Monday, August 2, 2010

Et tu, Mary Minow? Then Fall, Gail Sweet!

Et tu, Mary Minow?  — Then fall, Gail Sweet!

Respected library law expert Mary Minow, pictured at right, runs the LibraryLaw Blog, is a member of the Obama Administration, and is the daughter of former FCC Chairman Newton Minow noted for his "vast wasteland" speech.  She was recently nominated by President Obama then appointed to the National Museum Library Service Board, an advisory board to the Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.  I have great respect for Mary, even supporting her nomination.  In contrast, I did not support the nomination of Carla D. Hayden, a former American Library Association [ALA] President.

Gail Sweet is the library director of the Burlington County Library System.  She removed a book from her library for failure to meet its book selection policy—a picture from the book is included at right.  For this she has been misrepresented in the media, e.g., "NJ Library, Citing Child Pornography, Removes GLBT Book," by Lauren Barack, School Library Journal, 27 July 2010, and criticized on partisan blogs—what a sin it is to be "active in the tea party movement"—e.g., "NJ Library Removes LGBT Book, Calling It 'Child Pornography,'" by Jim Burroway, Box Turtle Bulletin, 28 July 2010.  The comments are particularly egregious.

Such a reception is not surprising from reporters swimming in media/ACLU/ALA misinformation and not fact checking.  "[D]irect calls to Sweet were not returned."  So you go ahead and publish false information uncritically?  Neither are such practices surprising from partisan blogs and those who comment thereon, but et tu, Mary Minow?

Mary Minow wrote about Gail Sweet, indirectly, at "New Jersey ACLU Open Records Requests Show Book Removal Decisions History," by Mary Minow, LibraryLaw Blog, 23 July 2010.  I responded on her blog post in a moderated comment that I reprint below because it has not yet been posted due solely to technical issues.

Before discussing Mary Minow's misinformation further, let me first say Gail Sweet is a model library director who has acted in the interests of her community and in compliance with its existing book selection policy.  For this she is coming under direct assault from out-of-jurisdiction people and organizations seeking the restoration of the inappropriate material to the library.  I urge everyone to support Gail Sweet and the Burlington County Library System.  Perhaps she should be awarded a public commendation by the Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders.  I'll write them an email recommending just that.  If requested, I will attend a public meeting to make a personal appeal for Gail Sweet and to answer any questions about why the County should not be swayed by all the voices clamoring to have a say in the local libraries and public school libraries to reverse the library's properly made decision.  Their political interests are more important to them than are Burlington County's children.

I may have some sway as I am viewed as a "library watchdog," etc.  My web site has been considered by Agence France-Presse as "a clearing house for information about challenging books."  Yes, the ALA views me as a "censor" opposed to intellectual freedom and privacy, but that indicates to me only that I have been effective in bringing communities more information to consider about how they are being misled by national organizations into leaving their own children exposed to harm it is perfectly legal to control.  Think about it.  How many times does the ALA have this US Supreme Court quote on its web site from the case it lost: "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."  TwiceI added it, both times.  On the other hand, "censor" has 525 hits.

Gail Sweet applied the library's selection policy initially due to the high school issue and before any patron complained.  This frees the library from the need to use the materials reconsideration policy designed for patrons.  I note the ALA article did report some accurate information that corroborates my findings based on my discussion with Gail Sweet, namely, "We were aware of the challenge at Rancocas Valley High School and took a look at the book…."  In other words, she was doing her job the taxpayers pay her to do.  This is partly why Gail Sweet is a model library director.

Everyone seeking to reverse the decision, on the irrelevant issue of homosexuality by the way, is complaining she should not have applied the selection policy and instead should have followed the policy designed for patrons.  What a double standard.  When people seek to add ex-gay books to the public library, in others words books that explain how to leave homosexuality, patron input is ignored and the selection policy is used to weed out such books, not the patron policy.  Read the Annoyed Librarian on how selection is used to censor certain materials sought by "conservative Christians."  Gail Sweet is guilty of refusing to follow a double standard that is used nationwide to block ex-gay material from public libraries without even a whimper from the national groups who are suddenly strident in Burlington County.

But Mary Minow is a respected library law expert and member of the Obama Administration.  She should not be misleading the public and leaving it to people like me to pick up the phone, call Gail Sweet, and get the truth.  Read below what I wrote for publication on her blog.  I expose other red herrings, like the "child pornography" excuse to reverse the library's decision.  Mary Minow should have defended Gail Sweet, not left her unnamed and undefended while recommending ALA and ACLU sources and actions.  She should not have acted like the media and the blogs that wrongfully attack Gail Sweet.  She's supposed to be an expert.

Et tu, Mary Minow?  — Then fall, Gail Sweet!  Not if I have anything to do with it.  If Sweet's decision is going to be reversed, it should be on legitimate grounds, not on red herrings or false information, not even if perceived experts mislead people.

[UPDATE 14 Sep 2010: This blog post is being used as course reading in an ALA-approved academic setting:
Vancouver, BC, Canada.

[UPDATE 14 Sep 2010: Email from Ms. Minow dated 12 Aug 2010: "Important Correction: I am a nominee to IMLS,  not a member of Obama administration."]


-------------------------------

My response to Mary Minow's blog post:

Mary,

You know I love your work.  In this particular blog post of yours, however, there are a number of misleading statements.

"An active censorship campaign is underway in New Jersey…."  If you use the word "censorship" when that is not what is really happening, that is not good.  And you use it immediately to explain what is happening in NJ without first presenting the facts then explaining why you feel it is censorship.  Instead, you just go for the propaganda value of  promoting the censorship boogeyman when there really is none.  That is not a problem to the extent that it diminishes how people may view what you say, but it is a problem when you are as prominent as you are and you are making false cries of censorship that only serve to diminish sensitivity to true censorship.  "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, Dan Gerstein [ http://www.plan2succeed.org/wsj-why-the-democrats-are-losing-the-culture-wars11apr05by_dan_gerstein.html ].

In your next sentence you talk about "a conservative group," as if that were relevant in any way.  How is that relevant, Mary?  You do know, of course, that conservatives and liberals agree that, for example, children should be kept from inappropriate materials, right?  Have you read Naomi Wolf's 12 March 2006 article in the New York Times entitled, "Young Adult Fiction: Wild Things," right?  [ http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/12/books/review/12wolf.html ] You do know Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon who opposes the Arizona governor's efforts regarding illegal aliens feels so strongly about protecting children that he saw to it the library used Internet filters that could not be disabled, right?  He wrote directly to me saying,
I greatly appreciate that you have taken the time to express your thoughts on internet access in our public libraries.  Like you, I champion the constitutional right to free speech and if people choose to access information on the web that is legal, they should not be prohibited from doing so.  But also like you, I don't believe that the constitution obligates our government to provide access to pornography.  It is readily available in the private sector, and that's where it should stay available.
Speaking of left and right, you do know the US Supreme Court said in 2003, in a case the American Library Association and the American Civil Liberties Union both lost [ http://laws.findlaw.com/us/539/194.html ], "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," Right?  You know that, Mary, right?  So the "conservative group" comment is really irrelevant.

Oh yes I understand others use it to cloud the real issues because they really have no legitimate argument, but you are not like them, Mary.  You are an experienced professional well respected in her community and well versed in the means to logically argue for or against various positions.  You likely even have direct experience in the very issue involved.  Please do not fall back on the weak arguments of an ad hominem nature that others use who are not nearly so accomplished as you.  Please drop the "conservative group" red herring.

By the way, the "child pornography" email is a red herring as well.  We are talking about email now, between colleagues. Such emails are often short and use summarizations that are close to the real thing but not exact.  Emails like this must be written hundreds of thousands of times a day worldwide.  Such was the case here.  How do I know?  I asked the library director herself.  Gail Sweet is her name.  The two-word message was a facile means to explain the real problem that would have been much longer but was not needed/convenient in this particular collegial instance.  People are using the two words as a means to cry foul then have the book restored to the library despite the library's selection policy as applied by the director and approved by the commission.

Moving on now, you said, "The ACLU found that a public library had also received an informal complaint from the same individual, that staff recommended removal, and that the library commission also voted to remove the title."  Tsk, tsk.  Mary, you are well respected.  You really can do better than this.  You can do what I did and call the people involved to do some fact checking.  I called the library and spoke with the director.  As I recall the conversation, the director became aware of the book and decided to act or acted before she "received an informal complaint from the same individual."  The director, not "staff" as the ACLU misled you, applied the library's existing selection policy to the book and found it lacking.  She recommended compliance with the selection policy to the library commission and all members agreed.  Mary, the library simply applied its own existing library book selection policy to the material.  There is no need for the library director to fill out a form designed for patrons before she may act under the existing book selection policy.  Oh my, how onerous that precedent would be.

Speaking of the ACLU misleading you, the ACLU uses deception to force communities to act as the ACLU directs.  No one in any community need be frightened of the ACLU pressure machine.  Here's an example of the dishonesty of the ACLU.  In Nampa, ID, after many years of effort, the library finally decided to move certain books such as The Joy of Gay Sex behind the counter so children could not access them.  The ACLU threatened a lawsuit claiming First Amendment violations caused by the embarrassment of adults having to ask for such books.  Sounds reasonable right?  Just give in to the ACLU immediately, right?  Well that's what Nampa did.  A week later, the books were returned to the shelves where the children could access them.  (I spoke with co-author Felice Picano about this incident, but that's an aside [ http://safelibraries.blogspot.com/2008/10/dear-felice-picano-joy-of-gay-sex-co.html ].) 

Where's the dishonesty?  Where?  In the very claim that frightened the library into giving in to the ACLU.  Embarrassment.  You see, the ACLU had made that very same claim five years earlier in that Supreme Court case I mentioned above and lost on that issue.  The Court said, "the Constitution does not guarantee the right to acquire information at a public library without any risk of embarrassment."  So exactly why did the ACLU demand Nampa back down due to the embarrassment issue?  Obviously it has no substantive argument, thanks to US v. ALA, so legal threats sufficed to fool the community, and it did, and the children suffered as a result. 

And you, Mary, report on the ACLU's findings uncritically.  I would not expect that from you or someone like you.  Instead, you say: "Thank you to ACLU-NJ for Open Records documents."  Yes, thank you, ACLU, for interfering in yet another community to ensure all communities apply ACLU standards instead of community standards. 

And organizations like the National Coalition Against Censorship [NCAC] are not much different, by the way.  The NCAC is so radical as to take a position actually promoting porn [ http://safelibraries.blogspot.com/2009/11/ncac-promotes-porn-says-keeping.html ].  Yet it is also decrying the library's decision [ http://ncacblog.wordpress.com/2010/06/25/its-not-about-the-children-revolutionary-voices-pulled-from-public-library/ ].

Back to Mary: "In contrast, the library did not appear to follow its own policies for handling challenges of controversial materials."  Right, Mary, to the ACLU, the library did not appear to follow its own policies.  But you know, Mary, as I explained above, that the book reconsideration policy is for patrons, not for library directors.  Library directors need only apply the existing book selection policy, yet you did not explain this in your blog post.  This is disappointing to me.  Oh yes, you hint at it with "weeding" and "those procedures," but that is not enough for someone in your trusted position, Mary.  Please understand.  You must do more to provide accurate information and not propagandize on behalf of the ACLU.

I can see you know the difference between a patron procedure for filing challenges and the library procedure for "weeding," but you glance over it so quickly the average person would miss the distinction.  That would leave in their minds the impression that the ACLU's position is correct, which it is not.

Mary, you need to do better.  You are a leader in this area.  Please don't be a misleader.

.

22 comments:

  1. Another well crafted article by SLJ. They must be commended as they have perfected the art of deception. Only the simple minded are unable to see through their twisted misrepresentations of truth.

    Statements such as "there was no official challenge, no actual vote by the commissioners" almost lead one to believe that this woman is guilty of some malfeasance, even though the next paragraph outlines a procedure that doesn't require such steps.

    Had she followed the same procedures to remove a copy of “Martha‘s Favorite Recipes“
    no one would have questioned her actions. Had the title been “Encouraging Abstinence” she would have been hailed a hero.

    SLJ authors aren't journalists, they are propagandists who feel compelled to distort the truth and stand on fallacies in an effort to validate the ALA agenda.

    Stand strong Gail, you are in good company. Many good people have been equally misrepresented. Thank you for your honorable actions.

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  2. I have now sent an email to the director, and am awaiting her reply. As soon as I hear back, I will post her comments on my blog. - Mary M

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  3. As illustrated in the second comment by Mary Minow immediately above, she is the consummate professional I fully know her to be. She is going to give library director Gail Sweet some input.

    In all my years writing what I write, only rarely do people respond so graciously. Diane Chen and Rory Litwin are other examples beside Mary Minow who come to my mind.

    Usually, I criticize members of the ALA's OIF. Invariably, there is either no response, a nasty response, an anonymous nasty/dishonest response, or a public statement denouncing me and warning people not to view my web site, even at ALA annual meetings. No class. No intellectual honesty. No adherence to its own policies. Like the ALA President and the ALA generally is still silent about Camila Alire's plagiarism (but Gail Sweet is sour).

    This typical/expected response or lack thereof is exactly what makes honest responses all the more special. I am happy to count Mary Minow as one among my library friends, even while we see things differently.

    Most importantly, I am happy to have provided support to Gail Sweet and her community/patrons. I hope people will now realize the stories made up about her by the ACLU / NCAC / ALA are just that, stories. Such is often the case with these organizations, from my experience, as this blog documents.

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  4. My view of the "child pornography" red herring has been confirmed. This shows in yet another way that my reporting on the incident, limited as it may be, exposes the ACLU and media claims as false.

    Here is how the library director herself is reported to have discussed the child pornography issue:

    "In an interview this week Ms. Sweet agreed the e-mails sound strongly worded but insisted they were not meant that way.

    "'I was really being funny, even if it doesn't sound it,' she said. 'Maybe they were ill-advised words, but I've learned something: Be careful what you put in e-mail. They were not meant in any way other than being facetious.'"

    Source: "Gay Book Pulled at Library, Activists Stage Protests," by Geoffrey Wertime, Register-News, 3 August 2010.

    The same source also confirms (as did the AL source) that, as I reported, the library director initiated an evaluation of the book sua sponte: "She said the decision was made internally after she heard about the controversy in Rancocas Valley."

    The source also confirms I was right about the homosexuality red herring:

    "Ms. Sweet also said the move came after she saw the picture of the two men in the book. 'It was not the subject matter in the slightest. In this case it was the picture. Rightly or wrongly, it was a judgment call,' she said."

    And I have that picture in my blog post.

    Based on this one media report, I have to think that, besides Mary Minow now being willing to listen to Gail Sweet, people are listening to what I have been saying and are realizing the ACLU propaganda may be just that, propaganda.

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  5. I'm sorry, but a single grainy and non-pornographic image is no grounds for removing that book.

    I find it doubtful that there'd have been a reaction like that if the same picture had been in a book that was not promoting awareness of homosexual voices.

    I don't understand why parents want to shelter their children from the real world that they will grow up to inhabit - I suppose this is an object lesson of the fact that this real world will also include people with small minds and prejudices in their hearts.

    Growing up, my library had The Joy of Sex on the shelf, plus some pretty steamy Judy Blume novels. Lo and behold, I managed to grow up to be a person of relative intelligence, married faithfully, with a completely healthy attitude towards sex. Guess I was just one of the lucky ones! Surely all my old classmates, who found these same books on the shelves, must now be receiving extensive therapy from the trauma.

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  6. Anonymous, thank you for commenting.

    Your last sentence was particularly interesting: "Surely all my old classmates, who found these same books on the shelves, must now be receiving extensive therapy from the trauma." You did read my immediately preceding blog post, right? See "Extensive Therapy For Library Thief; Crestview Public Library Not Responsible For Child's Losing His Mind Over Stolen Adult Material."

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  7. The email exchange between Gail Sweet and Beverly Marinelli clearly indicate that a review of Revolutionary Voices was done at Marinelli's request. And apparently Sweet agreed with Marinelli's assessment that the book is "pervasively vulgar, obscene, and inappropriate."

    I haven't read the book, but I'm curious if the author of this blog agrees with Marinelli's assessment. If so, what criteria should one use when assessing material available to patrons of a public library? - Mark L.

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  8. Thanks, Mark L., for writing.

    The email exchange does appear to prove what you say, especially as it was initially presented in the media thanks to the ACLU's input.

    I am happy to say, however, that I was the first to report the truth that the library director acted on her own initially. Further, likely thanks to my input based on my conversation with the library director, other media sources, including national media, are starting to report the truth.

    So that's that.

    As to my view of this, that, or the other thing, it really is irrelevant. In this case I have been reporting news thanks to my talk with the person involved, while others did not speak with her before repeating the ACLU line. No other reporters have to explain how they personally feel, and neither should I.

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  9. I'm afraid I completely disagree with you. What the Director of BCLS did was wrong. I'm a resident of Burlington County and I don't appreciate those in a role such as the one the Director holds censoring the contents of my libraries. As long as it doesn't break any laws I don't really think the subject matter is even relevant here. I'm not a librarian, nor am I affiliated with the ACLU, ALA, etc in any way. I do however greatly respect the noble profession of Librarian and feel strongly that they should be the guardians of knowledge, not the judges. If this material is inappropriate for children then keep it away from them until they are old enough to decide for themselves, i.e. adulthood. Don't make that decision for them irrevocably, and certainly don't make it for me.
    As for the process that was or wasn't or should or should not have been applied, the email thread available online is pretty unambiguous that the ultimate book ban/censorship was the result of direct access by someone external to the library system, regardless of who they are or their relevant or otherwise affiliations, shouldn't this have meant that the matter was not handled as a purely internal affair? (email thread is here http://blog.librarylaw.com/files/foiaemails.pdf)

    Very greatly disappointed in BCLS and it's Director.

    Brian

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  10. Fair enough. I was just curious as to why you deem the material inappropriate:

    "...seeking the restoration of the inappropriate material to the library..."

    While not directly relevant to Gail Sweet or your post, a personal experience piqued my interest in what you wrote. In 1979, I was a freshman at Kent State when I discovered Felice Picano, Anais Nin, and a treasure trove of feminist poets. These opened my eyes and my mind to other authors, playwrights, painters and musicians, and laid the foundation for a lifelong love of the arts. I would suspect some would have deemed these as 'inappropriate' for an 18-year-old kid from rural Ohio, and asked that they be removed from the KSU collection. I will be forever grateful that did not happen. - Mark L.

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  11. @anonymous/Mark L.:

    I used "inappropriate" as the least judgmental way to describe the material in question, given how it was described by the people involved. I also used the word since the US Supreme Court does, as in "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." If that word is good enough for the US Supreme Court, it is good enough for me.

    Regarding the authors, I have spoken with Felice Picano and helped him post his picture on Wikipedia. Given what you said about him, I am certain you will enjoy what I wrote about him. You see, I support authors and oppose censorship. Fortunately, no censorship occurred in the library in question, or I would be saying something entirely different.

    And note well that I do not automatically jump at the chance to remove "inappropriate" materials from public libraries. Just in the previous blog post, well, the title speaks for itself: "Extensive Therapy For Library Thief; Crestview Public Library Not Responsible For Child's Losing His Mind Over Stolen Adult Material."

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  12. @DrBMBridge/Brian:

    I appreciate your writing here and expressing your thoughts. I know this blog post is getting a lot of attention so people will see what you have said and you will not have wasted your time writing here. The more conversation, the better.

    Know that it is not censorship to apply book selection policies to materials in public libraries. The US Supreme Court talked approvingly about the book selection process. Certainly the US Supreme Court is not censorious.

    Thanks again for writing.

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  13. I followed up on the links you provided and found your supposed support for balanced review of library materials specious at best. It completely fell apart when I found SafeLibraries.org listed on American Defense Fund letterhead. Onward Christian soldier.

    -Mark L.

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  14. @anonymous/Mark L.:

    One ADF letter and you label me the way you did? As I recall that letter, it was one opposing illegal pornography. Illegal being the key word. I oppose illegal pornography. I'll assume you do too.

    Be that as it may, I can now report that in addition to Mary Minow, a reporter has informed me that I have made reasoned and balanced arguments and that I am correct that Gail Sweet's input should be sought.

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  15. I'm sorry, but did you actually read the email correspondence between the Director and the 912 representative? Or the Library commission meeting minutes? Both clearly state that the book was removed following a request from a person external to the library, not as part of a content review or a "weeding" project, process or procedure. A request that came in a meeting between the Director and said representative where a strongly conservative agenda was clearly discussed based on the follow-up web links that were provided to the Director. At worst this is a special interest group dictating what I can and can not have in my library, at best it's circumventing the appropriate policies and procedures in place for assessing whether or not a book should be removed following an external complaint. Neither case is deserving of the appellation "book selection policy", something presumably the book passed successfully upon entry into the library system. The first case is an example of special interest induced censorship, whereas the best case is an example, at best mind you, of administrative misconduct potentially (and very disturbingly) induced by a sympathetic political/conservative bias on the part of those involved. I'd like to to believe someone in the Director's position could rise above that in her professional responsibilities, but her own correspondence is pretty damning.
    And speaking of damning, the interview she gave to the Register News calls into question her professionalism and suitability for such a role. Specifically I'm referring to her comments on "trying to be funny", under what possible circumstances can a professional communication to an employee describing the reasons for removal of a book as "Child Pornography" deserve the meritorious description of "funny"?
    I can sympathize with (but not agree with) your desire to challenge the organizations you see a source of misdirection in the libraries in this country (ALA, OIF, ACLU, etc) who are at the forefront of confronting the Director's behavior. However, I can not see why, given the evidence presented (email thread, meeting minutes, published BCLS policies and procedures, etc) you can support the actions of the BCLS Director, nor her continued presence in that role. It reminds me of something my mother used to say to me when I was a kid "Don't cut off your nose to spite your face", wouldn't it be better to have a politically neutral, professionally competent Director in place who enables their Librarians to perform their duties to the best of their abilities free of influence and lobbying from special interest groups, whether they be from the right or left?

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  16. @DrBMBridge/Brian:

    I read all the documents produced by the ACLU. They are not inconsistent with the public statements of Sweet and Marinelli both saying that Sweet became aware of and acted on the book selection issue sua sponte, in other words, by herself.

    Looking at the emails alone leads one to the impression you have. But in context with the input of the people involved, you get a different picture.

    That is why the ACLU point of view is misleading and intentionally so. The ACLU presented the documents without input from the people involved. People started pushing the ACLU story without also fact checking the ACLU by contacting the people involved. That is the very thing this blog post is about, and in comment #2, I have been proven correct when Mary Minow agreed she should have sought the input of the library director.

    Imagine a court of law. Imagine you tell only the story of the emails and purposefully exclude any evidence presented by the people you are claiming are guilty. Does that sound fair to you? Does that sound like America?

    DrBMBridge, I don't need to do your homework. Several media sources are finally reporting the actual words of the people involved, and those words evidence, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that Gail Sweet properly acted in her capacity as library director.

    When you do finally discuss the actual words of Gail Sweet, suddenly you switch from addressing the issues to addressing the person. You "question her professionalism and suitability for such a role" and later imply she is incompetent. Questioning is a fine thing to do, but ad hominem argument only evidences you have no legitimate substantive argument.

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  17. Look I've read the same media reports you have, all of them, this is something I feel strongly about and research (aka "homework") is what I do (which is why I have a high level of confidence that I've seen all of them). So I feel comfortable in saying the following:

    Several media sources are finally reporting the actual words of the people involved, and those words evidence, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that Gail Sweet acted improperly in her capacity as library director.

    I'm not trying to be funny there just (probably poorly) attempting to prove a point regarding wildly different opinion and interpretation based on the same set of inputs.
    As with you, my opinions and interpretations are not solely based on the email evidence, but input obtained directly from the Director via interview with said media sources.
    With regards to ad hominem (and apologies for quoting from Wikipedia, it was the fastest source I could find) "The argumentum ad hominem is not always fallacious, for in some instances questions of personal conduct, character, motives, etc., are legitimate and relevant to the issue." Alternatively, in this case the personal conduct, in the representative role and responsibilities of Director of a Public Library system, is the issue.
    She did not follow her own system's policies and procedures (fact, as reported by Director Sweet in two parts a) commission minutes reporting the removal was at the bequest of an external party and letter to external party describing knowledge that they had complained to a commissioner and b) (in conflict to (a)) subsequent quoted response from Director Sweet in a media interview that they handled the book removal as "an internal matter"). Equally troubling and a basis for my overall assessment of the Director, either through omission or deception she failed to properly inform an employee (upon request) as to the reason/root cause for the book removal (external complaint from a non-member of the libraries administrative structure) instead minimistically replying that the reason was "Child Pornography".

    I get it, you like her and see her as a victim of the ACLU on some kind of witch hunt and you feel she should be given the benefit of the doubt here, but at best this was thoughtless, unprofessional and unacceptable for someone in an important role like hers, and at worst it was something decidedly more insidious. I don't know Director Sweet so I'm willing (in part based on your stalwart defense of her motives) to give her the benefit of the doubt on the latter despite what I see in -all- the available information as leaning to the contrary. However, what is unequivocal is that her actions, even as subsequently explained by herself, were grossly inappropriate for someone in a role such as hers, and, in my opinion, misconduct. Someone in such a role should have much better talents and capabilities at handling an issue like this, in such a way as to evidence a position of neutrality beyond reproof, and, when in doubt, rely on the safety net of her institutions well documented policies and procedures in conjunction with her professional Librarians' input and advice.

    More...

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  18. Continued...

    Ultimately I think you and I will have to agree to disagree on this, we've read the same stuff (repeatedly in both cases I suspect) and consistently come to diametrically opposed conclusions. A perfect example is your commentary support of the Register News Article, which I also read after Geoffrey Wertime sent me a link to it. I too support that article as an excellent piece of factual journalistic reporting. However, I feel it reinforces my arguments and ultimate conclusions, whereas, I suspect, you feel it reinforces your opposing arguments and ultimate conclusions.

    Anyway, thanks for the debate. Good debate is like a mirror you can hold your conclusions up to and see from all sides. You and I may not agree on this but, as attributed to Voltaire by Evelyn Beatrice Hall, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

    Bit cheesey, I know but I still need to lower the blood level in my caffeine stream.

    Brian

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  19. @DrBMBridge/Brian:

    Thanks for writing here. Please stop by any time. Consider subscribing to this blog. I am sure you can see it is thought provoking; it includes the comments of authors, school administrators, Obama Administration officials, and others directly involved in the stories, and that comments are welcome no matter what they say.

    I am especially happy to have written this blog post and to have received a response from the author:

    "Seeking Author Trenton Lee Stewart; A Child Requests his Response to her Excellent Letter"

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  20. "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"

    Wow, even after all this time, you still mis-interpret and mis-apply this quote. Amazing.

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  21. "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."

    "Marking 25 Years of Banned Books Week," by Judith Krug of the ALA, Curriculum Review, 46:1, Sep. 2006.

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  22. Hi

    I read this post two times.

    I like it so much, please try to keep posting.

    Let me introduce other material that may be good for our community.

    Source: Library director interview questions

    Best regards
    Henry

    ReplyDelete

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