Thursday, December 20, 2012

School Districts Must Filter School-Supplied iPads; Internet Safety Law Now Extends Filtering Beyond School Grounds, Thanks to Parents in Manitou Springs, Colorado

The American educational experience is transforming at a fast pace.  Parents from shore to shore are being outpaced by technology and school districts sending students home with portable computers that are not only cutting edge for technology but prepackaged with unrestricted Wi-Fi Internet access.  Rapid deployment of such devices comes with temptations and dangers.

Now there is a model for a more effective means to protect children, thanks to concerned parents in Manitou Springs, Colorado.  They worked with the Colorado legislature to tighten school technology laws to require schools to address technology concerns everywhere, not just on school grounds.  Similar changes can be made in the laws of other states so more children are better protected from harm.

Children’s Internet Protection Act

The vast majority of public schools have complied with the federal Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA, enacted 2000, found constitutional 2003) that requires “protection measures [that] must block or filter Internet access to pictures that are … obscene … or … harmful to minors (for computers that are accessed by minors).”  (N1)

School Grounds Only Expedient Position and Resultant Harm

Among districts that provide students with portable devices, a small minority have taken the expedient but imprudent position that school owned portable computers are exempt from CIPA requirements once the children leave school grounds, and that parents must accept exclusive responsibility for the monitoring of children using such unfiltered devices doing school work away from school grounds.

Kids around the nation have already suffered in districts that fail to provide CIPA protections on portable computers away from school:

  • Parents in South Carolina report students with unfiltered school portables experiencing “a veritable streaming torrent of illicit flesh….“ using school supplied iPads.  (N2)
  • Four Michigan students were arrested on felony charges for exchanging pornographic materials on iPads and leaving parents to ask “Why wasn’t the school district filtering Internet to student’s iPads?”  (N3)
  • Parents in Indiana are suing their district for allowing students “unfettered access to pornographic videos… downloaded on school computers and iPads and then 'acted out' on [an] alleged victim.”  (N4)

Manitou Springs Parents Fight Back

In Manitou Springs, Colorado, parents facing similar circumstances fought against a district policy that failed to provide CIPA protections on portable school computers used away from school.  (N5)

Despite a petition from the parents and written opinions from two attorneys validating parental objections, the Manitou Springs school administration held firm, insisting that the school had no responsibility for protecting student use of portable devices away from school grounds.  (N6)

Colorado Legislature Intervenes; Requires Filtering Everywhere, Not Just School Grounds

These determined parents then sought the intervention of the Colorado legislature.  As a result, Colorado Senator Keith King sponsored new legislation that was signed into law by Colorado Governor Hickenlooper that explicitly requires portable content filtering protections for all students in Colorado, specifically adding the key language, “from any location,” among other things:

"No later than December 31, 2012, the governing body of each district shall adopt and implement a policy of internet safety for minors that includes a technology protection measure for each technology device provided by the district that allows for access to the internet by a minor from any location.”  (N7)

With this 2012 legislation, Colorado became the first state to create law that explicitly requires that the protections required by CIPA must also protect students using school issued computers that are now increasingly portable and capable of accessing Internet networks from any location, not just at school.  And the parents love it:  “No law will completely shield our kids from all the bad stuff, but I was glad to see Colorado lawmakers side with parents and make it clear that if a school sends kids home with computers, they must make them reasonably safe for the kids to use,” says Manitou Springs parent/guardian Jim Sayner.  (N8)

Legislators and Schools Everywhere May Protect Children Using the Colorado Model

Now aware of the documented damage that unrestricted Internet access has already visited upon school children, state legislators, school boards, and administrators across the nation will perhaps adopt and implement similar common sense law to enhance the prospect of the safe and beneficial use of the vast resources technology brings to students.

At least now, the parents of Colorado children who experience such illicit mayhem on inadequately protected portables will have substantial new recourse under this new and timely law.


(N1)  “Children’s Internet Protection Act,” by Consumer & Governmental Affairs, Federal Communications Commission, 19 May 2011.

See also:
United States v. American Library Association, 539 US 194 (2003).

(N2)  “SC Public School Students Accessing Porn On iPads,” by fitsnews, FITSNews, 7 February 2012.

Note:  NSFW pornographic image is included in original version.

(N3)  “Zeeland Schools Learn From iPad Miscues; Administrators Have More Plans in Place,” by Dani Carlson, WOOD TV8, 22 August 2012.

(N4)  “Three Second-Grade Boys Accused of ‘Horrific Sexual Abuse’ of Eight-Year-Old Classmate ‘After Acting Out Scene They Saw in Porn Movie,’” by Daily Mail Reporter, Daily Mail, 2 October 2012.

(N5)  “Digital Dilemma:  Why Can’t All Districts Filter Internet Device Access from Home?,” by Eddie, Ed Is Watching, 20 February 2012.

Colorado also has its own CIPA law (CCIPA) (see N7 below)—it was CCIPA that was amended as a result of parental action.

(N6)  “School Issued Apple iPads Allow Porn in Manitou Springs School District 14, Memorandum by Morality in Media General Counsel Robert Peters on Unfiltered Internet Access,” by Robert W. Peters, Esq., SafeLibraries, 27 April 2012.

(N7)  “An Act; House Bill 12-1240, Concerning Statutory Changes to K-12 Education,” by various Representatives and Senators, Colorado Legislature, signed into law 4 June 2012; section 54, pp36-38.

For comparison, here is the older 2003 version of the Colorado Children’s Internet Protection Act the was amended as described above:
Colorado Children’s Internet Protection Act,Colorado Revised Statutes, Article 87, 22-87-101 through 22-87-107; Approved by Governor June 5, 2003; effective August 15, 2003.

See also:
State Filtering/Blocking Laws” section of “Children and the Internet; Laws Relating to Filtering, Blocking and Usage Policies in Schools and Libraries,” by Pam Greenberg, National Conference of State Legislatures, 13 February 2012 (updated occasionally).

Note:  Colorado’s information has not yet been updated at that site.

(N8)  Personal communication with Jim Sayner.


For convenience, here are easy-to-remember URLs for this page:

Friday, November 23, 2012

Blatant CIPA Fraud in Pierce County Library in Policy and Practice Caught On Video

The Pierce County Library, Tacoma, WA, is blatantly defrauding the federal government of funds meant for libraries compliant with the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA).  It has essentially stolen $462,789.73 from the federal government.  I predict it will continue to steal until forced to stop as the fraud has been continuous for eight years so far.

It is committing this fraud in policy and practice.  The policy goes directly counter to the law, and the practice is evident from open pornography viewing.

The law, CIPA, was found constitutional in 2003.  US v. American Library Association, 539 U.S. 194 (2003) held, "public libraries' use of Internet filtering software does not violate their patrons' First Amendment rights...."  Simple, right?  Now look at Pierce County Library's "Internet Use Policy" that says essentially the exact opposite:
But the Pierce County Library System Board of Trustees considers that all materials selected or accessed by adults are protected under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution until such time as they are determined unprotected by judicial action.  Consequently, except as set forth in this Policy, the Library System does not monitor, filter or endorse materials on the Internet.
To obtain funding under CIPA, a library must filter the Internet a certain way.  One can plainly see the library refuses to filter the Internet at all, not in any way.  At least in policy.  Now let's look at practice.

In practice, open porn viewing, such as in the Steilacoom Library, Steilacoom, WA, which is part of the Pierce County Library, is clearly evident in the below video.  The library apparently has no Internet filtering, just like its policy stated.  If you do not want to see pornography, do not watch the following video of a man sitting right out in the open of a public library and watching porn as other library patrons go about their business, except for the guy filming this, and thanks to him we get to see the, um, action, and quite clearly:

Oh yes, the library later claims in its policy to be CIPA compliant:  "Consequently, the Pierce County Library System's computers that have access to the Internet will be filtered to the extent required by CIPA, but that persons 17 years of age or older will have the right to remove that filter for their use."  But CIPA requires the library or a librarian to remove the filter, not the patrons themselves.  So in yet another way, and again in writing, the library is evidencing that it is failing to be CIPA compliant.

As to the amount of CIPA fraud, that's $462,789.73.  Anyone can see this for themselves by searching open public records of CIPA funding for "Internet Access" (as opposed to "Telcomm") and aggregating the amounts obtained from 2004 to the present (2012).  Since CIPA was found constitutional by the US Supreme Court in 2003 and for related reasons, 2004 is the relevant date to begin finding fraud.  Search for Pierce County Library in the state of Washington here:

I will be reporting this fraud here:  "Submit a Whistleblower Alert."  Among other things, I will be submitting the URL to this blog post as it contains or links to relevant evidence:
To commit this fraud people had to sign a certification to the federal government that the library was entitled to the funds, and they had to have done so knowing the library does not filter but the law requires it to do so.  Those people have committed fraud, perhaps dereliction of duty, perhaps a violation fo the public trust, and should be fired immediately.  If I were part of the local media, I would file FOIA requests with the library and with the Federal Communications Commission responsible for CIPA to find out the names.  Just because a public library or librarian is involved does not mitigate the offense.

The local government is hereby put on notice of this fraud and the potential for resultant harm.  If the pornography viewing intended to be stopped by CIPA results in any crimes or misdemeanors against librarians or patrons, the government can and should be sued for failure to stop the library, a governmental entity, from acting outside the law.

Mind you, this is in the state where Dean Marney successfully won state and federal Internal filtering cases recently by pointing out the false "dogma" of the American Library Association, yet the Pierce County Library is aware of this but continues to mislead the public.

So the evidence for fraud comes from at least three sources:
  1. The video shown above entitled, "OLD GUY WATCHES PORN IN PUBLIC LIBRARY," by Kevin Chacon, YouTube, 21 November 2012, and related communications on Twitter such as here, here, and here.
  2. The library's Internet Use Policy containing language that is factually and legally false.
  3. The publicly available records of $462,789.73 fraudulently obtained under the CIPA program.
The question is, will the library continue to commit this fraud?  Will the government require the library to comply with the law to minimize its own liability, let alone apply old fashioned honesty?  Will the media report accurately about this fraud?

The library's policy states:
Although the Library has adopted these policies, it disclaims any warranties on the effectiveness of any filter and disclaims any liabilities if the filter is inadvertently not implemented upon request.  The Library further assumes no responsibility for damages, direct or indirect, arising from any use of the Library's connections to the Internet.
Nice try.  The library cannot claim protection under the law relating to the Internet while it is violating the law relating to the Internet.

Any library crime victims and perpetrators, feel free to contact me for assistance in taking legal action against the library, the people who acted fraudulently, and the government that allowed the library to act outside the law, especially now that the library is on notice of this fraud.


The library has been in contact with me and is being very forthcoming in offering to provide the CIPA certifications.  Hopefully more good news to come.


I have today reported this library to the Whistleblower Alert line, 888-203-8100, option 9, during working hours.  (During non-working hours option 9 was not available, and the online means had a technical failure last I tried.)  The evidence I provided is fully contained in the above post and added note.  I confirmed the receptionist was able to see this post.

Past experience tells me I will never again hear from the FCC about this matter, nor will I ever learn what action, if any, has been taken, even if I were to ask.  I have reported about four libraries in the past, some cases of which are reported on this blog.  From what I can tell, the fraud in those libraries continues unabated.

I was asked if I was "just a concerned citizen."  I do not know how that is relevant or why it was qualified as "just" a "concerned citizen."  Perhaps my being "just a concerned citizen" has to do with why it appears my whistleblower alerts seem to have gone nowhere?

Be that as it may, I see that the investigation, at least of my own post on this matter, has already begun.  I am getting multiple visits to my blog from Irvington, NJ, including a search for "safe libraries blogspot," which I discussed with the receptionist, and links being followed, including to the original one containing the video by @kevinNYCdipped.  So I am satisfied at least someone is looking at the evidence.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

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

Hundreds of parents in Guilford County are protesting a piece of literature that has been required reading for upperclassmen in some schools for at least 10 years, The Handmaid's Tale written by Margaret Atwood.  ....  Right now the schools offer an opt-out clause for students, but the parents want to take that step further.  And many agree.  They have gathered about 2,300 signatures from parents and students.  But they want to be clear, they are not asking that the book be prohibited in school, just excluded from the syllabus.  
Not prohibited, just removed from the syllabus.  Source:

Wow!  Over 2,300 signatures!  Of course from parents, but from students as well!

Watch Parents Speak Up for Appropriate Public School Reading Material

Watch parents speaking at a Guilford County Schools (NC) Board of Education meeting, and see how one parent gets a standing ovation:

See the Petition That Garnered Thousands of Signatures

Here's the petition that garnered thousands of signatures online and on paper (and I've reprinted it at bottom):

Many of the signatures are from concerned citizens, not parents of children who were actually assigned the book or in the school system.  However, school board policy for "addressing challenged educational resources," states, emphasis mine: "When there is a challenge to an educational resource expressed by students, employees, parents or guardians, or citizens of the school's attendance area, the following procedure shall be utilized."  So these thousands of petition signatures really are relevant to the educational issue facing that community.  Here is a news story prominently displaying the signed petitions:

Details About the Contents of The Handmade's Tale

What's in The Handmaid's Tale?  The book, while deemed appropriate for school children, could not be read on an evening news broadcast for fear of the loss of an FCC broadcast license:

"March Against "Banning Books"; Support for The Handmaid's Tale as Required Reading

I hear there may be a "march" against "book banning" at the school, so I informed many people the day before:
Dan Kleinman

BREAKING:  " " march  8 Nov re  's "The Handmaid's Tale"   
Some support the book being required reading in public school:

Sourced Information on Book Challenges You Won't Hear From the ALA

For the benefit of the Guilford County Schools Board of Education and the citizens of the school's attendance area, I provide some information, in no particular order, that will assist them in making a decision based on solid resources instead of emotional appeals opposing "censorship" or "book banning" as is likely to be displayed in the "march" against "book banning."  Agence France-Presse said I am "a clearing house for information about challenging books" and I've been advising communities for over a decade so please consider what I say.  Here's more about me, including a telephone number.  Reliable sources are provided, and where I cite to my own writing, the reliable sources are contained therein.  I have not read the The Handmaid's Tale so I will not comment on it, other than to say I support all authors and oppose true censorship.

Let' begin:
  1. No book has been banned in the USA for about half a century, Fanny Hill being the last: "Banned Book Favorites: Fanny Hill (Reprise)," by RasoirJ (George Clack), 3:17am, 25 August 2011.  This must be said because of all the false claims of book banning being bandied about, particularly by the media, e.g., "Parents Seek Ban on Certain Books," by Morgan Josey Glover, News & Record (Greensboro, NC), 1 November 2012.  Compare that title and its inherent spin and one-sided effect on the reader with another title that is truthful, namely, "Guilford Co. Parents Want Changes to Required Reading Lists," by Amanda McKenzieNews 14 Carolina, 2 November 2012.  Further, no parent ever bans a book from anywhere, except perhaps his or her own home.  Parents bring their concerns to the schools.  This is perfectly legitimate.  Schools even have the means set up to respond to such concerns.  If the book is indeed inappropriate and removed or some other action is taken such as removing it from a reading list, then the action is taken by the school, not by the parent.
  2. Sometimes the claim is made that every single person who ever questions the appropriateness of books for children in public schools is a censor or a book banner:  "The Parent Trap: ALA Uses Banned Books Week to Ridicule Patrons Complying with ALA Materials Reconsideration Policies," by Dan Kleinman, SafeLibraries, 29 September 2010.  Such claims are false and are intended to bully or intimidate people into silence.  If someone is making that claim, he or she is bullying both the parents and the community generally.  Even a self-described "progressive" librarian knows this is wrong when he says, "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":  "Banned Books Week Propaganda Exposed by Progressive Librarian Rory Litwin; ALA Censors Out Criticism of Its Own Actions in a Manner Dishonest to the Core," by Dan KleinmanSafeLibraries, 1 September 2011.  Besides, as Dan Gerstein said, "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."  See also, and you'll love the authors writing in the comments, "Kentucky School Superintendent Exposes False Cries of Censorship; Removes Educationally Unsuitable Books from Curriculum Despite Being on ALA's List for Reluctant Readers," by Dan KleinmanSafeLibraries, 30 November 2009.  
  3. The creator of the American Library Association's "Banned Books Week" said if a book does not meet its school's selection policy, "get it out of there":  "Marking 25 Years of Banned Books Week: An Interview with Judith Krug," by Judith Krug, 46 Curriculum Review 1, September 2006, p.12.
  4. Sometimes people who challenge inappropriate material in schools are made to look like they are the only ones who think this.  That is simply false.  2,300+ petition signatures show that is false.  In addition, a Harris Poll shows that is false.  Indeed the poll shows, "A majority of Americans say ... that books with explicit language should not be available to children in school libraries (62%)":  "Most Oppose Explicit Books in Public Schools Says Harris Poll," by Dan KleinmanSafeLibraries, 26 April 2011.
  5. Books that are "pervasively vulgar" may be removed from public schools immediately.  "[A]n 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":  Board of Education v. Pico, 457 US 853 (1982).  The American Library Association misleads communities on this case by advising on only a part of the truth, not the whole truth.  See, e.g.:  "School Media Specialist Passes Sexual Content Review to Students; Dee Venuto Says It Is Discrimination to Keep Children From Material Including Lengthy, Vivid Descriptions of a Ménage a Trois," by Dan KleinmanSafeLibraries, 26 April 2011.
  6. There are those who say children should never be kept from anything whatsoever, that they must choose for themselves.  That may be their view, but the US Supreme Court says otherwise in a case that protected children from inappropriate material on the Internet in public libraries:  "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":  US v. American Library Association, 539 US 194 (2003).  
  7. In Evans-Marshall v. Board of Education of the Tipp City Exempted Village School District, the 6th Circuit Court ruled unanimously that "[t]eachers have no First Amendment free-speech protection for curricular decisions they make in the classroom": "Court Backs Local School Control in Evans-Marshall v Board of Education; ALA Loses Another Means to Propagandize Local Communities," by Dan KleinmanSafeLibraries, 22 October 2010.
  8. Inappropriate books for children is a concern for everyone, not just "conservatives" or "Christians."  Consider, for example, leading feminist, President Bill Clinton political consultant, and The Beauty Myth author Naomi Wolf who wrote in The New York Times that parents looking at reading for their children "might be in for a surprise."  For example, "sex saturates the 'Gossip Girl' books, by Cecily von Ziegesar, which are about 17- and 18-year-old private school girls in Manhattan.  This is not the frank sexual exploration found in a Judy Blume novel, but teenage sexuality via Juicy Couture, blasé and entirely commodified":  "Young Adult Fiction: Wild Things," by Naomi Wolf, The New York Times, 12 March 2006.
  9. You know how you hear that this or that challenged book won awards or is highly recommended by reliable sources?  That is one excuse to promote allowing children access to inappropriate material.  At least one school principal is no longer falling for that excuse, saying, "You rely on a professional service such as Scholastic to review your books.  Everything I read gave glowing reviews and didn't go into the graphic sexual details of the book":  "School Excoriates Book Reviews that Fail to Disclose 'Graphic Sexual Details' in Books for Children; Lush by Natasha Friend is 'Wildly Inappropriate' for Certain Children," by Dan KleinmanSafeLibraries, 16 December 2010.  Also see, regarding the Wall Street Journal, "False Censorship Claims Exposed by WSJ Author Attacked for Exposing Truth About Young Adult Books; Meghan Cox Gurdon Decries Incomplete and Uninformative Book Reviews," by Dan KleinmanSafeLibraries, 8 June 2011.  And from another school in another state, see, "Humble ISD Now Screens Books, Guests Closer," by Bryan Kirk, Houston Chronicle, 11 September 2012.
  10. People view the American Library Association as being authoritative.  The organization has done a lot of good, but not all is good.  Its "Office for Intellectual Freedom" and "Freedom to Read Foundation" were created by a three year Illinois state ACLU leader.  She injected ACLU views into the ALA.  No longer would ALA librarians keep children from harm; suddenly librarians were to provide anything at all and it was up to parents to monitor their own children.  So, as these issues are being discussed, as the parents are being viewed as "censors," remember we are here because of an ACLU leader's effective control of the ALA, and the ALA thereafter changed the playing field and terminology.  Now the parents are wrong for challenging sexually inappropriate materials, and it's called "censorship" or "banning," instead of the schools being wrong for making such material available to children in the first place.  In reality, far from being authoritative, the ALA knowingly and intentionally misleads communities.  (A) In one case, its "Freedom to Read Foundation" quietly granted money to a person in West Bend, WI, leading the charge in seeking to ensure children retained access to sexually inappropriate material.  Only an official request for public records revealed the grant recipient bragging about the $1000 grant.  Neither the library nor the ALA made the grant public.  (B) In another case I recorded an author essentially admitting that the ALA faked its 2010 edition of its annual list of the top ten most challenged books.  (C) Recently the ALA openly suggested that public libraries should begin to consider collecting pornography.  (D) And the ALA joins with similar groups to intentionally mislead schools about challenged books.  (E) Prominent librarians point out that the ALA is the only organization promoting sexually inappropriate material for children.  (F) The author of the Children's Internet Protection Act wrote that the ALA misleads a third of American libraries into potentially harming children.  These are just the tip of the iceberg.  The ALA should not be viewed as authoritative.  If your school hears from the ALA, its argument likely contains similar false and misleading information.  I will help you see through this upon request, and I will use reliable sources.  
  11. I have a list of many articles on the topic of public school book selection and reading lists in the following story, which illustrates, by the way, that schools can react immediately to remove inappropriate material without being constrained to follow the American Library Association's suggested constraints: "School Removes Squirting Sperm Book After 8-Year-Old Complains To Her Mother," by Dan KleinmanSafeLibraries, 14 March 2011.

Opt Out Provisions Are Just an Easy Way Out

Let me add this about "opt out" provisions.  Opt out rules are really a means to allow the school boards to opt out of doing the right thing in the first place.  Children are supposed to have an equal education and governments bend over backwards to make that happen, correct?  Then why have "opt out" policies as they lead to unequal education.  Children who do opt out are necessarily left out of the classroom discussion of the material.  Schools shirk their responsibility to students when they intentionally allow students to take a path the teacher will not follow.

What is really being opted out is the requirement for fair and efficient education.  In every single case of opting out I've seen, the opt opt process is used to bully students and parents into not opting out because who wants the social stigma of standing out.  For example, most kids want to dress like the others for fear of standing out like a sore thumb.

I know the parents in Guilford County are asking for the ability to opt out.  Likely they do not realize the above.  It is similar to why Guilford County school policy says challenged books "shall not be restricted during the review process."  That policy comes from the ALA.  In reality, schools can toss that aside anytime they wish, as alluded to in the Pico case, just like was done in Phoenix, AZ, where the former head of the Arizona Library Association attempted to bully the school into keeping the sperm squirting book available to third graders while a review was underway.  You see, schools answer to the citizens, not to the ACLU/ALA.

Article and Petition Appear Below

Finally, here is that excellent article I have discussed above and the petition below that:

by Amanda McKenzie 
News 14 Carolina 
2 November 2012

GREENSBORO — Hundreds of parents in Guilford County are protesting a piece of literature that has been required reading for upperclassmen in some schools for at least 10 years, The Handmaid's Tale written by Margaret Atwood.

Lisa Reid was looking up her son's required reading list for Grimsley High School when she saw the list came with a warning.

"I had never seen a warning label on a public school reading list," said Reid.

It warns of mature content and after these parents read the book, they said it was not appropriate for teenagers.

"They need to be taught in a responsible manner that doesn't allow pornographic material to be read by our students," said parent Cathy Barnette said.

Right now the schools offer an opt-out clause for students, but the parents want to take that step further. And many agree. They have gathered about 2,300 signatures from parents and students. But they want to be clear, they are not asking that the book be prohibited in school, just excluded from the syllabus.

"The petition does not talk about banning books. It talks about setting standards that do not denigrate religion," said Reid.

Reid has brought her concerns and petition to the Guilford County School Board, and while no official response or action has been declared, some school board members are supportive of her efforts.

"I just wonder sometimes how books like this get on there," Paul Daniels said.

Daniels said he agrees that there should be standards that are in line with what the schools already promote in their values.

"We shouldn't be denigrating anybody's faith, not in required reading," said Daniels.

A controversial discussion that will likely continue.

by Lisa Reid
Greensboro, NC

Petition Letter

I just signed the following petition addressed to: Guilford County School Board.

Guilford County schools have assigned reading that specifically targets and denigrates Christianity. Two specific examples are The Handmaid’s Tale and Cat’s Cradle.

The American Federation of Teachers, the National School Board Association and 17 other national organizations have endorsed a document that specifies that 1) Religious conviction must be treated with fairness and respect. 2) Religion must be taught objectively and neutrally. 3) Schools educate about religion—they do not promote or denigrate religion.

The two books mentioned are in direct violation of these provisions.

According to the courts, the school board as the public's elected representatives must set the standards in this area. Our school board has not been willing to intervene when religion is denigrated.

We, the undersigned, are concerned citizens who urge our leaders to engage in one of the very purposes for which it exists and make sure that our school assignments do not denigrate anyone’s religion and that in addition, such assignments promote rather than tear down traditional values.

[Your name]

Friday, October 5, 2012

Librarians Discuss Banned Books Week on Twitter #Libchat; ALA Councilor Attacks Me

#libchat moderator
This week is the American Library Association's 30th edition of its Banned Books Week hoax.  As a volunteer librarian, I partake in the weekly #libchat on Twitter, 8 - 9:30 pm EST Wednesdays, moderated by @NatalieBinder.

So I sent the following messages to the moderator about Banned Books Week as she seeks such input:

@nataliebinder for #libchat: "Why the @OIF Can’t be Taken Seriously" #BannedBooksWeek #censorship
10/3/12 7:55 PM-Wednesday, 3October2012

@nataliebinder, why doesn't@OIF oppose banning of ex-gay books on #BannedBooksWeek
10/3/12 8:09 PM-Wednesday, 3October2012

This apparently precipitated the following discussion, with some people saying the ALA should be more radical and others saying less, essentially agreeing with me in principle that the ALA has gone too far in some areas and not enough in others:

Q3 This week is Banned Books Week. Do libraries (or the ALA) sometimes take the definition of censorship too far? (1/2) #libchat
10/3/12 8:30 PM-Wednesday, 3October2012

Q3 continued: Is it appropriate to focus on challenged books during Banned Books week? (2/2) #libchat
10/3/12 8:31 PM-Wednesday, 3October2012

Q3 I do. A better name would be Intellectual Freedom Week, as that's what it's really about, reminding folks [cont.] #libchat
10/3/12 8:34 PM-Wednesday, 3October2012

Q3 cont.'s not illegal to think unpopular thoughts. But Banned Books Week is more soundbite-able to the general public. #libchat
10/3/12 8:35 PM-Wednesday, 3October2012

q3 I think ALA doesn't take the censorship debate far enough- they don't disallow internet filtering. [cont] #libchat
10/3/12 8:35 PM-Wednesday, 3October2012

@LibraryPadawan Agreed. Freedom to not have others judge what is appropriate for each individual to read/learn. #libchat
10/3/12 8:35 PM-Wednesday, 3October2012

q3 Banned Books Week is a good media/pr/awareness raising event, but it needs to go further-raise more issues around censorship #libchat
10/3/12 8:36 PM-Wednesday, 3October2012

Q3 I like the name "Banned Books Week". It's a very jarring & attention grabbing name for an issue people often forget still exists #libchat
10/3/12 8:36 PM-Wednesday, 3October2012

@cathy_library I agree. I think many libraries get a good conversation started that gets dropped until the next Banned Books Week #libchat
10/3/12 8:37 PM-Wednesday, 3October2012

@LibraryPadawan I like that. It better reflects what we're actually trying to accomplish. #libchat
10/3/12 8:37 PM-Wednesday, 3October2012

Q3 #libchat At times it seems that if a book is thrown out of something that is not a library, it's not a banned book..
10/3/12 8:38 PM-Wednesday, 3October2012

Q3 #libchat ...and even if the book is retained in the collection, it's still banned
10/3/12 8:38 PM-Wednesday, 3October2012

Q3 My favorite is when people get confused and think the library is trying to ban books. Let's call it a teachable moment. #libchat
10/3/12 8:39 PM-Wednesday, 3October2012

Q3 #libchat (unless a librarian decides to take it out of the collection himself cf. @awfullibbooks)
10/3/12 8:40 PM-Wednesday, 3October2012

Q3 #libchat Books that get you arrested, killed, or deported, are missing from the list because Americans do have the freedom to read them
10/3/12 8:43 PM-Wednesday, 3October2012

The above discussion is not necessarily news, but I thought it was interesting enough to publish here to show that not all librarians march to the ALA's tune.

ALA Councilor Patrick Sweeney Attacks Me

As an aside, here's a supposed free speech advocate calling me "that one typical crazy guy," even as they speak on the issue I raised.  I know he's talking about me because he has made similar comments about me in other fora in the past, and in a similar manner.

Notice in his first #libchat comment ever, he uses the opportunity to make an ad hominem remark about me.  He's one of my few personal trolls:

Checking out #libchat for the first time. I'm wondering about how many non-libs participate? Besides that one typical crazy guy.
10/3/12 8:36 PM-Wednesday, 3October2012

And what a coincidence this free speech troll blocks me on Twitter.  Oh my, he is "the Branch Manager of the East Palo Alto Library in California" identified as an "ALA Emerging Leader."

He is now an ALA Councilor!  "The Council is the governing body of ALA."  Model behavior for an ALA Councilor to behave in such a fashion, no?  Attack someone on Twitter but be sure he's blocked first so he can't respond.

To whom may I appeal if someone on the governing body of the ALA is attacking me in various settings?  He's on the ALA Ethics Committee, so the answer is nowhere.  But he does help to illustrate the ALA's commitment to free speech goes only one way.

The Banned Books Week Acolytes Block Free Speech

Notice other supposed free speech advocates who support Banned Books Week in the conversation above have also blocked me:
  • @jessf600 - Jessica - public librarian in Ventura County, CA.
  • @BibliosaurusRex - Lauren Bradley, MLIS, Judaica Systems Librarian and ALA Committee Intern, New York City, NY, ALA's Public and Cultural Programs Advisory Committee.
  • @lochwouters - Marge Loch-Wouters - Youth Services Coordinator, La Crosse Public Library, immediate past Wisconsin's Chapter Councilor on the ALA Council - she joined the conversation too late to comment on the issue, but she's another ALA Councilor who has blocked me.
And most seem to be ALA acolytes.  And they block free speech.  Free speech advocates blocking free speech.  Remarkable.  No big deal as this is just Twitter, but I thought it interesting nevertheless.

It sheds a little bit of light on why, for example, certain free speech advocates do not mind the censorship of books with which they disagree, such as those about ex-gays:

Conclusion on Banned Books Week, Free Speech, and Twitter Behavior

So the librarians who seek to move Banned Books Week away from being a hoax such as by calling it "Intellectual Freedom Week" do not block me, and the librarians who are happy to see Banned Books Week continue to be "very jarring" block my free speech on Twitter.  Very interesting.  It's no coincidence.


Contrast the behavior of the ALA Councilor with that of teacher/writer Trudy J. Morgan-Cole.  She addresses the issues, not the people raising the issues (though she swoons over John Green and not me!!!), and she does so in a truly thoughtful manner:

She references the following tweets:

During #bannedbooksweek I loaned a student Looking for Alaska by @realjohngreen . Was that ever banned anywhere?
10/4/12 8:40 PM-Thursday, 4October2012

@trudymorgancole many times.
10/4/12 8:46 PM-Thursday, 4October2012

No: MT @trudymorgancole: "#bannedbooksweek Was Looking for Alaska by @realjohngreen ever banned anywhere?”
10/4/12 10:58 PM-Thursday, 4October2012

I recommend following @TrudyMorganCole.


ALA Councilor Sweeney commented below to attack me further, even saying, "I also have heard from a number of New Jersey librarians (where you live) that you used to put playboys and penthouses in the stacks and then try to get the libraries in trouble to drum up some press. Is that true? Yet another reason why you’re blocked."  I respond to this unprofessionalism and more also in comments below.  Please read them.