Thursday, April 25, 2013

How to Filter Public Library Computers: Bradburn v NCRL Shows Libraries Need Not Approve Unblock Requests

It is legal to filter public library computers.  Libraries must unblock the filters upon request, in certain circumstances.  Must they do so unconditionally and without first ensuring compliance with library policy?  No.  Libraries may take the time needed to evaluate whether the site to be unblocked complies with library policy.

"Incredibly Important Decision for Public Libraries Throughout the Nation" - No Need to Unblock Porn Sites

I publish below, for the first time anywhere, the full text of the court order allowing librarians to review computer filter unblock requests to ensure compliance with library policy.  It is "an incredibly important decision for public libraries ... throughout the nation."

In other words, public libraries may not only legally block pornography, but they need not unblock such Internet sites!  The Bradburn v. NCRL Order, shown below in full, evidences this very clearly.

ALA Claims Case Has Little Value

On the other hand, the American Library Association argues the Bradburn case is of little value and only applies to that one library district:
While the lawsuit was pending, the library changed its filtering software and amended its filtering policy.  Six years after the initial filing of the lawsuit, the federal district court ruled in an unpublished decision that the library's filtering policy did not violate the constitution, in part because the branch libraries are "relatively small in size and only one has a partition separating the children's portion of the library from the remainder of the library."  As an unpublished decision reviewing one particular set of facts in one library system, the decision has limited precedential value.

NCRL Director
Dean Marney
The Bradburn Case Gives Deep Insight on Judicial Thought

Yes, there may be limited precedential value, but it provides a deep insight into how courts might look at the issue.  Evidencing how well the judge analyzed the case, the ACLU would not even appeal its loss:
As the NCRL library director, Dean Marney, concluded:
Director Dean Marney said, "Common sense and taxpayers are the winners in this case.  The courts have affirmed that public libraries have the right to be libraries.  Libraries should never be forced to use public funds to provide access to child pornography or to become illegal casinos.  Libraries should be sanctuaries for people of all ages."

Winning Library Director Outs ALA "Dogma"

Further, the NCRL library director, Dean Marney, has specifically outed the ALA as promoting false "dogma" to push its way (similar to what CIPA author Ernest Istook exposed about ALA misleading communities).  See:

ALA Forced by Bradburn/Marney to Admit Library Filters Work

So effective was Dean Marney in making and winning his point that even the ALA itself was forced to admit he was right, library filtering software now works effectively, and false breast cancer blocking claims are old excuses.  Under the circumstances, seeing the ALA spinning again is no surprise.  See:

Dean Marney Takes On ALA Propaganda Directly

Perhaps the most authoritative voice on the Bradburn case was the very man who exposed the ALA dogma and forced the ALA to admit filters work and it is time to stop using the old excuses.  He had direct interaction with the ALA in its American Libraries magazine after ALA promoted its false message that the Bradburn case means very little, and ALA now makes it official diktat.  Quite the contrary, the case sets an example for municipalities throughout the entire nation.  As Dean Marney said, "To say the case doesn't matter now just doesn't make sense."

Let's hear from Dean Marney himself responding to the ALA's attorney Theresa Chmara who is trying to minimize the impact of the case.  (By the way, notice Dean Marney and I both responded to the ALA, and ALA censored my comments with ad hominem remarks about defamation and unsolicited advertising, which I did not do.  And "FTRF" is a creation of and part of the ALA.):

Theresa Chmara's "Why Recent Court Decisions Don't Change the Rules on Filtering" is correct in stating that the courts in ALA v. CIPA and Bradburn et al v. North Central Regional Library have affirmed that "to fulfill their traditional missions, public libraries must have broad discretion to decide what material to provide to their patrons."

Bradburn et al v. NCRL is an incredibly important decision for public libraries in Washington State and throughout the nation.  The Washington State Supreme Court and the Federal District Court each affirmed that an Internet Use Policy, fairly applied and offering web site unblocking alternatives, is a reasonable approach to collection management and one that fully meets constitutional standards.  We at North Central Regional Library are proud to offer such a policy, indeed a policy that protects kids, adults, and employees from a hostile environment while offering quality resources to a wide range of patrons having diverse interests.

It is interesting that Ms. Chmara does not mention that the FTRF was involved in Bradburn virtually from inception.  Before the case was filed, the ACLU, representing Plaintiffs, briefed the FTRF.  The former president of the FTRF and a past Board Member were factual witnesses in the case.  To say the case doesn't matter now just doesn't make sense.

Ms. Chmara says the federal opinion wasn't published.  Does that matter?  The Washington Supreme court's opinion certainly was.  Does Ms. Chmara genuinely believe the federal decision will have no impact on the important national discussion occurring on the subject?  Both Bradburn decisions are extremely important and should inform the decisions of other libraries considering the deployment of filtering software.

People often ask why we fought the Bradburn case to affirm our Internet Policy.  I have no trouble telling them that it wasn't a choice–we care about our mission, we care about the people that use our libraries, and we care about our staff.

Dean Marney
North Central Regional Library
Wenatchee, WA 98801

Submitted by Dean Marney (not verified) on Mon, 07/30/2012 - 12:43.

No Need for Governments to Pierce the Veil of Autonomy

To governmental leaders seeking to rein in their local libraries acting outside the law (by behaving as open public fora instead of quasi public fora, etc.), which you may certainly do without piercing the veil of autonomy, don't Dean Marney's words bring warmth to your hearts and ideas to your minds?  "Both Bradburn decisions are extremely important and should inform the decisions of other libraries considering the deployment of filtering software."

ALA Deception On "Years of Litigation and Significant Legal Expenses"

In another example of how deceptive is the ALA, look at the next paragraph in "Libraries and the Internet Toolkit;  Legal Issues: CIPA & Filtering" from the ALA:
In summation, libraries considering the use of filtering software should consult their legal counsel prior to any such deployment.  Libraries that employ filters that block constitutionally protected material deemed harmful to minors and do not allow adults to disable filters, or fail to provide an effective unblocking system, may open the door to years of litigation and significant legal expenses.
Well, that one NCRL case was years of litigation.  One.  But what the ALA does not advise is that there are considerably more cases that occur as a result of not filtering and the harm that the resultant pornography brings to the community, including—sexually harassed librarians.  Sadly, ALA never helps them.

By the way, the ALA attorney says libraries must "allow adults to disable filters."  CIPA does not allow that.  Only librarians may disable the filters.  It is just more deception.

Librarian Sexual Harassment Cases Mean Libraries Should Consider Using Filters

Such sexual harassment cases are more frequent and result in far greater harm and liability than someone who cannot get his porn at taxpayer expense.  But the ALA, seeking to mislead local governments, only fear mongers about "years of litigation and significant legal expenses" while completely leaving out much more frequent and serious librarian sexual harassment cases due to a lack of filtering.  See a few examples of the sexual harassment cases ALA does not reveal while it uses scare tactics on filtering cases:

So there we see a number of sexual harassment cases, and for big money, but the ALA does not disclose these when it threatens filtering lawsuits will be a drag.  Indeed, libraries should consider using filters just to prevent sexual harassment cases.


In conclusion, the Bradburn case sets a national example of the means by which public libraries may legally and effectively filter out pornography.  In contrast, ALA misleads by minimizing the effect of Bradburn and using fear tactics on municipal liability.

Most importantly, the message for municipalities, as Dean Marney says, is that you too can be "proud to offer ... a policy that protects kids, adults, and employees from a hostile environment while offering quality resources to a wide range of patrons having diverse interests."

Bradburn v. NCRL

Below is that Bradburn v. NCRL Order, published in full text here and nowhere else, hyperlinks removed and caption and footnotes repositioned.  (Here is a PDF version of the original Bradburn v. NCRL Order I have published below, also at








NO. CV-06-0327-EFS



     Following the Washington Supreme Court's certification ruling, the question remaining from the parties' summary judgment motions, ECF Nos. 28 & 39, is whether Defendant North Central Regional Library District's (NCRL) internet-filtering policy is overbroad or a content-based restriction thereby violating the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  After reviewing the submitted materials, considering the relevant authority, and hearing from counsel during an October 25, 2011 hearing,[1] the Court is fully informed.  For the reasons given below, the Court grants NCRL summary judgment and denies Plaintiffs summary judgment.

A.  Facts[2]

     With the assistance of federal funding, NCRL provides Internet access at its twenty-eight libraries.  Because Congress mandates that a library receiving federal funds in order to provide Internet access must restrict patrons' Internet access to obscene and child pornographic materials, NCRL utilizes a filter (FortiGuard) to restrict its patrons' Internet access to such materials.  See 20 U.S.C. § 9134(f) (Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA), which also permits a library to restrict additional materials).  According to both its Internet Public Use Policy and Collection Development Policy (collectively, "Policy"), NCRL sets FortiGuard's filtering parameters to filter web pages and sites that depict hacking, phishing, proxy avoidance, malware, and spyware; display nudity; promote sexuality; or allow gambling.  Not all of the blocked web pages and sites contain constitutionally-unprotected speech.  Therefore, as a result of the FortiGuard filter, constitutionally-protected speech is blocked and patrons, even adult patrons, are unable to view the material.

     To help reduce the number of mis-blocked web pages and sites, NCRL allows patrons to submit requests to unblock a specific web page or site.  If NCRL believes that a blocked web page or site is appropriate for viewing by all of its patrons, it adjusts FortiGuard's parameters so that the web page or site is unblocked for future Internet use.

     Through this lawsuit, Plaintiffs challenge the constitutionality of the Policy under both the Washington and U.S. Constitutions.  On September 30, 2008, the Court certified the Washington-constitutional question to the Washington Supreme Court.  ECF No. 97.  On June 7, 2010, the Washington Supreme Court answered the certified question, finding that "a public library may, consistent with article I, section 5 of the Washington State Constitution, filter Internet access for all patrons without disabling the filter to allow access to web sites containing constitutionally protected speech upon the request of an adult library patron."  ECF No. 110 at 31.

     Now remaining for the Court to address is whether NCRL'S decision to not disable the Internet filter at the request of an adult patron violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

B. Authority and Analysis

     The First Amendment commands:  "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or of the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievance."  U.S. Const. amend. I.  The government can violate the First Amendment in many ways, including enacting a statute that is overbroad or impermissibly regulates the content of speech.[3]  Ashcroft, 535 U.S. at 244.  The government restriction may either restrict speech itself or restrict access to the speech:  both forms of restrictions may violate the First Amendment.  United States v. Playboy Entm't Gp., Inc., 529 U.S. 803, 812 (2000).

     The parties agree that NCRL, a government entity, restricts its patrons' access to speech on the Internet.  The parties disagree as to what level of judicial scrutiny the Court is to apply to NCRL's access-to-speech restriction.  As explained below, based on U.S. Supreme Court and Ninth Circuit decisions, the Court concludes it must apply rational review to the Policy.

     First, a majority of the Supreme Court ruled that public-forum analysis is not used to determine whether a public library has appropriately exercised its collection-decision-making authority.  United States v. Am. Library Ass'n, 539 U.S. 94, 205 & 215-16 (2003) (hereinafter "ALA").  Second, the Ninth Circuit held that rational review is used where the "government provides a public service that, by its nature, requires evaluations of and distinctions based on the content of speech."  Ass'n of Christian Sch. Int'l v. Stearns, 362 Fed. Appx. 640, 643 (9th Cir. 2010) (unpublished opinion).

     As a public library, NCRL pursues the "worthy missions" of facilitating learning, research, and recreational pursuits.  ALA, 539 U.S. at 203.  It is undisputed that to fulfill these missions, NCRL is not required to provide "universal coverage" and enjoys "broad discretion to decide what material to provide to [its] patrons."  Id. at 204 (internal citation removed).  Plaintiffs argue that NCRL's broad discretion is limited to its written materials because the grant of this discretion is based on a library's space and fiscal limitations.  However, these limitations are not the only rationale for granting a library broad discretion to make "content-based judgments when deciding what private speech to make available to the public."  Id. at 204.  A library's "need to exercise judgment in making collection decisions depends [also] on its traditional role in identifying suitable and worthwhile material; [and] it is no less entitled to play that role when it collects material from the Internet than when it collects material from any other source."  Id. at 208.  Given the vast, ever changing, and almost unlimited amount of information available on the Internet, the Supreme Court recognized that "libraries cannot possibly segregate, item by item, all the Internet material that is appropriate for inclusion from all that is not."  Id.  Accordingly, NCRL is required to evaluate its patrons' Internet access based on the speech's content.  Therefore, the Court subjects NCRL's filtering process to rational review.

     Scrutinizing the undisputed facts under rational review, the Court finds NCRL's use of FortiGuard to filter its patrons' Internet access and its decision to not disable the filter upon an adult patron's request complies with the First Amendment.  It is reasonable for NCRL to develop an Internet policy that can be implemented consistently throughout its twenty-eight libraries, and it did so by implementing the Policy.  NCRL'S libraries are relatively small in size and only one has a partition separating the children's portion of the library from the remainder of the library.  Blocking Internet sites and pages that contain constitutionally-protected material deemed suitable only for adults helps ensure that the environment at NCRL libraries is consistent with its mission of providing learning and research opportunities for individuals of all ages.  This is a legitimate government interest.

     And NCRL's practice of requiring a patron to request that a particular web site or page be unblocked is an efficient and rationale way for NCRL to determine whether that web site or page is consistent with its policies and mission, especially in light of the Internet's continuous change.  NCRL simply does not have the resources to have its staff review the vast and limitless amount of sites and pages on the Internet to determine whether they are consistent with its policies and mission.  NCRL'S unblocking-request process reasonably accomplishes its policies and mission, while at the same time complying with CIPA.

     The Court acknowledges that this process may frustrate some adult patrons.  However, without the funding provided by CIPA, NCRL likely could not provide any Internet access to its patrons.  This would be a great disservice to the NCRL patrons, many of whom live in rural areas where reliable, affordably-priced Internet access may be difficult to obtain.

C. Conclusion

     Because NCRL's Policy, including not disabling the Internet filter at the request of an adult patron, is reasonable, there is no overbreadth or impermissible content-based First Amendment violation.  For the above given reasons, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED:

     1.   NCRL's Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 28, is GRANTED.
     2.   Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 39, is DENIED.
     3.   Judgment is to be entered in NCRL's favor with prejudice.
     4.   This file shall be CLOSED.

     IT IS SO ORDERED.  The District Court Executive is directed to enter this Order and provide copies to counsel.

     DATED this   10th      day of April 2012.

             s/ Edward F. Shea            
            EDWARD F. SHEA 
            United States District Judge

     [1] Duncan Manville appeared on behalf of Plaintiffs Sarah Bradburn, Pearl Cherrington, Charles Heinlen, and the Second Amendment Foundation.  Thomas Adams appeared on NCRL's behalf.

     [2] The parties agree that the detailed undisputed facts contained in the Court's prior Order, ECF No. 96, still apply.  Accordingly, the Court only provides the basic facts herein.

     [3] The freedom of speech has limits as certain types of speech, such as defamation, obscenity, and pornography produced with children, are unprotected by the First Amendment.  Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coal., 535 U.S. 234, 245-56 (2003).


Monday, April 22, 2013

OPRA Request for Montville Public Library Records to Determine Possible Ethical Violations and Malpractice by Ann Grossi, Library Attorney and Morris County Freeholder

Ann Grossi, Esq.
Dear Montville Township Committee (via Township Clerk Trudy Atkinson),

I am Dan Kleinman of SafeLibraries, Chatham, NJ.  I will soon write to you about the Montville Patch story containing misinformation that the Montville Public Library must allow porn viewing:

But first, with this letter I am hereby filing a FOIA/OPRA request for records relating to the Montville Public Library that could be in the possession of the library or the Montville government or its contractees generally, specifically any material, including publicly available legal advice, regarding public library Internet filtering, the First Amendment related to the library, the Children's Internet Protection Act, E-Rate funding, or reported instances of pornography or inappropriate material viewing in the Montville Public Library within the past two years and any official action taken in response, whether received formally or informally, from Morris County Freeholder Ann Grossi who is also the library's attorney, or from any other person who made records of the substance of their communications with Ann Grossi on said subjects, such as the Mayor, limiting records from said persons other than Ann Grossi to only those records regarding Ann Grossi that are related to said issues.

In short, I'm looking to see if Ann Grossi has advised the library on library computer filtering, pornography, the First Amendment, etc., and what are the contents of that advice, limited to about the last two years to the present.

I base this request on a number of factors:
  1. Ann Grossi has in the past misled another Morris County, NJ, community regarding pornography in its public library, and she did that as the Roxbury Public Library's attorney and Morris County Freeholder.  See, for the reliable sources contained therein:  "Turning the Tide on Library Porn; Predicted Excuses for Not Filtering All Library Computers," by Dan Kleinman, SafeLibraries, 7 August 2011.
  2. It appears Ann Grossi may be misleading another Morris County community, yours, again as the library's attorney and Morris County Freeholder.  The Montville Patch story reports,  "Mayor Tim Braden noted that ... the library cannot entirely restrict patrons from looking at pornography ... as it would be considered restricting their rights."  That is false.  United States v. American Library Association, 539 U.S. 194 (2003):  "public libraries' use of Internet filtering software does not violate their patrons' First Amendment rights....  ....  Most libraries already exclude pornography from their print collections because they deem it inappropriate for inclusion.  We do not subject these decisions to heightened scrutiny; it would make little sense to treat libraries' judgments to block online pornography any differently, when these judgments are made for just the same reason."  It is possible that Mayor Braden has been misled by library attorney Ann Grossi, just as she misled others in the past.  People do not naturally assume the First Amendment requires public libraries to allow porn on their computers—just the opposite.  It is possible that false and/or misleading legal advice caused Mayor Braden to set aside the obvious assumption and believe instead that the library may not stop patrons from viewing porn.  Ann Grossi is in a position to provide Mayor Braden with the misinformation needed for him to set aside the law, common sense, and community standards to condone porn in the public library.
  3. As a NJ attorney, I have an ethical obligation to report possible legal malpractice or ethical violations under RPC 8.3 Reporting Professional Misconduct: "(a) A lawyer who knows that another lawyer has committed a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct that raises a substantial question as to that lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other res
    Ann Grossi's erroneous advice that blocking porn in
    a public library is a First Amendment violation,
    as displayed on News 12 New Jersey.
    pects, shall inform the appropriate professional authority."  Regarding Ann Grossi's erroneous advice to the Roxbury library that goes against the US Supreme Court holding, that was about two years ago and may have been simple error.  If, however, after two years has passed and after Ann Grossi said the Roxbury library was reviewing its policies and practices in response to News 12 New Jersey's inquiries, if Ann Grossi has provided Montville with substantially the same false legal advice as she provided to Roxbury, then any honest mistake in the past has been converted into an intentional effort to mislead.  I may be under an ethical obligation to report Ann Grossi's actions to the New Jersey Office of Attorney Ethics.  This FOIA/OPRA request is intended to obtain the best information possible so any filing with the NJ OAE I may make is as accurate and reliably sourced as possible.
  4. This matter may be in the public interest as Ann Grossi is currently a Morris County Freeholder who is now seeking office as Morris County Clerk and has said, "My legal background would be a benefit."  If her legal background includes unethical activity or legal malpractice, that is entirely relevant to all Morris County citizens who may vote for her and her "legal background."  See: "Grossi Running for County Clerk: 'I'm Taking a Risk'; Montville Library Board Attorney Steps Away From County Freeholder Board to Make a Bid for Clerk's Position," by Natalie Davis, Montville Patch, 7 January 2013.  
  5. The harm done, if any, extends to a number of Morris County communities and negatively impacts the children the most.  Those children have no advocates who speak for them.  If false information that prevents children from being protected in public libraries is exposed to the light and removed, suddenly the entire community will become advocates for the children, and public libraries in Morris County will see a big reduction in the number of incidents related to the viewing of pornography.  On the chance there is any question that people are being misled into leaving their children exposed to harm in public libraries as a result of unfiltered pornography that could be legally curtailed, please read what the author of the Children's Internet Protection Act said:  "CIPA Author Exposes ALA Deception; Ernest Istook Who Authored Children's Internet Protection Act Calls Out American Library Association for Using Legal Tactics to Claim First Amendment Protection for Public Library Pornography Viewing, Causing Librarians to Be Indifferent and Leave Children Unprotected," by Dan KleinmanSafeLibraries, 27 February 2012.
Supplying said records as PDF attachments to an email addressed to will be adequate, as well as photocopies sent to SafeLibraries, 641 Shunpike Rd #123, Chatham NJ 07928, 973-610-8296, $50 maximum automatic authorization.  Please advise what additional requirements I must fulfill to receive a substantive response to this FOIA/OPRA request.

Thank you for your consideration.

Dan Kleinman
641 Shunpike Rd #123
Chatham NJ 07928


Here is the response to the OPRA request received 24 April, so I am evaluating if this means I can go ahead with filing the ethics complaint:
I am in receipt of your e-mail dated April 22, 2013 and note the OPRA request contained within your message (the OPRA form is blank).  I am the records custodian for the Township of Montville.  The Montville Township Public Library is an autonomous body and not a department of the Township.  I am not the records custodian for the Montville Township Public Library.  Your request seeks documents related to the library, and your request would perhaps be better directed to the Montville Township Public Library.  I can advise you that the records you seek, specifically a legal opinion issued by Counsel for the Montville Township Public Library on the issue of pornography in the Library, is not a record maintained by the Township of Montville.
In a related matter, I have published the following:


As a result of the above OPRA response from Montville, I sent a letter directly to the library.  See:

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Chicago Public Library Openly Allows Porn Despite the Law and Chicago Sun-Times Gives One-Sided Report to Maintain Status Quo

Many libraries allow porn viewing despite the law, so many that the American Library Association has been called out for misleading a third of American communities by the author of the Children's Internet Protection Act, and, as a result, ALA has been named as one of the nation's leading porn facilitators.

But it is not often that you see libraries just come out and say porn is just fine and dandy with them:
Ruth Lednicer, director of marketing and communications for Chicago Public Library, said this is why Chicago libraries don't use filters. 
"In terms of pornography, it is legal."

Contrast the Chicago Public Library's statement that porn in libraries is legal with the US Supreme Court in United States v. American Library Association, 539 U.S. 194 (2003): "public libraries' use of Internet filtering software does not violate their patrons' First Amendment rights....  ....  Most libraries already exclude pornography from their print collections because they deem it inappropriate for inclusion. We do not subject these decisions to heightened scrutiny; it would make little sense to treat libraries' judgments to block online pornography any differently, when these judgments are made for just the same reason."

Now consider the Chicago Public Library is absolutely rife with porn viewing and the crimes that result therefrom, the patrons can't stand it, but the library forces it on them anyway.

See and sign related petition:
Before I discuss the precise propaganda from the American Library Association, the Illinois Library Association, the Chicago Public Library, and the Chicago Sun-Times, all designed to intentionally mislead people into maintaining the status quo of no filters and high crime in the libraries, let me first include some Chicago Public Library crime stories from the past.  This is important because the public is told and media prints unchallenged that such crimes rarely happen:
(CBS) NAPERVILLE, Ill. Most people view libraries as a safe place to study and spend time.  
But the CBS 2 Investigators obtained security tapes and official internal library files from more than a dozen libraries that show serious crimes and inappropriate behavior are happening across the city and suburbs.

As Dave Savini reports, more and more of these crimes are kept confidential and police are not being called.
Just how safe is your public library?  Our 2 Investigators obtained thousands of confidential files from a dozen libraries in the suburbs and Chicago and found cases of indecent acts, violent attacks and sex crimes, raising serious safety questions about libraries and your safety.

In addition to Naperville, some of the libraries which turned over their internal files included ... Chicago.  The investigation was launched after a series of complaints to CBS 2 from various library patrons about crime, pornography and library security.

Some library users feared crimes occurring at libraries were not being reported to police unless a patron called 911.
Bland, a former teacher, says she was at Chicago's Harold Washington Library when she saw men and children watching Internet pornography.  She says library staff refused to do anything.

"If someone says something you need to call police," Bland said.

At Harold Washington Library alone we found 138 cases of assault, battery and disorderly conduct; 127 thefts; and 32 sex crimes over the past 2 1/2 years.

"Oh my goodness, I didn't know it was all this," Bland said.
"You have to report this stuff," said Judith Krug with the American Library Association.

American Library Association officials say librarians must report crimes to police.  An internal report within the library is not enough.

"While the problems are few in number, when they occur they need to be dealt with and dealt with quickly," Krug said.
Police say to make matters worse if a suspect leaves the library before officers get there, a little known law called the Library Confidentiality Act goes into affect and libraries are not allowed to tell police the name of the suspect without a court order.
Chicago ... public library officials say they have private security guards and they help decide when to call police.  They ... say they are safe, considering the thousands of people who use them weekly.
(CBS) NAPERVILLE, Ill. A little-known law may be turning your local library into a safe haven for criminals.

Thursday night, CBS 2's Save Savini exposed serious crimes and inappropriate behavior going on at libraries in the city and suburbs, and being kept confidential.

Friday CBS 2 takes a look at why police say libraries are hindering their efforts to stop crime.

"I don't understand why the library would protect somebody like that," said Lauren Gauger.

She is talking about Richard Blaszak.

Thursday, CBS 2 Investigators reported the story of Richard Blaszak, who was seen touching himself at the Naperville library on two separate occasions. Police were called by upset patrons.

"When we arrived, we were not able to quickly identify that person," said Chief David Dial of the Naperville Police Department.

Police were not able to arrest Blaszak immediately because he had left before they arrived. That placed Blaszak under the protection of a little-known law called the Library Confidentiality Act.

"We have helped these laws be created and passed because they balance the right of the users of the libraries with the rights of law enforcement officer," said Judith Krug of the American Library Association.

The current law prohibits library staff from revealing the identity of a patron to police once they have left the library.
"I think it protects criminals unduly. We do not want to tread on anybody's rights to privacy or anything else but we do not believe libraries should be sanctuaries for criminals," said Dial.

A court order is needed before a library will release a patron's personal information, causing what police say are costly delays in catching suspects.

Police now want the current confidentiality laws amended to require only probable cause rather than a court order from police.

"We would certainly look at it to see if it is something that we could use," Krug said.

Blaszak pled guilty and state's attorney's say he was in violation of his parole when 2 Investigators found him.

Police are working with State Repesentative Joe Dunn on legislation that would give police access to library records immediately in cases of imminent danger.

They say waiting for a court order in the case of child abduction would be impractical.
See also the following story on a registered sex offender viewing child porn in a Chicago public library and what happened when the news crew filmed from outside the library when first setting up their cameras to get some background shots for the news package (which I know from a personal conversation with the reporter at that time):
As the CBS Channel 2 cameraman prepared to film Hanson standing on the sidewalk out in front of the Mt. Greenwood library, he zoomed in through the front window to the bank of Internet computers only to catch another middle-aged man in the midst of a porn-viewing session!

So an investigative media report shows rampant crimes in the Chicago Public Library and area libraries, efforts to cover up these crimes, a call by the then de facto leader of the ALA saying the crimes should have been reported immediately, a law that hinders the police in apprehending criminals, and porn so bad that even when a news crew takes some background shots for a news package, he first focuses in from outside the library on ... a guy viewing porn on a computer near the window.  Keep all this in mind as we read the story the Chicago Sun-Times "reported," but actually merely repeated.

Remarkably, as a result of the CBS 2 investigative reporting exposing rampant crime in Chicago and area libraries, the Illinois Library Association's leader Bob Doyle wrote a report advising libraries exactly how to thwart police and media investigations as much as legally possible and how to propagandize the issue:
Just to show how Bob Doyle's report was absolutely useless for protecting library patrons from harm but outstanding as to misleading people and the media, here we see media saying that porn may be a First Amendment right in libraries, which it is not, but at least she exposes the supersaturation of porn in the Harold Washington Library in Chicago.  See for yourself as a little girl gets exposed to a massive dose of hardcore porn, and the library director blames the parent:

Indeed, as a result of that story, one family started an entire blog about the porn at the Harold Washington Library.  See:
The Chicago Public Library protects the open and rampant use of Internet pornography by library patrons. This blog is an attempt to bring awareness to this issue and enact change.
And here is Inside Edition on the Harold Washington Library:
Notice: "The Chicago Public Library Director of Marketing Ruth Lednicer gave this statement: ... each Adult Computer in the library has been installed with a privacy screen, which prevents patrons from seeing what the person next to them is viewing."  No, it does not prevent others from seeing porn, and Lednicer knows it.  How do I know she knows it?  Because about nine years earlier the US Supreme Court said Internet filters work best, not privacy screens, and not moving the deck chairs on the Titanic; they even make things worse:
Moving terminals to places where their displays cannot easily be seen by other patrons, or installing privacy screens or recessed monitors, would not address a library's interest in preventing patrons from deliberately using its computers to view online pornography.  To the contrary, these alternatives would make it easier for patrons to do so.
So privacy screens do not do what Lednicer claims.  Rather, they make it easier for patrons to view pornography.  So Lednicer's propaganda is likely part of the reason pornography in Chicago libraries is so rampant.  Watch as she repeats this false statement in the Chicago Sun-Times story, as we will see below.

Now I am going to spell out the propaganda contained in the Chicago Sun-Times story that is simply flat out false and/or misleading, and notice the similarity to past propaganda that only enables the long term porn crimes to keep rolling in.  I will intercalate my comments within the story in bold.  Keep in mind the small sample of past massive problems in Chicago libraries reported and unreported that I presented above.  (By the way, the Chicago Sun-Times censored out my comment I tried to leave on its site because I provided a sentence or two of balance, such as advising it was perfectly legal to remove porn from public libraries):

by Anna Heling 
Chicago Sun-Times 
14 April 2013

After one River North mom saw a library patron using one of the free computers to watch porn, it took but a day before a fellow mom drafted a petition to block porn at public libraries.

Tamara Maple, 45, posted the petition on shortly after reading the fellow mom’s story on an online parenting forum they both frequent.

“Once I saw it, I just felt compelled to take action,” Maple said. “I certainly don’t support censorship, but at the same time I think there’s a time and a place for things like that. It’s important for people to feel safe and comfortable in a public place like a library.”  (Blocking porn from public libraries is perfectly legal and it is not censorship.  The purpose of constantly and falsely claiming porn must be allowed is to fool people into thinking it is censorship to block porn from libraries.  As shown here, even a parent who is complaining about porn in the library feels she has to point out she "certainly don't support censorship."  Folks, it is NEVER censorship to legally block legal porn from public libraries.  You NEVER need to worry about censorship.)

The Lincoln Park resident plans to take it to her alderman, Scott Waguespack (32nd), whether her petition garners a flurry of signatures or not.  (The ALA and the Illinois Library Association anticipate people will complain to politicians so they advise librarians to regularly mislead the government officials with false library censorship concerns so when parents finally do show up, the government official will have already been converted to the ALA/ILA's way of thinking that is unmoored from any law, common sense, or community standards.  An example is what I mentioned above, namely, "Libraries as Sanctuaries for Criminals?," by Robert P. Doyle, Illinois Library Association, circa late 2006 - early 2007.)

Maple, mother to 5-year-old Zach, is especially concerned that kids could easily be exposed to the explicit content.  (Could be?  Here the media falls down on the job as this library is absolutely rife with regular porn viewing and resultant harms including criminal activity.  I showed many examples above.  Some having videos, where you can watch library patrons so disgusted they refuse to even touch the keyboards.  By leaving out the constant problems resulting from the constant porn viewing over the years, the Chicago Sun-Times casts the story as only this one mother who is needlessly shielding her child from some imagined harm that rarely happens anyway.)

“How do they know that the child isn’t going to press the back space and end up viewing pornographic images?” she asked.  (Well as the news videos show, they don't even have to do that.  They simply need to walk around in the libraries to get all the eyeful they'll ever need.  And, as Dr. Mary Anne Layden explains in the video immediately below, porn viewing permanently harms children, and library policy is "a national scandal" that is directly at fault.  "Libraries have become the new red light district.")

The library's open-floor layout worries the River North mom who saw the incident, and who spoke on condition of anonymity.  She noted that the content was easily viewable from the check-out desk.  (Again, the Chicago Sun-Times casts this story as if only this one mother has a problem with the way the furniture is arranged.  No mention of how the US Supreme Court revealed furniture arrangements only exacerbate the porn viewing problems.)

She’s thankful her 6-month-old wasn't older when they saw it: “I was imagining standing there with my 10-year-old son and him saying, 'Mommy, what's that?’”

But blocking porn, libraries say, may do more harm than good.  (At least the media adds "libraries say," but the entire remainder of the article is only what libraries say.  There is absolutely no balance whatsoever.  None.  Zero.  I'll provide in comments below some balance the media completely missed.  And really, does anyone here thing blocking porn does more harm than good?  This library is actually saying blocking porn is harmful!?!  To the policies of the ALA and the ILA and the ACLU, maybe, but not the patrons.  Rather, as I have shown above, porn is harming people in libraries.)

“Even if you do have filters on computers, they provide that false sense of security,” said Bob Doyle, executive director of the Illinois Library Association.  (That is flat out false.  This is the guy who responded to the undercover media investigations by writing a report on how best to thwart police investigations of library crime.  In reality, filters work.  Even the ALA's top leader on library filters admitted this.  So, since filters work, they provide actual security, not a "false sense of security."  Bob Doyle is an expert in this area so he knows filters work, he knows the ALA said they work, he simply wants to continue to mislead the people of Illinois.) “There is some material that some people would consider to be inappropriate that still can be accessed, and at the same time, they can block access to constitutionally protected speech.”  (This is correct, but misleading.  Worse, the Chicago Sun-Times lets it stand.  In reality, this concern has already been asked and answered by the US Supreme Court almost ten years ago.  You simply ask the librarian to temporarily lift the filter.  Easy as pie.  Did Robert Doyle advise about that?  No.  Did the Chicago Sun-Times disclose that?  No.  So readers are left thinking filters might block things and you're stuck.  No mention that the US Supreme Court allowed for unblocks.  No mention that the libraries themselves block 7/8ths of the Internet by not making available the Deep Web.  So if anything's blocking access, it's the libraries, not the filters.)

Doyle said that the decision whether or not content should be blocked is left up to the local libraries. (This is not only deceptive but devious in its deceptiveness.  Robert Doyle knows he does not want local libraries having local control.  When state legislation to allow local libraries to filter the Internet was raised in Illinois, Robert Doyle lead the effort to kill it and its allowance for local library control by convincing many Illinois libraries to either cut off Internet access or purposefully crank up all filters to the highest level just to make it impossible for patrons to access the Internet.  He had no right to take away services from the various communities, but it shows his attitude as to who controls public libraries.  Then, with filters now at max or computers turned off thanks to Robert Doyle and the ILA, patrons were given a sheet of paper to contact their legislators to stop the law that would have given filtering control to local public libraries.  Robert Doyle did this.  It was pure propaganda, pure fakery, but he did this.  He stopped local control of libraries just as he led libraries to cut off services to their own citizens.  Yet here he is making a show of saying "the decision whether or not content should be blocked is left up to the local libraries." It most certainly is not.  Doyle knows it.  I'm in New Jersey and I know it.  So why didn't the Chicago Sun-Times know it and wrote about it?) Ruth Lednicer, director of marketing and communications for Chicago Public Library, said this is why Chicago libraries don’t use filters.

“In terms of pornography, it is legal.  (Absolutely false.  100% flat out false.  US v. ALA shows there is no First Amendment right to porn in public libraries.  But does the Chicago Sun-Times challenge her on this or provide balance?  No.  Does it reveal she's telling the same lies in the Inside Edition report from 2012?  No.  And I called the Chicago Sun-Times.  Has it returned my call?  No.  It even censored out my comment from its web site.)  If someone complains, we will ask someone to go to a more appropriate site,” she said. (And, because it's so rampant, few complain.  They simply stop going to that library.  The porn viewers have more rights than the non-porn viewers.) “We don’t use filters because filters filter out things you legitimately want to see, but then don’t filter out other things that you would want to block. (Absolutely false.  100% flat out false.  Even the ALA now admits filters work and blocking out breast cancer is an old excuse.  And has the Chicago Sun-Times provided accurate information to indicate this?  No.  Has it provided any balance whatsoever?  No.) That’s the stance we take at this time.”

Lednicer said libraries have separate computers for children and adults. The computers for adults have privacy screens that block content from other patrons unless they’re standing directly behind the computer.  She said the screen “looks like a shade of some type.”  (Such screens are completely useless. Anyone can see past them.  Did the Chicago Sun-Times mention this?  No.  Did it show Lednicer making the same false statements on the 2012 Inside Edition report?  No.  Did it reveal the US Supreme Court said such privacy screens not only fail to block porn but the actually exacerbate the problem as I mentioned above?  No.  No balance.  No truth.  Neither from the library spokeswoman, nor from the media.)

If there was supposed to be a shade on this computer, it wasn't there Wednesday, the River North mom said.  (Or maybe there was, but since they don't work, you'd think it was missing.)

The mom took her baby to the library, at 310 W. Division, about 3 p.m. on April 3.  She said a man was watching the explicit material on a computer 10 feet in front of the circulation desk and was grunting and making other "really inappropriate noises.”"

She told a librarian, whose reaction wasn't what she predicted.

“She didn’t seem taken back by it at all,” she said. “She said nonchalantly that (libraries) can't censor legal material. It’s certainly not something I ever would’ve imagined would be legal. It was just a really vulgar thing. . . . It wasn’t some mild pornography.”  (Yes, libraries can block porn, and it is not censorship, so this patron was lied to, and Bob Doyle of the ILA wrote a guide falsely implying porn was protected by the First Amendment in libraries that the library obviously followed to the tee.  Did the Chicago Sun-Times disclose any of this?  No.)

Lednicer said the woman's complaint about porn wasn't the library's first.

“It's not common, but it happens from time to time,” Lednicer said.  (Not common?  Did you see how common it was in the reports I provided above?  Did you see all the crime *not* reported to the police, so much that the de facto ALA leader (and former Illinois state ACLU director) had to remind librarians to call the police?  Chicago Sun-Times, are you going to let this lie go unchallenged?  Obviously yes.  So the librarian is lying, and the media is letting the lie go unchallenged.  Not a single person can make an informed decision on library Internet filtering with this type of propaganda.) “The proper response of the librarian should have been to say, ‘Someone has complained. We ask you to go to another site.’ ”  (No, not according to Bob Doyle's report.  Besides, the proper response would be to say porn viewing is not allowed in the library and you must stop viewing porn immediately or the library will take appropriate action.  Did the Chicago Sun-Times give any balance? Any analysis?  Or is it just repeating the library's propaganda that defies the law, common sense, and community standards.  

So long as the Chicago media continues to allow itself to be Bob Doyle's or Ruth Lednicer's microphone, the people will continue to suffer the harms of porn that it is perfectly legal to curtail, but they've been misled into thinking otherwise.  

I am hoping my writing here at least begins the process of lifting the curtain of propaganda from the eyes of the public and the politicians who apparently have been under a full frontal false campaign designed to convince people there's nothing that can be done to curtail the supposed First Amendment right to porn in public libraries.  

And this library being centered in the very town where the ALA practices its library porn facilitation likely makes it even harder to restore the libraries to local control based on informed consent, not misinformed conversion.  "In terms of pornography, it is legal."  No, not in public libraries.

And maybe it is time to take on that library confidentiality law that is really a sexual crime freedom law, no?)


I have learned this post has become part of a library school student's course work:
  • "Pressure Groups and Library Collection Development: Attempts to Influence Library Collections, and Best Practices for Library Response," by Christy L. DavisEmporia State University, April 2013, 855 Collection Development for Dr. Donna Reed:
    ABSTRACT: An examination of various United States pressure groups' messages regarding how to influence or censor library collection content.  Looks at the beliefs and goals of several different groups that have web presences and who wish to challenge and change the material holdings, collection development and Internet policies of school and public libraries.  Describes what libraries can do to resist attempts of control and censorship by these groups and how libraries can maintain intellectual freedom standards and First Amendment rights for their library patrons.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Censorship, Parenting, and YA Literature: The Perks of Being a Wallflower; Guest Post by Katelyn Bright

The Perks of Communication
by Katelyn Bright

Katelyn Bright
The teenage years prove to be one of the most testing periods of life, for both children and parents.  While adolescents are still in the house, parents should take the opportunity to discuss subjects that are questioned at this age.  The Perks of Being a Wallflower covers many topics, some of which may be more comfortable to talk about within the privacy of one's family, as well as being discussed in the classroom.  These topics might include sex, rape, homosexuality, and drug and alcohol use, among others.  Some groups of people, including parents, worry about their children reading about these topics, for they want to protect their children from the graphic details.  Often times books with these subjects have had attempted bannings and censorships.  The Perks of Being a Wallflower should not be banned because it has educational benefits for adolescents on how to come to terms with adulthood.

The banning of a book happens when someone tries to censor it.  Censorship is defined as the suppression of speech or other public communication which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or inconvenient as determined by a government, media outlet, or other controlling body.  When a book is banned, it is removed so that no one has access to it.  Before a book can be banned, it must first be challenged ("About Banned & Challenged Books").  When a book is challenged, a person or group has expressed their view point of concern towards a book being inappropriate for whatever reason.  They then go on to use their reasoning in an attempt to have the book removed from access to others ("About Banned & Challenged Books").  

All kinds of people challenge and attempt to ban books.  Most often it seems that parents challenge different books.  The American Library Association says, "According to the Challenges by Initiator, Institution, Type, and Year, parents challenge materials more often than any other group" ("About Banned & Challenged Books").  The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world ("About Banned & Challenged Books"). The ALA does not ban books, but instead is in support of keeping free access to books for all ages.  The ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom receives reports from schools, libraries, and the media on different challenges that occur across the nation ("About Banned & Challenged Books"). They then come up with lists of information on the challenges in order to inform and spread awareness to the public on censorship ("About Banned & Challenged Books").

The reason that people try to ban books is for protection.  If someone believes that a book is inappropriate for certain people to read, then they voice their opinion and try to have it removed from this certain group of people.  Many parents do not want their children reading risky subjects.  The top three reasons books have been challenged includes:  being "unsuited to any age group", "containing offensive language", and being "sexually explicit" ("About Banned & Challenged Books").  These three reasons have been included in the reasons why Perks has been challenged in recent years ("Frequently Challenged Books").  

Cover of The Perks of Being a Wallflower
A recurring subject in Perks is sex.  This is a normal and healthy topic for adolescents to be pondering about at this stage in their lives.  When reading about sex in Perks, adolescents may become curious and have questions to ask.  Nevertheless, teens may also be embarrassed about the new feelings they have, and are scared to share them with others.  Perks’ protagonist Charlie definitely has a curious, but embarrassing moment:  "I feel ashamed, though, because that night, I had a weird dream.  I was with Sam.  And we were both naked...  And I woke up.  And I had never felt that good in my life.  But I also felt bad…." (Chbosky 21).  If parents complain about the sex topics in this book, their children may translate that into it being a bad thing that they have new desires.  When parents talk of sexual desire being a natural behavior, children can feel calmer about their changing bodies.  According to psychologist David Walsh, president of the National Institute on Media and the Family, "only about 19 per cent of American teens say they can talk openly with a trusted adult about sex" ("Sex in the City" 1).  When parents allow their teen to read Perks, teens may feel more comfortable with talking to their parents about the subject, which can boost their confidence when living out daily situations.

Perks teaches that conversing in the classroom can also be a way to boost teen confidence.  Besides parents, teachers can be one of the most influential people in a student's life.  When Charlie befriends his English teacher, Mr. Anderson (whom he calls Bill), Charlie is able to confide in him about his life, "I thought Bill and I were going to talk about the book" (On the Road), "but we ended up talking about 'things'" (Chbosky 107).  By reading about the relationship Charlie had with Mr. Anderson, students may realize that befriending one of their own teachers can be a good idea.  When students create a bond with teachers, they can be more comforted about coming to the teacher for help on class work, which in turn can improve grades.  If a teacher gives Perks to read either for a class assignment or even just for suggested reading, this could also show students that their teachers know what kind of changes they are going through in their teenage life and that it is OK to feel confused.  Discussing Perks with a teacher can give teens the opportunity to talk about their own struggles, like Charlie did with Mr. Anderson.

One of the confusing parts of teenage life can include identifying with sexual orientation.  In many cases, Perks has been challenged because of homosexuality and positive gay themes (Marshall University).  Arguing whether or not it is right to challenge the rights of homosexuals is not the argument being made here, however; no matter how one feels towards that discussion, there will be absolutely no tolerance for bullying.  If parents challenge Perks for the "threat" of homosexuality being read by their adolescents, they might as well be wearing a sign that says "Advocate of Bullying".  When a parent states that teaching on homosexuality is wrong, it can instill the thought that homosexuality itself is wrong inside a child’s head.  This thought could lead to a teen's way of thinking that disrespect towards a certain sexually oriented person is okay, whether the disrespect comes from themselves or others, simply because of the way someone has chosen to live his or her life.  In the article "Title IX Liability For Anti-Gay Bullying" J. Dalton Courson and Abigayle C. Farris state that:

According to Mental Health America and Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), LGBT teens hear anti-gay slurs about 26 times per day, or once every 14 minutes.  Nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT youth reported being verbally harassed at school because of their sexual orientation.  Nearly half reported being physically harassed, and about a quarter reported being physically assaulted.  (Courson and Farris)

Parents are not the only promoters being found within the realm of oppression.  A lot of the times LGBT youth have testified the disregard of harassment coming from school employees.  "Title IX Liability For Anti-Gay Bullying" says, "In Martin v. Swartz Creek Community Schools, an openly gay student alleged that sex-based harassment occurring persistently during his freshman and sophomore years but largely ignored by teachers and school officials brought him to the 'brink of suicide'" (Courson and Farris).  In Perks, a main character Patrick, who is gay, gets in a school fight when a student hurdles the word "faggot" at him in the cafeteria (Chbosky 150).  Perks can be used as a proponent in bringing up the subject of bullying to teenagers, especially in the case of homosexuals.  By reading this book, students can become more aware of this kind of behavior going on in school around them and look for ways to help out these individuals who may feel like they have no power in the matter.  Students can also self-reflect so as to determine whether they may be adding to the problem of ostracization instead of hindering it.  Comparing bullying of one class of people to another, as people are making pledges to "say no to the r-word", parents and educational staff should support the nix of intolerant language.

Within the pages of Perks lies another controversial topic adults often have trouble knowing that their child is reading about—rape.  In 2008, the book was challenged on the Commack High School summer reading list because it contains a rape scene (Marshall University).  Many people feel that this scene is very graphic and is not suitable for high school students.  While this topic is difficult to discuss, it is one that young adults need to be fully aware of.  By the time they reach a certain age, adolescents will have come to learn what rape is, but they may not be fully aware of how often it happens and what can count as sexual abuse.  According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network ("Statistics | RAINN"), every two minutes someone in the United States is sexually assaulted.  Despite the "stereotyped" rapist being a complete stranger, thirty-eight percent of rapists are a friend or acquaintance to the victim ("Statistics | RAINN").  The girl who is raped in Perks is done so by her own boyfriend (Chbosky 30-31).  Hearing these facts alone can cause teenagers to realize things they might never have thought before.  Discussing the rape in the book and comparing it to real life situations can cause adolescents to do several things.  They may learn the signs of abuse and be able to point out and report when they believe that someone could be a victim.  They may feel inspired to start an awareness organization.  A teen may even decide to speak out about an assault that has happened or is happening to them in their own life.  According to Colleen Curry of ABC news, "Katherine Hull, spokeswoman for RAINN, said it is helpful for many survivors of sexual abuse to speak out about their attacks and help others feel less alone".  By reading Perks and discussing this graphic scene, adolescents can become stirred to want to speak up and speak out about sexual assault.

After looking at arguments such as these, parents and others may feel that their viewpoints have been overlooked, that the reasons for why they want Perks banned from bookshelves has been misunderstood.  However, looking at the supporting arguments without analyzing parents' reasons is very close-minded, and all considerations should be taken into effect.

Excerpt from The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Parents need to read Perks before they can judge it.  A potential situation could be that a parent has come to find out that their teenager is reading Perks.  Another parent may hear of this, and fill the first parent in with their side of the plot behind this book is, which may not necessarily be a good side.  This might cause the parent to react solely based on what the other parent has said, and might choose to follow someone else’s idea of good parenting over what they think good parenting is.  What one parent says is provocative may be coming-of-age to another.  Emily Nixon, former English teacher and current Coordinator Recruitment and Selection at District of Columbia Public Schools, can testify to parents being weary of students reading Perks when assigning this book for an after school book club.  Nixon says:

I told the parents who disapproved of the book to read it first before making an opinion.  You can't judge a book you haven't read.  One parent in particular was critical of my book choice.  However, he read the book and agreed to meet me to discuss it.  After reading the book and discussing it over with me, he agreed to let his child read the book. (Email Interview) 

Until an understanding is made, one cannot rely on word of mouth as to what is appropriate or not.  If parents reads Perks, they can be refreshed of the issues teens deal with and how this book can help their child realize that they are not the only ones going through them.  Parents can make their own list of pros and cons to this book and determine whether or not it is a good read for their adolescent.

One reason that so many parents have claimed that Perks is not a good read for adolescents is because of references to substance abuse.  Perks delves into Charlie's new world of partying and tells of his exploration of the matter, which includes teen drinking and Charlie's drug use.  When educators encourage their students to read this book, they are not condoning the use of drugs and alcohol.  Discussions of partying can help teens examine different ways young adults feel that they need to express themselves.  Drug use by teens can often be a form of conquering insecurities or a means of social acceptance (Mayo Clinic Staff).  For example, in the novel Charlie often turned to drugs whenever he was feeling upset or depressed.  Parents often imagine that if their child reads about this, they might decide to try substance abuse too, but just because someone reads about a certain event does not mean that they will commit the same act.  By reading and discussing drug and alcohol use in Perks, adolescents can come to an understanding of why others choose to engage in this behavior, as well as being advised as to why this would not have the best consequences.

Adolescents may also come to an understanding of the importance of safe sex through reading Perks.  At one point in the book, Charlie’s older sister becomes pregnant (Chbosky 116).  Parents may believe that teen pregnancy is on the rise, and they may blame it on sex found in the media.  However, according to Guttmacher Institute, an institute seeking to advance sexual and reproductive health, the U.S. teen pregnancy rate has declined within the past few years ("Facts on American Teens' Sexual and Reproductive Health").  Guttmacher states, "Overall, 68 pregnancies occurred per 1,000 women aged 15–19 in 2008.  The 2008 rate was a record low and represented a 42% decline from the peak rate of 117 per 1,000, which occurred in 1990.  The majority of the decline in teen pregnancy rates in the United States (86%) is due to teens' improved contraceptive use; the rest is due to increased proportions of teens choosing to delay sexual activity" ("Facts on American Teens' Sexual and Reproductive Health").  Declining rates of teen pregnancies come from more education and more discussions with parents.  Once again, reading a popular book like Perks can be a great way for parents and educators to bring up strained subjects such as this.

One of the biggest reasons for controversy and ridicule for banned books by parents might not even come from the book itself, but from the supporters of the book.  The ALA acts as a huge activist towards helping fight those who want to ban a book.  Dan Kleinman is a blogger who goes by the name of SafeLibraries to prowl the Internet for sites that need information on some subject matters about banned books and the ALA.  He has often pointed out how the ALA likes to only mention certain sides of a case to make people stay on their side, then attacks people who point out the misinformation (Email Interview).  In a particular case, a girl was actually bullied by a school who wanted her to read Perks as part of school curriculum.  A video taken of the girl's parents stating why they did not want their daughter reading this book was played by a teacher in an English class.  A friend of the girl told her of this; she was humiliated (Kleinman).  This kind of act is extremely inappropriate and unprofessional for the School Staff.  This is an example of how organizations such as the ALA can give very one-sided arguments of keeping challenged books part of the school curriculum and keep other opinions, to not keep the books in school, in the dark.  But most educators would realize that this is a wrong way to approach a certain situation.  No one needs to be forced to read something they do not want.  This just shows the importance of parents' involvement in their children's education. 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is categorized as a coming-of-age, or bildungsroman novel.  The definition of bildungsroman is a type of novel concerned with the education, development, and maturing of a young protagonist.  The point of a bildungsroman novel is not only to tell the story of a maturing protagonist, but also to help the reader develop, mature, and be educated themselves!  Educators and other groups fight for students' easy access to Perks because they feel that this book will be of assistance to adolescents by highlighting difficult and stressful events in teen life.  Parents have a hard time with letting their children read books such as this because they want to protect their child from the hard aches and tragedies that the "real world" comes with.  But the controversy in banned books is often the essential element that causes a child to think and ponder.  This is how teenagers can expand their horizons and open up a world they never even thought about before.  Parents may not be willing to let their children grow up just yet; but children grow, and parents can either stand beside their children to guide the way, or they can let their children take the hard route and let them find out on their own.

Works Cited

"About Banned & Challenged Books." American Library Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2012.

"Banned Book Week." Marshall University Libraries. N.p., 25 July 2012. Web. 11 Dec. 2012. 

Chbosky, Stephen. The Perks of Being a Wallflower. New York: MTv, 1999. Print. 

Courson, J. Dalton, and Abigayle C. Farris. "Title IX Liability For Anti-Gay Bullying." Children's Rights Litigation 14.3 (2012): 20-24. Academic Search Complete. Web. 29 Nov. 2012.

Curry, Colleen. "Unbreakable Blog Helps Rape Victims Heal." ABC News. ABC News Network, 01 Feb. 2012. Web. 06 Dec. 2012.

"Facts on American Teens' Sexual and Reproductive Health." Facts on American Teens' Sexual and Reproductive Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Dec. 2012.

"Frequently Challenged Books of the 21st Century." American Library Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2012.

Kleinman, Dan. E-mail interview. 02 Dec. 2012.

Nixon, Emily J. E-mail interview. 02 Dec. 2012.

Staff, Mayo Clinic. "Teen Drug Abuse: Help Your Teen Avoid Drugs." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 05 Mar. 2010. Web. 11 Dec. 2012.

"Statistics | RAINN | Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network." Statistics | RAINN | Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2012.

"Sex in the City - and Among Teens." The New Zealand Herald. N.p., 04 Nov. 2008. Web. 30 Nov. 2012.

SafeLibraries Note:  I am so happy to present the above writing for your consideration.  I am especially happy to see young people taking an interest in the topic.  Even better, she went out of her way to track down and speak with various sources from different points of view, then summarize them and present them in an evenhanded fashion.

Truly this is outstanding.  She is returning to Illinois State University in the coming school year.

If anyone else would like to submit similar work to be published, please let me know.

The picture is courtesy of Katelyn Bright.  She granted me and only me written permission to display it.  Her work is hers, republished here with permission.  The other pictures I inserted on my own.  The hyperlinks are mine. 

Copyright Katelyn Bright 2013.  All rights reserved.  SafeLibraries note excepted.  If anyone wishes to contact her, such as for publication approval, send me an email and I'll pass it along, or comment below.