Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Diary of Anne Frank in Northville School District

Mary Kay Gallagher, Superintendent
Members, Board of Education 
Northville School District
501 W Main St. 
Northville, MI 48167

Dear Ms. Gallagher and Board Members,

I just became aware that you are now being pressured by a group of organizations [*] that goes from school to school [FN 1], community to community [FN 2] sending similar letters, even right down to the same autograph graphics.  They demand you do as they say, and that is to override your own policy, common sense, and community standards.  They do this with false or incomplete information designed to mislead you into doing what they are demanding you do but they don't have the power to force you to do.  Hence the need to propagandize you into doing what they want.  And some of these organizations actively promote pornographic material in public schools and public libraries [FN 3].  I am referencing this letter here:

I will now give you information about the matter, then I will do something they will not, namely, I'll let you make your own decision without making demands regarding the book.

Know ahead of time that I read the paragraph in question [FN 4] as a result of this effort to force your hand and I personally find it is neither pornographic nor inappropriate for children given the context.  However, my opinion is irrelevant and you may do as you wish--I'll make no demands that you act one way or another nor will I mislead you.

The Pico case [FN 5] they cite regarding the "ideas" in the book is a lovely case but the pressure groups leave out that the case allows for the removal forthwith of pervasively vulgar books or other material unsuitable for education.  As long as you are making a decision about the pervasive vulgarity of the book, if any, and are not seeking to block ideas, the Pico case will support your removal of that book as it has with other inappropriate books in other communities [FN 6].  Did the pressure groups advise you of this?  The other cases cited deal with "ideas" as well, so those are inapposite as well.

The lovely things they say about the book are very nice, but you get to decide how lovely the book is.  You need not follow them [FN 7].  Indeed they'll argue libraries cannot block R-Rated movies because some outside organization (MPAA) made those rating decisions [FN 8].  So why should you be swayed now by the rating decisions of the pressure groups from outside your community, especially where they complain about outside organizations providing ratings?  Do you see that double standard?

Then they go after the parents.  Your community, your school community, it is being attacked subtlety by the pressure groups.  They don't even sign the letter themselves, and I'll bet they all didn't even read it, and here they are telling you your parents "have no right to impose their views on others."  It is the pressure groups imposing their view on you! [FN 9]  No parent is imposing his view on anyone.  What parents are doing is exercising the legitimate right to question school material.  They bring that concern to the school's attention.  The school then makes a decision and acts on that decision.  The school does, not the parent.  Telling you not to let parents impose their views on others is a means of intimidating the parents into silence and you into obeisance because we all know censors are evil and no one wants to be labelled as a censor.  Well parents who complain about books are not censors and they have every right to make a complaint about reading material [FN 10].

And you know what else?  Here's something the pressure groups did not tell you, will never tell you, and have never told anyone in any of the many other communities they plague because it would cast the matter completely the opposite of what they are trying to get you to think.  The very creator of "Banned Books Week" said that if a book does not meet a school's selection policy, "get it out of there" [FN 11].  

And you get to decide if a book meets your selection policy, not me, not the pressure groups, and not the ratings organizations like Scholastic that at least one school superintendent said does not provide accurate information about the potential for inappropriate material [FN 12].

Did the pressure groups advise you of this?  No, of course not.  They are misleading you.

Alright, that's a good start for how you are being misled by the pressure groups and how you may make any decision you see fit that complies with Pico and your own policy, etc.

For much more detail, see the list of articles I included in a post on a similar topic [FN 13].

As with the pressure groups, if I can be of any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me [F 14].  I have been doing this for over a decade and even the ALA lists me as a "[g]roup[] acting to restrict information in libraries," which is false, but at least I know they love me [FN 15].


*  Kids Right to Read Project (KRRP): National Coalition Against Censorship, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Bantam Books (The Random House Publishing Group), American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, Free Expression Advocacy Association of American Publishers, National Council of Teachers of English, PEN American Center, The Independent Book Publishers Association, Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators, American Society of Journalists and Authors

FN 1  Leesburg, FL, Misled by NCAC and ABFFE; Both Write Letter Filled with False and Misleading Statements; Kids' Right to Read Project Misleads

FN 2  Violent Video Games in the Paterson Free Public Library and the NCAC/ALA Attempt to Mislead Another Community

FN 3  NCAC Pushes Porn on Libraries; Fifty Shades of Grey Propaganda: Brevard Buckles, Harford Holds

FN 4  Mother Wants 'Pornographic' Diary of Anne Frank Pulled from School

FN 5  Board of Education v. Pico, 457 U.S. 853 (1982)

FN 6  School Media Specialist Passes Sexual Content Review to Students; Dee Venuto Says It Is Discrimination to Keep Children From Material Including Lengthy, Vivid Descriptions of a Ménage a Trois

FN 7  2,300 Petition to Stop School From Requiring Explicit Reading Material

FN 8  Keeping R-Rated Films from Children is Censorship, According to the ALA and the Fountaindale Public Library That Blindly Follows the ALA

FN 9  The Parent Trap: ALA Uses Banned Books Week to Ridicule Patrons Complying with ALA Materials Reconsideration Policies

FN 10  Banned Books Week Propaganda Exposed by Progressive Librarian Rory Litwin; ALA Censors Out Criticism of Its Own Actions in a Manner Dishonest to the Core

FN 11  Marking 25 Years of Banned Books Week: An Interview with Judith Krug

FN 12  School Excoriates Book Reviews that Fail to Disclose 'Graphic Sexual Details' in Books for Children; Lush by Natasha Friend is 'Wildly Inappropriate' for Certain Children

FN 13  School Removes Squirting Sperm Book After 8-Year-Old Complains To Her Mother

FN 14  About SafeLIbraries

FN 15  Preparing for and Responding to Challenges, by Beverley Becker, Intellectual Freedom Manual

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