Won’t Somebody Think of the Children?!

Did you try and ban a book last week? I hope so! It was banned books week!

Stupid jokes aside, the American Library Association sets aside one week at the beginning of October to highlight issues of censorship and to celebrate our freedom to read.

Are there issues with banned books week? Sure. The ALA counts anything that’s been challenged as banned. A challenge can be anything from requesting a book not be required reading to requesting a book be taken out of the library. Nothing in America is truly banned in the sense we tend to think about. If a book is removed from the school library, it’s still at the public library. If it’s taken out of the public library, it’s still at the bookstore. But… it’s a slippery slope, and the ALA knows it.

Especially when, in having conversations this week, I can hear someone, in the same breath, decry people trying to ban books and then wishing And Tango Makes Three had a warning sticker on it. (The book by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson tells the true story of two male penguins at the New York City zoo raising a baby penguin. It was the most challenged or banned book in 2006, according to the ALA.) Or when a parent is upset I don’t have a handout listing all the banned books and why they are banned. I had to explain that the books banned or challenged in the past year is 8 pages long. The main list is a book that is hundreds of pages long with tiny print.

I keep track of banned books in the news. I have a listmania list at Amazon. When it comes time to put together a banned books display at work, I don’t have to look anything up. I just walk through the stacks, pulling the books I know (and love.)

Harry Potter? promotes Satanism
Harriet the Spy? promotes misbehavior and sass talk
Where the Sidewalk Ends? might encourage children to break dishes instead of breaking them
The Well? it’s hard to tell a story about racism without using some racist language
Goosebumps? too scary
Bermudez Triangle? has lesbians
In the Night Kitchen? full frontal nudity! (that won a Caldecott honor)
The Alice Books? talks about puberty and sex
It’s not the Stork? imagine… a sex ed book and it talks about sex
Are you There God? It’s me, Margaret? puberty
Diary of Anne Frank? too depressing
The Lorax? is anti-logging industry

And it’s not just children. George Carlin’s new book When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops is currently being challenged at a public library because an adult patron was horribly offended at the language. (Did she not know who George Carlin is?!)

Yes, I realize not every book is right for every child (or every reader). But, just because a book is not right for you or your child does not mean it’s not right for any child. And, if you have concerns about what your children read, then monitor it. You don’t want your kid to hear a book about gay penguins? Don’t read it to them!

But really? I hope you let your kids read whatever they want. I know there are scary situations in the world and they appear in books but… I’m so glad I met a lot of the world’s awfulness through literature first. It made it so much easier to handle when I had to deal with it in real life.

As Roger Sutton (editor of the Horn Book) said:

Libraries should be a place where children can run happily afoul of their parents fears, aspirations, protection and authority. What better place to learn to think for yourself? …Just because parents have the legal right to control their children’s reading does not mean that we should encourage them to do so.

And I agree. If we’re going to celebrate the Freedom to Read, then let’s really give our children the freedom to do just that– read. Let them read whatever they want. Let them discover new ideas and new worlds. Let them read materials that challenge your beliefs. Let them read in order to figure out the world. Let us all read.

–Jennie aka kidsilkhaze


53 Responses to Won’t Somebody Think of the Children?!

  1. sonetka says:

    In principle I don’t mind the idea of Daniel reading whatever he wants, though of course I’d hope we could talk about it afterwards! In reality I hope this anything-at-all stage waits until his age hits double digits; if he’s at all like I was as a child he won’t stick to the children’s section of the library and I’d rather not try and explain something like a Mapplethorpe collection to a seven-year-old. Actually, I take the somewhat-unpopular idea that censoring children’s literature is sometimes OK 🙂 – not to prevent corruption but to prevent *distraction*. But that’s for another post!

    The campus bookstore, incidentally, has been celebrating banned books week by putting the challenged books on a display case and then shrouding it in black cloth so you can barely distinguish what they are – actually, for a lot of them, you can’t tell, and you aren’t able to lift the cloth, which is a dramatic effect but extremely irritating. The only books I was able to pick out without using a flashlight to get through the drapes were the Gossip Girl books, and I couldn’t help thinking that they might have made more of an impact by making sure that Anne Frank was the visible candidate, or something like that. (“Too depressing”? I can’t even begin to imagine fielding that complaint). I know, I know – first they came for the preteen trash and I said nothing, because I don’t like preteen trash, but still, it was hard to muster more than a shrug.

  2. kidsilkhaze says:

    Possibly, but I read a lot of stuff at that age that people were shocked over, and, frankly, I didn’t get it. My mom’s position was always “she doesn’t understand the adult material to the point she doesn’t even know she’s not getting it. It’s totally over her head.” And she was 100% right. I’ve gone back and reread some of those books as an adult and was like, wait! what?!

    I mean, was not sticking to the children’s section bad for you?

    And Gossip Girl may be trash, but it also made last year’s Top 10 Most Banned/Challenged list, along with more classics like Beloved and The Chocolate War.

  3. sonetka says:

    Oh, I was the same way – I’m thinking specifically of stuff involving sexual situations I just didn’t understand; the problem wasn’t that my tiny mind was being unforgivably corrupted, it was that it bored me terribly and made me want to put the book down. Which was OK in itself – the trouble came years later when I thought of picking something up and then didn’t because I remembered it as being really boring, which of course it eventually turned out not to be – I had grown into it in the meantime. I suppose in an odd way reading particular books that were too old for me at a very young age was like being vaccinated against them later in life, which is something I’d rather not have happen to Daniel :). Of course, this wasn’t always the case – I loved reading Richard Burton’s Arabian Nights when I was seven because the world in it sounded so colorful and fascinating even if I only understood about every third word of it. I was very upset when *that* book got taken away; I made the mistake of asking my dad what “castrated” meant.

  4. Thomas Sowell calls BBW “NATIONAL HOGWASH WEEK,” in line with some of the information you have presented. Bravo!

  5. thedonofpages says:

    I favor censorship! No, I don’t worry about some of the straw targets mentioned, and even a politician can’t satisfy all of the public. The old saying is lie down with dogs, get up with fleas. Children shouldn’t be encouraged to use recreational drugs, to be suicide bombers, to learn to torture or thrill kill. It is too easy to say no censorship when the only materials at your doorstep are from the mainstream.

  6. kidsilkhaze says:

    Actually, safelibraries, I was trying to pre-empt the argument. I really disagree with what Sowell says. Yes, not every book celebrated in Banned Books Week is banned in the traditional sense. But *someone* is trying to censor it. And even if a book is only banned in your school library, it’s still banned, at least on a small scale level. It’s still limiting access. It’s still censorship.

    thedonofpages– your mainstream might not be my mainstream. I talk to parents everyday who object to my mainstream. What titles do you think should be censored because they encourage kids to thrill kill or be suicide bombers?

  7. Mark says:

    thedonofpages, kidsilkhaze,

    I, for one, have never found a book which said, in plain language “go kill people. It’s fun!” However, we live in a world of vanity publishers, and nearly any body of text can be published for a comparatively small sum these days, so let us, for the sake of argument, say that such a book existed, and even that it was on the shelves of my local library. Even from this starting point, what kind of absolute, total failure of all of the support structures in a child’s life (parents, school, role models of every description) could possibly leave a child in a place in their life in which handing them such a book would lead to a string of thrill killings?

    To suggest that allowing kids to read something that presents a different model than you’d prefer is going to lead to a nation of deviant children is preposterous. I’ve read a wide variety of violent stories in my time (not to mention watched them on TV and movie screens), I play violent video games, and even so, I have somehow not found the time to go out and murder anybody.

    My takeaway from this is simple: parent your children. If you present a positive model to kids, the fact that they might also be exposed to a negative model will not turn them into psychopaths. As a parent, it is your responsibility to make intelligent choices about what your children read. To suggest that it is the job of the library to remove materials from the shelves in order to protect your children, you are not only ignoring your responsibility to take this upon yourself, but you are making the claim that your choices are correct not only for your children, but also for everyone else’s, which is, if I may say so, the absolute pinnacle of hubris.

  8. kidsilkhaze says:

    Mark– exactly.

    I once read a book that made LSD sound like a lot of fun! But I never tried it. One book did not completely overturn years of drug education.

    I also read a book that made diet pills and laxatives sound like a completely viable weight loss option. Still never tried it.

    Have a little faith in people. And if your kids can’t handle it, maybe stop looking at the books are start looking at yourself.

  9. kidsilkhaze,

    LSD comes from ergot mold. Used to be people got ergot poisoning until a doctor isolated the active compound and accidently got “poisoned.” That’s just an aside.

    You said keeping inappropriate books from children in public schools is still banning, still censorship.

    You are wrong. But you sound reasonable. Therefore, please, please read the 1982 US Supreme Court case of Board of Education v. Pico. http://laws.findlaw.com/us/457/853.html

    I choose to follow the law. Those who choose to allow children access to inappropriate material for children are effectively defying the law whether they know it or not. Those who mislead people into choosing to allow children access to inappropriate material despite the law by making legalistic-sounding excuses about slippery slopes or book burning or “authentic literature” are the most culpable.

    As I try to educate the public to push aside the American Library Association propaganda that makes librarians (including public school librarians) the only people in society not responsible for protecting children from inappropriate material (though most librarians defy the ALA in this regard), it is ironic that I’m cast as the one trying to impose my views on others when it is the ALA that is imposing its views on communities nationwide. Like in Oak Lawn, IL, where, despite 98% of the people being against children having access to Playboy magazine in the public library, it remains available to them because ALA top leadership intimidated the town into allowing their community interests to be overridden by the ALA’s interests in ensuring children have access to anything despite the law.

    Please read that Pico case. It is not censorship or book banning to keep children from inappropriate material. Rather, it is the law. Only ALA propaganda makes people think otherwise.

    The US Supreme Court in the 2003 case of US v. ALA, yes, the same ALA, here a big loser, said, “The interest in protecting young library users from material inappropriate for minors is legitimate, and even compelling, as all Members of the Court appear to agree.” Now should people follow the US Supreme Court or be fooled by the ALA? Quick–make a decision–your children are at stake.

  10. kidsilkhaze says:


    I should have been clearer. I’m talking about censorship in the moral sense, not the legal one.

    You accuse the ALA of propaganda when you honestly believe that 98% of an American community agreed on anything? You accuse the ALA of propaganda when your own website purposely distorts library ethics and ideals? When your own organization has a fundamental misunderstanding about what a librarian’s job is?

    Librarians don’t shove porn into the hands of children. Librarians aren’t porn-peddlers. We’re also not the parents of your children. We’re not babysitters. Stop expecting us to act like it.

    You don’t want your kids to check out porn? How about, instead of blaming the libraries, you take some responsibility for yourself in your family and actually, oh, I don’t know KEEP AN EYE ON THEM. If you let your children wander free in the library unsupervised, you have absolutely NO RIGHT to be upset when they wander into an adult section and gain access to adult materials. Don’t blame librarians because you’re a bad parent. If you want your kids to read certain things and have certain morals, that’s fine. That’s your job. But you know what? It isn’t mine.

    And there’s a huge difference between censorship and selection. Librarians do care about kids. That’s why we work with them. That’s why Playboy isn’t shelved in the children’s section. That’s why we have a separate children’s section with age-appropriate materials. That’s why you won’t find adult materials in an elementary school library. The problems come when we have different definitions of appropriate. As a librarian, I have to choose materials appropriate to a wide range of people.

    Personally, I think the Left Behind series is morally reprehensible and teaches horrible messages of hate and intolerance. But it’s age appropriate and many members of my community don’t agree with my views. So, I won’t read it. If my children wanted to read it, I would let them, but then work hard, in my raising of them, to counteract its message.

    I also find it morally reprehensible that I cannot provide information to legal adults on the off chance that a neglected child might wander into the wrong section.

    But, I’ll agree, it’s so much easier to wash your hands of all personal responsibility and to repaint the world in your own, narrow minded view of things.

    Blame the librarians. It’s so much easier than raising your children yourself.

  11. Will says:

    safelibraries: First, it’s still banning and censorship even if it’s legal. The question is when it’s okay to limit free speech in this way.

    As for the Pico case, I don’t think it says what you think it does. The majority decision explicitly states that it was illegal for the school board to remove books based on ideology.

    Also, the 2003 Supreme Court ruling you mention is about providing Internet access rather than books, so I’m not sure how germaine it is.

  12. seaswell says:

    if you are concerned about what your children are reading, you should read the material first and be the judge of what is appropriate. there’s certainly no need to ban a book because YOU found it offensive and didn’t have time to look at it beforehand.

    my parents (who are conservative) didn’t believe in any form of censorship, and my siblings and i came out just fine. not a single suicide bomber.

  13. Will, right about Pico, but inappropriate material is not ideology. And the parties stipulated the inappropriate material is not part of the case because it was so obviously not. It’s even obvious to the ALA. That’s why they need to fool peopl into allowing children to access it.

    US v. ALA was on another issue, but the statement about keeping kids from inappropriate material fits anywhere, no?

    seaswell, I agree with you as well, but when the stuff is pushed on your kid, or given a glowing review, that gets past you, and the kid gets sexualized. You apparently have not hade that experience yet. When you have kids and despite your best efforts they get sexualized because of misinformation you were fed, you’ll change your tune. And while you came out fine, not all do: http://www.plan2succeed.org/justice4victims.html

  14. Ellie says:

    Oh goody! The literature-sexualized-my-kid strawman! Oh, I’m so excited! I love tearing strawmen apart! It makes me feel so… manly!

    Wait, are you serious? Do you really believe that tripe? Gosh, I guess it takes all kinds…

    Some salient points:
    1. Kids do not need to be “sexualized”. Read the literature on infant and toddler masturbation. Arguably, kids are de-sexualized by certain repressive elements in society (including you!) who do not wish to think about little Johnny playing with himself before bedtime or in the bath. Or are you afraid of adult (your own?) sexual feelings towards kids? Is that what you mean when you bemoan the “sexualization” of children? If that’s what you mean, your fears are more appropriate in a forum about *adult* literature and behavior, not children’s books.

    2. Like many of the above posters mentioned, I believe that it is your responsibility to repress — or not — your own kids. Similarly, it is your responsibility to teach them to make good choices about books to read.

    3. If you don’t want responsibility for your kids (try condoms next time!), we can discuss that in another post. I take responsibility for mine, and I hope that she learns to make good decisions about reading material, just like many of the posters on this forum.

    One last point, away from your fears of kids and sexuality:

    I don’t like how you threaten Seaswell with the “non-parent card”. I’ll paraphrase it for you: “You are not a parent, so you couldn’t possibly understand X”. It’s true, she’s not a parent. But speaking as a well-educated, church-going, and thinking person — who happens to have squeezed a small person out of my vagina — that argument is neither helpful nor true when discussing children’s literature. In fact, your particular brand of that argument — paraphrased as “but you’ll know better when you grow up, honey” — insults Seaswell’s intelligence by infantilizing her.

  15. poetloverrebelspy says:

    Playboy in Oak Lawn, IL, is available only to patrons over 18 years of age. No one is forcing soft-core porn on children in the library. The library is in fact actively protecting children from access with the ALA behind them, making the case essentially about adult access to an adult publication. Please get the facts straight, safelibraries.

  16. Mark says:

    I find that I tend to agree with poetloverrebelspy on this one. The question of limiting access to adult materials among adults is a question of censorship, not a question of protecting children. It is perfectly reasonable, safelibraries, to prevent children in Oak Lawn from checking out copies of Playboy. To decide that no adult in Oak Lawn should be able to check out an issue of Playboy because you happen to find that your personal sensibilities are offended by the magazine is outright censorship. The magazine contains some very high quality journalism. It also contains pictures of naked women. Either of these things are perfectly reasonable types of media for library patrons to want to consume, but there are some obvious differences in the types of audiences for which each of these things is appropriate.

    To suggest that having something in a library means that it is available to children is the same as saying that kids should never have access to the internet, under any circumstances, because some sites on the internet are not appropriate for kids. In both cases, the solution is for responsible adults (by which I mean, of course, parents) to take it upon themselves to inform themselves of what their kids are reading and watching, be it in books, online, or on television. It is a shameful abrogation of your responsibilities as a parent to try to accomplish this task by simply removing any potentially objectionable material from anywhere your kids might go. It is also not a workable solution. You’ll never get rid of every copy of Playboy in the world, but you can certainly have a huge influence over your children’s access to it, and trying to ban it (or remove it from the library, which is the same thing, even if you aren’t comfortable with the term), is not the solution you hope it will be.

  17. […] having a spirited debate in the comment thread of Jennie’s last post on library censorship, Won’t Somebody Think of the Children?! As a result, our spam blocker has gotten a little overzealous. I’ve found and rescued three […]

  18. kidsilkhaze-

    I am happy to see you have not drank the censorship Kool-Aid.

    Regarding my 98% statement that you then implied is my own version of propaganda, along with other statements, well I just blame that on this medium. Had we been discussing that face to face, you would have raised the same issue, and would have put it to rest quickly. But in this piecemeal back and forth, such conversation is not possible. Therefore, I do not hold it against you one bit for implying what you did. Just know this. Almost every single statement I make here or on my site is backed up with proof of the matter asserted. Take the 98% number. Did I make that up out of thin air to propagandize? No. That comes from an independent survey, one that I had nothing to do with procuring. See http://www.safelibraries.org/surveyresults.htm#oak_lawn

    Regarding librarians pushing porn, I have stated again and again that almost all librarians do not do this. Almost exclusively it is the top leadership of the ALA doing this by creating and enforcing policy, awarding oral sex books with awards for kids, defying US Supreme Court statements, and much more. Let’s look at a recent example. Remember, I can back everything I say up with hard evidence. Look at http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA6484345.html and let me reprint my comment from there:

    ALA awards mislead communities. This article reveals yet another example: “Miesse says she chose the book based on the Young Adult Library Services Association’s Best Books for Young Adults list.” But knowing its contents now, she said, “It is a book for more mature readers, but some [freshman and sophomore] students may need to read it.” I say the Media Specialist is blameless. No one can require her to read every single book in the library. Instead she relied, understandably, but to the detriment of the children, on the recommendation from the ALA in the form of a YALSA award. Exactly why is this a “Best Book for Young Adults”: “what he really needs is for me to put my mouth around his dick. After a minute or two of this I become anonymous. To the guy and to myself. Andrew (or whoever) is lost inside himself, waiting to be shaken by his own little volcano, and I’m thinking, Who is this girl kneeling on the floor with some weird guy’s bone in her mouth?” http://www.safelibraries.org/sandpiper.htm Exactly when will the public figure out ALA-awarded books should raise red flags. http://www.safelibraries.org/pushers.htm Have people forgotten Board of Education v. Pico that the ALA attempts to surmount by awarding books with top awards where the books would have otherwise been excluded by Pico from public schools? laws.findlaw.com/us/457/853.html

    Clearly that shows while the librarian initially recommended the book, she did so because of a YALSA award, then, when she learned of the contents, she said the book should have been restricted. So how did that book get into that child’s hands? As a direct result of the YALSA award, and the article so states. Had the librarian read the book first, say if it did not get an award, she would have given it special treatment right from the start, or simply rejected it in the selection process. So ALA agenda trumped local school policy until the local school finally caught on, but only after another child was sexualized by the ALA. Oh yeah, that child goes on to be ridiculed by ALA acolytes.

    You then said, “That’s why Playboy isn’t shelved in the children’s section.” Really, that statement and your other statements show me you are one of the huge majority of librarians who really care about children and doing what is right. But realize that SafeLibraries started as a direct result of Playboy being available to children in the Oak Lawn Public Library, Illinois, and it still is today thanks to ALA top leadership, despite the survey, community request, even despite a letter from the government. A child merely needs to ask for a page range, and a librarian will copy it for them. The ALA told the local community where to go, and, as it turns out, it is doing it again with a certain pervasively vulgar book. So again, my statements are backed up with solid evidence from solid sources.

    You also say parents need to take responsibility. I agree. But perhaps you are not aware of how parents are misled. Look, that “Sandpiper” librarian was misled, and she’s an expert. And that pervasively vulgar book I mentioned? Well the School Board apologized for misleading parents as to its contents. http://www.culturecampaign.com/IL_Cook_Distr_126.aspx That’s hard evidence. Parents are being misled. It is not enough to say it is the parent’s responsibility when the parents are misled by the very party blaming the parents. They simply cannot give informed consent when they are not informed or are misinformed.

    The Left Behind series has ideas with which you disagree, but inappropriate sexual activity for children is not “ideas” or “information.” Comparing Left Behind to Sandpiper without mentioned the major difference, the elephant in the room, only serves to further confuse people. But again, with ALA propaganda as effective as it is, I am not surprised you do not see the distinction (unlike Bd of Educ v. Pico).

    Then you talk about “bad parents” who let their kids wander. An immigrant grandmother watched the 2 and 3 year olds while the 8 year old went to the bathroom only to be nearly raped but left for dead stuffed behind a toilet, courtesy of ALA policy despite the law, in my opinion, but it’s kind of obvious. Is the grandmother a “bad parent”?

    Clearly I am not blaming librarians (although you blame parents), rather the top ALA leadership that created and enforces the policies that are causing problems in libraries nationwide despite librarians best efforts. And dare anyone point out to communities that they are being misled, they are labeled as narrow-minded and worse.

    I am only showing communities how ALA policy often trumps local community policy, with hard evidence of same, and suggesting that they need to make up their own minds when it comes to whom to follow, the ALA or the US Supreme court, the law, the community, and common sense.

    I have to wonder why people think I am forcing my view on others when I can show case after case after case of the ALA forcing its own self-made views on entire communities and even states. I was not even successful in stopping the ALA from ensuring Oak Lawn children maintained access to Playboy magazine. (Yes, an ALA article says it is not, but the article is incorrect, as the library policy says differently http://www.safelibraries.org/rpt6apr05playboyreconsideration_p1.gif — get your own facts straight, poetloverrebelspy, but again, I don’t blame you for being misled by an ALA publication.) I guess a lie told often and long enough really does lead people to believe children should decide for themselves whether to read oral sex books or not and people like me and nine US Supreme Court Justices should just bud out.

  19. poetloverrebelspy says:

    You have to forgive me for not knowing this one case of yours inside and out as well as you do. The document you link to shows:

    1) the magazine is not displayed in the periodicals section. Heck, a kid probably wouldn’t even know there were Playboys in the library if you stopped talking about it!

    No kid is accidentally running across Playboy, because
    2) a patron must present an ID proving they are of age in order to freely access the magazine in its entirety.

    3) Younger patrons can have access to *photocopies* of *articles* which they present *citations* for. This in practice limits them to the wholesome text elements of the magazine, since pages detailing “Reader Fantasies” and photos of “Hot College Women” do not appear as citations in research search engines. These interviews with politicians, movie stars and musicians are similar to those a kid would read in Rolling Stone. And no one is complaining about Rolling Stone in the Oak Lawn library, are they?

    The survey you point to doesn’t address this issue. When people answer “no,” they are saying, “no, children should not have access to the obscene materials in Playboy,” but no one asked whether or not they should have access to the decent articles. I believe the library has walked a very fair line in terms of meeting community standards while at the same time providing reasonable access to the information in Playboy magazine. In fact, it restricts adult patrons to quite a degree in order to “protect” children from accidental exposure. I’m not sure why you think this is an ALA issue — this is an access-to-information issue, decided by the Oak Lawn library. People are perhaps upset because Playboy is a touchstone publication, but the library has created a policy which seems to respect everyone’s purported concerns.

    So that said, I guess I’m not sure what you’re actually angry about here, safelibraries. (I mean, are you actually even from Oak Lawn?) Are you upset that tax money is spent on Playboy? Are you upset that adults are reading Playboy? Are you upset that patrons have to read Playboy in the library, risking the accidental visual “exposure” of children to the magazine’s cover or contents? Are you upset that children armed with citations can ask a librarian to help them retrieve an article — whether it be in National Geographic or Playboy? Are you upset that the library considered all the complexity of this situation and has a policy about it? Are you upset that the policy is access-oriented?

    If I were you, I’d be upset that the research I’m constantly citing didn’t ask the questions it needed to, didn’t provide a representative sample, didn’t compare reader preferences on more than one magazine, DIDN’T EVEN MAKE SURE THE RESPONDENTS WERE OAK LAWN LIBRARY CARD HOLDERS. The library sure didn’t get their money’s worth out of that researcher, now did they? They probably understand statistics well enough to know it was a poor survey. Since it seemed to support your ideas, safelibraries, you appear ready enough to overlook its many faults.

    In summary, we find that Playboy is for all intents and purposes restricted material for people under 18 at the Oak Lawn library. I would be impressed if any child without adult prompting ever presented a citation to be copied, making this largely a moot point. But I can see that with you, safelibraries, this is about the principle. And what exactly is your principle again? Was it that the government (embodied in the Supreme Court) SHOULD decide what we read, or that the government (embodied in the local library or school board) SHOULDN’T decide what we read? Was it that parents and communities SHOULD have a say in what their children read or was it that those poor misled adults SHOULDN’T either? To tell you the truth, I lost your argument somewhere around the raped child stuffed behind the library toilet. Maybe you’ve been drinking too much kool-aid?

  20. No, poetloverrebelspy, I’m not angry about any of your suggested reasons. In fact, I’m not angry at all. I am merely pointing out that the library followed ALA policy and flouted the community. The community was told to take a hike, that’s the problem. The community has absolutely no control over that library. None. The ALA does.

    And now in the public schools, the ALA has the community by the ganougies again.

    You see, I believe communities get to decide what they want as long as it is lawful. The ALA, on the other hand, thinks it knows better than communities and the US Supreme Court and it forces its will on anyone it can, either by force, as in Oak Lawn, or by propagandizing a community to the point where the community does what the ALA wants without the ALA having to lift a finger in that particular community.

    A total lack of local control is the issue here. And the Oak Lawn community illustrates that the ALA trumps communities again and again and a community is powerless to stop the full court press by the ALA and its acolytes.

    My dilemma is trying to figure out how to inform people about this so they can 1) make their own decisions for themselves, and 2) have their own decisions win out over the ALA’s agenda. Oak Lawn reached 1 but not 2 on that.

    This will be hard to do. Just look at the hundreds of articles that look like and likely are ALA propaganda versus the one or two articles that provide a balanced view. Just look at your own hair splitting that somehow always falls in the ALAs favor.

    What’s the big picture here. Kids having access to inappropriate materials because of the ALA’s agenda and despite community wishes. That’s the problem. That’s what is happening in community after community. People who speak out against that are labeled as one nasty thing after another. No one labels the ALA for putting the inappropriate material into kids hands in the first place. At least it is few and far between. Naomi Wolf did it, and do you know even she was attacked for doing so?

    Really. Think about this.

  21. Matthew Sayre says:

    I think the most telling statement in this debate was when safelibraries attacked Seaswell by stating that when (not if) their children are sexualized by material that had been inappropriately suggested to them (which, incidentally: Nice thing to wish on someone) she would change her tune, presumably to safelibraries genre of music. Her reasoning on this matter beforehand doesn’t matter. That’s what got me. Emotion trumps Reason.

    One of safelibraries first posts in this threads was about the legality of censorship. Specifically, that of inappropriate material for minors. Safelibraries trotted out several legal decisions which don’t seem to prove what she thinks they prove, and a ludicrous survey that had no statistical validity whatsoever. When poetloverrebelspy and others eloquently challenged these points, with Jennie even pointing out that the discussion was about morality not legality, safelibraries attempted to frame the arguement as communities versus the big bad ALA.

    Let’s review for a second. The ALA promotes intellectual freedom, the rights of an individual to seek and recieve information from all points of view. As an ideological position, they believe that in order to formulate reasoned opinions, individuals should be able to hear all arguments, crazy and sane, rational and unreasonable. Ban or censor something and you make it harder for people to come to their own conclusions. Safelibraries frames her position as protecting the children, but when it was pointed out that children don’t have access to what she claims, even in her worst case scenario of Oak Lawn, Illinois, her argument subtlely changes. It should be communities who decide what is and is not appropriate, not the ALA. I have no information as to how she would react to a community which decided after reasoned debate that it was all right to shelve pornography, but I doubt it would be positive. I believe that what she means by local control is control by concerned citizens who had the best interest of the children (as she saw it) at heart. Emotion trumps Reason.

    Throughout this debate safelibraries has portrayed the American Library Association as something out of a 1950’s comic book. A Communist Plot to Corrupt Our Way of Life! 10 cents at your local newstand. She talks of the ALA and their ‘acolytes’ imposing their will on Oak Lawn by force. By force? ALA cultists went down to Oak Lawn with AK-47s and required the library to carry Playboy at gunpoint? Why? Safelibraries seems to frame it as a conspiracy of the ALA’s to sexualize our children. In less vitriloic moments it’s framed as the ALA absolving itself of responsibility for protecting our children from inappropriate material. I found the funniest statement was that “American Library Association propaganda that makes librarians (including public school librarians) the only people in society not responsible for protecting children from inappropriate material”. I laughed out loud at that one. I could go on for several pages about individuals and organizations who are not responsible for protecting children from inappropriate material. I can only assume she places such a burden on every member of society, and is disgusted by the ALA’s refusal to carry the burden as she thinks they should bear it.

    Ideologically, the ALA believes that the more you shelter yourself from other points of view, the more you stunt your intellectual growth. Maybe you disagree with their points of view, maybe you find some common ground. But if you simply cast them as the devil, and anyone who disagrees with you as victims of propaganda you just come across like someone off of Fox News. The musician Sammy Davis, Jr. grew up not knowing about racial prejudice. His family told him the snubs he’d recieved his whole life were the results of jealousy. When he was alone as an adult, he was completely unprepared for the ugly bigotry and hatred he faced. His family sought to shelter him out of love, but they instead made his life harder by not preparing him for life.

    ‘But that’s not sex!’ is the immediate response. It always seems to come down to sexual materials doesn’t it. As has already been pointed out, libraries, including the one in Oak Lawn, have safeguards in place to ensure that inappropriate materials don’t end up in the hands of minors. Do mistakes happen? Probably, it’s an imperfect world. I wouldn’t call it a conspiracy against our children.

    Jennie’s original post was titled “Won’t Somebody Think of the Children?!”, which for me at least conjured up the hysterical Mrs. Lovejoy from the Simpsons who wanted to prevent children from seeing Michaelangelo’s David. I’d like to think that an impassioned and well-researched argument would sway people to a different point of view. However, for both sides of the arguement it’s about belief. We’re never going to win safelibraries over with our attempts at logic and debate. Safelibraries isn’t ever going to win us over with vulgar diatrabes against the diabolical library assosciation while insulting our intelligences for not agreeing. I’d like to see something that doesn’t just repeat itself over and over in the hopes that maybe it may convince us of at least some aspect of the post instead of hardening us against anything submitted. However, I expect that I’ll see another post about ALA propaganda instead.

  22. poetloverrebelspy says:

    My dilemma is trying to figure out how to inform people about this so they can 1) make their own decisions for themselves, and 2) have their own decisions win out over the ALA’s agenda.

    safelibraries, I have yet to see any reasonable evidence that the ALA and not the Oak Lawn library board was responsible for the decisions made there. I venture that the Oak Lawn library board is made up of Oak Lawn residents. And you didn’t answer the question: are you an Oak Lawn resident? That is, are you meddling in another community’s affairs, as you claim the ALA is doing?

    How in the world did the ALA turn into your big boogie monster?

    If we play devil’s advocate for a moment and think that perhaps these librarians and town members on the library board DID come to their own conclusion and that was to allow very restricted access to their underage patrons, we find that your second statement (“have their own decisions win out over the ALA’s agenda”) shows your own bias, as it is quite possible that a community’s decision may very well AGREE with what you consider the ALA’s agenda.

    I guess that my “hair splitting [sic] that somehow always falls in the ALAs [sic] favor” (again your bias showing) is because I subscribe to the principles of intellectual freedom Matthew describes above, as apparently do many members of the Oak Lawn community. He points out well that it is clear you don’t accept just any community standards, you want YOUR version of community standards (just like you claim the ALA wants ITS own version of community standards — yes, the hypocrisy!). We obviously subscribe to different schools: in mine, I believe that more information is safer for all and essential to democracy. We could call this “liberty.” Yours would rather create the appearance of “safety” by limiting access to information for everyone based on a personal standards of decency. Since this mostly boils down to sex, in mine we’re born with penises and breasts and sexual desire and curiosity about our bodies. In yours, we’re better off denying those facts, at least until we’re 18.

    Is it “hair splitting [sic]” to point out that the issue is not as black and white as you’ve painted it? This library split these hairs long before we did — it thoughtfully provides access to what should be accessible to everyone while limiting access to the rest to minors in the name of child protection. This simply shows me that professionals understand the implications of their actions much better than even laymen who have thought long and hard about the issues (as in the comments above, where we all agreed to the indecency of the touchstone Playboy — as did the Oak Lawn residents in the impromptu survey — without considering that there may be legitimate use for minors). Could you please explain what is “inappropriate” about the articles children can request by presenting (not page numbers but) a citation? And can you please explain how a librarian providing a photocopy is construed as “the ALA putting inappropriate material in kids [sic] hands”?

    I’d like to see kidsilkhaze (when she’s back) talk about how the shelving, procuring or “recommending” of materials for patrons is by no means an endorsement of anything except its appropriateness for the question/request at hand.

    Finally, is not your own website, by republishing the most titillating portions of books you disagree with, at risk of exposing children researching topics such as libraries, censorship and the ALA online to this purported indecency and filth? You did the same thing above on this page, in fact. Are you not then in part contributing to the sexualization of minors by willy-nilly quoting for shock effect? What actions have *you* taken to make sure these passages do not reach an unintended audience? These “oral sex books” are much more accessible quoted on your website than they are in printed-and-bound form on a library shelf. If you’re against these “sexual acts” reaching young people, then by all means REMOVE THEM FROM YOUR WEBSITE.

  23. Phew! That’s quite a lot. A summary of what the last two posts say is 1) what gives me the right to have a say, 2) anything goes in public libraries, 3) sexually inappropriate material for children is information to which they are entitled because its absence will “stunt [a child’s] intellectual growth,” 4) the US Supreme Court cases have no meaning, 5) they are not personally convinced so I must be wrong, 6) I’m hypocritical because I republish the subject matter under discussion in an adult forum, and 7) I make things up.

    A summary of what the last two posts does is to avoid the issues by blaming the messenger.

    In their favor, however, I’ll admit the web site is not the most organized so I understand how they could miss things, like “reasonable evidence that the ALA and not the Oak Lawn library board was responsible for the decisions made there.”

    Lastly, as to “How in the world did the ALA turn into your big boogie monster?,” I’ll say when my kindergartner got an ALA librarian using an ALA list of books for kindergartners to place into my child’s hand a book on the fourth day of public school that the principal said was twice as bad as I reported and who then removed it from the library, that’s when the ALA “turned into my big boogie monster.” With so many parents suffering essentially the same thing, eventually someone was going to take a stand to stop the ALA from pushing such material on children. In other words, the ALA brought this on itself. Well I’m one of those parents, I’m not the first, and I won’t be the last. And I help as many as time allows. Eventually, people will learn the truth, and the ALA will no longer be able to sexualize children so easily. When the ALA finds it can no longer bamboozle people, at that time I’ll “REMOVE [the most titillating portions of books] FROM MY WEBSITE.”

  24. poetloverrebelspy says:

    Sorry safelibraries, you forgot to answer these questions in your reply.

    Are you an Oak Lawn resident? (this one twice now)

    Could you please explain what is “inappropriate” about the articles children can request by presenting (not page numbers as you purport but) a citation? And can you please explain how a librarian providing a photocopy is construed as “the ALA putting inappropriate material in kids [sic] hands”?

    What actions have *you* taken to make sure these passages do not reach an unintended audience?

    The problem with the internet is, unlike a library, there IS no children’s section. Heck, you welcome high schoolers on your front page! What makes you think middle schoolers (whom you deem inappropriate readers) can’t access what you’ve copied out of a book they might be curious about?

    You have to forgive me for not accepting your website as proof of anything. You cite law opinions instead of laws, you post faulty survey data and claim it as truth, your language is never neutral. Your linkapalooza is absolutely a sign to a normal reader or serious researcher that the information must be taken with a grain of salt. (I’m sorry if you don’t understand that implication of your design choices.)

    You have every right to be a “messenger” of whatever message you so desire — the problem is when you try to argue about “the truth” with people, they’re going to expect valid, independent evidence backing up your claims. Instead, what we’ve found so far is a lot of misconstrued and poorly interpreted hooey.

    I went back to your website (tho I promised myself I wouldn’t), looking for the reasonable evidence *I must have missed* that the ALA somehow influenced the Oak Lawn library board (your pet). What I found is correspondence between Mark Decker, the head of the library, and the library board. Can you believe that neither the head nor the library board mentioned ALA policies? Why, they referenced several Oak Lawn library policies that influenced their decision. I still cannot find where the ALA comes in at all. Perhaps you’re going to have to spell it out for me.

    You see, when I look at the various “evidence” you present — correspondence, newspaper articles, law opinions, what have you — I see that the library is following its own policy and that this policy falls within the confines (cited as a model on your website) of “protecting” children from access to obscene materials while allowing adult access. The library considered all the gray areas of obscenity, child protection and reader accessibility — what you have above called “hair splitting [sic].”

    You and Decker, however, argue these issues in black and white. Decker wanted total removal, denying access even to adult patrons. It seems that the issue of citations accessible by children only came up in later arguments. In fact, in his presentation before the library board, Decker states, “I am not concerned with your procedure to protect children from accing [sic] Playboy magazine.” Initially it was about anyone looking at Playboy in the library. Further, Decker’s arguments (and I assume your statement about rape above?) continuously connect library patrons reading Playboy with potential attacks on women or children in the library or with sexual predators in the area. These are absolutely ungrounded accusations. How can you even be sure all Oak Lawn library Playboy readers are men?

    As Matthew write above, the emotion you feel about these issues appears to trump your ability to discuss them reasonably (without empty, polemic claims, with independent evidence). What is it about the gray areas of this issue that you seem unwilling/unable to examine?

  25. kidsilkhaze says:

    Matt– thank you so much for catching the Mrs. Lovejoy reference (although she does screech that fairly often.)

    Safelibraries– Your Oak Lawn example is completely invalid, as the ALA librarians (even though you haven’t said how you know they’re ALA librarains) aren’t allowing access to Playboy to kids, so… I don’t see the problem. The kids can’t get Playboy. So, how was the community not listened to? Also, once again, I’ve never seen 98% of an American community agree on *anything* and I’ve lived in some very politically homogenous communities on both sides of the spectrum. Also, no one has said that “anything goes in public libraries” and, as someone who spends a lot of time in public libraries, that’s just a false statement.

    Public libraries have to serve children as well as adults. If you’re too lazy to keep an eye on your child at the library so they don’t go into a section meant for adults, don’t blame the material.

    poetloverrebelspy wants me to comment on selection and shelving and recomendation. Adult materials are not shelved in the children’s section. Kids materials aren’t shelved in the teen section. This helps patrons make decisions on their reading materials in several ways. Adults don’t have to wade through children’s books and kids are less likely to stumble acorss something that’s age-inappropriate. The age-level of materials is based on content and who the book is most likely to appeal to.

    When I recommend books, I look at the reading habits of the customer, which takes into account their personal tastes, but what content and vocabulary level they are at. I also respect the wishes of parents as much as possible. I have a very long list of fiction that is challenging to read but has no objectionable content. I buy books that meet those requirements because *that’s what portions of my community desires* but that doesn’t mean those are the only books I buy. Because, like all communities, large sections of it want completely different things. I have to serve all of those needs.

    Removing a book from the library may be serving *your* needs best, but it’s directly disserving the needs of others in the community. What makes your needs more important?

  26. kidsilkhaze says:

    Safelibraries– I have been out of town and off line and missed your long response to my earlier comment when I commented this morning.

    Frankly, given how you are completely misrepresenting and misinterpreting my comments, and the comments in articles I have read and situations I am familiar with, I can not trust your reading of anything else. When it comes to the Oak Lawn case, you are posting blatantly false information that is contradicted by your sources. Have YOU read the source material?

    But, for the record, I’m not blaming parents. I’m blaming the parents who don’t watch their kids and then complain. I sit at the reference desk every day and see young children wander off into adult sections without their caregivers even noticing they’ve left the room. But if that child wandered off and found something for adults, who do you blame? The librarians. The ALA. Not the parents.

    Sexual material might not be ideas, but it is often information. And we all have different ideas on what is and is not appropriate. The Robbie Harris books are some of the most banned books in America. Obviously, a lot of people have an issue with them. But, they also come highly recommended by medical experts, education experts, and a lot of other parents. What’s appropriate for what age group is not a clear cut line, as everyone has a different opinion. Why is your opinion more valid?

    And, yes, letting an 8 year old go to the bathroom by themselves in an area open to the public is being irresponsible.

    And please, explain to me how a sociopath in a public library is the fault of the ALA?

  27. kidsilkhaze,

    The sociopath, as you say, had previously been kicked out of another town library for a similar act. He had a record for similar things in other communities, if I recall. Further, the sociopath appeared on a television interview in the very library where he nearly raped the girl showing the cameras how easy it was to get porn. In addition, US v. ALA had been decided by that time, but the ALA advised, and this library listened, to refrain from using filters. To top it off, *after* the near rape, *then* the library added the filters. This altogether, and more in the media reports, leads me to conclude that the near rape never would have occurred but for the ALA’s convincing libraries not to filter despite US v. ALA; further, this very library was on notice that this very criminal had done similar acts before in other libraries, and demonstrated on TV how easy is was to get porn in the very library where the attack occurred, and know filters were constitutional, but refused to use them. I may be the only one in the world who thinks this, but that library is directly responsible for what happened, as is the ALA. I eagerly await the day someone sues the ALA and exposes publicly the dangers its Office for Intellectual Freedom represents. This was done once but before US v. ALA issued.

    More later about proof of ALA pressure in Oak Lawn.

  28. kidsilkhaze says:

    safelibraries, I fail to see the connection between filtering and this type of attack. Access to porn does not cause this type of behavior.

    Access to porn (for an adult!) at the library does not cause someone to become this mentally deranged.

    And, because your reading of every other example you have brought up in this discussion is the opposite of how everyone else in this discussion (including myself) I would love to know which community you’re talking about so I can do my own research.

  29. I forgot to mention he was looking at unfiltered porn immediately before the attack. Yes, about the cause for derangement, but the library knew he had this criminal past in sex crimes, know he used the filters to view porn, knew he was in that library, knew it could have legally filtered the computers, was advised not to by the ALA, refused to filter in accordance with the ALA, then, after the attack, finally added the filters. Too late for one little eight year old.

    kidsilkhaze, this is a blog. I have not written a legal treatise here. I quickly rattle this stuff off out of experience doing this for years, including three years in the Oak Lawn community courtesy of Mark Decker. Certainly you can understand that this is just a blog. And I do not blame you or the others one minute if I have not sufficiently proven the matter here to your satisfaction. But this is not a court of law, and I am not writing a treatise. I am just blogging, like you. So understandably, things are not as well sourced.

    Given that, I will try to add more detail about the ALA’s culpability in Oak Lawn in my opinion, but again I will not dot every i and cross every t because this is just a blog. So allow me to summarize and don’t be so hard on me. Note well–should I ever become involved in a suit against the ALA, at that time every last detail will be clearly and carefully laid out, in court, not here. I am not smart enough to make this stuff up, it being so unbelievable. But I have a lot of evidence ready to go when needed.

    Basically, the policy in place in the Oak Lawn Public Library is a near exact knock off of ALA policy. Right there the community is starting in a hole. Now you all made fun of me because of my claim regarding children accessing Playboy magazine, but the fact remains children still have the same access to the mag now as they did before 98% of the town was against it. So, despite a citizen asking, despite hundreds of signatures, despite a town-wide survey you ridicule (you don’t ridicule the ALA for defying the community and allowing children continued access to Playboy), and despite the town government officially asking the library to rethink its Playboy stance, the library refused to budge, not even a millimeter. In refusing to budge, the head librarian, himself an ALA Council member, went to the ALA Council email list and ridiculed Mark Decker gaining pats on the back from fellow ALA councilors. Then he got a big pat on the back from then ALA president-elect Michael Gorman who called Mark Decker names and otherwise enjoyed the ALA’s victory over the community, and the de facto leader of the ALA herself, Judith Krug, appeared in the Chicago Tribune saying she’s sick and tired of people trying to turn libraries into safe places for children.

    So, on the one hand you have 98% of the community and the entire government, and on the other hand you have an ALA Councilor (there are only a hundred or so), an ALA president, and the now 40 year de facto leader of the ALA converging to take aim on the Oak Lawn Public Library, and successfully at that.

    If you do not see this as direct involvement by the ALA elite in the affairs of a local community, then I really don’t know what to say or do. And this just before a time when the ALA argues against statewide filtering because it would, according to the ALA (and ILA), deny libraries local control. Right. The only local control in Oak Lawn is the ALA’s control over the Oak Lawn people and government.

    One of these days some town in this situation where the ALA forced its will on the community will be sued by the community. As it is now communities are afraid of the costs of suit against the ALA and the inevitable ACLU, on whose Illinois state board Judith Krug served for three years while concurrently in the position she still enjoys at the ALA. And I mean enjoys. Think of the joy she gets when the ALA agenda from her Office for Intellectual Freedom is forced into communities, even where those communities make serious efforts to sweep out the ALA influence.

  30. kidsilkhaze says:

    Safelibraries– you’re right, this is a blog. But, on this blog, you’re the one who keeps extolling me to check your sources to back you up. Even though the sources you keep pointing don’t say what you say they say.

    At this point, your arguement doesn’t make sense to me, to the point where I find it ridiculous. Once again, reading the information YOU pointed us to, one sees that actually, children in Oak Lawn do NOT have access to Playboy. If Oak Lawn followed ALA policy than, ALA protected the children. And yet, you paint the ALA as some sort of vigilante group taking over our communities and actively encouraging children to read porn and get raped.

    As for the case involving the sociopath (which, for all I know, you’re making up as you refuse to tell me where you’ve gotten this information and instead are whining about me asking for it), looking only at the facts as you’ve presented them, I highly disagree with your interpretation. I guess I understand your position, but I find it ludicrious. And that’s only going off your version of the events. And based on your version of all the other events discussed, I highly doubt that’s what actually happened.

    You commented on my blog. You started the conversation. You filled it with misinformation and falsehoods. Sorry if I called you on it.

  31. Well, not vigilante and not to get raped and not porn. Actively encouraging inappropriate material as defined in the law? Absolutely.

    Would you care to speak with me on these issues? Conversation is so much easier than blogging. I see you as rational so I would welcome the chance to speak with you. If you would like that, just email me your phone number, or ask me to email you mine. There’s so much to discuss, like why I say kids have access to Playboy and you say they do not. We both see the same facts, I think, and neither of us are lying for the fun of it, so if we talked, that’s the kind of thing we could eventually agree. The benefits for each of us is, of course, to learn more about how to express our viewpoints in a manner that is more understandable to others. I obviously do not understand your reluctance to even hint the ALA might have some responsibility here, and you understand my position but think it is ludicrous. Blogging makes it hard to communicate at the same time it’s easier to communicate. So I hope you’ll take me up on my offer. You have influence in your circles and I have influence in mine and perhaps we can sway each other.

  32. And as to the “sociopath” you said “which, for all I know, you’re making up as you refuse to tell me where you’ve gotten this information and instead are whining about me asking for it,” I already linked it 5 days ago – http://www.plan2succeed.org/justice4victims.html – it loaded with media sources, but again, we are all wearing blogger googles, so I don’t blame you for missing it — just wish you would tone down the rhetoric — I don’t make this stuff up. Your apology is accepted.

  33. kidsilkhaze says:

    safelibraries– You did link to it before, you’re right, but not in the context of this case, rather when you were forced to admit that Pico actually says the opposite of what you claimed it said.

    I still fail to see the link between the ALA and this case.

    For the record, because of all the quotations that you pull, completely out of context, from books, your own website is not accessible from filtered computers.

    As per the ALA’s urging, every day I educate young people about internet safety, including not giving contact information to people they meet on the internet. Frankly, I don’t trust you or your organization. I have been aware of your organization for the last year or so and have listened to you argue your case in several different forums. Your organization uses fear, sensationalism, and distortions of truth and fact to further its agenda. Maybe you do make more sense in person, but I fail to see any hope for that.

    You can accept my apology all your want, but I’m not sure how, as I never offered it.

  34. poetloverrebelspy says:

    Perhaps it was meant in that Stephen Colbert “I accept your apology” way?

  35. Matthew Sayre says:

    OK, last time for me on this thread. First I think I’ll respond to some of safelibraries earlier comments.

    1. What gives you a right to have a say? You certainly have a right to your own opinion, but given that one of your main complaints against the Oak Lawn library is that its policies should be decided by the community, as someone who is not a member of that community and is trying to persuade people of that community to your point of view, perhaps you might see how some might find that a mite hypocritical.

    2. Anything goes in public libraries? No one has said that. Except possibly you if you truly believe that local communities should be able to decide anything they want without outside interference. I find it hard to understand that you are all for outside interference in the form of federal legislation requiring filters, and also all for complete local control outside of interference from a national source like the American Library Association. Then I remember that it’s mostly about beating the ALA for you and rationality doesn’t really matter.

    3. Sexually inappropriate material is not necessary for a child’s growth. That was a deliberate misconstrusion of my post, but not unexpected. I was making a point about intellecutal freedom, which apparently you don’t believe in.

    4. The U.S. Supreme Court cases have no meaning? No, they just don’t mean what you think they mean. Even in the Supreme Court cases allowing for legal filters, those filters are intended for minors, and even the court said they must be removed at a patron’s request if they were of age. I assume you ignore that part of the decision. The filters, even if present, would have been removed in your new favorite case’s case. The criminal could have simply requested the removal of the filter and gained access to whatever he may have wanted. Claiming that the ALA is directly culpable for a specific physical assault is sickening.

    5. You have not personally convinced me so you must be wrong? Again, no. You did not personally convince me so I did my own research. My own research helps me determine that you are wrong.

    6. Yes. You are hypocritical for reposting the material in what you call an adult forum. On your front page you welcome minors to your website, and prominently link to what even you call pornographic material. Is it somehow all right if you do it in the name of Righteousness?

    7. You make stuff up? You certainly do! Your deliberate misconstrusions, your repeated use of incorrect facts and statistics despite having their invalidity pointed out to you multiple times, and your flagrant misuse of language, such as the ALA forcing Playboy on Oak Lawn by force. You make stuff up.

    I noticed you haven’t used the word ‘propaganda’ since I pointed it out. Nice try, but simply not using the word doesn’t mean you’re not still doing the exact same thing. I’m baffled by your statements that somehow blogging doesn’t count. You don’t have to back up your statements if you’re blogging? You don’t have to be rational if you’re blogging? That certainly seems to be what you’re saying. By that logic, you are posting things in a public place with no foundation in verifiable fact in the hopes that it will change people’s opinion. That sounds you’re engaging in textbook propaganda to me. I know most people on this forum meticulously research their statements. Most of us went to a college that encouraged critical thinking, and knowing our consumers are the same way, we take some care in our statements. That you don’t believe you need to take the same care tells me a lot.

    Now you’re looking for personal contact information? Since you seem to be under a misapprehension about blogging, here’s an important tip. You don’t give personal contact information to creepy internet people who send you unsolicited pornography. That doesn’t make us cowards, it makes us intelligent. I was shocked when you posted what you yourself called inappropriate material on this very forum. That’s all right, you did it for shock value. Maybe we don’t want to see porn on our site. Maybe the idea of intellectual freedom also means the choice that we don’t have to consume the material. Somehow it’s OK when you post porn because you Believe you’re Right. It reminds me of the people who parade in front of abortion clinics with graphic photographs of aborted fetuses.

    I believe firmly in the ideal of freedom of speech. To paraphrase someone else who was a bit more eloquent than I am, ‘I will fight to death to defeat your beliefs, but I will defend to death your right to express them’. However, there are limits. When does expressing your opinion become harrassment, or slander. I’m not a lawyer so I don’t know if your website constitutes either, but I doubt it. I just think you’re an internet troll.

    In your last post you bring out that 98% of the community number again. I thought we’d gotten past that. It is not a representative sample of the community, it is not a neutral question, it does not even verify that respondents are members of the community. The survey is meaningless. However, there’s little point in restating that to you, as we’ve already told you this. The fact that you still wheel it on out again without any attempts to answer our concerns about it shows that you are uninterested in reasonable discussion. As an internet troll, you will simply ignore our reason in favor of emotion, and continue posting until we give up. Then, when you have the last word represented by having the last post in this thread, you will feel that you have somehow ‘won’ by silencing all your critics. I instead feel that further discussion is unprofitable. You won’t convince me with propaganda, I won’t convince you with reason. I am grateful to Jennie for starting this thread as I’ve learned a great deal about the ALA, library policy, and opponents of intellectual freedom and their tactics.

  36. kidsilkhaze:

    You said, “rather when you were forced to admit that Pico actually says the opposite of what you claimed it said.”

    Really, you persist in literally making things up. Out of thin air. I never said Pico says the opposite of what I said.

    Frankly, I have been trying to be nice, and I’ll still be just that, but at this time I’ll say you have made numerous blatantly false statements, You either fail to understand, or you do understand and are purposefully making things up to besmirch me. I even asked politely for you to consider your words, yet you proceeded to prevaricate.

    At this point, since it has become obvious you are making false statements to mislead people, I’ll withdraw from further contact at this time with you.

    Pico, by the way, is the case anyone can and should use to help build the case to have pervasively vulgar books removed legally from public schools. Duh, to most people, but anathema to those pushing such books on children. The common excuse that removing such books is censorship is blatantly false in the light of Pico, among other things. Perhaps that’s why you are working so hard to make it appear I have not been consistent regarding that case. Attack me and Pico magically doesn’t apply. Feel free to believe the ALA is correct and the US Supreme Court doesn’t apply.

    Now, on another topic, I see you help teach children about Internet safety. I do too. I have a web page that will contain useful information for your training sessions. I know you think I lie because I wrongly think the US Supreme Court and community values supercede the ALA’s agenda, but I have resources on that site that will definitely help you to help the children. So you don’t have to admit it to anybody, but you should take a peek at LMIRL at http://www.safelibraries.org/lmirl.htm and especially the links I have linked.


  37. Matthew Sayre:

    1) I started as the mere webmaster for Mark Decker of Oak Lawn. He did all the ground work in his own town. He had no web skills, however. So I webmastered his site, a site he even named himself. The site and the work done there is pure Mark Decker and pure Oak Lawn. There is no hypocrisy, and even if there was, that is an ad hominem argument that is irrelevant.

    2) Outside interference by federal legislation? Are you serious? The US Supreme Court approves of CIPA and you call it outside interference? Another attack on SCOTUS while the ALA is fine. And when Illinois tries to pass similar legislation, the majority of the people want it, the majority of the legislators vote for it, and when it looks successful one person bottles it up to please the ALA, and that’s not outside interference? Communities have no control over public library computers precisely because of the ALA so legislators try to pass laws to helps the citizens and you call that outside interference? Do you not see the ALA as the outside interferer?

    3) Allowing children access to inappropriate material the public and the US Supreme Court would exclude is not intellectual freedom, but in some cases it’s a crime. I understand part of propaganda is to repeat a lie often enough until people believe it. But it is still a lie. like global warming being the fault of people. Intellectual freedom has nothing to do with children accessing inappropriate material the provision of which is against the law everywhere but in a public library.

    4) Ok, you say the SCOTUS cases have meaning but not the meaning I ascribe. Unfortunately, people like you use legal legerdemain to explain why the Court does not mean what the Court says. So while knocking me down, you don’t find the cases applicable to anything. That’s like blaming the President for foreign affairs failures but never once saying how things could allegedly be improved. And what’s sickening is the crime occurring nationwide, not my suggestion that it might be the fault of the ALA.

    5) Post your research then.

    6) I complain about an agenda that pushes inappropriate material on children being implemented in libraries nationwide at the behest of ALA top leadership. In contrast, my web site is the tiniest blip on the radar screen. Odd you should find it so threatening to the morals of children for containing the materials librarians make available to children, again at the behest of top ALA leadership. I do not fault librarians, just top ALA leadership.

    7) Playboy is still available to children in the Oak Lawn Public Library as a direct result of ALA top leadership. You may choose to ignore that. Frankly, it is hard to believe. But it is true, you keep saying it is not, and I must be lying. I’m not. But I cannot say you are lying. I can say it is unbelievable the library is doing this, but it is, and it is doing so despite direct attempts by the public and the government to stop it, which is even worse.

  38. kidsilkhaze says:


    once again, you’ve managed to completely miss the point and twist someone’s words to your own purposes.

    Based on the sources that YOU have posted Oak Lawn does not allow children to have access to Playboy. And yet you continually insist otherwise, despite the fact that your “proof” says the exact opposite.

    Your organization interferes in communities just as much as the ALA. Just because you’re not as successful does not mean otherwise. And, amazingly enough, federal laws DO interfere with local control. You declare that local communities should have a say. But does that not hold true when a group of suits in Washington want to take it away from them? Or is Washington fine because you currently agree with them. What if Congress agreed with the ALA? Then what?

    Matt’s research is done soley with the sources YOU provided. He just actually read them.

    Matt never said that the SCOTUS decisions didn’t mean anything. He merely pointed out that the SCOTUS decisions are not saying what you say they say. Just because you can’t understand SCOTUS doesn’t mean you can make up the meaning.

    And frankly, your website contains material that YOU think is harmful to children, but you invite children to read it! That’s what’s damaging to children’s morals. Not that your website exsists. Not that the content is on it. The fact that you are unbelievably hypocritical in your arguements. If you do not want children access to this material, then why are you handing it to them without any context?! Librarians provide access, you are shoving it down people’s throats. How can you even try and claim the moral superiority? That is what is damaging to children.

  39. kidsilkhaze says:


    Will said above: As for the Pico case, I don’t think it says what you think it does. The majority decision explicitly states that it was illegal for the school board to remove books based on ideology.

    You said, two comments later: Will, right about Pico,

    I’m not entirely how else I’m sure to intrepret that.

    You commented on my blog post. You twisted my words on my blog post. You spread false information on my blog post. (Once again, kids can’t check out Playboy. If they provide a citation for an ARTICLE [and, having actually read Playboy, I can tell you the articles don’t have anything to do with sex] they can have a copy of the ARTICLE. Not a page range, a specific citation. This information is from sources YOU provided.) But you do not not want me to use the same tools of language and rhetoric that you use? Even though it’s my blog post? Your language and arguements have been sensationalistic and full of inflammatory language. But I can’t do the same?

    I can’t say I’m surprised from someone who invites children to read a website a filter can’t get through. A website that protects children by asking them to read material you find inappropriate. I have little patience or tolerance for hypocrisy, but it was a post about free speech, so I have replied to your comments and allowed you a platform. But it is a post about free speech, so I get to reply how I want. Feel free to take your ball and go home.

  40. kidsilkhaze,

    I do give you credit for discussing this with me and for remaining relatively civil. The usual response of claimed free speech people is to cut off speech of those who disagree with them, often after personal attacks regarding Nazis, the Taliban, etc. However, you did not do that. Thank you. You set an example for the others, like the top ALA leadership, who refuse to practice what they preach. “The … elites have convinced themselves that they are taking a stand against cultural tyranny. …. [T]he reality is that it is those who cry “Censorship!” the loudest who are the ones trying to stifle speech and force their moral world-view on others.” By Dan Gerstein, an independent consultant, former communications director for Joe Lieberman and a senior strategist for his presidential campaign.

    Now I see what you all are saying about a “specific citation for an article,” but I do not agree that that really limits things enough. The article could be G rated or X rated. It simply doesn’t say. But since X-rated articles are not excluded in writing, they are likely not excluded in fact.

    Besides, no matter the policy wording, the over arching issue is the community said get rid of Playboy and the ALA ensured it stayed put. Is the ALA that powerful? If I had the money, I would back the city in suing the ALA for something and removing the books from the library as 98% of the citizens wanted. Really. Who is the ALA to override a city government?

  41. kidsilkhaze says:

    Safelibraries– we are obviously never going to agree on this issue. And I still don’t think the 98% is a valid number, as the survey asked a loaded, not neutral, question, and, as I watch the news coverage and travel around the country, I still cannot believe that 98% of an American community would agree on anything.

    I agree with Oak Lawn library on this. They’ve maintained information for legal adults, while, at the same time, protecting the children from age-inappropriate materials. I know you don’t agree.

    I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that you’ve never actually read an issue of Playboy. I know people like to jump all over it because it has a lot of pictures of airbrushed naked women. But, when it comes to the articles, I can’t think of any X-rated ones I’ve read, or noticed. (Not that I’m digging through piles of back issues, I’m just relying on my late-night memory. Really, it’d be one of my favorite magazines if they got rid of the nudity.) Now, I wouldn’t recommend them for kids, but that’s because they deal with some very difficult political and cultural issues at a rather sophisticated level. It’s less of a content issue and more of a comprehension issue. (Does that make sense?) Cosmo is much, much worse when it comes to sexual explicitness and articles. And they sell that in the grocery store aisle.

  42. They sell the ALA’s oral sex award winners for 12 year olds in grocery aisles too. See http://www.safelibraries.org/pushers.htm#grocery for the pictures.

  43. kidsilkhaze says:

    Safelibraries– have you read Looking for Alaska, or just those 2 sentences out of 256 pages? It’s an excellent, amazing book and I think the ALA did the right thing in giving it the Prinz award. The Printz is for teen readers, not children. It’s not appropriate for children. That’s why it’s marketed to teens, shelved in teen areas, and won a teen award.

    Do you protest the proliferation of adult mass market paperbacks in grocery store aisles? Most are much more graphic than Looking for Alaska and lack its overwhelming literary merit.

    To disparage the Printz by calling it the “oral sex award” is doing it, as well as your argument and credibility, an amazing disservice.

  44. kidsilkhaze says:

    Also, to clarify for those unfamiliar, the Printz is NOT an award for 12 year olds. It’s for books written for teens, which the ALA defines as 12 to 18 years old. Publishers and librarians do not consider that one big spectrum. There tends to be a break around 14/15. Some Printz awards, like Looking for Alaska, fall on the upper end. Some, like this years American Born Chinese are appropriate for the younger end. A book that is appropriate for an 18-year-old is rarely appropriate for a 12-year-old, and the opposite holds true as well. (Yes, we can all think of expections to this.) The Printz committee does not look at books that are for everyone in this age range, they look for books written for people that fall into this age range.

    I agree that Looking for Alaska is inappropriate for 12 year olds. It’s still one of the best books written for teenagers and the ALA honored that.

  45. kidsilkhaze,

    You are just wrong again. The Printz award is not just for “teens.” It is for “young adults” which the ALA defines as children 12 and up. 12. Not even a teen yet. Not even a teen and the ALA calls you a “young adult” to justify its agenda. At 12, the ALA recommends for you to read as the very best book of 2006 (and other years) a book containing material which, if it were made into a movie, would garner an X rating. X rated material for 12 year olds, and calling them “young adults” makes us all feel better, right?

    And the book is indeed marketed for older children, thanks to the marketers not being under the ALA’s thumb, but in libraries, the book is in the “young adult” sections, not just the “teen” sections you are claiming. I have pictures on my web site of the book in “young adult” sections of public libraries at waist height next to Star Trek books which large posters announcing the availability of the award winning books. In a Star Trek book, Captain Kirk always gets the girl. In Looking For Alaska, the girl gets, well, I can’t say or you’ll say again I’m spreading the very material I’m against.


    You are starting to sound wacky. You are now finding excuses for why children as young as 12 should have X-rated books recommended to them by ALA top leadership. You are then saying, I think, oh, well the oral sex is just a small portion of the book, so it’s not that bad anyway. You are starting to sound wacky.

    And look at the way you talk in circles: “Also, to clarify for those unfamiliar, the Printz is NOT an award for 12 year olds. It’s for books written for teens, which the ALA defines as 12 to 18 years old.” You just said the award is not for 12 year olds, but it is for 12 year olds and up. And it is not for “teens,” it is for “young adults” which the ALA claims includes pre-teens. 12 is pre-teen, is it not? Can we at least agree on that? Oral sex for pre-teens – blocked in convenience stores – X-rated in movies – violates obscenity laws in many states – results in humiliation and jail on To Catch a Predator – but Printz Award winning books of the year from the ALA are fine. All hail the great ALA that has convinced people that a little oral sex for pre-teens is good for them to became “thinking adults and an educated electorate.”

    The amount of dancing around you do to justify awarding oral sex books as top books for 12 year olds and up is truly award winning in and of itself. The Playboy Foundation gives awards to librarians who block citizen requests for using Internet filters in public libraries. Perhaps the twisting and turning you are doing here deserves a Playboy Foundation First Amendment award for showing why it is perfectly acceptable for 12 year olds to be reading oral sex-containing books when the ALA gives them top awards of the year.

    And the ALA never, not once, provides any heads up as to the contents of the books possibly being inappropriate for the age for which it awarded the book. You cannot just award an oral sex book for an age range then claim well, we actually didn’t award it for 12 year olds, it’s actually for 12 – 18 year olds, and it’s up to you to decide, and we will only say it’s the best book of the year without advising as to its contents.

    Go into a book store. See the Young Adult section. See the asterisk on the sign. See that it warns parents that young adult books contain material that some parents may find objectionable. That’s the right thing to do. The ALA does not do that. Purposefully, the ALA does not take that simple step. Result? Kids read oral sex books the ALA told the parents was the very best book of the year. Oh, by the way, the ALA then blames the parents for not properly minding what their own children are reading, the very same parents they just misled as to the contents of the “award winning” books. What a double standard.

    Having said all that, at least you agree the book is inappropriate for 12 year olds. Had the ALA only provided adequate warning to the right people, this probably would not be an issue.

    Which brings us back to Oak Lawn, and neighboring communities comprising Illinois School District 126. The District just used the ALA’s advice to assign another Printz awarded book to children, thinking the ALA Award meant the book was appropriate for children. This is an example of the effect of awarding such books with “awards,” and is indeed why the ALA does this. The book was pervasively vulgar. I could exemplify it but you would claim I was promoting it to children again. When a parent complained, she was subjected to the treatment I’m getting here, but eventually the District apologized. Yes, apologized. Admitted it was wrong. Said in the future it would properly advise parents as to the contents of the books.

    When will the ALA apologize to the nation? When will it provide adequate notice as to the true contents of books since it places on parents the impossible responsibility for reading every single book a child reads. Never. That’s when. The awarded books will just get more and more inappropriate, and the propaganda like “Banned Books Week” will just get louder and louder. Louder and louder.

  46. kidsilkhaze says:

    Honestly, safelibraries, thank you.

    I haven’t laughed so hard in ages. If you think I’m sounding wacky, then fine. I’ve tried to be reasonable, I’ve tried to explain logic to you.

    In the business, teens and young adults mean the same thing. Not all books written for a teen audience are written for the ENTIRE teen audience. I can think of very few books worth their literary salt that are the best book for a 12 year old and for an 18 year old.

    I will grant you that 12 is a preteen. But shall we then make teenagers (13 to 18, the rest of the age range) read books only appropriate for pre-teens?

    Once again, calling the Printz the “Oral Sex” award makes you look crazy. Several books have one the award with NO sexual content. And several are not age-appropriate for an older YA reader, because they’re written for 12-14 year olds. But, by all means, dismiss an entire award because you disagree with two sentences in one book. But forgive me if I find people who take such a stand to be completely unreasonable.

    Honestly, in your latest comment, I think you’ve gone off the deep end. I really fail to see how this conversation can be productive anymore. You accuse me sounding wacky and talking in circles and dancing around to justify things. Amazingly enough, that’s the exact same thing I feel about you.

  47. kidsilkhaze says:

    Really, what it comes down to is this.

    If I take all the books with sexual content that Safelibraries feel are inappropriate for children and pre-teens and teens out of the library, then I have take out all the books with ghosts and fantasy for the people who feel they promote Satanism and witchcraft. I have to take out all the stories of racism because stories about racism have racist characters who use racial slurs and language is hurtful. I have to take out the books that were written in less sensitive times when they just used racist language. I have to take out books about history because some events are too depressing for children to handle, even though children their own age had to live through them.

    And, eventually, there are no books left. And that’s when work becomes really boring and I start thinking maybe I should have become an investment banker, because at least it pays really well and I’ll need that money to buy the books I can’t get anymore at the library.

    And that’s when life becomes more boring because we’ve sheltered a large chunk of our population out of what life is.

    I read everything under the sun when I was a child. I’m sure Safelibraries would be horrified to know what I read when (but, after talking to me so long, probably not all that surprised.) And I’m glad I did. When I left home and went to college, I had never done drugs, never been drunk, and really hadn’t dated all that often. If I had been sheltered on top of that, I would not have been able to function. Instead, because I knew about the broader world out there, which I had learned about reading books that some poeple would say were damaging to my morals, I survived and flourished, despite my inexperience.

    There are wonderful and exciting things in the world, and in life. There are horrible, awful, terrible things that we can only pray we will never have to deal with. But I thank my parents and my library everyday for giving me the chance to learn about evil through books, and not forcing me to encounter such things for the first time in real life. I wouldn’t have been able to cope.

  48. Fine, though your slippery slope argument is old hat and not true. But you still don’t explain why the ALA gets away with forcing it on unwilling communities. Repeatedly over the years, as in Oak Lawn, IL.

  49. kidsilkhaze says:

    Safelibraries– I know the slipery slope is an old argument, which is why I haven’t made it yet. I think it is very valid and very true. Where I work, people are less concerned about sex and more concerned about fantasy and witchcraft and books with racial language. Based on our discussions, I get the feeling you’re more concerned with sex. Between you and the people I talk to everyday, we’ve cleared out a huge number of books in my library– many of which are important parts of the children’s literature cannon.

    You’re right, I don’t explainw hy the “ALA gets away with forcing it [‘s will?] on unwilling communities. I don’t explain that because I simply don’t think it does. And you have no proven to me otherwise. Frankly, I think you give the ALA much more power than it has.

    That said, I will also say that I had let my ALA membership expire in July. I hadn’t planned on renewing this year for various reasons. Our conversation over these past weeks have convinced me that the ALA is doing important work and I need to support it. Not only did I renew my membership, but I also joined several new ALA divisions. I ended up giving them more than twice the money I ever have in the past, when I wasn’t planning on giving them anything. Thank you.

  50. Material the community and the law and the US Supreme Court says is inappropriate for children should not be in children’s section of libraries in the first place, and its being there because the ALA defied the community only makes it worse. How many of us could get away with defying the community, the law, and SCOTUS?

    I am happy you rejoined the ALA. I too have joined the ALA. We’re in the same club!

    I am considering running for something. Perhaps you’ll vote for me. Or perhaps you’ll just perpetuate ALA Election Fraud or ensure some ALA members are more equal than others: Unequal Access.

  51. kidsilkhaze says:

    Safelibraries– in the information you provided, I have not seen the ALA pushing its will over that of the will of the communities. I have not seen undue ALA influence. I simply have a seperate, and different interpretation of the events and facts at play. I don’t see how the ALA defied the community. I have read all your arguments and just don’t agree with what you see. You keep repeating the same things over and over, and I just think you’re wrong. In everything I’ve seen, the ALA simply does not have that much power. I wish it did.

  52. Really, I understand. This just being a blog, I have not detailed every dot along the trail. But the trail is there, in the words of the ALA people themselves. My web site links to most of it, but, obviously, not in an easily accessible way. Indeed some of my links have “disappeared” because the ALA itself removed the evidence.

  53. kidsilkhaze says:

    And I have looked at your website and read everything I could. You just haven’t convinced me.

    Just like I haven’t convinced you.

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