Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Annoyed Librarian Rips ALA for Banned Books Week "Nonsense" and for an "Incoherent and Self-Serving" Definition of Censorship

The Library Journal's blogger named the "Annoyed Librarian" has ripped the American Library Association [ALA] for the "nonsense" going on this week called "Banned Books Week." (Remember, Thomas Sowell calls it "National Hogwash Week.")

And censorship? The ALA has an "incoherent and self-serving" definition of the word, says the Annoyed Librarian. "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."

Read this right now! I've written about the Annoyed Librarian before, and this story is just more excellence from her. Enjoy:

"Celebrate 'Banned' Books Week!," by Annoyed Librarian, Library Journal, 30 September 2009.

As Dan Gerstein has 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."

Stifle free speech? The ALA does that. Let someone merely complain about a book, and that person is shouted down as a "censor." People are allowed to object. Libraries have policies in place to handle such objections. All final decisions come from the library. The library is presumably acting appropriately. It is simply wrong to attack people for filing objections in the manner libraries provide for filing those objections.

Okay, so some get the attention of the press. Hey, it's a free country. Free speech advocates are not suggesting people should self-censor, are they? It appears to me that the ALA argues people should be shut up or should decide to shut themselves up on their own. As former 40-year ALA leader Judith Krug said, "'What we're dealing with is a minority of people who are very vocal....' 'These people are small in number but they start screeching, and people start getting concerned.'"

There's the harm. The ALA attacking parents for "screeching" and "censoring" in an apparent effort to embarrass them into self-censoring themselves. It's a propaganda technique called jamming. Don't let the jamming stop you. Don't let Banned Books Week fool you.

We often hear, "Is it within the rights of one parent to demand that the other not be allowed to expose their children to certain ideas or issues?" No, but it's a straw man argument; that's not what is happening. Libraries make the final decisions. I have never heard of "screeching parents" making decisions in libraries. Have you?



  1. You tell us the ALA's definition of censorship is "incoherent and self-serving," but don't say how. What definition do they use, and what's wrong with it?

    What definition of censorship are you using?! You say it's censorship for the ALA to cry censorship when people try to censor. Stating facts is not censorship.

    But one thing that clearly, unequivocally, IS censorship is when one parent tries to tell another parent what their children can or should read. How can you say "That's not what is happening"?! That's EXACTLY what is happening in West Bend and Leesburg and scores of other places. It isn't enough for those book challengers to decide what their own children can read. They want the library to remove books or limit access to books that clearly fall within constitutionally protected Free Speech. That's not a personal choice, it's the infliction of personal opinions on others.

    That is not an "incoherent and self-serving" definition of censorship. It is THE definition of censorship.

    In your final paragraph, you seem to say that this isn't censorship because the library makes the final decision, not the complaining parents. HOW does that make the censorship something other than censorship? The library is bowing to the parental demand for censorship? The parents are only DEMANDING censorship. If the library implements it, the library becomes the REAL censor. As your precious Board v. Pico case makes clear, an arbitrary removal of library materials based on the content of protected speech violates the First Amendment.

  2. ALA is being self-serving? I should hope so. ALA is a professional organization that serves the profession and it's members.

    Who are they supposed to serve? The Freemason? The College of Cardinals? The Utah Jazz?


  3. Dan,

    Is it your opinion that if a book (or whatever) does not appear on a library shelf, then the only explanation for that is censorship? Is that what you would call it?


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  6. Case in point: Maziarka has picked up this post and the Annoyed Librarian post it refers to and is now using them on WISSUP to claim that her position is something (anything) other than censorship.

    If there is any case that demonstrates the crying need for Banned Books week, it is Maziarka, the WBC4SL, and the West Bend Library.


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