Thursday, August 25, 2022

Library Censorship?

9/23/22 NBC News:

For months, a group of conservative Christians have inundated the staff and board of a public library in Bonners Ferry, Idaho, with complaints about books they didn’t want to see on the shelves.

Their list of more than 400 titles predominantly focuses on young adult books with LGBTQ characters, scenes describing sexual activity or invoking the occult.

The only problem: None of the books are in the library’s collection. ....

“We want a strongly written policy that will not allow the library to order materials with sex acts,” the group stated on Facebook this month, adding that the American Library Association “has brainwashed our libraries” into believing this is a First Amendment issue.

The fight in Bonners Ferry over what books are allowed in the Boundary County Public Library echoes battles playing out at libraries across the country. Conflicts over literature that discuss sexuality and contain explicit passages have bled from school board meetings into library board meetings, as conservative and far-right activists call for bans on books, Pride Month displays and membership to the American Library Association.  

The problem is not the books that are already on the shelves but concern the library might put them on the shelves.  For those who find these concerns silly, let me ask you a few questions:

1. If your local public library purchased The Turner Diaries, would you be upset?  It is a well-written, entertaining, hate-filled book promoting theories of the Nuremberg Trials that are fiercely absurd and promoting race war against blacks, Jews, and Hispanics. (It seems to me to have some inspiration from Jack London's The Iron Heel, a similarly entertaining story of rebellion against capitalists.) Should public funds be expended to buy a book whose royalties doubtless end up in neo-Nazi pockets?  Should the limited shelf space in a library be used for a hate-filled book?

2. What about a serious book questioning the validity of the transgender claims?  Does that deserve public funds and shelf space?

3. What about 1960s hardcore porn, say High School Hooker

4.  The Plot Against Christianity The book "reveals the satanic hatred of Christ and Christians responsible for their mass murder, torture and slave labour in all Iron Curtain countries – all of which are ruled by Talmudists". After her death, it was retitled The Jewish Religion: Its Influence Today.

5. Any book promoting or giving a sympathetic portrayal of bestiality, female genital mutilation, or slavery?  Cannibals All! (1857) is historically important, but what about a modern work giving a sympathetic hearing to slavery?

If your answer is No, then you understand the dilemma of most Americans who are told to accept public libraries buying offensive and destructive trash, then called bigots for saying, "Not in public libraries."  You can still order such books from Amazon or other private institutions.  

"Not with my money!  Not in an institution which my taxes fund!"

8/24/22 Washington Post article about a town that defunded its library:

The National Library Association’s young adult branch named 10 winners in 2020, including a post-apocalyptic thriller about a boy searching for his lost dog, a science-fiction horror about twins with superpowers and a memoir about growing up nonbinary called “Gender Queer.”

Amber McLain, the library’s director at the time, ordered a copy of each. Pink-haired and openly queer, the 30-year-old stood out in a county that hadn’t backed a Democrat for president since 1864. Yet people embraced McLain, her former colleagues and patrons said.

“She helped bring my son out of his shell,” said one mother, Sara Crockett, checking out a STEM toy kit on a recent afternoon. “He’d light up when he saw her.”

“I miss Miss Amber,” 5-year-old Cecil said, clutching her hand.

Nobody complained about McLain until last November, after video of a Virginia mother condemning “Gender Queer” as “pornographic” took off on social media and protests against the memoir spread nationwide.

The 239-page graphic novel contains illustrations of masturbation, a sex toy and oral sex, as well as depictions of menstrual blood. Fans saw the scenes as part of the author’s coming-of-age experience, while critics blasted them as sabotage to developing minds. “Gender Queer” became the most banned book of 2021.

Reading the comments at the Washington Post is a reminder that America may need an amicable divorce.  Or the left can stop its abusive relationship with America.  Let us be us; stop trying to force us to be them.  But like most domestic abusers, the damage is so severe that I doubt they can stop.  "She made me do it!  She would not let me put obscene material around the house where the kids could find it.  She insisted that I could not take her paychecks and spend the weekend drinking on a Vegas weekend with my buddies!"


  1. Obsfref: Norman Spinrad's "The Iron Dream" - if Adolph Hitler had been an sf writer, what sort of book would he have written?

    1. Not sure. His real talent was water colors. Artistic sorts run on emotion.

    2. In truth, Spinrad's vision of what Hitler would have written wasn't much different than Elron's "Battlefield Earth".

  2. Go to just about any library, red or blue area, try to find your books. Or something by Ann Coulter, Molly Hemingway, John Derbyshire, Colin Flaherty, Michelle Malkin, etc. Librarians, as a group, are among the most liberal people in America, and their shelves reflect that.

    1. Amazingly enough even Ivy League libraries often have or two of my books. They did not read them, I guess.

  3. Libraries are also clearing their shelves of other topics that they may not agree with politically. When I was an adolescent my local library (and some in neighboring towns) had a nice collection of books dealing with firearms and hunting. Today when I visit the same libraries there are no books at all about guns, they have all been purged.

  4. Quite a few years ago, I was in a neighborhood branch library in Chicago. The branch had some spinning trolley-things for paperbacks with a bunch of miscellaneous low-brow pop fiction. Among these were some recent formula Westerns from branded series (e.g. "Longarm #17"). Some of these books included (in passing, to be fair) explicit descriptions of sexual acts. (How do I know this? Sometimes I skim pop-cult works to see what the current conventions are. For instance, I noted at the time that in these Westerns, explicit racism marked a character as a fool or a villain.)

    The whole collection was in general circulation and thus available to teenagers. I told the librarians about the sexual content; they were surprised. Idunno if they removed the problematic books.

  5. This is not a new thing. I was the student counsel president my senior year of high school, 1978. There was a large argument over the inclusion of a book by a man named Ronald Fair, called We Can't Breathe. It was basically about the black experience in inner cities from what I recall.
    The problem for many was that a portion of the book had a conversation between young black men, discussion the color of genitals between the different races. In a very, very small town in Michigan at that time, it was a very troublesome issue.
    I was the kind of young person that got along with not only all of the other kids, but also the adults in our school, teachers and administration, and janitors, etc. So I approached the librarian, and asked her opinion about the book. This was in our high school library, not the public library. She told me that the book in question was not all that big of a deal, and that there were a number of books in the library that had much more "adult" themes and language in them. I don't remember the exact discussion, but it involved both what at the time was considered sexual perversions, as well as issues of slavery and the horrors that were involved with some of the treatment of those who were enslaved, and the torture of Native Americans at the hand of the Federal Government, etc.
    So I guess that I learned at that time you really cannot sanitize life, in order to make it all squeaky clean and pretty, when life is instead harsh and dirty sometimes. And the only way to understand life, and our role in it, is to acknowledge that it is harsh and dirty, and at times unfair, and try and change the things that are wrong, and leave people alone to live their lives as they wish, and be ready to step in only if someone is forced to live or do things that they object to.
    So no matter how we hate to see a woman living with a man who abuses her, we can offer her rescue, but we cannot force her to leave. No matter if our sensibilities are offended by someone who marries another of the same sex, we must allow them to marry. And they must be allowed to adopt children just as if they were heterosexual, as long as they do not abuse the children, just like any other married couple.
    I guess it is kind of a small l libertarian ideology. Leave others alone, as long as they are not harming anyone, and not imposing their lives or ideology on anyone else. I think that is likely the closest to the founding fathers vision of America as any other.

    1. It does need to be pretty and clean, but it does not need to be offensive to those paying the bills.

      Revolutionary America passed laws making sodomy a capital crime, punished adultery quite severely, and regulated gambling. It was NOT a libertarian society.