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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.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 20th, 2009 07:59 am (UTC)
HEAR HEAR!!! I am half tempted to find the address of the library, then go on Amazon.com, buy the Black Dossier, and have it shipped as a gift to them.
Nov. 22nd, 2009 05:10 pm (UTC)
If you do that, you might want to include a copy of "The Scarlet Letter", just to drive home the religious hypocrisy tone.

Or pick another GN or two. Say, a copy of Bone for the kiddies and a copy of Dreadstar for the teenies and up.
Nov. 20th, 2009 02:21 pm (UTC)
What decade do we live in?

I can honestly say IF I was a parent I wouldn't want my 11-year-old reading probably any of the LOEG books. But the library already had a process put in where parents could go down there and restrict what their kids could read so what is the problem? Oh yeah, parents are "too busy" to get involved in their kids lives anymore. This is the same kind of B.S. we see with music, movies, video games, etc.

The bottom line is you can't shield your children from all the "bad" things in the world. You have to raise them right and teach them how to deal with stuff correctly when/if they encounter any of it.

And what is up with those high school students that wanted an oversight committee to "protect" then? WTF?!? Number one, who here wanted ANYONE to tell them what to do when they were teens? NO F&^(ing one! When I was a teen I would have rebelled against this even if I didn't want to read the book in the first place!

Also, they are at that age where they are supposed to learn how to stand on their own in the "real world", not hide in behind adults. It all ends in fire gentlemen, I weep for the future...
Nov. 22nd, 2009 05:16 pm (UTC)
What decade do we live in? IT'S THE DECADE OF LAMBADA!

* cough * Sorry.

The parents can't police their kids anyway. I was well under 18 when I saw my first Playboy. I'm not sure if you remember middle school, but I remember study hall in 8th grade where the kids were talking about Freddy Krueger and Jason Vohrees. Well under the limit, and none of us grew up to be killers and rapists and that. In fact, my anti-social tendencies didn't materialize until well past the age of consent and that was after exposure to the real world, not fictitious characters. Maybe we should ban the real world....

...whoa! Now THERE'S an idea!

I quote Alice Cooper -- "This ain't Russia! You ain't my dad or mother! (They didn't know, anyway.)"

It's all because of a combination of how I was raised and how I choose to behave. Raise your kids right, and when they take over their own lives, they'll be fine. Religion is not used to help people achive spiritual fulfillment, it's about power and control. Remember, we are supposed to live humble, modest lives and sacrifice our wealth to help others. Have you seen the expensive shit in the Vatican? They could feed Africa for a decade if they would sell some of it. But they'll never do it....
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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