Monday, April 20, 2009

LISNews Disses Judith Krug Unwittingly

LISNews is an excellent news source for those interested in libraries. In addition to its daily activities, it podcasts weekly on library issues. Unwittingly, but justifiably, it mocked the American Library Association's [ALA] former de facto leader in the very publication dedicated to that leader.

The most recent podcast was "dedicated to recently departed freedom crusader Judith Krug." See "LISTen: An Podcast -- Episode #68," by Stephen Michael Kellat, LISNews, 19 April 2009.

Judith Krug was the de facto leader of the ALA for about 40 years. Thanks in part to her ACLU heritage, she single-handedly changed libraries so they no longer protect children from inappropriate material like they used to.

For example, she alone created "Banned Books Week," ostensibly to decry censorship, even though no books have been banned in the USA for half a century and it is nearly impossible to do so now for reasons that have nothing to do with the ALA. Supposedly, according to Banned Books Week material, "Censorship by librarians of constitutionally protected speech, whether for protection or for any other reason, violates the First Amendment." More ominously, "Private groups and public authorities in various parts of the country are working to remove or limit access to reading materials, to censor content in schools, to label 'controversial' views, to distribute lists of 'objectionable' books or authors, and to purge libraries. .... The problem is not only one of actual censorship."

I say ostensibly because "actual censorship" by librarians, citizens, and local governments is impossible by definition; the real goal is different. The real goal is to ensure children retain access to inappropriate material by making false and scary claims about censorship. As one former ALA Councilor Jessamyn West rightly noted, "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."

By calling efforts of some librarians, citizens, and local government officials to keep children from inappropriate material "censorship," the ALA is misleading the entire nation. And in light of US v. ALA, which the ALA lost big in 2003 in the US Supreme Court, the ALA's actions to mislead are evidently intentional, unless the Court itself is also censorious: "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."

The ALA does not agree; protecting children from inappropriate material is "censorship," according to the ALA. Now what is more authoritative, the ALA or the US Supreme Court?

Did you know that US Supreme Court case that allows Internet filters in public libraries to protect children (hence, Children's Internet Protection Act) was Judith Krug's biggest disappointment in life? The only means the ALA is forced to allow to effectively protect children is her biggest disappointment? Is it any wonder why the ALA intentionally misleads the public and the media? (And Judith Krug "'invented what they now call media training,' said Art Plotnik, former editor of American Libraries.")

Perhaps her greatest disappointment was the 2003 Supreme Court ruling that the Children's Internet Protection Act was constitutional, ending a battle over internet [sic] filtering that cost ALA over a million dollars. Adults, the court decided, could ask that filters be turned off for unrestricted access and Congress could require libraries to install filtering in exchange for funding. It was a decision that Krug had fought hard.

Source: "A Tribute to Judith Krug," by Leonard Kniffel, AL Inside Scoop, 21 April 2009.

But I digress.

Censorship has nothing to do with keeping inappropriate material from children. Nothing. Protecting children from such material is common sense, and it is legal. It is not censorship. The US Supreme Court already addressed that issue. Why does the ALA continue to raise it? Why does the ALA continue to misled local media, communities, and those who guide local communities? Why do people think the ALA is authoritative anymore?

So what is censorship?
Cries of censorship rang out over a relatively small, minor situation. .... [I]t is called censorship when a selection of LGBT materials becomes harder to access within Amazon's catalog. While the English word "censorship" might be at the core in the Amazon story and others, it might be better to term such "inference of intended suppression." Censorship more properly involves a government using its coercive powers to dictate what can be said, written, printed, or shown in a media form.

As Dan Gerstein said, "The ... elites have convinced themselves that they are taking a stand against cultural tyranny. .... [T]he reality is that it is those who cry 'Censorship!' the loudest who are the ones trying to stifle speech and force their moral world-view on others." Does that not perfectly describe the false claims of the ALA? (Speaking of stifling speech, get a load of a public library in West Bend, WI, refusing to hear a citizen complaint: "West Bend Library Board Shuns Public Hearing Over Porn.")

So censorship defined "more properly" has nothing to do with what the ALA is claiming, what Banned Books Week is espousing, what Judith Krug has created. As Thomas Sowell put it, Banned Books Week should be called "National Hogwash Week."

The definition of censorship given above about a government using coercive powers is relatively accurate, but who said it? Who defined censorship in a way that is truthful and in total contradiction with the ALA's claims as promulgated by Judith Krug's creations? Believe it or not, it is the very source that dedicated the podcast to Judith Krug. It was LISNews! It was Stephen Michael Kellat! Listen for yourself. I'll have to add him to my "Good Librarians" page along with Jessamyn West, who's already there with others.

That's right, LISNews has dedicated a podcast to Judith Krug, then went on to define censorship accurately in a manner that total refutes Judith Krug's life work to mislead people about censorship. (She even made racist statements when parents in Howell, MI, who attempted to keep public school children from reading school books containing bestiality.) An "inference of intended suppression" is twisted by the ALA into "censorship" in a effort to ensure children retain access to inappropriate material. But the two are "totally different," as Jessamyn West said.

Thank you, LISNews, for justifiably producing a podcast that contains such truth, such delicious irony. By defining censorship accurately as you have, you have struck a silver stake in the heart of Banned Books Week, in the very podcast dedicated to its creator, even while praising her. That is what I mean by the title of this post. Truly outstanding.

For the record, I am sad to hear of Judith Krug's death and particularly her illness. No one will ever replace her at the ALA. I looked forward to speaking with her; she never responded to my emails. I have such respect for her effectiveness in creating and promoting ALA policy vis-a-vis children that I applied to take classes on library law directly from her, among others. I wanted to meet her, to ask questions, to exercise my intellectual freedom. Alas, her Office for Intellectual Freedom refused me access repeatedly in a fashion that illustrates the ALA's hypocrisy perfectly and may have violated court rules. Apparently, some animals are more equal than others. I'll apply again for admittance to those classes, but they just won't be the same without Judith Krug.



  1. Dan thank you for keeping us aware of the other side. To truly be well versed on your position you must always know what your opposition believes.

  2. Who is "us"? What exactly do you "oppose" about not misleading people?

  3. You could find out who Safe Libraries is if you would simply look.

    I agree completely with this post and am encoraged that the real definition of censorship and not some politically correct Chicken-Little catastrophe is being discussed.

    Matt O'Neil MLS

  4. Thank you, mdoneil.

    Apparently, I hit a nerve with this blog post. In addition to the Anonymous comment above and your own about "some politically correct Chicken-Little catastrophe," I have garnered other attention:

    1) "Dan - great article!"

    2) "Must read tour de force. This is a terrific post. Note especially the true definition of 'censorship.'"

    3) "Too funny... I think I dislocated my shoulder after falling out of my chair! Great job."

    4) "LISNews Podcast Disses Judith Krug Unwittingly" April 22, 2009 - 1:05am — SafeLibraries

    Even the ALA got into act:

    5) SUBJECT: [alacoun] those who don't like intellectual freedom

    On Wed, Apr 22, 2009 at 5:55 PM, <> wrote:


    A link to the website of a group who do not agree with intellectual freedom or Judith Krug.

    Carrie Gardner
    At large

    Let me ask some questions. What did Carrie Gardner read that could have possibly been interpreted as my disagreement with intellectual freedom? Does the US Supreme Court, Jessamyn West, Stephen Michael Kellat also disagree with intellectual freedom? Does opposing Judith Krug's apparent racism and false definition of censorship, etc., equate to disagreeing with intellectual freedom?

  5. I must respectfully disagree with most of what is written here. I'll take my free society built for adults. Call filters, and labelling, and censorship, and "age-appropriate content" whatever you like, but don't call it freedom.

    And I will somewhat irreverently say that as soon as you're done hosting storytime, come on down to the strip club for a drink.

  6. Judith Krug stood up courageously for South Africans’ right to information at the 1987 ALA annual conference, when she opposed an ALA resolution that intended to oppose apartheid by promoting censorship by American communications companies, depriving South African students of apartheid-free American texts, children’s books, and even medical data on microfilm that could save black lives as well as white lives. This resolution also advocated limiting American libraries’ access to essential resources when a municipal or county purchasing contract includes books and other such materials from publishers and agencies that did not agree to halt shipments of books to South Africa. The ALA policy forbade such firms from selling or lending their books, journals, and microfilm to public schools and libraries in the USA. Incredibly, the ALA resolution called upon libraries to censor themselves. Nat Hentoff quoted Judith Krug as saying, “How can anyone involved with libraries stand up and go on record and say, ‘We are going to solve problems by withholding information?’”

    Unfortunately, when it came to Cuba’s April 2003 court orders to burn entire private library collections, Dr. Krug refused persistent requests to post this news on her “Book Burning in the 21st Century” web site. Six incidents of destruction of Harry Potter books were listed, along with book burning in India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Canada, Vietnam and the Republic of Georgia, but not one mention has ever been posted about Cuba’s “withholding information” by incinerating such titles at the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and a biography of the American civil rights hero and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Instead, Dr. Krug expressed at the Intellectual Freedom Committee meeting of 22 January 2007 her desire to “drown” issue of the Cuban book burning resulting from confiscations of entire collections – an issue raised perennially by the small group of American librarians who actually take seriously the ALA policy “To promote and support human rights and intellectual freedom worldwide.” Drowning would indeed extinguish the flames of burning pages, but it betrays Cubans who have appealed directly to the ALA for solidarity in exercising their freedom to read.

  7. Thank you so much for providing the links as reference for to your conclusions. I followed those links and listened several times.

    Stephen Michael Kallat states the views expressed are his and do not reflect the opinions of LISNews. ...And.. “listener discretion is encouraged.”

    You exercised your discretion- defined as: the right to decide or act according to one's own judgment. You listened to a broadcast and heard what you wanted to hear, and then perpetuated the fabrication,and crafted a headline worthy of your blog to attract attention.

    You revel in the attention it garnered– Discretion once again is the key word – but an alternate definition : prudence or decorum. Your lack of discretion is what has garnered attention. Those familiar with your organization only debated the length of time you would deem appropriate before you launched your parting shot, Plainly and to the point, your humanity and common decency was what we debated. Nine days after the first press release, eight days after we buried her, you decided the time was right to get back to work. You misjudged,badly.
    You, DAn Kleinman, not LIS dissed Judith Krug, but you did so WITTINGLY.

    No doubt, you are saddened by Judith's death; your target has died. She spoke with hundreds and hundreds of people who disagreed with her.Judith expended her energy wisely.
    For the past several years, her illness left her with less and less energy. I am grateful she chose to spend it with her family, friends, and colleagues.

    Alas, you will need to find a new target. Given the worldwide media attention understanding the significance of her death, the contributions she made to our country, her professional and personal achievement it is safe to say there are many thousands for your choosing.

    Gail Weymouth
    Sherburne Memorial Library
    Killington, VT 05751

  8. Gail Weymouth,

    Thank you for your comments. They were ad hominem in nature and you failed to address any issue substantively.

    But let me be clear I have not disrespected Judith Krug in the slightest. I have pointed out factual information, and you thanked me for providing the links to such information. Are people not supposed make factual observations anymore? Did I say anything that was not backed up? Did Jessamyn West and Mr. Kellat not say what they said? Are the school children in Howell, MI, not still reading bestiality books? Etc.

    You go on about "the length of time you would deem appropriate before you launched your parting shot." "Nine days after the first press release, eight days after we buried her, you decided the time was right to get back to work."

    Well I was aware of Judy's passing before any stories about her passing were available anywhere, courtesy of Wikipedia (17:51, 11 April 2009). I finally commented about her two days later, not nine days later as you claim, on Jessamyn West's excellent blog where I said, April 13th, 2009 at 11:19, "For what she did, she was the best. The new leader of the ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom will not even come close." (Hopefully, Jessamyn will not now delete the comment.)

    Now does that sound bad or disrespectful?

    Then on April 19th, along came the LISTen podcast. It praised Judith Krug while at the same time defining censorship as it truly is, not as the ALA/Judith Krug uses it to help push inappropriate material on children. I saw that odd juxtaposition at that time and I wrote about it. It necessarily involved Krug and it was not the first time I wrote about her after her death. I will continue to write about Krug again and again as more victims continue to pile up, like the one I was speaking with today.

    Your comments are false and will not be effective in getting people not to focus on Krug's contributions to the ALA's turn from protecting children toward the current "anything goes" policy.

    If anything dissed Judith Krug, it was her "biggest disappointment in life," the US Supreme Court in US v. ALA:

    "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."

  9. Thank you for your comments. They were ad hominem in nature and you failed to address any issue substantively.That has to be the funniest juxtaposition of sentences ever in the history of library blogging.

  10. Well, Chris O., I do try to thank everyone for commenting here, except for spam messages like those with tons of links. I remove those.

    And thank you for commenting, Chris O.

    Yes, it may have been a funny juxtaposition, but I like better another comment I wrote today in response to a blogger named "Angie":

    Angie, Angie, when will those clouds all disappear?

    You make conclusions based on scattered facts. You say (in the post you removed for obvious reasons with which I agree), "I find the truth usually lies somewhere in the middle," yet you assume the mother is wrong and the school is right.

    Let me whisper in your ear:
    Angie, Angie, where will it lead us from here?
    I hate that sadness in your eyes.
    But Angie, Angie, ain't it time we said good-bye?

  11. For anyone interested, this is what Gail Weymouth, who was so mistaken above, said about Judith Krug:

    "Judith Krug - Librarian, Hero, Mentor, Friend, by Gail Weymouth, Vermont Library Association, 22 April 2009.


Comments of a personal nature, trolling, and linkspam may be removed.