Welcome..... Wissup??


Copyright (c) 2009 Ginny Maziarka. All rights reserved.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Censorship Revisited

Why are the parents and taxpayers who are asking (still asking) for a balance of information and simple identification of sexually explicit books for minors suffering the accusation of censorship? The inherent answer is a need for education.

While some would believe censorship is the protestation of certain groups in accordance with a personal belief system, this definition is clearly inaccurate. Webster defines censorship as “to examine in order to suppress or delete anything considered objectionable.” In essence, censorship is the deletion of materials, ideas or information; therefore, when put in proper perspective, every time a librarian makes a decision about what books to buy, keep and throw, they are part of the editorial decision-making, i.e., censorship, process.

The label of censor clearly does not apply to citizen input. In fact, crying censorship creates a separate issue that is a distraction from the complaint of the West Bend citizens.

People should oppose censorship, but if "censorship" is being used as a political bludgeon in a case where it does not, in reality, exist, that only weakens efforts to oppose real censorship.

Now that censorship has been clarified, let’s go to the real issue in our local library, that being, inappropriate material for minors. Citizens are requesting parental assistance in identifying and appropriately placing sexually explicit materials. In asking for balance on controversial issues, MORE information is being asked for, not less. All books will still be available to all people. No books will be removed. No books will be banned. No books will be burned.

In a US Supreme Court case, the ACLU and the American Library Association [ALA] lost monumentally. In 2003, (US v. ALA) the Court said, "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."

Religion, morality, politics, even pornography, have little to do with this matter. Instead, cases like US v. ALA, various local laws, and perhaps even the very language of the legal instrument that created the West Bend library in the first place, all allow West Bend citizens to decide to protect children from inappropriate material in the public library.

Besides, it's common sense.

Accountability is the hallmark of democracy; therefore, we are holding our library accountable for the choices it is making for our youth and our community.


Judi Wheeldon- Activist said...

Well said!!!

Concerned West Bend Citizen said...

Are you going to give credit to SafeLibraries for this post? Since you seemed to copy some of his language from a comment he left here.

John Jost said...

... a distraction from the complaint of the West Bend citizens

There you go again - it is not the complaint of the West Bend citizens, it is only YOUR complaint.

SafeLibraries® said...

"It also highlights the thing we know about Banned Books Week that we don't talk about much — the bulk of these books are challenged by parents for being age-inappropriate for children. While I think this is still a formidable thing for librarians to deal with, it's totally different from people trying to block a book from being sold at all."

Totally different.

West Bend Citizen Advocate said...

CCWB: You make me chuckle! I can't imaging the time you have spent lurking and looking for things to pick apart, copying and pasting, dredging up ridiculous commentary such as this. Of course I am not giving credit, because I don't need to. I was given blanket permission to use anything I liked, and I do. Save your energy for addressing real issues, such as allowing for children what our state will not give them.....only in our public library.

West Bend Citizen Advocate said...

John, John.... I hesitate to bother with a response to your comment. You must not have followed this issue or you would realize the error in your thinking. Since it has dragged out for over four months now, I can't say as I am surprised...

Mike said...


Anyone who has followed this knew it wasn't Ginny's work. The argument was logical, if flawed, and the word selction was excellent. Neither is one of Ginny's strong suits.

West Bend Citizen Advocate said...

Let's see.. the three negative commentaries here have all been personal attacks. How 'bout we talk about the actual post?

bobbieloudeters said...

No censorship, eh? How many times do you people have to be told something before it sinks in. At least two people (make that THREE because Alderman Dobberstein alluded to it, also) at the June 2 forum mentioned the case of Sund v. City of Wichita Falls TX. Just Google the case title and it will lead you to 121 F. Supp. 2d 530. To make things short, the case involved two books, "Heather Has Two Mommies" and Daddy's Roommate" books depicting gay families with children. They are picture books aimed at elementary age children. People protested the books and demanded only that they be MOVED. Not banned. The Library Board refused so the City Council came up with a Resolution that said if 300 people signed a petition demanding that a book be moved to the adult section-- then it must be moved. 300 signatures were found and, against the wishes of the library board and staff, the children's books were moved to the adult section. 18 people who were upset with moving the two books got upset and filed a lawsuit in Federal Court for the Northern District of Texas. Hardly the most liberal district in the nation. Guess what? The people who were upset about the books being moved---WON! The library was permanently enjoined (that's a legal word meaning forbidden) from moving the books to the adult section. As Alderman Dobberstein noted in his comments-- the lawyers fees for a case like that could cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars. Sounds like a great way to spend taxpayer's money-- just to lose
The case makes interesting reading. Go ahead, it's sort of long, but very easy to read. The best parts are the 20 Conclusions of Law noted by the judge. Here is but a tiny sample;".....( the order moving the books) as applied to the removal of Heather Has Two Mommies and Daddy's Roommate from the children's area of the Library to the adult section, violates Plaintiffs' federal and state constitutional rights to receive information. The Resolution and the Book removals burden fully-protected speech on the basis of content and viewpoint and they therefore cannot stand." The other 19 are just as good.
But, I forgot. As I mentioned in my earlier comment, you people don't want to know the law. And when you know it-- you don't understand it. And when you understand it-- you don't like it, ignore it, pretend it isn't there-- or just refuse to obey it. But, you say, you just want books labeled and restricted in other ways. How is anyone to know what you folks find objectionable? Which internet list are we supposed to look at? The ones cited by Ginny Maziarka have anywhere between 15 and over 1000 books on the. (Yes, Safe Libraries-- which has a link posted by the manager of this blog has well over 1000 books on its list.) Which list of quotes from internet sites are we to look at so the staff can go through many, many thousands of books looking for them. Are libraries to be limited to only carry those items that are so weak and inoffensive that no one would object?
Parents-- do your job. Monitor what your kids read and watch. And if you think that the West Bend Library is not a safe place, then you also better keep them from bookstores, movie theaters, late night TV (especially cable), and particularly anything at all to do with the internet, or cell phones. And you also better not let them associate with other children because those kids have all sorts of strange ideas.
Give it up. You've lost. There are no more issues for the Library Board to consider. Oh, and don't even think of a plan blaming the American Library Association for everything. They are legitimate and respectable. That won't get you anywhere either.

West Bend Citizen Advocate said...


Upon reviewing the information you wrote, I'd like to make a short commentary.

First, a question: Can you help me with the sentence you wrote about SafeLibraries having a list of 1,000 books? I went to see if they, in fact, did have such a list, but couldn't find it. Thanks, Bob!

Moving along now... The Wichita case does not apply to anything we are doing here. It was a good legal case to review and it was quite interesting nonetheless! I appreciate the insight and teaching, Bob! That particular case pertains to homosexual books without sex in them. Our issue, however, is just the opposite; we are targeting any books with sexually explicit material in them, and homosexual themes being irrelevant. In addition, the Wichita case pertained to an ordinance; we are asking our library to act within it's rights. Just a couple of points that confirm the following:

Bringing up irrelevant cases and false information and apparently trying to apply them to our situation is clear testimony that you do not have the ability to contest our requests. Cases cited, such as the the one above, only provide as distraction from the real issue of providing inappropriate materials to minors.

No, Bob, it is not over. As a lawyer, you should know that important cases return to the forefront time and again. Have you never gone the extra mile for a client? If so, I should think you would understand this process.

sxoidmal said...

I appreciated this enlightened, timely post, regardless of the drama that ensued.

Paul said...

I just wanted to applaud the fact that you allow comments on this blog. I'm looking forward to the great discussions among your fellow community members and other concerned citizens that will result. For your own accountability, please consider removing the comment moderation and instead provide guidelines for allowable comments, and let people comment freely without concern of being unnecessarily censored. Once aware of what constitutes an offending comment (e.g. not just an opposing comment!), people will largely comply. You can still delete comments in case of violations of those rules.

Jim said...

We live in a world of diverse ideas.

This type of censorship would not be necessary if you do one thing: teach your children to think for themselves. It's a simple concept. Explain to your kids that there are many different viewpoints about love and marriage, and that they have should pick what viewpoint works best for them, and accept other people's opinions about how they want to live their lives.

Just do that, and all this jostling of books from one section to another will become unnecessary.


DollB said...

"...teach your children to think for themselves." "...works best for them." "...how they want to live their lives." Now that is some scary stuff. I'm 43 and am remembering back to my younger days, and what I would've been like had my parents allowed me all that freedom! I tell you what; had I been allowed to think for myself, I would've never went to school! Had I been able to do what worked best for me, I would've drank beer all day and all night! Had I been able to choose how to live my life, I would've ran away with the older neighbor boy down the road! The truth of the matter is, if you let a child to decide for themselves what is "good" for them, you've dishonored your child. We are to raise them up, protect and take care of them, and when they are adults hopefully they will not stray from our teachings. These sexually explicit books need to be moved out of the kids paths, and labeled appropriately so parents can tell at a glance what content is inside. I think of this old saying that goes something like "Teach a boy to fish, he'll eat for a lifetime."... and then I wonder about this ... "give a child a sexually explicit book and they will ...." You fill in the blank.

Slaughter said...

"... had I been allowed to think for myself, I would've never went to school! ... I would've drank beer all day and all night! ... I would've ran away with the older neighbor boy down the road!"

" 'give a child a sexually explicit book and they will ....' You fill in the blank."

Apparently you skipped some school, notably grammar. You should have written "would have never gone," "would have drunk" and "would have run."

As to the sexually explicit book, maybe they'll grow up with healthy sexual attitudes, as I did after reading -- horrors! -- another book that caused a fuss: "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex *But Were Afraid to Ask!"

Scott said...

This entire blog makes me sad to be from West Bend, but extremely happy to have left there forever.

Hush said...

Trying to restrict access to information for silly, childish, or ignorant beliefs is censorship. If you don't want your children reading books then you should monitor their reading. I don't want to have to send my child into the adult section for a children's book. Please stop trying to force your ideologies on other parents.