Sunday, April 27, 2014

School Boards and Challenged Books in Three Minutes; Discussion Urged, Not Weird Arguments; School Bullies Parent Saying She's Squashing Her Child's Sexual Being

Here is a three minute speech for a school board of education on challenged books.  It is three minutes because that is all the time the public is allowed to speak, in this case, at the West Essex Regional School District Board of Education meeting, and in this case regarding "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" by Junot Díaz.  But it applies to all schools across the nation, all challenges.

What can I say in three minutes that will make a difference?  I can say the censorship bullies are intentionally misleading and prove it, I can give out copies of the linked attachments for further consideration, and I can urge people to discuss book challenges in a civil fashion instead of "weird arguments," as popular young adult fiction writer Lauren Myracle puts it after graciously apologizing for maligning Wall Street Journal book reviewer Meghan Cox Gurdon.

Who Am I?

Greetings members of the school board, school parents, and guests.  I'm Dan Kleinman, Library Watchdog at SafeLibraries in Chatham, NJ.  I am here today to speak about the recent school book challenge in consideration of how the community has responded and should respond.  I am the nation's leader on the censorship bullying coming from the American Library Association [ALA] as acknowledged by the author of the Children's Internet Protection Act who said I was a "trusted source" on ALA's misinformation.  International press AFP called my website "a clearing house for information about challenging books."  I've even been on the cover of USA Today.

Why Am I Here?

I am here to provide truthful information about the process of discussing book challenges.  So far what I see in this community is personal attacks on the mother who brought the challenge where such attacks come from outside groups, media, students, and even the school itself, as illustrated in her statement below.  The knee jerk reaction is cries of "censorship."  As Dan Gerstein put it, "The ... elites have convinced themselves that they are taking a stand against cultural tyranny.  ....  [T]he reality is that it is those who cry 'Censorship!' the loudest who are the ones trying to stifle speech and force their moral world-view on others."

In this community many people are afraid to speak up for common sense precisely because of the censorship bullies.  What is really needed is reasoned discussion, free from the shouting voices trying to bully people into being afraid to stand up for what we all know is right.  I am going to illustrate that to you today, as best as I can in the three minutes I'm allowed to speak.  To help make my points, I have handouts here with the reliable references supporting what I am saying.  You will not see these sources from anything ALA or its local acolytes sends you so please read them.

My hope is you'll listen to what I have to say and decide to consider the matter seriously instead of unwittingly kowtowing to the voices shouting "censorship" and "book banning."  Indeed, the reason they shout "censorship" is to intimidate people into never challenging a book in the first place, but people have every right and duty to challenge their government, including public schools.  Your children should take precedence over your fear of being falsely labelled a censor.

The Declining Values in Young Adult Fiction Is Not a Left or Right Issue

The first thing to know is the declining values in young adult fiction is not a left or right issue.  I say that because the first ad hominem argument people make to support inappropriate materials in schools is that the challenger is Christian or conservative.  In reality, everyone opposes inappropriate materials for children.  For example, Naomi Wolf, the non-Christian, non-conservative author of The Beauty Myth, wrote in the New York Times how shocked parents would be at the downward spiral in young adult fiction.

Handout 1:

New York City Removes Inappropriate Books From Hundreds of Schools

Even in ultraliberal New York City, the public spoke up when the school included a sexually inappropriate book for students in the curriculum.  The book was selected as a result of its being listed by the American Library Association as one of the top books of the year for "reluctant" young readers.  Nevertheless, it was pulled from hundreds of schools, so pulling a book from a school is no problem in the right circumstance.

Handout 2:
  • "City's Ed. Boobs," by Carl Campanile, New York Post, 13 October 2003.

Even the American Library Association Says "Get It Out of There" 

Here's something you won't hear from the American Library Association nowadays.  Even its own de facto leader, Judith Krug, the creator of the Banned Books Week hoax, said, "On rare occasion, we have situations where a piece of material is not what it appears to be on the surface and the material is totally inappropriate for a school library.  In that case, yes, it is appropriate to remove materials.  If it doesn't fit your material selection policy, get it out of there."

Handout 3:

Despite the Shouting Voices, Most People Oppose Sexually Explicit Material in Schools

Most people oppose books with explicit language in school libraries.  62%, according to a recent Harris Poll.  That's another reason for shouting "censorship."  They want you to think you're alone in wanting to keep inappropriate material from children. For example, in 2009, ALA labelled all 460 parents bringing book challenges as "censors."  Even a self-described progressive librarian said this was wrong since occasionally books are challenged for good cause and removed.  The truth is, of course, that you are in the majority and you are not a censor if you decide to keep inappropriate material from children.  I urge you to get over your fear of being bullied and falsely called a censor.  Apply your school anti-bullying policy to the ALA and those who act in a similar fashion.

Handout 4:
  • "Most Americans Opposed to Banning Any Books," by Harris Interactive, The Harris Poll, 12 April 2011.

It's Parenting, Not Censorship

Besides, it's parenting we are talking about, not censorship.  The idea that this is censorship came from Judith Krug of the American Library Association, and she was a board member of the Illinois American Civil Liberties Union who joined ALA and created all the new anything-goes rules.  They are ACLU's anything-goes rules, pushed into ALA, and now they are being pushing into your community.  Does the ACLU control your school or do you?

Handout 5:

School Superintendents Oppose Sexually Inappropriate Material in Schools, Even If ALA Recommends It

You don't need to kowtow to outside groups like the American Library Association.  Even a book on ALA's list of top books for "reluctant" young readers gets rejected, and one superintendent exposed the false cries of "censorship."  The super showed some spine and acted to protect the children, not the American Library Association or its local acolytes.

Handout 6:
  • "Book Ruckus Divides Montgomery County Residents," by Jim Warren, Lexington Herald-Leader, 29 November 2009 (the link appears to be dead so I'm linking where I quoted the matter, and notice the many comments, including by young adult book authors like Ellen Hopkins and Chris Crutcher).

Schools Oppose Book Review Sites Like Scholastic for Hiding Information About the Potential for Sexually Inappropriate Material for Children

How many times do you hear how the book is so highly rating by all the book reviewing sources?  A lot, right? As if the ratings are more important than common sense.  Well one school principal finally noticed this and ordered his teachers to stop relying on the rating services.  He then removed a book from the school.  So if you are being told the book got excellent reviews, now you know educators have noticed the reviews lack key information.

Handout 7:
  • "'Lush' Causes Uproar by Parents," by Cortney Mumaugh, Putnam County Sentinel, 15 December 2010. 

ALA Censors and Blacklists Common Sense Media for Providing Book Ratings About the Potential for Sexually Inappropriate Material for Children

We learned above how book ratings groups like Scholastic and ALA's own Booklist leave out material educators and parents can use to determine the potential for sexually inappropriate material for children.  There is one major group that provides that, namely, Common Sense Media.  Aren't we told it is parental responsible for what their children read, not others?  You've heard that, right?  Well there's a major web site for parents and teachers to learn about books.  It's ALA's own Great Websites for Kids.  Your school or local public library links to this, right?  Parents, we hear, are supposed to be responsible for their own children and only their own children, right?  So they use ALA's Great Websites for Kids to makes judgements, right?  Guess what.  ALA censored the Common Sense Media site from its Great Websites for Kids then blacklisted Common Sense Media so no other librarian anywhere would ever refer anyone to it for book ratings.  An ALA "Intellectual Freedom Committee" did this, no less.

This is the ALA that is saying parents need to be informed while it shapes the messages so parents miss out on exactly what concerns them.  This is one of the smoking guns of why the American Library Association is not to be trusted; it actively works to mislead you, parents and schools, while acting as some kind of authority.

Handout 8:

Author Supports Wall Street Journal Book Reviewer Who Dared to Suggest Young Adult Books Might Be Inappropriate For Children

As you know, even a hint of a challenge to reading material in schools brings out administrative malfeasance, howls of protest, cries of censorship, and personal attack.  It is all designed to intimidate and bully others into never saying a peep about materials inappropriate for children.  Your school has an anti-bullying policy, right?  So why is such bullying allowed here?  Hopefully not because you agree with or are perpetrating the bullying.

The backlash can be so bad that few brave authors are willing to speak out in defense of those simply speaking the truth about books for children, as Meghan Cox Gurdon did in the Wall Street Journal where she suggested, as I pointed out above, book reviews are incomplete and uninformative.

Handout 9:

Reasoned Discussion, Free From the Shouting, Bullying Voices Crying Censorship, Is What Is Needed to Address School Book Challenges; A Great Example is Author Lauren Myracle Apologizing to Wall Street Journal Book Reviewer Meghan Cox Gurdon

I hope you can see book challenges in schools should be conducted fairly and in an atmosphere of truth and honesty, not shouting.  After all, most people oppose inappropriate material in schools and schools remove inappropriate material all the time, yes even in New Jersey.  Even ALA itself says if a book does not meet a school's book selection policy, "get it out of there."  And school principals and superintendents are not fooled by uninformative book reviews or ALA books lists and awards and neither should you, especially were ALA censors and blacklists sources that contain information about the potential for sexually inappropriate material in children's books.  ALA has dirty hands.

As an example of the kind of positive atmosphere in which book challenges should be discussed, I urge you to read the transcript of the National Public Radio discussion of Meghan Cox Gurdon and her Judy Bloom-like critic and author Lauren Myracle.  Lauren apologized to Meghan for jumping on the censorship bandwagon.  I urge you to read this.  Then I urge you to set aside the shouting and the bullying and the false arguments about how well rated the materials are and how some parents are censors and instead focus on amicably resolving the issue in a manner that best suits the community and its children, not the bullies.
"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."

Handout 10:


I could say so much more, but that concludes my three minutes of fame.  Thank you for this opportunity to speak and provide handouts.  I welcome any questions now or in the future and will be happy to appear at local PTO meetings or the like.

# # #   30   # # #


I attended my local BOE meeting to voice my concerns regarding a book that my 10th grade son was reading.  My son came to me with an excerpt of the book and said to me that the language was disgusting and the topic was inappropriate for 10th graders.  My son made a copy of a chapter of the book and highlighted what he thought was inappropriate and I brought it to the attention of the board and administration.

I asked them if they could read the passage out loud, then I would drop the issue.  I also asked them who picked the book, and if anyone had read the book prior to putting it the classroom.  I was told that the head of English Dept did read the book, felt that it was ART and very appropriate.

I was also told that I was "hovering and overprotecting my son," as well as "squashing his sexual being."

I didn't respond in public to the head of English, because I didn't want to stoop to her level.  I questioned why the kids are not reading books to enhance their vocabulary to better prepare for the SAT/ACT tests.  I was told that it was more important to expose our kids to other cultures (implied that we live in a very wealthy community) and that vocabulary building was as important.

What I really don't understand is that the school has such a tough non bullying policy for the students, yet when a parent has a question or a challenge such as this,  I feel like I am being bullied.

I don't understand why the BOE and the administration will not respond to my requests.  I understand that there are policies in place, but a simple email with an update from the meeting would be the least they can do.

I also found out that we as parents can opt out of books (a little too late for most), but my son turned in his book and was given a replacement.  I was also told that next year that because my son will be in AP english we will not be able to challenge a book.  I responded, that was not a concern because the AP curriculum is not picked by the head of the English department, but by the AP board.

My son did speak at the BOE meeting regarding the book choice, and the head of the English Dept was rolling her eyes at him and implied that I wrote his speech.  By all means at 16 years old I do not have to put words in his mouth.  He is the one that brought this to my attention, and as his mother I am his best advocate.

I never asked the school to ban or censor the book, I asked them to make the best choices for our kids.


I attended the above meeting.  I really messed up my speech, or rather the three minutes I was allotted was not a lot and I rushed.  What a mess.

Someone filmed me (via iPhone) and I am certain ALA is reviewing that now as I see my email, never sent by me to ALA, is being read by Chicago, IL, ALA employees using ALA email servers.  So the school has definitely contacted ALA, an organization that, among other things, is the nation's leading facilitator of porn:

That said, the bullying of students and parents by the school itself is FAR, FAR WORSE than what I have reported above.  If I get a chance I will be reporting more on this soon, perhaps publishing several people directly describing their ordeal.

If I recall correctly, a girl was, did I get this right, ordered to read some sexually inappropriate part of a book in front of the class?  She opted out of reading it so she was placed in the back of the room, facing away from the class, told to wear head phones and to occupy herself on the computer while the class discussed the racy book?  It was something like that.  That's bullying.  It is also a failure to comply with the law to provide an adequate education.

But oh, it gets even worse.  One of her friends was acting on behalf of her coach, engaged her in text messaging, then her text messages, her private text messages, where emailed to many teachers?  Did I get that right?  And her father is being investigated by the school?

Oh, it was EXPLOSIVE!

Someone in the audience hinted I should be sued for supposedly making defamatory statements about the bullying the school is doing, then it turns out the bullying is WAY WORSE than what I reported.  And there were anti bullying signs right in the next room!  If you don't read that racy book, you AND your family will be bullied to teach others NEVER to dare challenge the government!

Oh I hope I get the time to do a full report on this.  Just wait.  This kind of bullying I see in school after school, setting aside the privacy invasion and the parental investigation, each one following ALA advice to keep the kids reading the inappropriate material by giving "alternate" material to the complainers and by bullying them.

Oh I can't wait to write about this.


  1. You talk about name calling but your post is full of name calling. Hypocrite much?

    1. Thank you for commenting. Please specify where I am "name calling."

      Also, please read what I just added, "NOTE ADDED 29 APRIL 2014."


Comments of a personal nature, trolling, and linkspam may be removed.