[ifforum] BBW Hypocrisy Publicized
| RKent20551@cs.com ||Tue, Sep 30, 2008 at 7:12 PM|
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| RKent20551@cs.com ||Tue, Sep 30, 2008 at 7:12 PM|
To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
On Sept.17, viewers of the appropriately named new series "Sons of Anarchy" were "treated" to a graphic castration scene, complete with hacked-off genitals shown lying in a pool of blood.
Completely tasteless programming is in, and FX bathes in it. The mastermind of all that Rupert Murdoch-backed villainy is an executive named John Landgraf, who pronounces his philosophical approach thusly: "One of our writers used to say, 'Bad men do what good men can only dream about.' There is a sense that what these characters are doing is allowing us to explore, in a safe context, our id and subconscious, what we might do if there were no restraints of society or conscience on us."
In a nutshell, what we're hearing is FX executives who have a lot more sensitivity to the "vision" of a seriously twisted human being than they do to the prospect of a 10-year-old boy finding a terrifying castration scene as he's flipping channels in his home.
The latest book to fan the flames is Paul Ruditis' "Rainbow Party," about an oral-sex party that never happens, in part because the teens who've been invited have major reservations. The book ... highlights the dangers of oral sex and sexually transmitted diseases, but has been criticized by some parents and conservative commentators.
"Rainbow Party" isn't exactly flying off the shelves -- because it isn't on most bookstore shelves. Barnes & Noble and Borders are selling the book on their Web sites only. And many libraries are passing on the book -- not for censorship reasons, but because it lacks literary merit, they say.
But books can provoke discussions, says Pam Spencer Holley of the American Library Association. Although she wouldn't hand a child a copy of "Rainbow Party" without comment, she thinks that book -- and others -- can provoke family discussions.
"I think I'd say, 'This is something we need to sit and talk about,' " says Holley. "It's a way for kids to experience something at a safe distance -- and a way for them to make up their minds about how they would respond in that kind of situation."
She's happy to see teen girls reading. Eventually, girls who are reading Gossip Girls will move on to better books, she says.
"Unless you read stuff that's perhaps not the most literary, you'll never understand what good works are," says Holley. "But when you get them hooked on reading, then you can lead them so many other places, as far as books go."
Besides, she says, what's the worst thing that can happen? "Nobody complains about the adult women who read Harlequin romances."
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WHAT IS THE LAW?
It also highlights the thing we know about Banned Books Week that we don't talk about much--the bulk of these books are challenged by parents for being age-inappropriate for children. While I think this is still a formidable thing for librarians to deal with, it's totally different from people trying to block a book from being sold at all.
The ALA response to parental complaints was the creation a few years ago of a national event they call "Banned Books Week" in which outrageous charges are made about parents supposedly attempting to ban classics like "Huckleberry Finn" and "Of Mice and Men." It's an ingenious tactic considering the ALA seems intent on phasing out the classics. However, parent researchers and bloggers have found many of these allegations to be false or grossly exaggerated; for example, the ALA counts as censorship incidents in which a parent simply requests that the school or library be more age selective when assigning books or amend a teacher's mandatory reading list to include other books not so offensive.
For making the modest demand that schools not flood their children's minds with filth until, for example, the 8th grade, the ALA, PTA, various state Department of Educations and some loony anti-Christian groups have responded by publishing outlandish strategy manuals on how to deal with "extremists," the code word for any parent with a religious-based value system.
But the ALA will not compromise on such common-sense requests by parents. Banned Books Week was clearly designed by the ALA to direct attention away from the onslaught of violent, obscene literature in America’s schools. And it’s not just books; it's the Internet as well. When I co-sponsored a bill to have filters placed on library computers so as to block pornographic and racist web sites, the ALA went ballistic. They flew in their big guns and in front of a hearing room full of shocked parents, argued that "the First Amendment is more important than parental concerns about content" and made clear they were totally against any effort to block content of any kind from children no matter what age. Indeed, the ALA web site arrogantly states, "Librarians do not serve in loco parentis."
The idea that our Founding Fathers wrote the First Amendment to allow children to view obscene literature is preposterous but the ALA is on a crusade to persuade all libraries to treat children as adults. It’s a bizarre crusade, because, legally and morally, school children are minors and school boards and librarians have been entrusted by parents to protect them from such literature. Indeed, when a library Internet filter bill was introduced in Congress, the ALA went all out to fight it. It passed but ended up in the courts where again, the ALA spent a fortune fighting it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. They lost. Thank God.
On rare occasion, we have situations where a piece of material is not what it appears to be on the surface and the material is totally inappropriate for a school library. In that case, yes, it is appropriate to remove materials. If it doesn't fit your material selection policy, get it out of there.
So bizarre is the ALA leadership, along with a cadre of Castro admirers on the Governing Council — in its abandonment of their fellow librarians — it refuses to post on its “Book Burning in the 21st Century” Web site the extensive, documented court transcripts of the “trials” that sent the librarians to prison. Those judges ordered the “incineration” of the prisoners’ libraries, including works by Martin Luther King Jr. and George Orwell’s “Animal Farm.”....
A key ALA official, Judith Krug, heads its office of Intellectual Freedom. In my many years of reporting on the ALA’s sterling record of protecting American librarians from censorship, I often quoted her in admiration. But now, she said at an ALA meeting about supporters of the caged librarians, “I’ve dug in my heels ... I refuse to be governed by people with an agenda.” The Cuba issue, she continued, “wouldn’t die,” though she’d like to “drown it.”
Kleinman accuses the ALA of hyperbole in celebrating Banned Books Week. "The whole purpose of Banned Books Week is to provide this kind of misinformation," he said. "The ALA misleads people into thinking that if you keep an inappropriate book from a child that is considered censorship. It is not."
In the common-law tradition, censorship refers specifically to the government's prior restraint on publication. None of the sponsors claim this has happened; the acts they have in mind are perpetrated by private citizens. Yet the cases on the map almost all involve ordinary people lodging complaints with school and library authorities. Before Banned Books Week began in 1982, such behavior was known as petitioning the government for a redress of grievances.
There's something odd about a national organization with a $54 million budget and 67,000 members reacting so zealously against a few unorganized, law-abiding parents whose efforts, by any sensible standard, are hopelessly ineffective. The ALA's members have immeasurably more power than the "censors" they denounce to decide what books are available in our communities, but this power is so familiar it's invisible. Why do parents' public petitions constitute censorship, while librarians' hidden verdicts do not? A spokesman for the ALA once tackled this question in the Boston Globe: "The selection criteria that librarians use may not always be what everybody wants. I don't see that it's a real problem." Move along, folks, nothing to see here.
The ALA's definition of censorship has no relationship whatsoever to what everyone else in the entire world understands by the word. It's incoherent and self-serving.
Calls from Foxnews.com to Caldwell-Stone were directed to American Library Association Media Relations Manager Macey Morales, who asked for more information about PFOX's allegations and then failed to return follow-up e-mails and phone calls.
The American Library Association refused to do anything about the book banning. This is actually predictable behavior for them – they are a left-wing advocacy group.
A few weeks ago, the American Library Association announced with much fanfare that it was celebrating the ridiculous event called "Banned Books Week." This announcement accused Americans of being "zealots and bigots who live in fear of discourse" and of being "screamers and book banners and book burners." This Association arranged events and set up displays at libraries all over the country to pretend we have a problem with censorship.
It's always been clear to me that the ALA OIF likes to dress up book challenges as "censorship" to draw attention to themselves and to pretend there is some sort of threat to "intellectual freedom" in the intellectually freest country in the world. It's hard to get worked up about some book challenge when the book is freely available in libraries and bookstores all over the country. But when it's censorship, then by God we're going to get upset by it!
Banned books are a sign of an oppressive regime. That said, forcing age-inappropriate reading materials on youngsters not ready to deal with the material -- and doing so just for the sake of a bigger principle -- is just as oppressive. Enter the American Library Association. .... Can't we trust the ALA to look out for the kids? The short answer is a resounding "no." .... Unless you are willing to sacrifice your child at the altar of political correctness, it may be wise to question the age-appropriateness of some books.
Banned Book Week is a farce and an insult to the intelligence and goodwill of the taxpayers who pay for local public libraries and staff salaries. Neither the American Library Association [ALA] nor the local community library is a "governmental" agency. It is the taxpayers who own their community library and should have the freedom to determine the policies that regulate this community service institution. The ALA, a private, non-governmental group of associated librarians, has incrementally usurped the freedoms of clients - especially parents - to determine which books should be selected for their library shelves.
If anyone bans books, it is the radical American Library Association, which has run rough shod over our libraries for too many years and now solely determines which books are or are NOT ordered for display.
It has been proven that books that have been banned from library shelves are those that the ALA "selection process" does not allow.
Although I’ve written a lot about "banned" books, my primary objections to OIF shenanigans can be condensed to two.
1) By its own extremist logic, the OIF is incapable of arguing against making hard core pornography or excessively violent books or films available for young children. Everything is merely "information," and everyone regardless of age somehow has a right to all that information. In the case of Internet pornography, they apparently have a duty to view the information if they happen to be passing by. Not only can they offer no argument against it, but if any concerned parents ask that such material be removed from the children's section of a library, the OIF condemns them as censors.
Despite the high-minded rhetoric, practical instances of challenges almost always involve what is appropriate or inappropriate for children. Any group that is incapable of nuanced ethical argument distinguishing the needs of children from adults deserves not only to be ignored, but morally condemned.
2) The OIF uses deceptive language in their claims about "censorship." I expect such dissembling rhetoric from politicians, but I prefer not to have it from my professional association. A library removing or not buying a book isn't government censorship. Government censorship is very clear when it happens – just look to China or North Korea – but it is extremely rare in the United States. The OIF changes the meaning of "censorship" because it's a strong word, and it makes their crusade against almost non-existent government censorship sound stronger.
Government censorship prevents the publication of information. Period. That's what it means, and everyone but the ALA knows it. If a book were really censored, a library wouldn't be able to buy it in the first place, much less remove it. Recently, the Pentagon bought all 10,000 copies of the first edition of a spy memoir and destroyed them, claiming that they contained information that could be damaging to national security. This is the best attempt at government censorship I've seen in the United States since the Nixon era. Had they not bungled the affair by clearing the book and then later un-clearing it, it would be tempting to give the Pentagon the benefit of the doubt, because there are secrets of national security that protect American lives. It would still be censorship, but sometimes censorship is justified, and the right to free speech isn't absolute. If the OIF really knew anything about the First Amendment, they would know this.
Because of these two flaws in OIF thinking, it's difficult to take them seriously. By using such extremist logic and sloppy language, they manage to turn what should be a serious debate about intellectual freedom and tolerance into a farce. A defense of intellectual freedom is admirable, but it can be defended without resort to irrational extremism or deceptive language.
In a 1995 interview with Beverly Goldberg, the highly respected Judith F. Krug, decades-long president of the ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom, had this to say about the importance of intellectual diversity in library book collections:
We have to serve the information needs of all the community and for so long "the community" that we served was the visible community.... And so, if we didn't see those people, then we didn't have to include them in our service arena. The truth is, we do have to.
We never served the gay community. Now, we didn't serve the gay community because there weren't materials to serve them. You can't buy materials if they're not there. But part of our responsibility is to identify what we need and then to begin to ask for it. Another thing we have to be real careful about is that even though the materials that come out initially aren't wonderful, it's still incumbent upon us to have that voice represented in the collection. This was exactly what happened in the early days of the women's movement, and as the black community became more visible and began to demand more materials that fulfilled their particular information needs. We can't sit back and say, "Well, they're not the high-quality materials I'm used to buying." They're probably not, but if they are the only thing available, then I believe we have to get them into the library. [emphasis added]
According to Krug, intellectual diversity is of such paramount importance that it trumps even quality of material. And if resources are scarce, Krug believes it is the obligation of librarians to ask for them.
In light of Krug's comments, consider the topic on which libraries have virtually no books. Community and public high school libraries carry dozens of books, both fiction and non-fiction, on the topic of homosexuality and "transgenderism," almost every one of which espouses or embodies liberal assumptions about the nature and morality of homosexuality. There can be found nary a one that espouses or embodies conservative assumptions about homosexuality.
The problem: None of this is remotely true. Banned Books Week is an exercise in propaganda. For starters, as a legal matter no book in America is banned, period, full stop (not counting, I suppose, some hard-core illegal child porn or some such out there). Any citizen can go to a bookstore or Amazon.com and buy any book legally in print—or out of print for that matter.
"When a library removes a book from its shelves because someone disapproves of the ideas or opinions contained in the book, that is censorship. When it is done by publicly funded schools and libraries — government agencies — it is a violation of the First Amendment ('Column: Banned Books Week is just hype')."
It would be an understatement to say that I am deeply exasperated by the annual celebration of Banned Books Week. Like a lot of other ALA advocacy efforts, it is emotionally charged, politically correct, and does not facilitate a rich discussion of the issues it aims to address.
7) You indicate that "Banned Books Week Misses the Root Problem". What in your mind is the root problem?
It is government favoring of speech – and compelling support of it – that is the root problem. It is not people who are members of the public and who pay taxes objecting to what is selected. Force them to pay and they have every right to object.