their agenda on the majority. I think censorship is unneeded in this country and especially in the libraries. I'm not a big fan either of the "gay friendly agenda" pushed by the GLBT movement. Everyone has the right to make up their own mind without interference!! I digress and I feel we should not allow extreme pornography like Hustler, Playboy, other's. My two cents worth!!
Comment by Jim Werbaneth on July 23, 2009 at 8:49pm
It can also be a matter of priorities: The self-published book might be excellent, but if people are screaming for the latest teenaged goth vampire dreck, then chances are they'll pass on the self-published work in favor of the emo bloodsucker crap.

Then too, interlibrary loan is a wonderful thing, and you can request something special from a library that made a different decision.

My biggest problem is the question of agendas. If someone wants to control the content not on the grounds of limited resources, or a politically correct ideology, or the will of God, then I've got a problem. If they want to sue the library as a conduit for propaganda, then I've got a problem.

One of the real ironies with the story is that I'm conservative (who'd have guessed?) and no big fan of the "gay friendly agenda" cited by the folks who want to purge the young adult section. But their religious-ideological agenda is far worse, and the guys who actually want to burn the troubling books are the true whackjobs.
Comment by Chris Gammon on July 23, 2009 at 8:15pm
If a government-run library doesn't stock every publication available, isn't that censorship? If they refuse to stock your self-published book (regardless of quality), isn't that censorship? They have limited resources, so they pick and choose what they'll stock. Someone makes choices over what limited selection they'll carry. The only real solution is to get government out of the library business.
Comment by Jim Werbaneth on July 23, 2009 at 6:51pm
I agree completely, but doubt that certain parties to this story would. I imagine that they'd be burning the Sears catalog if it was still around.
Comment by Lee Massey on July 23, 2009 at 6:17pm
I'm only talking about strictly pornography, not literature. I agree that some people overdo what they call pornography. Underwear ads are certainly not pornography,Or bra advertisements either.
Comment by Jim Werbaneth on July 23, 2009 at 5:28pm
At the same time, is it pornography or is it literature that is a little too explicit for the opponents? Some people see porno in everything, from underwear ads up on.
Comment by Lee Massey on July 23, 2009 at 5:23pm
i disagree with censorship but i don't believe pornography should be readily available to kids either!
Comment by Chad Jensen on July 23, 2009 at 1:00pm
I'm with you, Gerald.

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