Thursday, September 4, 2008

Library Propaganda in Media Exposed - Reporter Presents One-Sided Story with No Balance and Sometimes No Truth

Propaganda is sometimes hard to spot. The harder to spot, the more effective the propaganda. Below is an excellent example of propaganda by the media. It supports keeping children easily exposed to s-xually inappropriate material in public libraries despite community efforts. I will expose the propaganda by reprinting the article, thanks to Section 107 of the US Copyright Act, then intercalating my comments to point out what is being foisted on unsuspecting readers.

In this example, I will examine "Anti-P-rn Group Challenges Library," by Amanda Palleschi, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 4 September 2008. The propaganda effectively makes it appear as if a "local group" of citizens is wrong and even laughable for trying to move some s-xually inappropriate books from a teen section of a public library to the adult section.

Anti-P-rn Group Challenges Library
Thursday, Sep. 04 2008

In the quiet stacks of the St. Louis County libraries, two sides of a classic culture war are duking it out.

A local group wants the libraries to make it more difficult for teens to have access to some books they think are unsuitable for reading without parental consent.
  • [Saying "they think are unsuitable for reading without parental consent" already sets up this "local group" for failure. Already the reporter is commenting on what "they think" and subtly hinting they are ridiculous to seek parental consent before letting children read books in a public library. It just sounds ridiculous, does is not? And why call them "a local group" instead of what they are, taxpaying citizens who have every right to have a say in how their own tax money is being spent. Now watch as the "local group" gets contrasted with, not people, but the bedrock institutions of a community, "the libraries." Clever, no?]

The libraries say that to comply with the group's requests would constitute
censorship, and maintain that they already have a process in place to review
  • [Censorship? Where is the reporter exposing how no books have been censored in the USA for many decades? Where is there any balance saying that moving books from the teen section to the adult section is not censorship? It is never censorship to "make it more difficult for teens to have access to some books," so why does this reporter let the claim of censorship go unchallenged?]

The local group, organized into a loose coalition by a local chapter of
Citizens Against P-rnography,
  • [Thanks to this reporter, we now know it's some out-of-town organization that has the "local group" whipped up. Watch as the story progresses to see no mention that a bigger out-of-town group, the ALA, has an iron grip on the situation, even recommending media manipulation. Watch as the reporter herself twists a quote from the ALA to buttress her own propaganda efforts.]
began questioning books found in all county library branches in August after Ellisville parent Laura Kostial approached some of the anti-p-rnography group's members.
  • [The obvious implication of the way this is written is that this is all Laura Kostial's fault. Shame on you, Laura!]
Kostial had visited the Daniel Boone branch several times with her 12-year-old daughter and found material she thought "shocking."
  • [Great propaganda technique. Describe her as "shocked" without giving complete and accurate details as to why she is "shocked."]

Kostial said she hadn't seen books aimed at teens with "erotic" passages at the
county's Daniel Boone Library before a visit last year. The books in question
range from non-fiction titles such as "The Little Black Book for Girlz, A Book
on Healthy Sexuality" and "Growing up Gay in America"
  • [Isn't that odd. Here's a book where the clear implication is that the book is being censored, or will be, yet the book is available free online. Think about this. Is it even possible to "censor" something that is otherwise freely available online? Is the term "censorship" being dumbed down to sell newspapers or promote a political agenda?]
to contemporary series like the "Gossip Girl" books
and a series of books with a protagonist named Alice by Phyllis Naylor ("Alice on Her Way" is one of them).

Of the Alice series, Kostial said: "These books start out as being geared for
second-graders. By the time she's in middle school, there is stuff that just
isn't for the eyes of an 11-year-old. You look at the cover and there's this
little blonde-haired girl with braces smiling. It's just too sexually explicit."

The group objects to passages in the books that range from suggested sexual
activity to detailed descriptions of sex acts.
  • [This is the only hint the reporter provides of the details--just that they are detailed. On the web site, in a sidebar not reproduced here, the reporter presents examples of objectionable parts of some books. The examples provided by the reporter are tame compared to the things that simply could not even be printed in newspapers. It's okay for children, but not newspapers. Yet the reporter only provides a few tamer examples. That's propaganda.]
Many are fiction. Some are non-fiction guides.

Carl Hendrickson, chairman of the local Citizens Against P-rnography group and
former Republican state representative,
  • [There you go. Republican. That explains it. Perhaps Naomi Wolf is a Republican too.]
said his group is requesting the libraries do one or all of the following:

— Establish an adult advisory committee to screen the books before they are
placed in the libraries.
  • [No mention is made that a teen advisory group already exists, or that the library already has a selection process in place, so this is a reasonable request.]

— Construct a system by which parents would authorize their children to check
out objectionable material.

— Set up a ratings system that would alert parents the material can be
considered objectionable.

— Remove the books in question from the teen section and transfer them to an
adult section.

The library system is fighting back.
  • [There she goes again. The "local group" (people whipped up by an out-of-town organization with an ominous name) is "fighting" the "library system" (bedrock institution). Gee, I wonder who wins.]
There will be a library staff meeting later this month to discuss and review the books in question.
  • [Another great propaganda technique--skip over the truth. Some of the books have already been reviewed and already moved to the adult section by the librarians. So the very goal of the "local group" has already been met voluntarily by the library, in some cases. The problem is, if the reporter revealed that, it would not make the "local group" look like wackos since the library has already agreed with the "local group" on at least a few points.]
Library administrators maintain that anybody who wants to challenge the library's
collection can submit a materials reconsideration form, and that to remove the
books from their current location would constitute censorship.
  • [There it is again. The "censorship" claim, naked, without balance, as if it were true that moving books in a library is censorship. As if the "local group" was seeking "censorship," which it is not. As if because the "local group" was seeking "censorship," it should be totally ignored. Propaganda is subtle, isn't it?]

In addition, members of its teen advisory board are aware — and displeased —
with the request to restrict titles from their access.
  • [Well, at least she mentions there's a teen advisory board, but it's a little late now, isn't it? She already portrayed the "local group" as wanting "an adult advisory committee to screen the books before they are placed in the libraries" as if that were unreasonable, given the context of her writing.]

"If a book is classified as a teen book by outside sources, there is no point
in trying to restrict it from us," says David MacRunnel, 15, of Creve Coeur.
  • [Hello? Any balance here? Any mention that libraries are under local control, not control by "outside sources"? The reporter presents this statement, without balance, as if it were reasonable. It is not. Think about it. "If a book is classified as a teen book by outside sources," that necessarily means input from local citizens is not included. Even though the bar may be low, the library does have a selection policy. At least that exists. At least people recognize that local libraries ostensibly select books. Yet "if a book is classified as a teen book by outside sources," that necessarily cuts out the selection process already in place at the library. The reporter says nothing about this.]

"We are a library and we have to serve all the citizens," said Charles Pace,
the director of the St. Louis County Library. "We don't act in the place of the
parent. Whether I personally agree with an item or not is besides the point.
It's about having access."
  • [Okay, so? The books will still be accessible. What's the problem? There is none, but the subtle suggestion is made by the reporter that access will be denied. That is false. The "local group" just wants to move the books to the adult section, not remove them, and the library has itself already done that in some cases.]

Tim Wadham, the library's assistant director of youth and community services,
says the groups are "continuing to escalate" their attacks on the library.

"These folks are trying to create a scandal where there is absolutely none,"
Wadham said. "It has become clear these folks are getting guidance on a
national level."
  • [Now this is pure propaganda. The truth is absolutely the opposite, but the reporter doesn't report on that. The truth is the library director has "continued to escalate" his attacks on the "local group." Also, "it has become clear [the library director] is getting guidance on a national level." Further, despite the claim that "folks are trying to create a scandal where there is absolutely none," the scandal here is that the library director escalated to the governing council of the ALA and was advised by the ALA to manipulate the media! And look, it's working! Do you know what's worse that the reporter does not reveal? The very same person who advised the library director to manipulate the media is the same person who may have violated the ALA's 501c3 tax status and was slammed down by an "Immediate Release" from the ALA President. He had to be called on the carpet by the ALA President for possibly publicly embarrassing the ALA. And I challenged his possible anti-American stand and support for book confiscation by communist/terrorist regimes. So an ALA Councilor may support book confiscations by communist/terrorist regimes but advises the library director to manipulate the media when a "local group" wants to move books like the library has already done. And that dichotomy is not disclosed? Double standard anyone? An ALA Councilor forces the ALA President to react to the councilor's inappropriate statements, but the probable inappropriate statements made to the library director by the same person are totally ignored? And the "local group" is the problem? How is this not propaganda?]

John Splinter, the St. Louis regional director of the National Coalition for
the Protection of Family and Children, said he has been contacted by the local
Citizens Against P-rnography group about getting involved with the issue.

"I want to give the library people a full opportunity to be good citizens and
do the right thing," he said. "On the other hand, if we don't see some changes,
then the coalition will get involved with this, and we fight pretty hard. We've
been around long enough to have had an effect on these issues."

Deborah Caldwell-Stone, the deputy director of the Office for Intellectual
Freedom at the American Library Association, said history — and legal precedent
— is not on the library critics' side.

"When you're talking about government agencies, be it a school board or a
public library, they found that kids do have First Amendment rights in
libraries," Caldwell-Stone said. "The courts have found this kind of rule to be
  • [Exsqueeze me? Wait, this is confusing. What the ALA is saying is actually correct, depending on the context. The problem here is the context. In this case, the context seems to be the reporter's responsibility. It is hard to figure out the context. "The courts have found this kind of rule to be unconstitutional." Correct. But what "kind of rule" is she talking about? Is she talking about "Remov[ing] the books in question from the teen section and transfer[ing] them to an adult section"? If so, the library has already done this! Further, Deborah Caldwell-Stone herself has already said that moving books from one section to another is not censorship. So what exactly is Caldwell-Stone talking about? Who knows? The reporter has presented the ALA's statement in a manner in which the context is unclear but the clear implication is that the "local group" is wrong. This is outstanding propaganda, by the reporter, not by the ALA. Really an outstanding job. The best part is the reporter reports Tim Wadham as saying, "It has become clear these folks are getting guidance on a national level," yet here is the reporter "getting guidance on a national level" and presenting it in a manner that has nothing to do with the facts but everything to do with making the "local group" look wrong and laughable. This is propaganda at its finest. I do not know what Deborah Caldwell-Stone was talking about because of how the reporter presented the story, but removing books from libraries may be done legally and it is not "censorship" or "book banning." And the "local group" only wants to move, not remove, books. And in US v. ALA, a 2003 case the ALA itself lost in the US Supreme Court, the court 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." It is no coincidence this information is absent from the reporter's propaganda piece.] | 314-340-8349


  1. You state that: "'Growing up Gay in America' is a book that is free online. It is not. It costs $7.95.
    Makes me wonder what other 'facts' you have incorrect.

  2. Jacob,

    Why be so harsh? Politeness is not a bad thing.

    I personally spoke with Jason Rich about a week or so ago. He specifically told me how to get a free copy of his book, even why he made the free copy available. I support authors so I included a link, likely the one you used. I used his online form to get the free version. I have not yet checked for a response, however.

    If you are having problems with my link to his site, please specify and I will attempt a resolution for you.

    May I help you with any other questions or concerns?

  3. This is an excellent example of the censorship going on in America today, via the media itself; although it’s censoring parents and taxpaying citizens-- end-rounding their God given right to raise their child as they see fit, or for tax payer to maintain descent morality in their own community.

  4. Seriously. You are content to castigate the speck in librarians eyes, but not the log in your own.

    Rather than speculate and inflame, take a walk in the librarians' shoes. We do not all see things the same way (as you've demonstrated). In your briefing you noted that libraries have ways of dealing with community concerns. Why then do puritanical groups insist on making a public spectacle instead of working with librarians and community leaders?

    Censorship is a serious issue, even in the United States. As much as you've taken advantage of your free speech rights, you should be supportive of (and thankful to) the ALA for doggedly protecting your right to say things. Even things that they would not agree with.

  5. Dear Anonymous,

    Clearly you are concerned about these issues. And clearly you care. At the same time, clearly you have bought into the propaganda the ALA spreads.

    While censorship is a serious issue, the ALA's definition of censorship is totally different than the one you are defending. Censorship is a word so freely bandied about so at the ALA, that one ALA Councilor has just accused the ALA President of censoring the other ALA Councilors! "Councilor Melora Norman referred to the case of the politically-inspired attempt of the IRS to go after the NAACP and have its tax-exempt status revoked, suggesting that it is fear inspired by this action of the IRS that motivates the ALA executive's campaign of organizational censorship in a pre-emptive attempt to avoid the wrath of those who would try to use the tax code to punish organizations which an administation or party does not favor."

    You have said, "Rather than speculate and inflame, take a walk in the librarians' shoes." Okay, let's.

    "The ALA leads many to believe that right wing, cropped hair, thin tie rednecks and their bee hived hair wives threaten our freedom to information. The reality is librarians 'censor' on a daily and with a substantially greater impact upon patrons. Sometimes it is justified, other times not. The truth is ALA’s representation of the censorship issue is disingenuous and misleading." Thank you, Tomeboy, for letting me walk in your librarian shoes." See "How Anti-Censors, 'Censor' the Truth about Censorship or ... Looking for Nazis in all the Wrong Places."

    Or maybe I'll walk in the Annoyed Librarian's shoes, carefully, of course: "Intellectual Freedom Means the Freedom to Think Like Us!" Thank you, Annoyed Librarian, I hope you are not too annoyed.

    The question is not, "Why then do puritanical groups insist on making a public spectacle instead of working with librarians and community leaders," as you put it. Rather, the question is why hasn't the ALA changed its age discrimination policy in its "Library Bill of Rights" after losing big in the 2003 US Supreme Court case of US v. ALA. In that case, the Court 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." Yet the ALA came out with a statement saying despite US v. ALA, ALA policy will remain unchanged.

    Tell me, Anonymous, why does the ALA insist on making a public spectacle instead of working with Court precedent and community leaders? Who's inflaming whom?

  6. I have a question regarding the censorship issue. Why do libraries have reconsideration policies in the first place? If a book were removed or moved as a result of such a review wouldn't that be censorship too?

    It seems contradictory for a library to have a policy in place that offers a possible end solution that is by it's own definition is "censorship."


  7. You have a point. Especially in light of:

    "Challenged materials that meet the criteria for selection in the materials selection policy of the library should not be removed under any legal or extra-legal pressure." Challenged Materials: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights.


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