Wednesday, September 29, 2010

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

ALA's "Think for
Yourself" Robot
The American Libraries Association [ALA] sets up parents for ridicule, then leads the charge in ridiculing them using propaganda techniques.  "Banned Books Week" [BBW] is the ALA creation it uses to lead the deceptive and disgraceful effort to ridicule people.  It wants people to ignore what the US Supreme Court said or even what the ALA's creator of BBW said about legally keeping inappropriate material from children.  The ALA cannot be trusted by local communities.

The ALA Uses BBW for Propaganda Purposes

The ALA uses BBW that it created on its own for propaganda purposes.  It talks about hundreds of banned books, yet the last book banned in the USA was Fanny Hill in 1963, about half a century ago.  For example, see "2010 Banned Books Week - Top Ten Banned and Challenged Books for 2009," by American Library Association, OIFTube, 24 September 2010.

Isn't it propaganda for the nation's self-arrogated leader in censorship to list hundreds of books "banned" in 2009 when the last book ban occurred in 1963?  The goal is to convince people not to keep children from inappropriate material since that would make them "censors."  What is the evidence?  Read on for just the latest example.

How the ALA Sets Up Parents for Ridicule

The ALA sets up parents for ridicule.  It does this by advising libraries to create, maintain, and exercise so-called "materials reconsideration policies."  They should really be called "leading with the chin policies" since the ALA sets up people to get whacked merely for complying with the policy and filing a complaint as directed.

The ALA created these policies to stop the removal of books by individual librarians reacting to patron complaints by removing materials.  The ALA then guides libraries on how to promote the policies to the public and the media.  For example, the ALA guidance says, emphasis in original:

What does the library do if someone complains about something in its collection?  We take such concerns very seriously. First, we listen. We also have a formal review process in which we ask you to fill out a special form designed to help us understand your concerns. Anyone who makes a written complaint will receive a response in writing.

But that is patently false in spirit when viewed in context of the ALA's latest BBW propaganda.  Recall the ALA propaganda I linked above:

ALA Graphic Showing Claim of Up to 460 Books Banned in 2009
"In 2009, 460 books were banned or challenged in the United States," says the ALA.  That may be true, but only if 460 of the 460 were challenges and not bans.

ALA Graphic Characterizing Policy Challenges as "Demands to remove books"
"460 demands to remove books from schools, libraries and bookstores," is the next ALA statement, as shown above.  Setting aside the ALA's questionable mission creep into bookstores, notice how proper filings for relief under materials reconsideration policies are characterized as "demands to remove books."

Now watch as the ALA performs the propagandistic coup of subtly claiming any and all attempts to seek compliance under the ALA material reconsideration policies are really attempts at censorship.

The ALA Ridiculing Parents

The ALA, having set up the mechanism of "materials reconsideration policies," then leads the effort in ridiculing anyone who avails themselves of the ALA-inspired policies:

ALA Graphic Ridiculing Anyone Who Followed ALA-Inspired "Materials Reconsideration Policies"
"460 persons or groups who believed that they should decide for others what they could read," says the ALA as pictured above.

So, the ALA directs libraries to utilize "Materials Reconsideration Policies," then it leads the effort to ridicule anyone who avails himself of such policies.  Merely for complying with the ALA-inspired policy, you supposedly "believe you can decide for others what they could read."  And all the while the ALA is in reality deciding for others what they can read, namely, anything.

The ALA goes so far as to say challenges are "a threat to freedom of speech and choice."  Comply with a materials reconsideration policy the ALA recommends and you are suddenly labeled a threat to freedom of speech and choice because you supposedly believe you can decide for others what they can read.  Do you understand the game the ALA is playing?  Is this not propaganda?

Jamming / Ridicule = Deceptive / Disgraceful

The particular propagandistic technique being used by the ALA in this case is called "jamming" (more here:  "Effect of Jamming, is achieved without reference to facts, logic or proof").  Essentially, if you ridicule everyone each time, eventually people will stop placing themselves in the position of being ridiculed.

Alinsky Rule 5
"Ridicule is Man's
Most Potent Weapon"
Further, Saul Alinsky in Rules for Radicals said, in Rule 5, "Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. ....  [Y]ou do what you can with what you have and clothe it with moral arguments."  And the ALA uses ridicule for this very purpose, as a weapon to thwart efforts to legally protect children from inappropriate material.  The ALA's moral argument is its BBW 2010 theme, namely, "Think for yourself and let others do the same."

See the graphic to the right for Alinsky Rule 5?  See how ridicule is used to change perceptions?  Is that a fair portrayal?  No, it is not; rather, it is disrespectful.  Similarly, is it a fair portrayal when the ALA says all "460 persons or groups ... believed that they should decide for others what they could read"?  No, it is not; rather, it is disrespectful.  Worse, since the ALA created the mechanism for filing complaints in the first place, its ridicule of everyone actually complying with its mechanism is particularly deceptive and disgraceful.

Does the US Supreme Court or BBW's founder have the same view as the ALA?  No.

The US Supreme Court and BBW's Creator Show the ALA is Wrong

The US Supreme Court has decided some cases that imply, if not show, that book challenges can be for legitimate reasons.
"The interest in protecting young library users from material inappropriate for minors is legitimate, and even compelling, as all Members of the Court appear to agree."
"Petitioners rightly possess significant discretion to determine the content of their school libraries.  But that discretion may not be exercised in a narrowly partisan or political manner.  ....  Our Constitution does not permit the official suppression of ideas.  ....  On the other hand, respondents implicitly concede that an unconstitutional motivation would not be demonstrated if it were shown that petitioners had decided to remove the books at issue because those books were pervasively vulgar."

Even BBW's founder and former four decade de facto ALA leader Judith Krug said books may be removed from school libraries in the right circumstances:
"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."

Certainly the ALA would not characterize the Justices of the US Supreme Court as censors, would it?  And Judith Krug is not a threat to freedom of speech and choice because she believes she can decide for others what they can read, is she?

No.  Similarly, people who file complaints in compliance with policy should not be mischaracterized by the ALA. 


The ALA directs local libraries to create materials selection policies.  It then ridicules anyone availing themselves of the policy calling them censors, threats to freedom of speech and choice, etc.  It does this intentionally with the propagandistic purpose of intimidating communities into stopping or preventing in the first place efforts by community members to seek compliance with library policies, legal cases, and common sense that legally protects children from inappropriate material.

Significantly, it uses "Banned Book Week" as the focal point for aiming the ridicule at the community.  The latest example of this can be seen in "2010 Banned Books Week - Top Ten Banned and Challenged Books for 2009" as discussed above.

The ALA cannot be trusted.  Its propagandistic efforts are designed to fool local communities and media into leaving children exposed to inappropriate material it would be legal to prevent.

Banned Books Week is the ALA's primary vehicle for pushing this propaganda.  While this may be my point of view, a simple look at the ALA policies and the latest BBW propaganda will make the point very clear.  On the one hand, "We take such concerns very seriously," while on the other, the ALA obviously does not take the concerns seriously:  "460 persons or groups ... believed that they should decide for others what they could read."  It's the perfect "parent trap."

In the end, isn't it the ALA that's deciding what others could read?  "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."  Please comment below.


Look, the library community agrees it's not all black and white as the ALA's OIF tries to make it appear:
  • "Surreptitious Censorship," by Will Manley, Will Unwound, 8 June 2011.
    Intellectual freedom is often presented as a black and white issue.  You are either a supporter of intellectual freedom or you are a censor.  There seems to be no middle ground.


I am not the only one pointing out how the ALA labels everyone as the bad guy:
  • "My Problem with Banned Books Week," by Rory Litwin, Library Juice, 28 August 2011:
    My problem with Banned Books Week is one that is probably shared by some conservatives, and it has to do with the loose definition of what a "banned book" is, and what a "challenged book" is.  ....  The Banned Books Week project, well-intended as it may be, is a propaganda exercise that fails to model good standards for democratic communication.


    School districts have policies in place for reviewing challenges to books on the basis of age-appropriateness.  Challenged books are reviewed and evaluated by committees that are charged with that responsibility, and then the school district makes an official decision regarding the book.  Regardless of what the school's decision turns out to be, regardless of its reasonableness or unreasonableness, and regardless of the objectivity or bias within the decision-making process in a specific case, all challenges to a book by a parent get counted as an attempt at book banning.

    Personally, I agree with intellectual freedom orthodoxy that says that one family should not have the right to determine what other students are taught, and this is part of what public education is.  But when a book is challenged and reviewed on the grounds of age-appropriateness, it is ultimately not the family that brought the challenge that makes the decision.  The decision is made by the educational institution itself.  ....  But the decision about whether a book should remain a part of the curriculum or not is ultimately made by the public institution that put the book in the curriculum in the first place, which means that book challenges happen as a part of a process that the institution puts in place in order to get feedback from the community on the curriculum.  ...."


This publication has been republished in full in another publication:

“Banned Books Week Is Propaganda.” Banned Books: At Issue Education. Ed. Marcia Amidon Lusted. New York, NY: Greenhaven Publishing, 2018. 34-39. Print.



  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. The previous post was removed as it was ad hominem argument, thereby failing to address the issues raised in any way.

  3. When one asks for material to be removed from a library, aren't they asking that no other library patron read the specified book?

    How can one say that by exposing books that are frequently challenged that the ALA is "deciding what others could read"?

    It seems as if you have gotten the complainers and the ALA mixed up. I look forward to your edit correcting the issue.

  4. Anonymous, good question.

    "When one asks for material to be removed from a library, aren't they asking that no other library patron read the specified book?"

    You are assuming the person is guilty before being proven innocent. Further, why have a materials reconsideration policy in the first place if every claim filed thereunder automatically indicates guilt.

    It would be fair to have a policy that says no book will ever be removed for any reason whatsoever. Not a great policy, but it would be fair. That way people who file claims under materials reconsideration policies would not become guilty by default. It's literally a trap that snaps shut every time, and the ALA video I discussed proves it in the ALA's own words.

    If a library has such a materials reconsideration policy, however, would it not be fair to allow the policy to work its magic before finding people guilty?

    Now you, Anonymous, finding people instantly guilty is one thing. It is totally different when the means for ridiculing people is a system set up by the lead organization with national influence that makes hay out of ridiculing people who try to comply with the constraints that that organization set up in the first place. It even has a "Banned Books Week" to drive home the ridicule in an effort to intimidate people into not bringing challenges in the first place.

    You explain to me, Anonymous, what is fair or honest about that?

  5. Dan, another brilliantly crafted exposé of America’s number one purveyor of pornography! How dare they publicize BBW when a book hasn’t been banned in 47 years (“…when the last book ban occurred in 1963?”)? Gail Sweet, when she ordered Revolutionary Voices be “removed from circulation,” didn’t “ban” it, she simply “removed it from circulation.” Banned, removed, potato, potTAHto. The end result is the same - my children have access only to material you deem appropriate and aligns with your particular worldview. While I appreciate your concern, perhaps each of us can go to the library with our children and help them select material that we feel is appropriate for our respective households? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Onward Christian soldier!


  6. Thank you, Mark, for perfectly illustrating Alinsky Rule #5 in action which I showed in this very blog post is what the ALA does. Attack the person and ignore the issue. Onward Marxist soldier!

  7. The Obana joker pic is what convinced me

    Obviously nobody should be able to ridicule anybody


  8. Anonymous, you are using ridicule, obviously. But you have to understand it is not a joke to the hundreds of people the ALA ridicules/maligns. It is not a joke when people are afraid to legally protect children for fear of the expected ALA and ALA acolyte ridicule.

    That's where I step in. I try to educate people about the inevitable ALA propaganda wave so they can be prepared for the ridicule ahead of time and continue to advocate on behalf of their own local community.

    It is the ALA itself that exposes it will ridicule everyone, as this blog post illustrates. It's not just me saying it's so. It is what it is, and the ALA's latest use of BBW makes it easier for me to illustrate one more way the ALA attempts to control local communities.

  9. As a librarian, I've always been slightly uncomfortable with banned books week. Now I know why. But I do have a question. You didn't cite any sources to show that no books have been banned since 1963. Which begs the question--how do you define banning? So tell us what your definition is and the story of the last banning.

  10. Anonymous librarian, thank you for commenting here. Please consider subscribing to this blog as you can surely see it is different.

    How I define banning is irrelevant.

    The last book banned in the USA was Fanny Hill, and see Wikipedia were it says, "Banned in the U.S.A. in 1821 for obscenity, then again in 1963. This was the last book ever banned in the U.S.A.[9]."

    "[9] Grannis, Chandler B.; Haight, Anne (Lyon) (1978). Banned [B]ooks, 387 B. C. to 1978 A. D. New York: R. R. Bowker. p. 80. ISBN 0-8352-1078-2."

    2011 - 1963 = 48. So the last book banned in the USA was banned about half a century ago, decades before "Banned Books Week" was created.

    Thank you so much for writing here. Please visit and perhaps comment again. Feel like guest blogging on SafeLibraries?


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