6 October, 2009

With respect to personal lives, an issue that came up during these events was my status as a mother. It was discussed in many conversations by the complainants about my ability and qualifications for my profession if I had not experienced motherhood. I was told several times that I could not understand the situation or its importance because I did not have children, specifically daughters. I often felt I had to defend myself and my personal life, not only my status as a parent, but also my age and my faith. I was told a good Christian would not want to expose smut to innocent minds. It was implied that I couldn’t have a sound religious faith while espousing an appreciation for contemporary YA literature and proudly defending our country’s First Amendment and every citizen’s—including teenagers’—right to read.

Kristin Pekoll, YA librarian at West Bend Community Memorial Library (regarding the censorship attempts earlier this year), in the October 2009 issue of VOYA.

I would think it’s the other way around. Parents have trouble seeing their kids as ever being sexual people, so they gasp in horror if their teenagers want to read books about sex or sexuality. Cooler heads might see that every teenager thinks about sex, and it’s ridiculous to pretend you can “protect” them from it forever.

And the idea that a woman who went to graduate school in order to become a librarian, and who has been working in that capacity for seven years, doesn’t know how to do her job because she’s not a mother? The sexist implications are staggering. Apparently parenthood is now a requirement for any and all jobs that involve working with children. Or maybe just for the women.

But then again, what do I know? I’m not a mother.


5 October, 2009

Can YOU spot the threat to young minds?

Consider the following excerpt:

"Hulya?" she says. "Hi!"

“Yaz!” Hulya says. “Waddup, cuz? Keeping it real?”

Yasaman grins, because Hulya only talks this way when no one else is around. To Yasaman, she’ll say, “Give me some knuckles” or “Yo yo yo,” but to their elderly büyükbaba and büyükanne and their gazillion of halanin and amcanin, it’s yes, ma’am, no sir all the way.

“Um, yeah, I guess I’m keeping it real,” Yasaman says. She grips the phone. “School starts tomorrow.”

“Yah, I know,” Hulya says. “My friend Chrissy? She’s insane. She’s planning this whole sneak attack on Joseph Terrico, who we call Jellico. She is boy crazy with a capital boy, I’m telling ya. She’s the total ditzy blonde—I love her. Only she’s smart under her ditziness, she does have brains, but she’d rather tie a pillow to her tummy and have pretend sumo wrestler fights, ya know?”

Yasaman holds the phone close. She marvels at the way Hulya’s words spill out of her like jelly beans. She also marvels at the image she gets of this Chrissy, blond and manic and pillow-huge, bouncing into people’s stomachs.

“But even when she’s sumo wrestling, she blabbers about boys,” Hulya says, “She says she’s got ‘boy crazy’ in her genes. Her older sister, Angela? She just started college—somewhere in the south, maybe Georgia?—and apparently she’s dating an entire fraternity. Can you believe it?”

Yasaman opens her mouth to reply.

Before she can, Hulya jumps back in. “But not in a slutty way, for reals. I’m friends with Angela on Facebook, and she’s just as adorable as Chrissy and not skanky at all. Oh! But their aunt? She’s a pole dancer, Yaz. Can you believe it?”

Yasaman is slightly breathless just from listening to Hulya’s spew. “Um … you’re Facebook friends with a college girl?”

“Oh, on Facebook you’re friends with everybody,” Hulya says breezily.

This passage is from Lauren Myracle’s new book Luv Ya Bunches.

Last week, it was deemed so “inappropriate” by one school’s principal that he canceled her visit to the school.

He canceled. Her visit. To the school.

So, to recap: We have dozens of famous, influential people signing a petition that a man who raped a 13-year-old should go free, and we have someone who thinks 13-year-olds should not be allowed to meet the woman who wrote the above passage.

Which do you think does more to protect young people: keeping them away from the words “pole dancer,” or pursuing justice for the people who rape them?

(For more, check out Chasing Ray’s take, which ties these two things together more eloquently than I can when I’m too busy banging my head on things at the stupidity of the world.)


28 September, 2009
robot-heart-politics: thesmarttart:
U.S. Requests to Remove Books from Libraries, 2007-2009“[A]n interactive database that shows requests to have books removed from public and school libraries between 2007 and 2009. Here’s a screenshot showing all requests; at the website you can hover over each point and see what the book was, the basis of the challenge, and in many cases the result.”via Sociological Images


U.S. Requests to Remove Books from Libraries, 2007-2009
“[A]n interactive database that shows requests to have books removed from public and school libraries between 2007 and 2009. Here’s a screenshot showing all requests; at the website you can hover over each point and see what the book was, the basis of the challenge, and in many cases the result.”

via Sociological Images



17 August, 2009

I congratulate Jim and Ginny Maziarka, the vigilant parents in West Bend who have waged war to cleanse their public library of all that is indecent and immoral. They have selflessly spent hours upon hours searching out the filthiest phrases in young people’s literature so the phrases can be taken out of context. After all, if you cannot read about something, then it is easier to pretend it does not exist. Like homosexuality or science.

Read not, sin not? I think not - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Scathing op/ed about the West Bend clusterfuck.


17 August, 2009

In brief, we hold that local school boards may not remove books from school library shelves simply because they dislike the ideas contained in those books and seek by their removal to ‘prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion.’

The Supreme Court, Board of Education v. Pico


12 August, 2009

Intellecual [sic] freedom in the warped sense of giving children access to materials that teach, and even promote, bl*w j*bs, hand j*bs, three-way s*x, the joy of “swallowing” and s*x toys usage in a crude/raunchy manner, nonetheless, is not intellectual, and it is not freedom. It is dangerous, like I said.

West Bend’s very own FAIL WHALE, Ginny Maziarka, defending her position that “Intellectual freedom for minors is DANGEROUS” and inadvertantly delivering the most hilarious blog comment I’ve read in a very, very long time.

If you’ve stopped keeping track of the whole West Bend library fiasco (especially since the library board voted down Ginny’s petition), Sleepless in West Bend will bring you up to speed.

But, seriously, HILARIOUS FAIL. Here’s to “hand j*bs!”

(via convincingindie)

I really need to stop reading Ginny’s blog. It’s making my head hurt.

On the other hand, it is on occasion hilarious.


7 August, 2009

One very clear example can be seen among those who believe that the library holds materials that violate obscenity law. They say this is criminal, and yet refrain from filing a formal complaint with the police, a strong example of living with cognitive dissonance. Of course, they won’t file a formal complaint because they fear the real-world consequences of filing a false police report, and that means that at some level they realize that the obscenity claim is false. But the energy created by touching the child-protection instinct is so strong that it keeps that realization from coming too close to conscious awareness. The goad to action overrides the awareness that something here just doesn’t add up.

Censorship-Free Libraries: Let’s Just Call It Obscene!


3 August, 2009

She writes, “they are allowing young children to read about things that there are laws out there protecting them from.” This statement is true, but not in the way the writer intended. There are, in fact, books in the library that inform children about some of the dangers that exist in the real world. That’s a good thing.

Censorship-Free Libraries: Porn, Predators and Prevarication (via notemily)

(Reblogging oneself on tumblr is surprisingly difficult to accomplish.)

Censorship-Free Libraries is a new blog discussing the ideas surrounding the West Bend library challenge. I particularly liked this quote, as I think that’s an issue that tends to be completely forgotten when discussing kids’ access to “harmful” information: “protecting” kids from sexually explicit material will not protect them from the real world. If you keep children from knowing anything about sex, how will you educate them about sexual abuse, rape, and sexual predators?

For more, read Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex by Judith Levine. I highly recommend it.