Saturday, June 25, 2011

Keeping R-Rated Films from Children is Censorship, According to the ALA and the Fountaindale Public Library That Blindly Follows the ALA

Keeping R-rated films from children is censorship?  It seems the American Library Association [ALA] says so, and it seems the Fountaindale Public Library in Bolingbrook, IL, has ceded local control of the library to the ALA.  At least that's my understanding of the following report:

Does your local library cede control to the ALA?

The following resources will enlighten your own evaluation of the issue:
  • "Library Dvds Raise Eyebrows; In Most Cases, Kids are Free to Check Out R-Rated Movies," by Nin-Hai Tseng, Orlando Sentinel, 17 May 2007.
    Librarians say the restrictions McCreary is advocating may be well intentioned but pose an issue over censorship.
  • "Movie Ratings are Private, Not Public Policy," by Deborah Caldwell-Stone, Deputy Director of the ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom, Illinois Library Association Reporter, March 2004.
    Use of the MPAA ratings system to restrict young people's access to films and videos is a violation of the Library Bill of Rights and an impermissible prior restraint on free expression.
  • "Questions and Answers on Labeling and Rating Systems," by American Library Association, American Library Association, 16 January 2010.
    Cataloging decisions, labels, or ratings applied in an attempt to restrict or discourage access to materials or to suggest moral or doctrinal endorsement is a violation of the First Amendment and the Library Bill of Rights....
  • "What's In a Label?," by Marcia Sarnowski, Winding Rivers Library System, 22 December 2010.
    Some may argue that this type of labeling is a service to parents as it helps them protect their children from visual or printed content they may find objectionable.  ....  Only a court has the authority to decide, for others, what is obscene or harmful to minors.

See also:

Here's my comment I added to that article in the Bolingbrook Patch:
Over 40 years ago, an ACLU Illinois state leader who created the ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom singlehandedly changed the way librarians dealt with children.  No longer would they provide them with age appropriate material.  Suddenly it was anything goes, and for 40 years that person has been driving the message into American libraries.  That's why the Fountaindale Public Library is in the position it is in.  That's why it is admitting it will follow the ALA policy.

The real question is whether the citizens in Bolingbrook, IL, want to protect their children legally and with common sense, or cede control over to the ACLU-inspired ALA policy.

Yes, "access to a wide range of materials is a right granted to all—even kids."  However, the does not mean public libraries get to violate common sense and the law just because of the ALA's bully pulpit.  See US v. ALA, a case the ALA lost big in 2003.

Further, the ALA argues MPAA movie ratings should not be given credence in public libraries since the MPAA is not a local organization the community controls.  So tell me, then, why should the ALA policies hold sway when it is also not a local organization the community controls?
Patch, how about polling the Bolingbrook citizens on whether or not they wish to allow children to borrow R-rated films?  I think we all know which way that would go.  Now it's time for the ALA policy to go.

I ask anyone interested to contact me for information and possible assistance.

NOTE ADDED 27 JUNE 2011:

For a reason unknown to me, the link to the relevant article has gone dead.  Therefore, in respect of US Copyright §107 Fair Use, and for discussion purposes, I hereby reprint the article, hyperlinks from original:


Government

Should Kids Be Allowed to Rent R-Rated Movies From the Library?

The Fountaindale Public Library does not prohibit the renting of R-rated movies for children, per American Library Association policy.  But should they?


By Brian Feldt | June 25, 2011 

Imagine you're a parent. Or maybe you already are a parent and have young children—kids that impressionable and vulnerable to today's society, especially when it comes to the music and movie industry.

You try hard to shield your kids from the vulgar or inappropriate messages that some movies and music contain. But you can't shield them from everything.

And the Fountaindale Public Library isn't exactly helping your cause.

Per the library's policy, librarians are prohibited from blocking the rental of R-rated movies by minors. Not even when the movie in question is obviously not meant for a youngster.

The issue was raised last week at the library's board of trustees meeting, where an upset mother took issue with the library's practices.  The mother said her 15-year-old son was able to rent Fight Club from the library without any word of warning or message to the parent.

Had she not seen the movie in her son's book bag, she never would have known it was even rented.

Fight Club, a popular movie starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, is rated R for "disturbing and graphic depiction of violent anti-social behavior, sexuality and language," according to The Classification and Rating Administration.

But library officials said the most they could do is have a strong discussion with its new director—Paul Mills, who will begin work July 5.

Peggy Danhoff, the librar's board president, said the issue was "very close to her heart," but said for the time being, the library is sticking with American Library Association policy.

That policy reads: "Recognizing that librarians cannot act in loco parentis, policies which set minimum age limits for access to nonprint materials and equipment with or without parental permission abridge library use for minors."

What does that mean?

This, according to an ALA interpretation of the policy:

    "... The 'right to use a library' includes free access to, and unrestricted use of, all the services, materials, and facilities the library has to offer.  Every restriction on acces to, and use of, library resources, based solely on the chonological age, educational level, literacy skills, or legal emancipation of users violates Article V.


    ... Parents—and only parents—have the right and responsibility to restrict access of their children—and only their children—to library resources.  Parents who do not want their children to have access to certain library services, materials, or facilities should so advise their children.  Librarians and library governing bodies cannot assume the role of parents or the functions of parental authority in the private relationship between a parent and child.


    Lack of access to information can be harmful to minors.  Librarians and library governing bodies have a public and professional obligation to ensure that all members of the community they serve have free, equal, and equitable access to the entire range of library resources regardless of content, approach, format, or amount of detail."

Danhoff said the library does its best to make sure kids aren't renting inappropriate movies by putting R-rated movies in the adult section, located on the third floor—far from the children's section on the first floor or young adult and teen section on the second floor.

And per ALA policy, it acknowledges and supports the exercise by parents to guide their own children’s viewing, using published reviews of films and videotapes and reference works that provide information about the content, subject matter and recommended audiences.

But putting a stipulation on teens or young children's library cards would be a form of censorship, not to mention technologically impracticable for the library, Danhoff said.


What do you think?  Should public institutions such as libraries help parent children by monitoring what they watch and rent?  Or should ALA policy stand?  And access to a wide range of materials is a right granted to all—even kids.


Weigh in by leaving a comment below.


NOTE ADDED 7 SEPTEMBER 2011:

Here is relevant information that the ALA's Judith Krug supported communities deciding R-rated movie policies for themselves!


While one library was fending off an attempt to restrict minor access to R-rated videos, the Dayton, Ohio public library has attempted to balance the tension between access and parental discretion.  The policy resulted from a petition request signed by "several hundred parents at odds with the library's open access philosophy[.]"  The policy allows parents to sign a form requesting their children not have access to R-rated films.  However, the originator of the petition, a father objecting to his son's viewing of an R-rated video checked out of the library, was unhappy with the policy because he had asked the library "to require explicit permission to take out R-rated movies and they haven't done that[.]"  Judith Krug, director of ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom commented: "If it is in the best judgment of that library and its board that a modified restricted access policy is a necessity, then they've done it properly: that is, the burden has been placed on the people wanting to restrict their children."


"Democracy and the Public Library: Essays on Fundamental Issues," by Arthur W. Hafner, ed., Greenwood Press, Westport, CT, 1993, pp. 304-305, citations omitted.


NOTE ADDED 28 FEBRUARY 2012:

I can't wait until the ALA cries "censorship" that the movie "Perks of Being A Wallflower" got R-rated by the MPAA!


'The Perks of Being a Wallflower' has been given an R rating by the MPAA, which could alienate underage fans of Emma Watson and Logan Lerman.

According to IMDb, the rating was issued for the movie's "teen drug and alcohol use, and some sexual references." Summit Entertainment, plans on appealing the rating, and with no release date set just yet, it has plenty of time.  Director Stephen Chbosky, who also wrote the book from which the movie was adapted, has always intended for the flick to be rated PG-13.

If the movie is true to the novel, the R rating doesn't come as such a surprise, though.  The mature subject matter of 'The Perks of Being a Wallflower' helped put the title at No. 3 on the American Library Association's Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2009.

Still, we're crossing our fingers that the movie can be edited for a PG-13 rating. Are you excited for Emma and Logan's forthcoming release?  Would the R rating prevent you from being able to see it?

NOTE ADDED 18 MAY 2012:

The ALA has doubled down on its stance regarding R-rated movies and the MPAA:
Meantime, the ALA is a "big, nebulous organization decid[ing] what your kid can or can't read," namely anything, no matter how inappropriate, is it calls book ratings "censorship":


NOTE ADDED 22 JULY 2012:


NOTE ADDED 16 SEPTEMBER 2012:

  • "Nashua Library Lifts Age Restriction on Borrowing R-Rated Movies," by Patrick Meighan, Nashua Telegraph, 15 September 2012:
    Under a change in policy, you no longer have to be at least 18 to check out an R-rated or unrated movie at the Nashua Public Library.

    The age requirement was never a formal policy adopted by the library board of trustees, said Library Director Jennifer Hinderer. Rather, it had been put in place in late winter 2008 by the former director in response to a parent’s complaint, Hinderer said.

    There was already no age restriction in checking out other materials, such as books or magazines, Hinderer said. When she became library director early in 2010, Hinderer had on her “to do” list bringing the policy for checking out DVDs or VCR tapes in line with other materials.

    The change also makes the policy consistent with the “right to read” and “right to view” principles outlined in the American Library Association’s “Libraries, an American Value.”

    In her blog, npl documents.org/libraryblog, Hinderer links to the document. She also explains the reasons for the change.

    “The borrowing restrictions violated basic library principles regarding intellectual freedom, and I am glad we were able to finally lift them,” Hinderer wrote Thursday.

    She explains that families and individuals should make choices about what is acceptable to view, not library staff.

    She also noted it isn’t illegal for someone younger than 17 to view an R-rated movie. Rather, the ratings are guidelines adopted by the Motion Picture Association of America, which theaters have agreed to honor.

    A cinema may ban teens younger than 17 not accompanied by adults from watching an R movie, but it wouldn’t break the law if it permitted them to do so, Hinderer said.

    Hinderer posted the blog Thursday night. As of Friday midmorning, she hadn’t heard any complaints, although she expects some parents and individuals won’t like the policy change.

    The change brings the library in line with policies at most other public libraries, said Janet Angus, director of the Merrimack Public Library.

    Anyone with a valid library card can check out anything in the circulation, she said.

    “We’ve never had any age restrictions,” Angus said.

    It’s the job of parents to monitor what their children are checking out, Angus said.

    Likewise, neither the Rodgers Memorial Library in Hudson nor the Wadleigh Memorial Library in Milford place age restrictions on checking out DVDs or other materials in their collections.

    In browsing the “feature film” section of the library’s collection, not many salacious titles jump out. For example, a teenager without a parent now could check out such R movies as the Alfred Hitchcock movie “Frenzy” or the Russell Crowe adventure movie “Gladiator.”

    Then there’s the Spaghetti Western titled “For a Few Dollars More” starring Clint Eastwood. One of the more salaciously titled DVDs is “Born into Brothels.” But a critic’s comments on the cover proclaims the movie to be about “the resiliency of childhood.”

    Library patrons asked Friday disagreed about whether the change was good.

    Joyce, a woman who browsed the movie section with a preschool-age child, said the change didn’t bother her.

    It’s the parent’s job to monitor what a child watches or brings into the home,” said Joyce, who declined to give her last name but who said she’s a Nashua resident.

    That holds as true to a child’s TV watching habits as to rented or borrowed movies, she said.

    “Look at what comes on TV now,” Joyce said.

    Shelly Simpson, also a parent, disagreed. She thinks carding teens who want to rent R movies is the right approach.

    “I used to sneak R-rated movies past my parents all the time,” said Simpson, 28, the mother of a 3-year-old.

    Prohibiting teens younger than 18 from renting R movies would “make the job easier for parents,” Simpson said.

    Video rental stores card people renting movies, she said.

    “It depends on how their parents brought them up,” said Barbara Lambert, parent of daughters ages 23 and 24.

    Some teens are mature enough to handle R movies with serious themes, such as “Schindler’s List.” But she worries many children have become desensitized to violence with so much of it on television.

    Censorship is the job of parents, not the library staff, said Mary Maloney, a mother of four children ranging in age from 14 to 27.

    Patrick Meighan can be reached at 594-6518 or pmeighan@nashua telegraph.com. Also, follow Meighan on Twitter @ Telegraph_PatM.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Library Propaganda and Fraud Recognition Exercise

It is time to present a library propaganda and fraud recognition exercise.  I have been writing about such topics for a while, so here's a chance to test your skills.  Watch the below news video containing public library propaganda and evidencing the potential for fraudulent and/or criminal activity by the library.  See if you can pick out the false, misleading, incriminating statements yourselves and comment below with what you found. 

Bonus points:  See if you can pick out the statement that is a direct result of the American Library Association's opposition to the USA PATRIOT Act and that adherence to leaves children exposed to harm nationwide.

Double bonus points:  See if you can use this "Automated Search of Commitments" to see which libraries are committing CIPA fraud and perhaps committing a crime or misdemeanor.

"'I don't really see it as being a loaded gun kind of situation,' said Jan Bryant the Head Librarian at the Muskogee Public Library."  I do, and obviously local citizens like Thomas Faulk and Steve Rathbun do, and such statements by the head librarian are intended as a deception.  I ask police and media investigators to contact me so I can explain.

"After all, viewing adult pornography is legal...."  Correct, but a public library may legally exclude it.

Here's the story and the corresponding news video to evaluate for propaganda and potential fraudulent and/or criminal activity by the library, then please comment below: 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Re-Made in the USA Available Free to Fifty Libraries After Author Todd Lipscomb Finds It In Only One

"Re-Made in the USA; How We Can Restore Jobs, Retool Manufacturing, and Compete With the World," is written by Todd Lipscomb who owns MadeInUSAForever.com.  Can you believe the author found his book in only a single library?  What with all the false censorship claims the American Library Association makes about books and the Internet, is it possible that this book is in a single library?

Ed Schultz of The Ed Schultz Show interviewed Todd Lipscomb and said, "It's a great book, it is full of information, full of insight, and full of the truth and it needs to be said.  I think it's a revolutionary book, the best book I've ever read on manufacturing and it's scary stuff.  MadeinUSAForever.com.  If you're a small business person and you want to get your product out there, this is the website you want to go to.  If you're a consumer and want to buy American, this is what you can do.  ....  I think we should send this book over to Donald Trump."


Here is Chapter 1 "Why Buying American is Critical" free to all.  See for yourself.  See also:


How is it that "a revolutionary book, the best book I've ever read on manufacturing" is in a single library and only a single library?

Todd Lipscomb is graciously making this book available for free, not even any shipping and handling costs, to the first 50 libraries where someone simply writes and asks for the book!

I am writing about this because A) I want to help libraries get a free "revolutionary" book, B) SafeLibraries is read by many librarians so I am hoping this helps spread the free offer message, and C) I find it shocking a book this highly recommended is in only one library given how loudly people scream about censorship should anyone dare to block pornography from public libraries.

Mr. Lipscomb, I found your book is in 49 libraries at the moment by using WorldCat, and not all of them are public libraries.  It is a drop in the bucket.  I congratulate you on offering to provide free copies to public libraries.  I already link to you under "Non-Library Sites."

Here is the exact correspondence I received from Todd Lipscomb, dated 15 June 2011:

Good news came recently, as I received my first e-mail from a person to have come across and read my new book Re-Made in The USA in their library.  He had enthusiastic questions and was full of hope for our nation.  How that made my day!

Sadly, several others have reported that they went to look for the book at their local library and were told various versions of how their libraries were hardly buying books anymore due to budget cuts.  Decaying local tax revenue, caused in no small part by deindustrialization leaving less and less tax revenue as factories move abroad.  The local revenue that feeds our libraries is drying up.  Few things are sadder than a library without books, and what are the implications to the education of our young?

This has troubled me.  Together, we are making progress on the Made in USA issue, still the thought of empty library shelves has me wanting to take direct action.

Free copies of my book for libraries – For the first fifty people that reply to this note with an actual address of one of our nation’s libraries that you feel should have one, I will donate a copy and pay all shipping and handling expenses.  It is a modest start, although who knows what can grow from a good beginning?

If it goes well, I may do more -- a lot more.
I can only add that you should check first if your library will accept the book, even as a gift.  Selection policy is often used by libraries to keep out information with which the selector disagrees, like books about ex-gays, so be sure your library will shelve the free book once it receives it, else it might just discard it.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Library Director Admits Keeping Police in the Dark in Gilbert, Arizona; American Library Association Guidance Not To Inform Police May Be the Reason

A former public library director in Gilbert, AZ, has admitted not reporting multiples incidents to the police.  See:
  • "Gilbert Council Restores Funds for Library Security," by Srianthi Perera, The Arizona Republic, 11 June 2011, hyperlink and highlighting added.
    That prompted [outgoing Councilwoman Linda] Abbott to ask why the library didn't call police more often.

    "I don't know if I have a good answer to that," [Former Southeast Library Manager Andrew] Chanse replied.  "It's probably something that we're just not necessarily in the habit of doing.  Are we going to call for someone that's stealing a DVD? Probably not."

    Since last July, Chanse said, 4,000 DVDs costing about $30 each have been stolen from the library - quadruple the number of thefts recorded four years ago.
The former library director does not "have a good answer" for why police were not called.  To protect himself, however, the police were called.  See:
  • "Gilbert Library Staffs Dealing with Threats, Theft, Porn," by Srianthi Perera, The Arizona Republic, 3 June 2011, highlighting added.
    Since the town eliminated funding for security guards in July because of budget woes, the Southeast Regional and Perry branch libraries in Gilbert have had a spate of disturbing occurrences, records show.

    Among them: threats and physical harm to library staff, mentally unstable individuals distracting patrons by screaming, theft, property damage and viewing pornography on the public computers.

    ....

    Various reports suggest the librarians' safety and well-being, as well as that of patrons, are threatened.
    In a Facebook posting dated April 27, Chanse stated:  "Assaulted by one customer today and threatened with bodily harm by another.  Who says librarians have it easy?"

    He also wrote:

    "We had a mentally ill customer assault one of my staff while I was out of the building.  He got in her face and roughly grabbed her arm.  I got a positive ID of him today and approached him.  He immediately got in my face and started shouting profanities.  I tried to give him the option to calm down or leave, but he wouldn't listen.  So I demanded he leave . . . he did try and get on a computer.  I took his library card, at which point he rushed me and grabbed my arm.  I broke free and called the police . . . "

    Chanse's reference to the other incident involved a patron with large fines who had received several courtesy waivers. When the patron and her husband were asked to leave because they were refusing to pay the fine, both threatened Chanse.  The husband said he would be seeing him after the library was closed.  Chanse called the police and an officer stayed outside in his car until the library closed.

    "This stuff never happened when we had security guards," Chanse wrote.  "We have too many people (kids) in that place to mess around with this stuff."

    In a report to the town detailing customer incidents, Chanse states: "I think we are more of a destination for the have-nots than ever before.  ....

    ....

    Mark Sequeira, a father of four children aged 4-11, and his wife Jennifer, are frequent patrons of the library.  Sequeira, who owns MJA Studios, a graphic design and marketing shop, sometimes works on his projects in the library in the evenings.  One evening he watched police arrive and escort a patron outside.

    While he is not worried about the security for his children at the library, Sequeira expressed concern for the library staff, most of whom he knows on a personal basis.  He and a few others have volunteered to help if there are any concerns.  Most of the librarians are female.

    "They (librarians) never asked (for help), but it's really putting everybody at risk," Sequeira said.  "I just wanted to help them feel more safe."

    .... 
    "I know the ladies at the library often have to close and also have to confront men on the computers or being obnoxious," he wrote.  "It should not be this way.  We are needlessly putting at risk a rare treasure in our community."
    ....
What if I told you Gilbert, AZ, has been rated the fifth safest city in the USA.  Do you think that might change if the crimes not reported by the public library were actually counted and included?  See:
  • "Gilbert is 5th in U.S. in Site's Safety Ranking," by unnamed, The Arizona Republic, 8 Jun 2011.
    "For our local public-safety heroes and our entire community, we are honored to receive this national recognition as the fifth-safest community in the country," said Mayor John Lewis, "Public safety has always been and will continue to be a Gilbert priority."

    Calling the ranking "an important honor at a time when Gilbert is becoming known for its biomedical industry," town spokeswoman Beth Lucas said, "Gilbert has long been honored for its safe, family-friendly atmosphere."

    Residents participating in the 2010 Heads of Households Survey list safety as one of the reasons they continue to rate the town high, with a current approval rating of 98 percent.  In the survey, 95 percent of residents said they felt safe from crime while driving or in their homes in Gilbert.
Good thing public safety is a Gilbert priority and that it is safe and family-friendly.  It is going to need that motivation to find out exactly what is going on in the public library, given the facts.

And the residents felt safe while driving and while in their homes according to the 2010 Heads of Households Survey?  Well it is time that survey ask how people feel about the crime in their public libraries, is it not?

Ask whether people feel the library should report all crime to the police.  Ask if the library should decide what illegal activity gets reported to the police and what does not.  Ask if the people approve of the library following the policy from the out-of-state American Library Association [ALA] that urges libraries not to report crime to the police.  See:

So if "law enforcement efforts [are] naturally directed toward the source, i.e., the publishers, of such material," does that not mean no one is ever guilty of violating the relevant law because it is really the publishers who are to blame?  Go ahead, blame the publishers, and watch how fast the ALA and the ACLU defend them.  For example, both the ALA and the ACLU joined with "adult-entertainment producers" and defended publishers of "virtual child pornography."  See:
So you have the powerful ALA defending publishers of virtual child pornography while at the same time advising libraries to leave child pornography concerns to the police since the real target should be the publishers of such material.  That is a blatant and self-serving double standard, and it leaves communities exposed to harm, even communities rated among the safest in the nation.

Let me make another observation.  First, I could not tell from the library's web site whether or not the library filters computers or, if it does, whether or not the filters are actually CIPA (Children's Internet Protection Act) complaint.  But I do know this: the library is receiving CIPA's E-Rate funding for Internet access that can only be obtained if a library complies with CIPA.

Guess what?  The ALA advises libraries how to sidestep CIPA and still get federal funding, and some do so fraudulently.  It is possible the police may have something else to review, namely, whether the library is filing false CIPA claims, and whether that violates some code against official malfeasance.

Why is this relevant?  Because from the description of the crime in the library, my experience tells me either Internet filters are not on all computers, are able to be turned off by the patrons themselves, are not reapplied if the person views certain inappropriate material, or are otherwise not CIPA compliant.

And here is the evidence of the library's collection of CIPA funding:


YearApplicantAddressTypeWaveServiceDiscountAmount
2010MARICOPA COUNTY LIBRARY DIST2700 N Central Ave Ste 700 PHOENIX, AZ 85004Library/Library Consortium015Internet Access59 %$26,675.65
2009MARICOPA COUNTY LIBRARY DIST2700 N Central Ave Ste 700 PHOENIX, AZ 85004Library/Library Consortium010Internet Access56 %$26,052.10
2008MARICOPA COUNTY LIBRARY DIST2700 N Central Ave Ste 700 PHOENIX, AZ 85004Library/Library Consortium026Internet Access61 %$7,384.08
MARICOPA COUNTY LIBRARY DIST2700 N Central Ave Ste 700 PHOENIX, AZ 85004Library/Library Consortium026Internet Access61 %$7,384.08
2007MARICOPA COUNTY LIBRARY DIST2700 N Central Ave Ste 700 PHOENIX, AZ 85004Library/Library Consortium012Internet Access57 %$15,688.14
MARICOPA COUNTY LIBRARY DIST2700 N Central Ave Ste 700 PHOENIX, AZ 85004Library/Library Consortium012Internet Access57 %$15,688.14
2006MARICOPA COUNTY LIBRARY DIST17811 N 32ND ST PHOENIX, AZ 85032Library/Library Consortium015Internet Access60 %$34,862.54
MARICOPA COUNTY LIBRARY DIST17811 N 32ND ST PHOENIX, AZ 85032Library/Library Consortium015Internet Access60 %$48,420.14
2005MARICOPA COUNTY LIBRARY DIST17811 N 32ND ST PHOENIX, AZ 85032Library/Library Consortium012Internet Access57 %$46,352.54
MARICOPA COUNTY LIBRARY DIST17811 N 32ND ST PHOENIX, AZ 85032Library/Library Consortium010Internet Access57 %$33,472.82
2004None.$261,980.23


Is $261,980.23 an ill-gotten gain?  Could it have been necessary to hide the library crime so as not to alert anyone that CIPA was being ignored?

In response to my conversation of 11 June 2011 with Sgt. Andrew Duncan, I am hereby providing the Gilbert Police Department with the above information for further disposition as they see fit.  And I'll be here when help is needed as the ALA spin machine kicks into high gear.

The ALA spin machine.  The ALA spin that quietly offers money to local citizens who support its cause.  I haven't written about that yet but I will.  The ALA spin that fakes the annual top 10 list of challenged books to promote its political agenda.  I haven't written about that yet but I will. The ALA spin that anonymously astroturfs for a George Soros group called Free Press.  The ALA spin that plagiarizes low quality "censorship" maps.  The ALA spin that, in yet another double standard, labels 100% of the people complying with ALA-inspired material reconsideration policies as "censors."  The ALA spins that gives an award to a school librarian who admitted publicly that she cannot perform her job, so she lets the students read the racy books.  I had to provide these examples as the library is sure to defend its positions as those related to "intellectual freedom," the First Amendment, etc., and the investigators need to expect the attempt to mislead them.

And, my Arizona friends, you have local resources who are aware of these issues and how the ALA can be misleading.  Consider, for example, local police expert Dr. Frank Kardasz.  See, in particular, "Child Porn Trafficking in Public Libraries; Libraries Actively Thwart Child Porn Investigations."

Or consider, for example, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, a Democrat who saw to it Phoenix libraries got filtering and that the filters were applied properly.  I mention he is a Democrat because I anticipate the tired argument that only Conservatives want to protect children from harm.

Perhaps this Phoenix mother will have knowledge of the ALA that may be of use:  "School Removes Squirting Sperm Book After 8-Year-Old Complains To Her Mother."  And it is a former Arizona Library Association president who was making false statements to a school to try to coerce the school into restoring access of a child to inappropriate material.

I hope this information/opinion helps get to the root of the problem.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

False Censorship Claims Exposed by WSJ Author Attacked for Exposing Truth About Young Adult Books; Meghan Cox Gurdon Decries Incomplete and Uninformative Book Reviews

False censorship claims have been exposed by a Wall Street Journal contributor named Meghan Cox Gurdon.  Notice how she exposes the false cries of censorship and how she notes current book reviewers are "incomplete and uninformative":

  • "Librarians Defend Teen Gore," by Tessa Berenson, FrumForum, 7 June 2011.
    "I did not expect this degree of hysteria," Gurdon said.  "And I really, really did not expect that people who work in the book industry would be so seemingly incapable of understanding a simple argument.  As a critic, I am describing what is in the literature, and the fact that it is different now than it was, say, 30 years ago.  These are cultural developments that are worth acknowledging and worth noticing."
    ....
    "I come out 'anti-reading' because I have the temerity to criticize what is in some of the books that are being sold to teenagers," Gurdon retorted.  Indeed she believes that one of the roots of the problem in the book industry lies in incomplete and uninformative reviews:  "One of the things that I think is missing from a lot of these reviews is that they very, very seldom address some of the more disturbing content that is in books."

David Frum of FrumForum, that was a truly outstanding blog post.  Thank you very much to you and Tessa Berenson.

Here is the article that started this kerfuffle:

By the way, even school superintendents have noted how useless book reviews can be:


See also:



NOTE ADDED JUNE 9 2011:

Meghan Cox Gurdon was interviewed on public radio.  Listen to her here:
  • "Is Teen Fiction Too Dark?," by Kerri Miller interviewing Meghan Cox Gurdon, Minnesota Public Radio, 9 June 2011.
    Young adult literature is a booming genre in the publishing industry, but one reviewer says we should be concerned about how dark and lurid the offerings for adolescent readers have become.

Also, this blog post is getting multiple hits per minute thanks to my comment appended to:

Entirely relevant is this from an extremely popular librarian blog and all the comments by the librarians thereunder:
  • "Surreptitious Censorship,” by Will Manley, Will Unwound, 8 June 2011. 
    Here’s an issue that I’ve often wondered about but never written about.  It involves intellectual freedom.  Intellectual freedom is often presented as a black and white issue.  You are either a supporter of intellectual freedom or you are a censor.  There seems to be no middle ground.

    ....

    Why are librarians so afraid of having a book challenged?  Patrons or groups of patrons who challenge library books are simply exercising their First Amendment right to the "petition their government."  What's wrong with that?  Intellectual freedom issues should be hashed out in the public arena, not behind the closed doors of some librarian’s office.

    [And here's a sample comment, this from "Deb"]:

    Back in the early 90s there were great debates about having public Internet in libraries.  One of the favorite arguments put forth by librarians at the time was that libraries needed to have and control public access to the Internet so that they could make sure that people got their information from "good" sites – i.e. librarian approved.  There were discussions of how libraries could limit access to selected sites the way that they limited selection of reference books to those vetted and approved by "experts" – i.e. peer reviewed and published by the correct presses.  It wasn't about intellectual freedom, it was about selection, and making sure that we protected our public and users from the crap that was out there.  Then Congress decided to force Internet filtering and Bam! it was suddenly an intellectual freedom issue, and now libraries were supposed to let anyone access anything, including providing porn to children and pedophiles as protected first amendment speech.  Of course it's hypocrisy.  The ALA as an organization is the embodiment of hypocrisy.  And yes, I am a card-carrying member.  So I, too, am a hypocrite, because I know that I will never change the organization, and that they don’t work for me, my library, or the community we serve.  But they are the only game in town.  Better the devil you know than no devil at all.  I have always considered it hypocritical to market ourselves to families and entice children in with storytimes, etc.; then tell parents that we don't recognize parental authority and that we will provide x-rated movies to their kids in the name of intellectual freedom.  Personally, I do not think ALA and OIF know what this term means.

    As to selection – it is necessary because unlike the Library of Congress, most libraries do not have the time, the money, the staff, or the space to acquire every item ever published.  So, we have to pick and choose.  Of course personal taste enters into it.  We went to library school and took classes in how to do collection development, and we have convinced the people that hired us that we know more than the average bear about how to pick books for the library.  But what it comes down to is, we pick the ones that we think will be a good fit, and our personal tastes have everything to do with it.  Even if we are deliberately picking something that we personally dislike, we still consider our own reaction to it before we decide.  That's called being human.  Unless and until we automate the acquisitions process and let computers pick the books, we are always going to have human emotional content in our selection process.  Heck, even when the computers do start doing selection for us, we will probably end up with the emotional responses of the guy who programmed the computer.

If you like these kinds of issues, please consider subscribing to my SafeLibraries blog or to Will Manley's Will Unwound.


NOTE ADDED 22 JUNE 2011:

A Disobedient Girl,
by Ru Freeman
Another author has spoken out in support of Meghan Cox Gurdon.  Read what she is saying carefully.  You hear all these critics and the American Library Association saying children must be exposed to dark themes so they will learn about them.  Well this author, Ru Freeman (@RuFreeman), says the exact opposite.
  • "I'm With Meghan Cox Gurdon," by Ru Freeman, The Huffington Post, 21 June 2011, bold and red emphasis mine, italics and hyperlinks in original:
    As the parent of three avid readers, I agree with Meghan Cox Gurdon's point that what is considered "banning" in the book trade is known in the parenting world as doing our job.  In a piece in the Wall Street Journal this week, she writes:

    It is a dereliction of duty not to make distinctions in every other aspect of a young person's life between more and less desirable options.  Yet let a gatekeeper object to a book and the industry pulls up its petticoats and shrieks "censorship!"

    Books transform lives.  That is why we write.  We write through the pain or memory of our own experience, we write through the gratitude or sorrow of others.  Every time we put finger to keyboard we write to tell a story that has the potential to change a person's life.  If we didn't have that expectation, the effort would be simply a form of public masturbation.  Which brings us to the question of how any book that is filled with gore that runs the gamut from rape to incest to addiction to murder and every variance in between, without any of those things being absolutely essential to the development of character or plot, can be lauded as being a solid addition to the life of the mind for a child.

    How can any writer claim, as Sherman Alexie claims, that he writes the particular kinds of books that he writes for teenagers not because he wants to "protect them" because, he says, it is "far too late for that," but to "give them weapons -- in the form of words and ideas -- that will help them fight their monsters."  Mr. Alexie, gushes that he "writes in blood because I remember what it felt like to bleed."

    Well.  This country has sent thousands of its youth to die, and still some of us control-freak adults get off our posteriors and do our best to prevent the next "one" kid who is about to be turned into a killing machine.  What we don't do is present the kids around us with handbooks for how to become better murderers.  This country has spent its money substituting the regurgitation of facts for knowledge and still some of us interfering know-it-all adults lobby our schools to do things differently.  We certainly don't sit on the sidelines and congratulate our little oafs for just, you know, doing what kids these days are "supposed to be doing."  There are pederasts and psychopaths alive and kicking in the ether that is so easily accessed by our kids, but some of us adults believe it is a good thing to teach our kids how to navigate that world without exposing them to the pathologies of depraved adults.

    What we don't do is give them an alphabetized, cross reference index that points them to each heinous website.  And, just like the patron of the Boone County Library in Kentucky (who tried to get Cheryl Rainfield's book Scars off the shelves) points out, and this is close to my heart, we don't give a young anorexic girl a great ball-by-ball account of how to starve herself to death.  Because, you see, 40-60 percent of high school girls have considered that particular form of suicide and 2.3 percent of them have died from it while undergoing treatment, which leaves a nice healthy figure of those who were never diagnosed and never received treatment.

    Kids one block removed from my neighborhood in wealthy suburban Philadelphia go to bed hungry and, trust me, having been a hungry kid, I don't think they are begging to read about starvation.  I have been the child at the receiving end of violence and I would give my life to protect my own from such violence, and that includes the violence of the words and images that, once they take up residence in our heads, cannot be erased I can assure you that, growing up, I did not sit around wishing I could read about the hardships I was undergoing.  No.  I read Joyce, Blyton, Donne, Harper Lee and Shakespeare.  I held on to longing, fairytale, a human communion with whatever it was that I recognized as the divine and the beauty of language.  I read about snow and Santa Claus and sailing boats, having adventures and bringing down capitalist bastards a la Yury Olesha in The Three Fat Men.

    Suffering is just that, suffering.  There is nothing glorious or noteworthy about it.  If you've truly experienced it, it hurts.  Bad.  And the last thing you ever want to do is to inflict it upon a child.  The last thing that one should do for a child who has suffered is to introduce them to a little more of the same.  Here's to all those adults who, having undertaken to have children of their own, choose to care for all children by keeping their faith with the real-life dream of childhood, who try each day to hold the coordinates steady for them as the adults in our lives tried their best to hold them steady for us a long time ago.  Ms. Gurdon should take a bow for having the guts to tell it like it is.


NOTE ADDED 27 JUN 2011:

Meghan Cox Gurdon has written again!  Look how she tells the truth about the American Library Association and its false claims of "danger" used to force its will on communities!  Look how she illustrates how the "free speech" people use ad hominem attack freely—I see this all the time:

  • "My 'Reprehensible' Take on Teen Literature; Raise Questions About Self-Mutilation and Incest As a Young-Adult Theme and All Hell Breaks Loose," by Meghan Cox Gurdon, Wall Street Journal, 28 June 2011, emphasis mine.
    If the American Library Association were inclined to burn people in effigy, I might well have gone up in smoke these past few days.  ALA members, mostly librarians and other book-industry folk, are concluding their annual conference today in New Orleans, and it's a fair bet that some of them are still fuming about an article of mine that appeared in these pages earlier this month.

    The essay, titled "Darkness Too Visible," discussed the way in which young-adult literature invites teenagers to wallow in ugliness, barbarity, dysfunction and cruelty.  By focusing on the dark currents in the genre, I was of course no more damning all young-adult literature than a person writing about reality TV is damning all television, but from the frenzied reaction you would have thought I had called for the torching of libraries.

    Within hours of the essay's appearance it became a leading topic on Twitter.  Indignant defenders of young-adult literature called me "idiotic," "narrow-minded," "brittle," "ignorant," "shrewish," "irresponsible" and "reprehensible."  Authors Judy Blume and Libba Bray suggested that I was giving succor to book-banners. Author Lauren Myracle took the charge a stage further, accusing me of "formulating an argument not just against 'dark' YA [young-adult] books, but against the very act of reading itself."  The ALA, in a letter to The Journal, saw "danger" in my argument, saying that it "encourages a culture of fear around YA literature."

    The odd thing is that I wasn't tracking some rare, outlier tendency.  As book reviewer Janice Harayda observed, commenting on my essay: "Anyone who writes about children's books regularly knows that [Mrs. Gurdon] hasn't made up this trend. . . . Books, like movies, keep getting more lurid."

    ....
    But, to some, those are desirable destinations. Many of the angriest responses to my essay came from people who believe that a major purpose of young-adult fiction is therapeutic.  "YA Saves!" was the rallying hashtag of thousands of Twitter posters who chose to express their ire in 140 characters or less.

    It is true that so-called problem novels may be helpful to children in anguished circumstances.  The larger question is whether books about rape, incest, eating disorders and "cutting" (self-mutilation) help to normalize such behaviors for the vast majority of children who are merely living through the routine ordeals of adolescence.

    There are real-world reasons for caution.  For years, federal researchers could not understand why drug- and tobacco-prevention programs seemed to be associated with greater drug and tobacco use.  It turned out that children, while grasping the idea that drugs were bad, also absorbed the meta-message that adults expected teens to take drugs.  Well-intentioned messages, in other words, can have the unintended consequence of opening the door to expectations and behaviors that might otherwise remain closed.

    .... 
    In the outpouring of response to my essay, I've been told that I fail to understand the brutal realities faced by modern teens.  Adolescence, I've been instructed, is a prolonged period of racism, homophobia, bullying, eating disorders, abusive sexual episodes, and every other manner of unpleasantness.
    Author Sherman Alexie asked, in a piece for WSJ.com titled "Why the Best Kids Books Are Written in Blood": "Does Mrs. Gurdon honestly believe that a sexually explicit YA novel might somehow traumatize a teen mother?  Does she believe that a YA novel about murder and rape will somehow shock a teenager whose life has been damaged by murder and rape?  Does she believe a dystopian novel will frighten a kid who already lives in hell?"

    ....

NOTE ADDED 8 JULY 2011:

Wow!  Get a load of these new stories/podcasts, particularly the apology from author Lauren Myracle:

  • "Questions We Should Be Asking About YA Lit," by Rahma Krambo, Mystic Coffee, 7 July 2011. 
  • "A Spade By Any Other Name," by Thomas M, Liberry Jam, 7 July 2011.
  • "Is Young Adult Fiction Too Dark?," by Tracey Matisak interviewing Meghan Cox Gurdon and Maureen Johnson, WWHY Radio Times, 6 July 2011, podcast available.
  • "YA Author Apologizes To 'Wall Street Journal' Critic," by Neal Conan interviewing Meghan Cox Gurdon and Lauren Myracle, NPR Talk of the Nation, 6 July 2011, podcast available.
    "I lashed out at you," Myracle said.  "When people get outraged they get angry, and then it becomes this weird argument instead of a discussion.  ...  I should welcome people who aren't on the same page with love and generosity.  ...  And I didn't with you.  And I'm sorry."
  • "Gratuitous Violence in YA Literature," by Ru Freeman, Ru Freeman Author & Activist, 2 July 2011.
    To say children benefit from exposure to extreme violence in reality, or imagery?  Yep, bullshit.  Suffering is just suffering.  Bullshit is just bullshit no matter what patriotic utterance is wrapped around it.

And let me remind you of oldies but goodies:


NOTE ADDED 10 JULY 2011:

See also:

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Saturday, June 4, 2011

ACLU Speech Police Lose Bid to Force Public School to Remove Religion from Graduation Ceremonies; Federal Appeals Court Reverses Censorship of God by ACLU; American Library Association Labels Such ACLU Censorship as Success Stories

"ACLU is dead."—
5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
ACLU speech police lose bid to force a public school to remove religion from graduation ceremonies.  A federal appeals court reversed a federal district court that approved the censorship of God by the ACLU.  And the American Library Association [ALA] approves of such actions by the ACLU to censor students.

I recently wrote, "ACLU Double Standard in Public Schools on a Single Person Bringing Complaints."  Well, the ACLU threatened yet another school, again based on the complaint of a single person, actually got a federal judge to order the school what not to say—so much for freedom of speech, right?—and a federal appeals court just overruled the lower court and ordered the ACLU to take a flying leap.  See for yourself:
  • "Federal Court Lifts Ban on Public Prayer at Texas High School Graduation After Uproar," by Todd Starnes and AP, FOXNews, 3 June 2011, emphasis and hyperlinks mine.
    "This is a complete victory for religious freedom and for Angela," said Kelly Shackelford, president/CEO of Liberty Institute, which had represented class valedictorian Angela Hildenbrand in the appeal.  "We are thrilled that she will be able to give her prayer without censorship in her valedictorian speech tomorrow night.  No citizen has the right to ask the government to bind and gag the free speech of another citizen."

    Chief U.S. District Judge Fred Biery's initial ban had been denounced as an "activist decision" by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who called it "exactly the wrong civics lesson to teach to the class of 2011."

    Biery had ruled Thursday in favor of Christa and Danny Schultz, who sued to block such religious expressions at their son's graduation.  Among the words or phrases Biery had banned were:  "join in prayer," "bow their heads," "amen," and "prayer."

    He also ordered the school district to remove the terms "invocation" and "benediction" from the graduation program, in favor of "opening remarks" and "closing remarks."

    Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott responded by voicing support for the school district in its appeal.

    "Part of this goes to the very heart of the unraveling of moral values in this country," Abbott told Fox News Radio, saying the judge wanted to turn school administrators into "speech police."

    "I’ve never seen such a restriction on speech issued by a court or the government," Abbott told Fox News Radio.  "It seems like a trampling of the First Amendment rather than protecting the First Amendment."

Can you believe this?  The vaunted ACLU promoting censorship and forcing schools to be speech police, all the while unraveling the moral values of our country.  Words of the news story, not mine.  The ACLU is trampling the First Amendment.  The Texas Attorney General said that, not me.

But it's true, is it not?  See, e.g., "Faith Under Fire: Graduating Students Defy ACLU; Seniors Stand and Recite Lord's Prayer," by Bob Unruh, WorldNetDaily, 5 June 2009.

To remind everyone why I raise this issue, it is because the American Library Association approves of such censorship.  It should not be viewed as authoritative on issues it claims are "censorship."  It keeps using the shibboleth that schools should not be help hostage to a single parent, yet that's what the ACLU does again and again while the ALA labels such actions as "success stories."  The ACLU is the ALA's comrade-in-arms.  Consider, e.g., US v. ALA et al. (the "et al." includes the ACLU), where both worked together to stop the "Children's Internet Protection Act."  They both lost.  Children won.

That Old Devil ALA!
Indeed, the ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom [OIF] was created by an ACLU state leader (see also, "That Old Devil ALA!," by Karen G. Schneider, American Libraries, October 2000) and it is the OIF that, by itself, made keeping inappropriate material from children tantamount to a crime (I'm thinking, e.g, of the current squirting sperm book removed from a public school in Phoenix, AZ, where arguments are being made that the school violated "due process" and must return the book to the children).  It is the OIF that calls anyone who complains about any material "censors."

Will the ALA speak out about the ACLU's censorship, its trampling of the First Amendment, the intellectual freedom of school children?  Of course not.  It is just another ALA double standard.

Indeed, the ALA tracks and approves of cases where the ACLU tramples student's rights in public schools.  This is censorship of which the ALA approves.  No, I am not kidding.  For example, in the ALA OIF's  "Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom," in a section entitled "Success Stories; Schools," the ALA reported as follows:




Kanawha County, West Virginia
The American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia and Americans United for Separation of Church and State applauded the decision of the Kanawha County School Board to end a policy that permitted school-sponsored prayer at graduation ceremonies. U.S. District Judge John T. Copenhaver, Jr., approved a settlement between the parties August 14.
"The resolution of this lawsuit guarantees the religious liberty of every family in the community," said Ayesha Khan, legal director of Americans United. "Thankfully, the new policy will strike the right balance.  Students will be free to pray if they wish during graduation, but to protect everyone’s rights, worship will no longer be an official part of the ceremony."
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Tyler Deveny on May 29, 2002.  Deveny, an atheist, objected to the prayer at his graduation at St. Albans High School which he called an exercise in ostracism.  The ACLU and Americans United successfully won a temporary restraining order blocking the prayer the next day.
The Superintendent of the Kanawha County Schools, Ron Duerring, agreed in the settlement to immediately abolish the district-wide policy that permitted schools like St. Albans to have student-led prayer at their graduation.  Duerring said in a statement, that "such an outcome is best for the school community and pays proper respect to constitutional requirements."
Shortly after the May 30 graduation ceremony took place, Deveny was assaulted allegedly because of his participation in the case.  The ACLU, AU and the superintendent strongly condemned this assault.  "Mr. Deveny was exercising an important constitutional right to seek redress for alleged violations of the Constitution," Duerring said in his statement.  "Mr. Deveny’s actions have served to educate Kanawha County Schools and the community as a whole about constitutional requirements."
In connection with the settlement, Duerring will review Kanawha County curriculum and professional staff development programs to ensure adequate education and training on First Amendment issues, particularly the separation of church and state and freedom of religion.
Reported in: Americans United press release, August 14.
"Success Stories; Schools," by ALA OIF, Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, LI:6 (November 2002).

The ALA thinks such censorship is a "success story" while it tells communities keeping inappropriate material from children violates their rights.  But what do you think?  Please comment below.  Freedom of speech is allowed here.


NOTE ADDED 7 JUNE 2011:

Here is a story with video of high school hero Angela Hildenbrand, the Medina Valley High School valedictorian, speaking the very words the ACLU sought to censor, the type of censorship the ALA applauds as a "success story," and listen to the reaction of the crowd afterward:
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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Highly Compensated Federal Librarians

Twenty-two federal employee librarians make more money than their own state governor!  It likely has nothing to do with safe libraries, but it sure is interesting, and I try to make this blog interesting.  Here, see for yourself:

  • "New CRS Report Reveals More Than 77,000 Fed Employees Paid More than Governors of the State in Which They Work," by Office of Senator Tom Coburn, U.S. Senate, 1 June 2011.
    No one would disagree that federal employees deserve to be paid adequately for their work.  We can all agree on the importance of paying highly specialized doctors to care for wounded soldiers and veterans, or skilled engineers for their services.  However, when our nation is over $14 trillion in debt and American families are struggling to make ends meet, this report begs for an explanation of why interior designers, recreation planners, and other public employees are enjoying higher salaries than state governors.

Does anyone know what positions these 22 librarians hold and in what state?  Does anyone know why they make more than their own state governor?  Please comment below.  Interesting, no?

The American Library Association's Federal & Armed Forces Libraries Round Table (FAFLRT) produces a quarterly newsletter named, "Federal Librarian."  I look forward to seeing what will be reported about this issue.


NOTE ADDED 5 JUNE 2011:

This story was picked up by LISNews, one of the major library news sources:

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