Peter G (sinetimore) wrote,
Peter G
sinetimore

The Library Board Of Extraordinary Gentlemen

I quote the immortal Horrace Rumpole -- "Isn't it odd, Hilda? The more they preach Christianity, the less Christian they become!"

Well, here we are in Jessamene, Kentucky, which inadvertently became another battleground between holier-than-thou Christians and 1st Amendment absolutists (I think it'll be obvious what side I'm on here). The Jessamene County Public Library had in its possession a copy of the graphic novel The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen -- The Black Dossier. If you've never heard of LOEG, basically, it's superhero stories with public domain characters like Allan Quartermain, Captain Nemo, Mina Harker, and so on, written and co-created by Alan Moore. An employee at the library, Sharon Cook (please note, not a librarian, just a worker there) felt the book was pornographic and apparently didn't like the sexuality in the book. So she checked it out for a year (if I was going to keep a book that long, I'd just buy my own copy) to keep anyone else from getting it.

You will notice this violates one of my First Rules Of Libertarianism -- "There's a big difference between, 'I don't like something, I don't do it' and 'I don't like something, you can't do it.'"

Well, an 11 year old girl wanted to read it and put in a request for it when it got checked back in. This meant the book would have to be returned to the system and couldn't be kept out any longer. Cook dug into the private records (in violation of library policy) and find out who it was that wanted the book and discovered the identity of the girl. She then employed an accomplice named Beth Boisvert (also a worker, not a librarian) to try to keep the book out of anyone's hands but her's. Around here, someone figured out what was going on and blew the whistle. The duo had violated so many library policies that they were shitcanned on the spot. As the totally awesome Neil Gaiman pointed out, "Strangely enough, even after they were fired, the original lady who took the book off the shelves still hasn't returned the book, which seems to me to have crossed the invisible line that separates 'stopping people reading things you don't like' from 'stealing'."

What's the first refuge of scoundrels? Well, patriotism, but the next stop on the train is "doing it for the children." The library board had a meeting to let both sides of the debate air their opinions. 23 people total spoke, and it was a rumble. Evangelical preacher Earl Lee Watts yelled out “If this is not pornography, what is?” while handing out pages of the New Adventures Of Fanny Hill from Black Dossier. As Rich Johnston pointed out with a smirk, this preacher just distributed pornography.

A Wilmore minister named Darryl Diddle showed up with a petition signed by 950 people demanding the removal of library books because they “offended me in that they depict sexual acts and/or describe such acts in a way that in my opinion are contrary to the Jessamine County public opinion of what should be in a public, taxpayer, supported collection.” He also stated it was a public safety issue in that the books encourage sexual predators.

Bobbi Stout is a minister's daughter, and she came out swinging for freedom and liberty. “It’s dangerous to democracy when an interest group imposes its views on another,” and “Stand up for the Constitutition!” One librarian was moved to tears (as I likely would have been).

A Baptist minister named DeWayne Brewer warned that if the Bible was ever converted into a comic book, the Jesus freaks would probably lose their friggin' minds.

Christine Powell told how she almost stopped reading altogether as a child because her libraries wouldn’t allow her to read “above her grade” (as someone who was reading at the sixth grade level while in kindergarten, I find that very troubling).

Kristina Sakowich, a mother of eight who homeschools, says she is afraid of what her thirteen year old son might find in the library.

Alexis Kierstead, a high school sophomore, proved that civics and American history aren't her strong suit. She brought a petition signed by 244 students surrendering their Constitutional rights asking for oversight committees to protect them from obscenity, saying “it takes a village to raise a child.”

Chairwoman Billie Goodwill weighed everything, then made her decision -- the library is not a substitute parent. Libraries allow parents to restrict what their kids read, but it's their decision as parents, not the library's decision as Big Brother. The books could stay, and religious intollerance could go do something anatomically amazing with itself.

In short, the Religious Right is neither, and a group for the people refused to let themselves be bullied. Thank you for protecting our right to make up our own minds.
Tags: art, comic books, comics, hypocrisy, news, politics, religion, stupidity
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