Monday, November 30, 2009

Kentucky School Superintendent Exposes False Cries of Censorship; Removes Educationally Unsuitable Books from Curriculum Despite Being on ALA's List for Reluctant Readers

Montgomery County School Superintendent Daniel Freeman is a hero.  He has stood up to false cries of "censorship."  He has put "national anti-censorship groups" in their place (hint, not in Montgomery County High School).  He has acted in the best interests of the children and the local community that pays his salary.  That community ought to give him a public commendation.   Other communities ought to use him as an example of true school leadership.  See: "Book Ruckus Divides Montgomery County Residents," by Jim Warren, Lexington Herald-Leader, 29 November 2009 (404 link removed, try this):

"It's not censorship when you make wise decisions about what can be used in the classroom," parent Cyndi Murphy said.

The challenged books include Twisted, by Laurie Halse Anderson; Deadline, by Chris Crutcher; Lessons from a Dead Girl, by Jo Knowles; and Unwind, by Neal Shusterman.
The titles appeared on suggested book lists compiled by the Young Adult Library Services Association, a division of the American Library Association, for 12- to 18-year-olds who are "reluctant readers."

This is not the first time I've seen the American Library Association's [ALA] recommended books for "reluctant readers" given the heave ho.  For one example, the ALA listed a certain book in "ALA | Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers," and, as a likely result, a librarian ordered that book for hundreds of New York City schools.  Then the parents found out.  See "City's Ed. Boobs," by Carl Campanile, New York Post, Oct. 13, 2003.  That was the end of that. Hundreds of schools removed the ALA-recommended book.

The parents in Kentucky have the right attitude too.  (Hint, consider this for your own communities, especially the "literary quality" of the material in that it is not appropriate for college placement.  In another context, material can be "perhaps not the most literary," as even the ALA has admitted, but that's a separate issue):
Sterling and others note that students in classes where the disputed books were offered could opt out of reading them and select other titles if they chose.

But Nancy Cooper, a parent involved in the protest, contended that in practice many students might hesitate to opt out, even if they found a book objectionable.

"If there is a book and I think my parents won't like it, I'm probably not going to say so because I'm sitting there with my all peers," Cooper said. "You don't want to be the one who is different."

Cooper, who is a teacher, said parents objected, not just to the language and themes in the books, but also to their literary quality. She says she couldn't find any of them on college-bound reading lists.

"The reading levels on these books are fifth-grade and sixth-grade, but we are talking about accelerated, college-bound classes," she said. "It's a matter of what is appropriate in academics.

"We didn't ask for the books to be taken out of the library, or for them to be removed from the book club. We are saying that we think there are more appropriate and better reading materials available for college preparation."


This is what proves the superintendent has a spine and is a hero:
Meanwhile, Freeman, the school superintendent, contends that many who have protested his withdrawal of the books are misinformed.

"They seem to think the books were taken out of the library or that kids aren't allowed to read them, which isn't true," he said.  "I really think some people don't understand what the issue is."

Freeman says that as of now, he has told high school staff and faculty that the challenged books are not part of the approved curriculum, and shouldn't be used in class.

"I wrote the teachers over a month ago and said, 'show me why the books should be in the curriculum and we'll reconsider that decision,"' he said.  "I'm certainly not the world's final authority on what ought to be in a college curriculum.

"But so far I haven't heard a word from anybody about why we should use these books."

Bravo Mr. Freeman!  People who stand up to the "misinformation" are few and far between.  I hope your community recognizes you for the gem you are.

Speaking of misinformation, here are some of those claiming censorship and opposing Mr. Freeman:

Also, the National Coalition Against Censorship [NCAC] is one of the "national anti-censorship groups" to pressure the local community.  See: "Kids' Right to Read Objects to Censorship in Kentucky High School," by Joan Bertin and Chris Finan.  The NCAC promotes pornography usage.  Joan Bertin herself supports censorship of those trying to keep inappropriate material from children, and uses doubles standards and fact changes to support her cause.

The NCAC is authoritative on promoting porn and double standards, not on censorship.  Indeed, the NCAC misinformation conveniently left out Board of Education v. Pico.  "It's not censorship when you make wise decisions about what can be used in the classroom," said parent Cyndi Murphy, and that common sense is the essence of the Pico case from the 1982 US Supreme Court case that Joan Bertin left out.

By the way, teacher Risha Mullins should not be fired.  Neither should she be dropped simply due to this issue.  She sounds like an excellent teacher, based on the various sources I have read.  She could easily follow the new rules while continuing to encourage reading, even with the books removed from the curriculum—no one's censoring or banning anything.  Common sense, no?

I hereby encourage Ms. Mullins to work within the curriculum to continue to promote reading the best she can, then write a story about her experiences doing so.  I am certain her guidance may help many others to meet curricular requirements while encouraging children to read via her innovative means.  If I find out she has written such article, I will update this blog post accordingly.  Brava Ms. Mullins!

NOTE ADDED 30 NOVEMBER 2009:

Author Chris Crutcher is actively involved in this matter.  I thank him for adding a link to my blog post on his own web site.  I'm with select company there, as shown below, so I can only assume he feels I have said something of value.  Might it have been my support for the teacher Risha Mullins and her work to promote reading, including the challenged material?  Please visit "Deadline Banned?" and see what he has to say on this and other matters.  I have always supported authors, so truly, thank you, Chris Crutcher:

NOTE ADDED 3 OCTOBER 2010:

Risha Mullins has written extensively about her experience and critically about this SafeLibraries blog post here: "Censorship at its Finest: Remembering," by Risha Mullins, For the Love of YA (Review & Author Interviews), 2 October 2010.

Here is how I responded in a comment on her blog post:

Risha Mullins said, "A patronizing post on Safe Libraries blog (which now follows my blog) heralded my superintendent as a hero while characterizing me as a misguided teacher with good intentions who didn’t know how to follow the rules: http://safelibraries.blogspot.com/2009/11/kentucky-school-superintendent-exposes.html"

Ms. Mullins, thank you for linking to me and recognizing the blog post and particularly the comments are particularly interesting.

Based on what you said, I reread my own post to be sure I did not say what you said I said. Yes, the superintendent is a hero in a time where people are expected to bow down low and immediately to the American Library Association, the National Coalition Against Censorship, the ACLU, and other external pressure groups.

But I did not see anything negative about you. I did not say or even imply you were "misguided." I did not say or even imply you don't know how to follow rules, rather I said you could easily follow new rules and should not be fired.

So I said quite the opposite, and at a time when people who supported the superintendent were opposing you. Instead, I supported both of you. As far as I know, I was the only one doing so. Indeed, that's likely why so many interesting people directly involved in the issue responded to my post. Specifically, I said:

"By the way, teacher Risha Mullins should not be fired. Neither should she be dropped simply due to this issue. She sounds like an excellent teacher, based on the various sources I have read. She could easily follow the new rules while continuing to encourage reading, even with the books removed from the curriculum—no one's censoring or banning anything. Common sense, no?

"I hereby encourage Ms. Mullins to work within the curriculum to continue to promote reading the best she can, then write a story about her experiences doing so. I am certain her guidance may help many others to meet curricular requirements while encouraging children to read via her innovative means. If I find out she has written such article, I will update this blog post accordingly. Brava Ms. Mullins!"

I must say, Ms. Mullins, I have supported you. I will continue to support you. I would appreciate it if you would somehow correct the record where you said I said things that I neither said nor implied. I would really appreciate that. Thank you very much.


NOTE ADDED 5 OCTOBER 2010:

Shockingly, Risha Mullins has self-censored her own blog post!  See: "Censorship at its Finest: Remembering," by Risha MullinsFor the Love of YA (Review & Author Interviews), 2 October 2010, Version 2.  It now contains nothing of the original version.  However, the original post has been intentionally republished here: "Censorship At its Finest: One Teachers Story on How Ignorant Parents are Destroying Quality Education," by treeonthehill, Reddit, 5 October 2010.


NOTE #2 ADDED 5 OCTOBER 2010:

Now Risha Mullins has deleted the entire blog post!  It's gone!  Sad!

Here we have a teacher who was extremely promising and willing to really educate children.  She has suffered an ordeal so bad that she can't even feel free to leave what she wrote about it online.  I urged her to write about her experiences the first time I wrote about her.  Now that she has and she has removed it, I feel even more sadness for her.

Contrast such an excellent, caring teacher with a teacher/librarian in New Jersey who has expressly refused to perform the duties for which she was hired.  Instead, this teacher, Dee Venuto, has decided certain books are so filled with inappropriate material that she can't read them but lets her students read them and decide if they are appropriate!  See for yourself at "School Media Specialist Passes Sexual Content Review to Students; Dee Venuto Says It Is Discrimination to Keep Children From Material Including Lengthy, Vivid Descriptions of a MĂ©nage a Trois," by Dan Kleinman, SafeLibraries, 18 August 2010.


NOTE ADDED 6 OCTOBER 2010:

Risha Mullins has explained her self-censorship in her newest blog post, "This is Not Me Backing Down," by Risha MullinsFor the Love of YA (Review & Author Interviews), 5 October 2010.

Quoting her, "I removed my blog in protest to the hostile, hate-filled rhetoric being sent to my former administration and colleagues in my name. [L]et me beg of you to stop this harassment."

It has been my experience that the free speech advocates are the meanest of the mean bent on pure harassment to shut down the few voices that are not cowed into speaking like them or shutting up.  What Risha Mullins has said is brave yet again since she is a free speech advocate, but one who speaks the truth about the viciousness of those who claim to be for free speech.

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."

Thank you, Risha Mullins, for making that point crystal clear.

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Friday, November 27, 2009

NCAC Supports Censorship with Double Standards and Made Up Facts

The National Coalition Against Censorship [NCAC] does not oppose the censorship of people attempting to protect children from harm.  It even makes up facts to avoid the obvious double standards.  When I directly challenged the NCAC to explain, its statements only worsened the situation, then it refused to budge.  See for yourself on the NCAC's blog post and associated comments here: "Kudos to a Courageous Kentucky Librarian," by Joan Bertin, Executive Director, Blogging Censorship, 17 November 2009.  All the relevant information is there, so I won't reprint it here.

The name of the NCAC blog is "Blogging Censorship."  Now you know why.

Let me add that I asked my own local library board why the public would not be allowed to talk at a public meeting without first having to announce in advance what one wanted to discuss.  Maybe I was missing something.  The board members said they never heard of such a thing.  Indeed, I am able to ask them anything I want without first registering my topic ahead of time.

By the way, the NCAC is the same group that promotes the use of pornography ("NCAC Promotes Porn; Says Keeping Inappropriate Material From Children is Censorship; It Has Lost All Credibility") while at the same time advising communities like Leesburg, FL, and West Bend, WI, why keeping children from inappropriate material is censorship.  It even has a "Book Censorship Toolkit" for public schools and a "First Amendment in Schools: Resource Guide."

So an organization that makes up facts to support the censorship of those trying to protect children claims it is censorship to keep children from inappropriate material.  It wants people to think it should be authoritative on censorship in local communities.

I thought you might want to know, just in case the NCAC and Joan Bertin come calling in your community.

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Chatting Up Child Victims in Montpelier, VT, Courtesy of ALA Policy Controlling Yet Another Community's Public Library; Parole Board Should Consider Library Complicity

Oh look.  A child predator who went to jail for a few months of his 3-4 year sentence for "attempting to lure a minor and possessing child pornography" used Yahoo Messenger on a public library computer to lure his next child victim.   This was at the Kellogg-Hubbard Library in lovely Montpelier, VT.  The library's reaction?  He hogged the computers:  "The librarian stated that [the man] had been in the library frequently and that he has been monopolizing the computer several times a day in violation of the library’s own policies."  See "Man Denied Bail for Violating Conditions of Probation," by Jaime Cone, Brattleboro Reformer, 26 November 2009.

Why might this have happened?  "In 1997 the Board adopted an Internet Policy recommended by the American Library Association."  Uh oh.  The library adopted the ALA-recommended policy.  Clue one something is wrong.  Oh, that's right, the ALA does not control local community libraries, we're supposed to believe.  Nevermind.

Clue two something is wrong:

Internet Access
The Internet, a world-wide network of computer networks is an essential medium for obtaining and transmitting information of all types.  Therefore, public access to the Internet is germane to the Library's mission.

However, the Internet is an unregulated medium.  It also provides access to information that is inaccurate, illegal or that some may find offensive or disturbing.  The Library will identify on its web site specific Internet sites that have potential interest for Library users.  But the Library cannot control a user's access to other Internet resources.

That is flat out false.  The library can and may control a user's access to the Internet, it just refuses to do so because the ALA has directed how the library will act, according to the library's own admission.  It's right there in black and white.

The perp said he was "incredibly dishonest and manipulative about this stuff."  Perhaps it's the library itself that has been incredibly dishonest and manipulative.  

I think a better title for the media report would have been "ALA Policy Controlling Public Library Endangers More Children; Kellogg-Hubbard Library Falsely Claims It Cannot Control Internet Usage," by Jaime Cone, Brattleboro Reformer, 26 November 2009.

The perp has a violation of parole meeting coming up.  I suggest he argue that the library is partially at fault for refusing to take action that may have prevented his behavior in the first place.  I suggest the parole board consider the library to be under the control of a foreign entity, the ALA, and that control made it an "attractive nuisance" that the perp could not resist and that endangers children.
Will the local community allow this to remain another sad statistic, or will it do what it must to protect its children by kicking out the anything-goes policy of the ALA in the public library?   Is it the public's library or the ALA's library?   Ask the ex-con with the duct tape, camera, and the variety of alcohol found in his car in lovely Montpelier, VT.

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Wrestling in the Boone County Public Library; Acceptable Use Policies Shown Ineffective Again

I'm wrestling with this one. Here is a story involving the Boone County Public Library in Burlington, KY:

"Library Patron Arrested For Indecent Exposure," by Jessica Noll, WCPO HD9, 18 November 2009, link added by me:

A witness informed a police officer at the Boone County Library that there was a man on a computer masturbating watching a wrestling video.

The "Library Computer Access Policy" includes, "Users may not use any library computer for illegal purposes."  "Individuals should use the Internet in a courteous, reasonable, and responsible manner."  The person arrested "for 2nd degree indecent exposure and disorderly conduct" evidently did not follow this policy.  Is this yet another example showing acceptable use policies are useless?

Could any library policy or content control software have possibly stopped what happened?

Does anyone have any ideas on what could possibly have been done to prevent this?

Hat tip: "Man Arrested For Masturbating in Public Library," by wendyista.blogspot.com, Wendyista, 25 November 2009.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Global Warmism and Banned Books Week Have a Lot in Common

Anthropogenic global warming and Banned Books Week [BBW] have a lot in common.  Here are some headlines to decide for yourselves if you see any similarities.  (Other than the tombstone graphics, that is!  The first one hat tip to Climate Depot.)

Consider these headlines from Drudge Report:
Consider these headlines from the Wall Street Journal:

Now consider these writings on Banned Books Week:
Did you see any similarities?  Comment below to tell everyone what you saw.

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

It's Not Censorship, It's Parenting! -- Best Explanation Ever for What's Wrong With the American Library Association and its Effect on Public School Libraries

Below is the best explanation ever for what is wrong with the American Library Association [ALA] and its effect on public school libraries. It provides further evidence why Banned Books Week is a fraud (some call it "National Hogwash Week").  It corroborates many resources I have provided, such as what Naomi Wolf and others have said about recent trends in young adult literature.

READ THIS CAREFULLY, SLOWLY, AND ABSORB IT, LET IT SINK IN, BOOKMARK IT, and consider forwarding this article to others then acting accordingly within your own communities. Every PTA member should see this, indeed the entire community may be interested.

No more will the ALA propaganda fool you since you will be aware of its tactics and informed of the truth:

"It's Not Censorship, It's Parenting! Removing Books That are Inappropriate For Our Kids is Not the Same as Banning Books," by Erin Manning, MercatorNet.com, 18 November 2009, reprinted with permission:

It’s Not Censorship, It’s Parenting!

Removing books that are inappropriate for our kids is not the same as banning books.

During the last week of September every year, the American Library Association holds what it calls "Banned Book Week." The purpose of this week, the ALA says, is to highlight "...the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States."

It sounds like a noble endeavour, right? In this day and age I think it would be hard to find people who would actively support the notion of outright censorship. Yet we know that at other times and in different kinds of regimes around the world this dedication to free speech has not always been the rule. Keeping the principle of free speech safe requires vigilance; if people in America really were seeking to ban books--to forbid their printing or sale, for instance--it would be important to focus on their efforts and to raise awareness about them.

But that kind of "banning" isn't what the ALA is talking about at all.

In fact, according to their website, the ALA's Banned Book Week is really called "Banned and Challenged Book Week.["] A "challenge" to a book occurs when someone objects to some of the content of a book, and, most of the time, asks that the book be removed from children's access. Parents were responsible for 57% of such challenges between 1990 and 2008, and an astonishing 70% of the challenges involved books that were either in a school classroom or a school library. Moreover, nearly a third of challenges made to all books (including books aimed at adults) were made because the challengers found the materials to be too sexually explicit.

Now, if the vast majority of challenges to books involve parents, centre around books available in schools, and deal with such issues as sexual explicitness, offensive language, or the unsuitability of the books for a specific age group, then I think we're no longer talking about book-banning or censorship. I think we're talking about parenting.

The attitude of the ALA is that a parent only has the right to censor or control what his own children read. He doesn't have the right to request the removal from the school library or classroom shelf those books which he finds obscene or dangerous to morality, because someone else might prefer for his children to read those books. The school alone has the final say in what books are appropriate for the children under its care to read, and if a child reads at school a book or books which his parents absolutely forbid at home--well, then, perhaps the parents' values are too narrow and restrictive to begin with.

Here's the dilemma for parents, though--there was a time when we could trust schools and libraries to support, for the most part, the same values we ourselves held, and to abide by community standards of morality and decency. There was a time when it would have been just as unthinkable to the librarian or the school teacher as to a parent that a book for children would have contained the following things:
  • --Graphic language about sex, drinking, drugs; laced with profanity and written in "chat speak" (TTYL by Lauren Myracle)
  • --Violence, implied sex, anti-religious and anti-Christian messages throughout; God is literally killed (His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman)
  • --Prostitution, witchcraft, voodoo, devil worship (Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya)
  • --Homosexuality, drugs, suicide, sex, nudity (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky)
  • --Sex, drugs, alcohol, eating disorders, profanity, smoking (Gossip Girl series by Cecily von Ziegesar)
These are some of the objectionable content found in just five of the ten most frequently challenged books for 2008. Given that most challengers are parents and most challenges involve books in school libraries or school classrooms, I'd be much more worried about society if books like these were never questioned at all.

Many of the challenges to these books are due to their presence on middle school bookshelves (or even in class assignments); middle school students can be as young as eleven years old. And yet the ALA views parental challenges to these books as being somehow akin to book-burnings and government censorship, as if there were no legitimate reason why a group of parents might not want their children reading novels in which gratuitous and explicit sex, violence, drug use, and the like were major elements of the story.

The fact is, there are plenty of good reasons to object to books with these content elements in them, especially when such young children are the ones who have access to these books. Even if the works rose to great literary heights parents would not be out of line to ask that they be moved from the middle school library; but most of these books are not, frankly, works of much merit at all. They are the fiction equivalent of mindless TV programs, complete with pandering, fantasy, commercialised writing, and shock value in place of decent storytelling, a well-developed plot, interesting and three-dimensional characters, and some idea of consequences for actions.

To put it bluntly, the ALA puts itself in the position of defending lousy, substandard, second-rate writing that would probably not even be published in the first place, were it not for the insatiable appetite for inappropriate content usually euphemised as "dark"or "edgy" by the sort of pre-teen who thinks angsty, brooding, sparkly vampires are a good idea. And they cast parents in the role of villains, as if their well-founded concerns about the content and merit of these books were on a par with Nazi book-burning efforts.

It is clear that in many instances the library and the school, as political entities, no longer share the cultural values of the vast majority of parents. We are living through a time of cultural divide--and whether you think it's a good or a terrible idea for novels aimed at eleven-year-olds to contain sex and violence -- is largely going to depend which side of that divide you and your family is on.

Because we no longer live in a world where it would be unthinkable for an authority figure to give a child a book in which depictions of sex, violence, drug use, profanity and the like are major elements, it is no longer safe to delegate the choice of reading material for our children to such entities as the school teacher or school librarian. Because we no longer live in a time where giving a child a book like that would be considered either child sexual abuse or contributing to the delinquency of a minor, but instead is supported with smiling approval by the moral midgets at the ALA, parents have to be more vigilant than ever. Because we no longer live in an era where we can trust the authority figures in our children's lives to share our values and foster the same view of morality and decency which we ourselves have, we can't afford to let our children read whatever trashy novel they pick up at school.

It isn't censorship, to teach our children that they can't trust their teachers or librarians to give them good, wholesome books. It's just the fallout from our fractured culture, which insists on calling evil, good--and then handing it to children.  

Erin Manning is writer living in Fort Worth, Texas. She blogs at And Sometimes Tea.

Copyright © Erin Manning. Published by MercatorNet.com. Republished by SafeLibraries.org with permission. You may download and print extracts from this article for your own personal and non-commercial use only.


NOTE ADDED 26 APRIL 2011:

See also, "Most Oppose Explicit Books in Public Schools Says Harris Poll."


NOTE ADDED 6 JUNE 2011:

This blog post was cited approvingly here:
See also:
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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Editorial Supports Family Friendly Libraries in Greensboro, NC, and Bandwidth Shapers Help

This editorial from the Greensboro, NC, News & Record is outstanding in its support for common sense and family friendly libraries:

"Editorial: Libraries Versus Porn," by Editorial Board, News & Record, 19 November 2009, emphasis mine:

Still, the library keeps searching for a happier medium and may have found one. Called a "bandwidth shaper," the device essentially makes viewing porn much more difficult by slowing the flow of information from certain sources to the point that it becomes excruciating.

Like a filter, the bandwidth shaper can misread a valid source as Internet porn. Further, librarians tend to defend the First Amendment as fiercely as newspaper people.

But there have to be reasonable limits. The library rightly has promoted the bandwidth shaper from pilot project to standard procedure. The occasional burps in that technology are a small price to pay for family-friendly libraries.

Look at that! "Reasonable limits"! "Family-friendly libraries"! What a concept! Remember, the American Library Association's [ALA] former 40 year de facto leader said, regarding Playboy magazine available to children in the Oak Lawn Public Library, "I get very concerned when we start hearing people who want to convert this country into a safe place for children."  "Parents who would tell their children not to read Playboy 'don't really care about their kids growing up and learning to think and explore.'" Hey Greensboro, the ALA is "very concerned" you want family friendly libraries!!!

Even better, it is a pleasure to see yet another editorial (example) that states common sense instead of spouting the usual misinformation.

Perhaps the Greensboro libraries are under local control instead of ALA control!  May the citizens, the government, the library, and the media continue to work together to keep it that way.

For more on the bandwidth shaper, see my previous blog post, "Bandwidth Shaper Slows Porn in Greensboro Public Library; Parents Had Stopped Taking Kids to Library; Acceptable Use Policies Do Not Work; List of Articles on Getting Porn Out of Libraries."

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Friday, November 20, 2009

School Librarian Banned in Vermont for Inappropriate Computer Use

A preK-12 school librarian has been banned from all Vermont schools for inappropriate use of the Internet.  There was an acceptable use policy in place, but they never really work, obviously.  I cannot say much more as the facts of the offense are not being disclosed for "privacy" reasons.  But I present this FYI:

"Former Librarian Banned from Work in Vt. Schools," by Cristina Kumka, The Barre Montpelier Times Argus, 20 November 2009.

Hat tip: Library Stuff.

See also, "On the Internet at Work? Stay 'Appropriate,'" by birdie, LISNews, 20 November 2009.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cert Denied: Vamos a Cuba; Cuban-Americans Lead Way for Districts to Back Parents Rights Against ALA/ACLU False Claims of Banning and Censorship

The US Supreme Court has just denied certiorari in the matter of ACLU of FL v. Miami-Dade County School Board 08-1564.  Here is the news:
  • "Supreme Court: Miami School Can Ban Book on Cuba," by Warren Richey, The Christian Science Monitor, 16 November 2009.
  • "Supreme Court Turns Down Cuban Book Case," by Kathleen McGrory, The Miami Herald, 16 November 2009.
  • "Supreme Court Will Not Hear Book Banning Case," by Jasmine Kripalani, WFOR-TV CBS4, 16 November 2009.

From The Christian Science Monitor:
School board members in Miami have won their battle to remove a children's book from the shelves of Miami-Dade school libraries because they said the book presented an inaccurate picture of life in Cuba.
On Monday, the US Supreme Court declined to take up the case of "Vamos a Cuba" – the little book that sparked a big controversy over alleged censorship in Miami.
The action lets stand a 2-1 ruling by the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals that the school board's decision to remove the book was not censorship in violation of the First Amendment. Instead, the Atlanta-based appeals court said the school board was seeking to remove the book because it contained substantial factual inaccuracies.

The ALA Opposes Local Communities

Who was fighting that "battle" with the local community?  The American Library Association [ALA], of course, besides the ACLU.  The ALA had submitted a brief in support of the ACLU's efforts to oppose the local community.  I wrote about this in "Humberto Fontova, the Media's 'Book Banning' Claims, and the ALA's Opposition to the 'Right to Apply Accuracy' in Public Schools," 17 February 2009.  It amazes me that the ALA, an organization devoted to libraries, would actually oppose local communities and oppose the "right to apply accuracy" in public schools, but it has and it does and it will in your community.


Effects of Freedom from ALA/ACLU Influence

Look how happy is the community that is freed from the influence of groups like and including the ALA—this from The Miami Herald:
Board member Perla Tabares Hantman, who supported removing the book from school libraries, said she was pleased by the news.

"We were right and we prevailed," Hantman said. "This is a great victory for the School Board and for Cuban-Americans."

Humberto Fontova said in a comment to "No 'Vamos a Cuba,'" by George Moneo, BabalĂș, 16 November 2009:
WHAT??????!!!!!

You mean Cuban-American parents have the same rights as all other American parents?!

To wit:

According to the American Library Association, over the past two decades, EVERY SINGLE YEAR sees between 400 and 600 such schoolbook protests in the U.S., much of it over material considered "racially insensitive," as when "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" was yanked from an Illinois school library.

In brief, attempted "book bannings'" identical to the one in Miami-Dade, have occurred at a rate of over one a day for the last two and half decades, from sea to shining sea. In most of these incidents the ACLU and the mainstream media have been conspicuously mum.

more here:

http://archive.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2006/7/10/171741.shtml

And this from "Court Won't Get Involved in Book Banning Case," by Laura Wides-Munoz and Jesse J. Holland, Florida AP, 16 November 2009:
Frank Bolanos, a former Miami-Dade school board chair who championed efforts to remove the book, said he was pleased.

"I support the author's right to publish the book as incomplete and defective as it may be," he said, "but we're simply not required to pay for it with taxpayers dollars," he said, although the district already spent money to buy the book. Bolanos said the case sets precedent for districts to back parents' rights in future cases.

ALA Threatened by Case that Sets Precedent for Parental Rights

And there is the biggest threat to the ALA: not only was there no book "banning" or "censorship," like the ALA constantly claims, but "the case sets precedent for districts to back parents' rights in future cases."

One more time, so communities can shake the ALA propaganda out of their heads:

"The case sets precedent for districts to back parents' rights in future cases."


Smell the Fear as the ACLU Senses Losing Censorship Propaganda War

Those opposing local control know this is a bad one for them.  Smell the fear from the CBS4 story:
The decision shocked the ACLU and its leaders.

"It is a sad day for free speech in our great nation," said JoNel Newman, ACLU of Florida Cooperating Counsel. "This is a dangerous precedent, and a huge leap backwards in the battle against censorship. The aftershocks may be felt in public school libraries across the country. "
"Dangerous"?  What, that local communities should control local libraries, not the ALA or the ACLU?  That ACLU lawsuits can be empty threats?  The US Supreme Court denied certiorari on an appellate case that found no censorship, and the ACLU is still crying out about the "battle against censorship"?  Maybe what's dangerous is still thinking the ALA/ACLU are authoritative.


Thank You, Cuban-Americans, for Leading the Way for Parents Rights

Cuban-Americans, you have led the way for districts to back parents against ALA/ACLU false claims of banning and censorship.  Thank you!  As Frank Bolanos said, "Censorship occurs when government refuses to allow people to purchase material, not when it refuses to provide that material at no charge."

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Bandwidth Shaper Slows Porn in Greensboro Public Library; Parents Had Stopped Taking Kids to Library; Acceptable Use Policies Do Not Work; List of Articles on Getting Porn Out of Libraries


Another library acts to stop porn viewing!  Look at this innovative approach, called bandwidth shaping, in the Greensboro Public Library in Greensboro, NC, using a device by Cymphonix:
A device called a "bandwidth shaper" is designed to identify Web sites by categories — including pornography — and allow the library to slow down access.
When the device finds a computer streaming video from a porn site, the bandwidth is slowed to 1 kilobit per second — slower than old-fashioned dial-up — which would cause the screen to give an error or timed-out message.
"It's not filtering it," said Tommy Joseph, manager of technology and reference at the library. "It's discouraging it."
Source: "Library Computer Users Viewing Porn Anger Parents," by Lorraine Ahearn, News & Record, 15 November 2009, emphasis added.

It's not filtering, it's "discouraging"!  I love that!



And again we see "acceptable use policies" do not work to stop porn viewing:
Internet porn viewing is a hot enough issue on the library system's 227 public computers that the city this year quietly purchased a device that identifies porn sites and makes them load so slowly that they are difficult to view.

At Central Library between January and July, security guards caught 89 card-carrying patrons viewing pornography on the computers. Most of the patrons caught viewing porn at the Central Library would have received an initial warning that they were violating the library's "acceptable computer use" agreement.

Greensboro Public Library, tell us more!  Get the message out to other libraries so they too can try the "bandwidth shaper," "the $8,000 Cymphonix bandwidth management system now in place"!

Meantime, I'll get the message out that libraries can successfully remove porn (although Greensboro Library Director Sandy Neerman says filters do not work, but she does admit libraries should consider community standards: "It’s an institution, but also, what is the community standard, and what are they willing to support? It’s a balance you’re weighing all the time."):

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Public Breaks Into Applause for Library Board that Unanimously Voted for Internet Filters to Stop Porn Viewing in Public Library

Another library has added Internet filters to stop porn viewing.  With the constant message from the American Library Association [ALA] that Internet filters do not work, will never work 100%, filter out breast cancer, and generally violate people's First Amendment rights, I thought I would point out that not all libraries are taken in by those false messages.  Here's the latest to see through the ALA's misdirection:

by Michael Peterson,
The Argus-Press,
13 November 2009.

The public, hearing the unanimous decision of the library to add Internet filters, broke into applause.  They broke into applause!  A local community gets to protect children legally in their own public library and they break into applause!

The Shiawassee District Library Board adopted a revised Internet policy Wednesday night that requires filtering on the organization's public computers, closing the book on a nearly six-month controversy on how the SDL should handle online content.

After the policy was unanimously passed by the Board, many of the residents who packed into the downstairs children's library portion of the Owosso branch broke into applause.

I've written before on this community in "7-1 Vote FOR Internet Filters in Owosso, MI," 4 July 2009.

Read the Argus-Press article carefully.  See that the filters will be disabled temporarily upon request.  This is perfect under the law called CIPA.

Then, the community takes another welcome departure from the ALA.  The ALA says you have to disable any site and that's it.  CIPA says, and now Shiawassee District Library says, that even after the filters are disabled, if the computers are then used in a manner that essentially violates the spirit of the policy, such as by viewing obscenity, the filters will be reapplied.  Fabulous!

Patrons also may request a particular site be unblocked, but only if the site does not include “obscene or sexually explicit material.” A site will be reviewed for content before it is permanently unblocked from the filter.

If a patron violates the policy, library officials may terminate or limit that person's computer or Internet access; dismiss the patron from the premises; or suspend the person's access to library facilities for a set period of time. The library also reserves the right to contact the local police if necessary.

"Contact the local police"!  Fabulous!  Another departure from the ALA or the rules set by its local acolytes!  For example, see my blog posts:

Will citizens in your community break into applause when they too get to legally protect their own children despite the heavy pressure and misinformation from the ALA?  Let Owosso, MI, be your guide!

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

NCAC Promotes Porn; Says Keeping Inappropriate Material From Children is Censorship; It Has Lost All Credibility

The National Coalition Against Censorship [NCAC] is promoting pornography. Literally, promoting porn. Colored ribbons, contacting elected representatives, thanking porn purveyors, sending money to the ACLU, everything.

This is the very same organization that writes to communities nationwide to convince them not to legally protect children from inappropriate material, like in Leesburg, FL, or West Bend, WI, etc. It even has a "Book Censorship Toolkit" for public schools and a "First Amendment in Schools: Resource Guide."

"[P]orn is NOT connected with ... child molestation...." And the NCAC wants to be considered a legitimate resource? What a disgrace.

When the NCAC comes into your town to tell your leaders how not to protect your children, you'll know what to do after reading this:

"Plaid Ribbons for Pornography Awareness,"
by National Coalition Against Censorship,
Blogging Censorship,
30 October 2009.

Kids' Right to Read Project? Sponsored in part by the NCAC? That must be a joke. As Judith Krug of the American Library Association said, "Parents who would tell their children not to read Playboy 'don't really care about their kids growing up and learning to think and explore.'"

Unless this porn promotion is a joke, the NCAC has clearly lost all credibility.

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Monday, November 9, 2009

ALA Controls Nicholasville, KY; Freedom of Speech Denied by Library; Library Director Says Kids Have First Amendment Right to Inappropriate Material

How many times has SafeLibraries pointed out how the American Library Association [ALA] controls local libraries? Well, here's an article that proves it and details how it's done: "Child Protection or Censorship? Library Employees Lose Jobs Over Book," by Amy Wilson, Lexington Herald-Leader, 8 November 2009.

First, let me set up the story (that I first presented in "Librarians Fired for Not Pornifying Child").

A library in Nicholasville, KY, has material that is inappropriate for children. All libraries do. This is not a problem. A library worker then sees that an 11 year old has placed a hold on some material she decided long ago is inappropriate for children. Whether or not she is correct is irrelevant. So she and another library worker delete the child's hold on the book. The very next day, both are fired by the library director at the behest of the library board.

The fired employees then act to prevent children from accessing inappropriate material in their own library. They and dozens of supporters go to the next library board meeting to express their views. But the library board refuses to hear any of them, saying they were not on the agenda.

Firing the two employees the day after the supposed offense was not on the agenda either, but that was done overnight. On the other hand, dozens of citizens show up at a library board meeting to discuss the firings and what can be done to protect children and they are all told they may not speak because they are not on the agenda. To me, that is a double standard—the firings were done overnight by the library board, but that same board refused to listen to anyone at a public meeting with the thinly-veiled excuse that it was not on the agenda. Are libraries supposed to be bastions of free speech or does free speech have to be on the agenda?

It gets worse. The library actually refuses to comply with the citizens. Why? It has accepted the ALA's so-called "Library Bill of Rights" as its guiding principles. Not what people want, not adherence to local law. No, it follows the ALA.

That "Library Bill of Rights" was once a worthy document. Then "age" discrimination was added to the document. Its inclusion was affirmed years later. Now it is considered a violation for a librarian to keep inappropriate material from children.

So you have a community that wants to protect children from inappropriate material, and you have a library that wants to ensure children retain access to that same inappropriate material. In that battle, guess who wins? The ALA. The children lose.

How does the ALA win? They have a huge organization called the "Office for Intellectual Freedom" that propagandizes the public with false information to convince librarians, library employees, and the people generally that the First Amendment requires communities to toss aside all common sense or adherence to local laws and interests. The ALA points out that preventing access to information is illegal. It may be, but that is not the issue. Inappropriate material for children is not "information," unless anyone considers graphic sexual descriptions of an x-rated nature to be "information." Could anyone imagine our Founder Fathers dying for the right to allow public libraries to make inappropriate material available to children? "Give my child porn, or give me death!"

The ALA also wins by attacking local individuals who oppose ALA policy and anyone who helps them. (Like me.) The local individuals are called "censors" and "book banners." Wait, it is bound to happen if it has not already. Here's the ALA laughing at people like this: "'What we're dealing with is a minority of people who are very vocal,' [Judith] Krug said. 'These people are small in number but they start screeching, and people start getting concerned.'" Source: "Parent Loses Fight to Ban Book; Committee Votes to Keep 'Abduction!' on Library Shelves," by Bao Ong, St. Paul Pioneer Press, 19 May 2006.

Krug. She's the same ALA leader who accused parents of being racist when they attempted to remove a bestiality book from public school, because the author was black.

So the ALA argues that laws covering instances of obscenity and pornography protect libraries, but neither of those are the real issues. The real issue is that a community gets to decide for itself what is appropriate in its own public library, and it need not be forced to leave children exposed to inappropriate material just because the ALA is effective at spreading its propaganda and besmirching local citizens.

Further, many local libraries are created by some legal instrument that may list what the library may or may not do. If the library follows ALA policy and acts outside this local law, the government has full authority to ensure the library acts within the law without breaching the library's veil of autonomy. I urge Nicholasville, KY, residents to find this local law and see if it helps them. (Perhaps post it in a comment below for all to see.)

Here is some truth you will never, not once, hear from the 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." That is from the US Supreme Court case of US v. ALA in 2003. The Court went on to protect children from inappropriate material on the Internet. The ALA would have you believe, however, that US v. ALA is irrelevant and that their own "Library Bill of Rights" somehow trumps the US Supreme Court, local law, community standards, and common sense.

The Nicholasville, KY, community is perfectly within its rights to decide to protect children from inappropriate material in the library. It can see to it that the library policy reflects the community's views and the local law. To the extent it does not, the offending library policy can be excised and removed. If the current library board will not do it, a new board can be appointed that will act in accordance with the community. For example, in West Bend, WI, four library board members were not reappointed after is was clear they were refusing to comply with their own materials reconsideration policy. See "West Bend, WI, Affirms Library Ouster Setting National Example of Local Control Despite Outside Influence." Other remedies are also available.

Now let's get back to that article I linked at the top. Let's look in that article to support the statements I have made.

The following shows the denial of the freedom of speech—keep in mind kids supposedly get access to inappropriate material as a matter of freedom of speech, but those who oppose ALA policies controlling their public library are quite obviously shut down:

On Oct. 21, at its first meeting after the firings, the library board of directors found they needed a policy for public comment. Fifty people showed up unannounced to tell the library what they thought on the board's recent personnel actions.

Also on hand were [Sharon] Cook and [Beth] Boisvert, who had prepared a power-point presentation of their case. It wasn't, they say, about keeping their jobs. It was about the fact that they had thought the book they found on the shelves of the library had originally been a mistake.

And the shock, they say, was that it wasn't. (The book had been bought originally because a patron had requested it.)

The presentation was created to explain that the Jessamine library's collection "currently contains material, readily available on its shelves, that is improper for children to view."

Moreover, they say they wanted to warn the library board that Kentucky law prohibits distribution of pornographic material to a child and they are concerned that the Jessamine library could be in felony violation.

They wanted to offer a plan for resolution: Because the U.S. Supreme Court decided in 1973 that obscenity could be determined by local community standards, Jessamine County citizens should determine what they want their children to have access to.

They wanted to then suggest that the library change its policy on censorship.

Boisvert said she wanted them to know that "because we are a conservative community, we will choose to have our children protected."

Cook and Boisvert were never given the opportunity to speak. Neither was anyone else in the gallery. The reason given: It was not on the agenda.

People left really, really riled.

Director [Ron] Critchfield has repeatedly said the library will not comment on personnel matters. The library, instead, has been left to try to speak through its policies.


Next, this illustrates the double standard, in consideration of the above that the library board would not accept public comment because it was not on the agenda. Well, I am certain an overnight firing by the library board did not get on any agenda either:

On Sept. 22, Cook told two of her colleagues at the library about her dilemma, and Beth Boisvert made a decision. She would take the book off hold, thus disallowing the child — or the child's parents — ever to see the book.

On Sept. 23, both Cook and Boisvert were fired. They were told by library director Ron Critchfield the firings were a decision of the library board.


Now look at this from the article, showing how the library chooses to follow ALA direction instead of local direction. The library director actually intimates that children have a First Amendment right to inappropriate material:

The Jessamine library had, before any complaint, adopted the American Library Association's policy manual and code of ethics as its own. (It is also the policy and code of ethics adopted by the state library association.)

It states: "Expurgation of any parts of books or other library resources by the library, its agent, or its parent institution is a violation of the Library Bill of Rights because it denies access to the complete work, and, therefore, to the entire spectrum of ideas that the work was intended to express."

Further, in the ALA's Code of Ethics: "We distinguish between our personal convictions and professional duties and do not allow our personal beliefs to interfere with fair representations of the aims of our institutions or the provision of access to their information resources."

Critchfield has made a form of public comment: an open letter in the Jessamine Journal. In part, he wrote:

"As customers of a public library there is a First Amendment expectation to respect the rights of all persons — what one person might view as questionable might be quite important and relevant to another."


Exactly what "ideas" does inappropriate material for children express that makes it worth tossing aside local interests and US Supreme Court statements and accepting instead the ALA's point of view? Keep in mind the ALA's policy on children was created on its own and forced into libraries by an ACLU member now with the ALA. The ALA/ACLU controls the Jessamine County Public Library, not the library's patrons and taxpayers?

Oh look, the ALA got directly involved, though in a legitimate, informational fashion:

As to the charge about Cook's concern that the library was in violation of the state obscenity laws?

Deborah Caldwell-Stone, acting director of the ALA's Office of Intellectual Freedom, says no U.S. library employee has ever been charged with that in a situation like this. Most states, including Kentucky, have written in an exclusion provision to that law, barring prosecution of libraries and education and scientific institutions.


Nevermind obscenity is not the issue. We are all supposed to think that since the book does not meet the legal definition of obscenity, the library must shelve it and make it available to children.

Critchfield would not comment on the terminations because they are personnel matters.


Gee, that is not a surprise, given library directors do not discuss:

I suppose the Nicholasville, KY, community can relax knowing it is in good hands with Critchfield and the ALA.

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Molestation in Elementary School Library by Third Grader on Classmate; Librarian Mishandles 8 Year Old Victim's Plea for Help; School Refuses Comment

"Mom Says 3rd Grader Performed Sex Act On Her Son,"
by Kelly Hessedal,
WREG-TV CBS3,
6 November 2009
(and see the video at this site):

FAST FACTS:

* Mom says her son's 3rd grade classmate performed sex act on him
* Alleged incident happened in library, while librarian was there
* District says it can't comment


(Memphis 11/06/2009) Sex in school. And we're not talking about a high school or even middle school. We're talking about an incident that allegedly happened at an elementary school.

The mother of an 8-year-old boy says one of the girls in his third grade class performed a sex act on him in the school library, during school hours.

"It was shocking. I was flabbergasted," said mom Lashonna Lee.

She never expected to have "the talk" with her 3rd grade son this week. But after a 9-year-old female classmate allegedly performed a sex act on him in the school library, she says she had no choice.

She says her son tried to stop it from happening, by raising his hand to get the librarian's attention.

"The teacher told him if he's not telling on himself, don't tell on anyone else," said Lee. "And that's when he put his hand down, and the little girl proceeded to take his private out and proceeded to do what she did."

Lee says the assistant principal called her Wednesday.

"It happened Monday," she said. "I didn't find out until Wednesday so I don't know how he was feeling those two days."

WREG contacted MCS to ask how might something like this have happened in a school library? Between 3rd graders? Under adult supervision?

But all we received was a one-sentence e-mail stating: "We cannot comment specifically on this case due to the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act."

"He was sexually molested at school, forced to have something done to him that he didn't want done," said Lee.

She says the the assistant principal told her the librarian was reprimanded and the girl in question was suspended but she doesn't know for how long. She also says the school refuses to remove her from her son's class.

"I don't know how it's affected him, but I know he's not comfortable in the classroom with her at all," said Lee.

"This has opened my eyes," she added. "These kids are very advanced for some reason, they know about things they shouldn't know about at that age."

Memphis Police say they were called to the school Wednesday but Lee says the District Attorney's Office told her this isn't a criminal matter.

Meanwhile, she'll go to the school board next week asking her son be transferred to a different school. She has an attorney, and says a civil lawsuit could be in the works.
Copyright © 2009, WREG-TV; Reprinted as a Fair Use.

Does anyone else think the American Library Association's [ALA] "anything goes" policy might have something to do with this? I suggest the lawyer investigate the possibility, and I ask the attorney to consider contacting me.

"This has opened my eyes," she added. "These kids are very advanced for some reason, they know about things they shouldn't know about at that age."

For some reason? Might that reason be, at least in part, the ALA? Yes, there are plenty of other cultural influences, but that does not mean the ALA should be ruled out without considering the possibility.

For example, the ALA awarded a book containing oral sex as the best book of the year for kids 12 and up. The book is pervasively vulgar as well. I personally got the author to admit he would not give his own award-winning book to his own 12 year old if he had one.

That is just one aspect of the kind of information that may evidence the ALA's culpability. I look forward to speaking with the attorney to list more.

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