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NJ Library Removes LGBT Book, Calling It “Child Pornography”

Jim Burroway

July 28th, 2010

The public library system for Burlington County, New Jersey, has ordered that all copies of Amy Sonnie’s Revolutionary Voices: A Multicultural Queer Youth Anthology, which the library director labeled as “child pornography,” be removed from library shelves.

Library director Gail Sweet ordered the book’s removal without having followed a formal book challenge process. Instead, she acted on an informal complaint from a member of the local chapter of Fox News commentator Glenn Beck’s 9.12 Project. Emails (PDF: 11 pages/296 KB) obtained by American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey show that the complaint was made by Project member Beverly Marinelli, who is also credited with persuading Rancocas Valley Regional High School to ban the same book in May.

The book, which Marinelli describes as “pervasively vulgar, obscene, and inappropriate,” is a collection of essays by LGBT youth describing their struggles with coming out to themselves and their families. According to a description on Amazon.com:

While the work is wildly diverse (one of my favorites involves a mother who bakes a cake to help her queer daughter celebrate Ellen DeGeneres’s coming-out), all of it speaks to the isolation and fear of being queer and young. A boy lies awake at night practicing to be more masculine. An intersexed gay boy comes out to his high school. A butch girl tells of years of daily bashing. Fear, though, is not the overriding emotional tone to this collection. The contributors exhibit a belief in themselves, a well-placed youthful confidence that speaks as loudly as the most poignant writing. Their determination to survive and thrive despite a homophobic society comes through loud and clear. It’s the perfect antidote to adult cynicism about youth.

The School Library Journal reports that the Burlington County Library System has a formal process for removing books from the library:

BCLS’s formal process for handling controversial materials, as found in documents obtained by the ACLU, states that patrons must fill out a Request for Reconsideration form, and then a “committee of staff selectors as designated by the Library Director will review the material in question.”

…In the case of BCLS’s removal of Revolutionary Voices, an informal, rather than formal written request appears to have been made. In addition, Sweet’s email indicates that the committee was made up of her and one other person. Assistant director Margaret Delaney confirmed that she is the “Marge” mentioned in Sweet’s email as also recommending the book’s removal, but she’s not allowed to talk about the situation.

A key player in circumventing the formal process appears to be Patrick Delany, a member of the library commission. He has also been identified by the National Coalition Against Censorship as being a member of the same local 9.12 group as Beverly Marinelli, the woman who lodged the informal complaint.

That informal complaint from Marinelli apparently went first to Delany. According to a letter dated March 16 (PDF: 480 KB/5 pages) from library Director Sweet to Marinelli, Sweet wrote that “Library Commissioner Patrick Delany indicated at our meeting this morning that you have contacted him with concerns about several books we have in the library system.” Sweet also provided Marinelli with a copy of the Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials form and information on the formal process for requesting the removal of library material.

But it appears that the formal process was never followed. According to the emails obtained by the ACLU, Sweet wrote to Marinelli on April 27 that:

The Library Commissioners supported our staff recommendation to remove “Revolutionary Voices” from our shelves. As the copies that are checked out return, we will take them out of circulation.

On May 3, Sweet ordered that the the remaining copies should “totally disappear”:

We need to pull “Revolutionary Voices” by Amy Sonnie from our shelves. There are still two requests. How can we grab the books so that they never, ever get back into ccirculation. [sic] Copies need to totally disappear (as in not a good idea to send copies to the book sale) .

A later email dated May 24 from Sweet to a branch librarian clarified that the commission “supported our decision,” but “[t]here was no official challenge, no actual vote by the commissioners.” When the same branch librarian asked why the book was being removed, Sweet responded on May 25 with a two-word email: “Child pornography.”

Delany is also a committee member of the Lumberton Township Council in Burlington County. In the May 4 minutes (PDF: 4 pages/32 KB), Delany and another official planned to meet with officials from Rancocas Valley Regional High School that same evening. The purpose of Delany’s attendance at that meeting isn’t stated, but May 4 also happens to coincide with the school board’s decision (PDF: 160 KB/19 pages) to remove Revolutionary Voices from the school library by a unanimous vote (with one abstention).  Two weeks later, the Township government approved an appropriation for the high school’s 2010-2011 budget (PDF: 36KB/5 pages). All of this was concurrent with the public library’s removal of Revolutionary Voices. Messages obtained by the ACLU from the school district (PDF: 164 KB/3 pages) indicate that “the 9-12 group will eventually visit every HS in [the] county.”

Beverly Marinelli, it turns out, had also served as a Lumberton Township Committeewoman from 2005 to 2008, while Delany was the township’s mayor. Delany endorsed Marinelli during the 2005 election. Marinelli has also been active in the tea party movement.

UPDATE:

[Timothy:] An article in the Philadelphia Inquirer provides the motivation for Marinelli’s request:

The path to the book’s ban at Rancocas Valley began last year when Beverly Marinelli, a widely known activist in Lumberton who joined 9.12 last year, was poking around online and found a list of books recommended by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.

“We decided to see if these books were here, and, lo and behold, they were,” Marinelli said. “There’s stuff that’s appropriate for children and stuff that’s not. People wish to distract from the real issue by going into the 9.12 thing.”

It would appear that Marinelli’s objections lie entirely in her anti-gay prejudice.

Comments

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Tommy
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

Obviously some shennanigans went on. Thanks for the great reporting. I hope the ACLU sues these pigs.

Emily K
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

I’m wondering what exactly from the book they cited as being pornographic.

But some people think the very idea of having a queer orientation is pornographic. Gimme a break. Being attracted to the same sex is as “pornographic” as being attracted to the opposite sex.

Jim in MA
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

I would argue that the christian bible is also pronographic. It contains references to men lying with women. I’d say that qualifies more as pornography than adolescents dealing with being harassed.
BAN THE CHRISTIAN BIBLE!!!

homer
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

On the contact page you can send Ms. Sweet an email. I asked her if she had read the book and whether she planned on including it in the typical “Banned Book” display that many libraries have.

Jim Burroway
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

“kosle” attempted to post an off-topic comment in violation of our comments policy. I tried to email him of that fact, but it bounced back. Since he is using a fake email address, all of his comments will be moderated from now on.

John Doucette
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

The book counters adult cynicism about youth. But censorship of this book reinforces youth cynicism about adults.

Richard Rush
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

Is Beverly Marinelli related to Louis Marinelli? Louis is associated with NOM, which had been based in Princeton, NJ, and Burlington County is close to Princeton.

gregory brown
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

It’s always disappointing to see a librarian cave in to pressure from some tiny part of the community this way. It looks as if budget for operations was used as a tool, and who knows what other coercion. Even when there’s a tight budget, professional standards and ethics ought to be upheld.

Jack
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

“[T]he 9-12 group will eventually visit every HS in [the] county.”

Didn’t we used to call these kinds of groups “jack-booted thugs”?

This is really scary stuff.

SafeLibraries
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

So what? Library directors need not comply with policies designed for patrons. Liberals oppose such materials as well, such as Naomi Wolf, “Young Adult Fiction: Wild Things,” New York Times, 12 Mar 2006 (only what Ms. Wolf discussed is tamer by comparison). And being a tea party member is not a crime.

Worse, the NCAC itself promotes porn and censorship of others seeking to protect children, and it repeatedly misleads local communities with false information, as it is doing again in South Jersey.

See:
http://safelibraries.blogspot.com/2009/11/ncac-promotes-porn-says-keeping.html
http://safelibraries.blogspot.com/2009/11/ncac-supports-censorship-with-double.html
http://safelibraries.blogspot.com/2009/05/facts-disprove-ala-statements-regarding.html
Etc.

Box Turtle Bulletin, I admire your “fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric,” but you need to fact check as well and not jump to the knee-jerk/NCAC conclusion. “Anti-gay” is not the issue here, but it is an effective red herring to allow organizations like the NCAC to push its political views on communities. Don’t be a pawn in that effort.

L. Junius Brutus
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

This book lost me at “multicultural,” though if the book itself is inoffensive, it should be kept, of course.

As for “SafeLibraries” (I assume that Safe Libraries is not the person’s name), the book is not “push[ing] its political views” on communities by simply having a book there. You can read it, or you can refrain from reading it. Just like you can turn off the television. Too bad Bible-thumpers want to tell other people what they can read or watch. Keep your Ahmadinejad-like Stone Age “values” to yourself, Mrs. Marinelli. Civilized people have no use for them.

customartist
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

SafeLibraries,

You may generalize all you like, but the fact remains, the book was removed, and this was the specific topic of this post.

Rossi
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

So, safelibraries, you support circumventing a process for removing a book that’s been established by a community? Really?

That sounds anything BUT safe. If it’s pornography, if it’s truly offensive for reasons other than it is about GLBT issues, then why would you support doing an end-run around the process?

Again, anything but safe. Don’t be a pawn in censorship, I’d say.

Jack
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

SafeLibraries -

Revolutionary Voices was the only book removed in this purge and it was removed at the behest of a woman who specifically cited a description of “boys scouts watching men have sex” as the reason for the book to be considered liber non gratus in the school district.

I assume SafeLibraries is an astroturfer who wants to be the reasonable “good cop” in pushing this point of view. For the Beverly Marinellis of the world, the Prop 8 voters, the religious nuts who hate the sin but love the sinner, it’s never, never, never about the gays but about protecting some dubious innocence from corruption.

But of course at 24-7, 100% about the gays, about homophobia, about making us, if not disappeared, at least silent and invisible. They hate us.

Priya Lynn
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

Safelibraries condemns Elena Kagan for allegedly wanting to ban books and yet here he/she is advocating banning books – what a hypocrite.

Jim Burroway
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

If “pushing political views” is a reason for removing a book, the the Burlington library system needs to divest itself of its books by John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Payne, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and Glenn Beck, just to name a few.

Jack
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

Apparently, this is an even bigger putsch than it appears to be:

http://www.philly.com/inquirer/local/nj/20100506_Activists_see_momentum_in_book_ban.html

L. Junius Brutus
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

“For the Beverly Marinellis of the world, the Prop 8 voters”

I don’t think you should mention them in the same breath. You may be bitter about the result, as I am, but I firmly believe that there are decent people who were misled into voting for Prop. 8. And just decent people who were uncomfortable with the idea of two men marrying. The first law was passed about 10 years ago, and the first national law giving gay couples any rights is younger than most of us (1989). People need time to get used to it.

Prop. 8 voter =/ hardcore bigot.

finette
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

Shame on Gail Sweet. She is an embarrassment to our profession.

BTW, Safe Libraries is a group well-known to those of us librarians who do defend intellectual freedom–they are fond of calling the ALA “porn pushers” and pulling exactly the same stunts as the 9-12 group.

To respond to their first point, the formal challenge policies in place in all libraries are not “designed for patrons”–they are there precisely to make sure that one employee on a power trip, or conversely one who is intimidated by any criticism, cannot pull books from the collection on a whim.

Thank you, Jim, for researching and calling attention to this incident.

SafeLibraries
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

@customartist, right, but the situation is different than this bulletin makes it appear.

@Rossi, no. You need to understand the process, how it came to be, and what other remedies are available before you can make the assumptions you have. As to “censorship,” the last incident of censorship in the USA occurred about half a century ago. The issue of what is or is not appropriate for a local community in a taxpayer-supported library is an important issue, but it has nothing to do with censorship.

@Jack, no. The book was not removed for the reason you said. People are allowed to raise concerns about material. Never are such requests perfect, but that is irrelevant. What is relevant is the action taken by the appropriate authority in response to that concern. I have no idea if what the library director did is or is not proper, but my point here is to point out the misleading nature of the information provided in the bulletin.

It benefits those seeking certain rights to decry actual violations of those rights, not something totally different. I am advising that the facts not presented by the bulletin indicate to me that the “anti-gay” issue is a red herring. If that is true, then my comments here may have helped people not to be pulled into a false controversy, thereby diminishing their own credibility. If it is not true, then no harm has been done.

The point? Keep an open mind and don’t be instantly swayed by politically-motivated national organizations, the very thing Beverly Marinelli is being skewered for.

SafeLibraries
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

@Priya Lynn, no, I oppose banning books.

@finette, “porn pushers” is just a facile term for what the ALA is actually doing and that does have a negative effect on children. Heck one kid was raped in a public library, all the media said so, but the ALA covered it up as merely “molestation.” http://safelibraries.blogspot.com/2009/04/ala-whitewashes-rape-and-blames-child.html

And finette, don’t pretend the ALA’s “Office for Intellectual Freedom” cares a whit about true intellectual freedom. Here’s just one piece of evidence: http://leadercall.com/columns/x1593276302/American-Library-Association-shamed

L. Junius Brutus
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

“The book was not removed for the reason you said. ”

You keep claiming that, but not once did you mention the “true” reason. Probably because the book was removed for the reason he said.

Jack
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

SafeLibraries -

Here’s an interview with a quote from Beverly Marinelli about the peeping tom scouts:

http://www.philly.com/inquirer/columnists/monica_yant_kinney/20100502_Monica_Yant_Kinney__Working_to_shelve_students__book_choices.html

The ick factor is so think, the reporter could have cut it with a knife.

Rossi
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

I’m sorry, Safelibraries, you still did NOT answer my question:

Do you support going around the process already established for removing the book?

THAT IS MY QUESTION. Not what you think about the person who pulled the book, not what you think of the book, or whatever other agenda you might have.

Censorship by definition is taking an end run around a process based on an agenda, whether it be silencing dissent or uncomfortable points of view.

Likely the very reason a library or town sets standards for reviewing books, and very likely why most towns set the bar very high.

Answer the question. Why don’t you support the process?

Jack
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

If you look into this further, it is clear that, despite her protests to the contrary, Beverly Marinelli is a hardcore (pun intended) homo-hater:

http://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/news/03102010/obamas-safe-schools-czar-targeted-new-jersey-challenge

At a February 23 meeting of the Rancocas Valley school board, complainant Beverly Marinelli emphasized that the three books she was challenging are on a recommended reading list compiled by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), which was founded by Kevin Jennings, who is now director of DOE’s Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools. She gave board members an information packet that included the statement, “I feel that ANY books related to Mr. Jennings are detrimental to schoolchildren and should be removed from the school library. We need to protect our children.”

SafeLibraries
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

@Rossi, making me the bad guy has nothing to do with the concern that the bulletin make have presented incorrect information and is not helping itself by doing so. This is constructive criticism; I am happy to see the issue being addressed.

I’ll go further, I will be happy to speak with anyone at Box Turtle Bulletin should they wish to seek another viewpoint.

@Jack, FYI, I wrote favorable about GLSEN when pointing out yet another way the American Library Association misleads local communities: http://safelibraries.blogspot.com/2009/12/glsen-gets-it-ala-doesnt-ala-challenged.html

Priya Lynn
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

Safelibrairies said “@Priya Lynn, no, I oppose banning books.”.

Obviously that’s not true, your support for banning this book and your crusade against the ALA makes that clear. Your “Safelibrairies” mission makes it clear that banning books is all you’re about.

Timothy Kincaid
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

SafeLibraries,

You have criticized the post, saying that it is misleading and has incorrect information. You say that there are facts which are not presented.

Can you please share with us exactly which facts (not opinion) are incorrect and a source to the accurate facts.

Christopher
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

SafeLibraries, you criticize Rossi for making you “the bad guy”, but you’re still dodging the question. Do you, or do you not, oppose disregarding the established policies for withdrawing a challenged book?

As for the “incorrect information” supposedly being presented here, if you have some evidence that the library did follow the established policies and procedures, please share it.

Timothy Kincaid
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

SafeLibraries,

Thank you for providing links to the various articles on your site. They provided insight into the goals and motivations of your organization, as well as your reasons for coming here.

It has become clear to me that you advocate for the removal of books and materials that deal affirmatively with issues surrounding sexual orientation from areas where youth can have access to them.

You are, of course, entitled to educate your children as you see fit. You may take action to shield them from knowledge regarding race relations, different religions, political views which differ from your own, and any other views which you find objectionable. In fact, I encourage parents to be aware of the literature, television, and movies to which they are exposed and to regularly discuss such media with their children.

But you are not entitled to limit my children in the same manner that you limit your own.

None of us want age-inappropriate materials in places designed for children, and we all want to protect the innocence of kids. But limitations which are designed specifically to silence one segment of the population or to remove their ability to voice their experiences are unconstitutional.

SafeLibraries
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

@Timothy Kincaid, I’d like to respond, but that requires more work than having polite conversation back and forth, and I simply do not have the time now. Yes, it looks like a cop out, but there’s nothing much I can do about that without spending more time than I want responding.

@Christopher, I oppose disregarding the established policies for withdrawing a challenged book. Actually, having such policies makes things easier for all involved. Unfortunately but unavoidably, it also makes it easier for people who avail themselves of such policies to be called “censors” by the ALA and its acolytes merely for filing the initial documentation in the first place.

As to the procedure for library directors removing material, I do not know that.

Jon
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

I think it’s important to remember (as has already been pointed out) that the appeal processes were put in place in libraries not only to give patrons a clear avenue to complain about inappropriate books but also to make sure that a determination as to the fate of the book is done in a considered, thoughtful way. Even if a librarian believes a book is so inappropriate that it must be removed immediately, the process should still be followed — the librarian may be wrong, or there may be other ways short of removing the book to address the concerns. Bypassing the process makes this decision stink, and gives anyone reason to question the motivations of the people who made the decision.

Christopher
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

SafeLibraries, perhaps if you’d read the School Library Journal’s coverage of this story, you’d know that there were specific procedures that were disregarded in this case. I realize you dislike the ALA, but if you’re going to criticize others for having an agenda you shouldn’t let your own cause you to disregard the facts.

As for your dislike of “the ALA and its acolytes” calling people “censors”, what would you prefer to be called when you insist that books you don’t like be withdrawn?

SafeLibraries
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

@Christopher, you are missing the point. The library sets up a means for proper determination of the suitability of the book for that library. Patrons then comply with that policy and submit requests thereunder. They are not “censors” merely for complying with the policy the library provides by submitting an application for consideration. Yet that is how they are so labeled again and again, by the ALA and, you’ll forgive me, its acolytes.

Jon
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

Unfortunately, it seems like the book is out of print — I could only find a few used copies for sale. But the stuff I read about it makes me sincerely doubt that it is pornographic or obscene in any way. The Booklist write-up quoted on Amazon.com states that the language in the book is “only occasionally graphic,” and the content certainly sounds appropriate for teenagers. It’s also important to note that in the public library, it was shelved in adult nonfiction, while in the public school library it was obviously only available to high school students, so it doesn’t even sound likely that younger children were ever likely to get their hands on it and be shocked by some fleeting curse word.

In other words, claims that removing the book was justified sound very suspect to me.

Jon
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

@SafeLibraries, even if we agree that the patrons making the request are not “censors,” there’s no doubt that the librarian removing the book clearly is. I also think the question of what to call the people who made the request is hardly the most important issue here. There’s shockingly little evidence that the book was inappropriate for its intended teenage audience, which raises concerns for anyone who cares about censorship and free access to information and varying viewpoint.

Christopher
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

SafeLibraries, first, I don’t think I’m the one missing the point. Even patrons who follow the established procedures are attempting to censor information, even if it’s only within a specific library.

And, as Jon has already pointed out, the procedures were disregarded in this case, a fact you seem to be unwilling to acknowledge.

Second, I assume you realize that membership in the ALA is voluntary. If you honestly feel that the ALA or its “acolytes”, whoever they may be–you throw the term around as loosely as you claim others throw around the term “censor”–is a threat to your community library then I hope you’ll bring specific examples to their attention.

SafeLibraries
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

@Jon, at least we are starting to agree.

But it is simply not censorship to keep certain material inappropriate for children from children. If it is, then the Justices of the US Supreme Court are the Supreme Censors for saying,

“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.”

http://laws.findlaw.com/us/539/194.html

Timothy Kincaid
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

SafeLibraries,

If you have additional facts that are unrelayed please provide them. I’m not particularly interested to whether “acolytes of ALA” call people names. We aren’t on a playground and that is of no consequence to anyone.

I know that you are constrained for time, but perhaps if you took the time that you are taking complaining about the ALA and allocated it instead to providing these facts that you say are missing, then we could have meaningful conversation.

As it is, it appears to me that you are simply wishing to change the subject from Marinelli’s personal campaign based on her animus.

L. Junius Brutus
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

“@Christopher, you are missing the point. The library sets up a means for proper determination of the suitability of the book for that library. Patrons then comply with that policy and submit requests thereunder. They are not “censors” merely for complying with the policy the library provides by submitting an application for consideration. Yet that is how they are so labeled again and again, by the ALA and, you’ll forgive me, its acolytes.”

They are censors, however, when they do not comply with the policy the library provides, and instead twist it to call everything ranging from Harry Potter to books dealing with gay issues “obscene”. How about moving to Iran or Saudi-Arabia, since these countries have a similar view of what is “obscene”.

I notice that SafeLibraries still skirts the issue of *why* the book is so bad. If you explained that, you might actually convince someone, provided that you have a case (which is not often true with Christian fundamentalists).

Regan DuCasse
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

O…M..G! Why are people so damn bent on keeping a sound, supportive education FROM children?!
The facts about gay youth, who could be the gay kid, their sibling, their parents are VITAL to a community.
Personally, if I was a parent in the school system, I’d require the parents to have a day long course on certain controversial subjects so the ignorant people don’t get to decide what’s appropriate education.

I HAVE this very book. I had fictional as well as non fiction book in my own G&L library. I have so literary friends and mentors who donated, but it was my lending library to the gay kids I was mentoring.
Because sometimes, it’s actions like these that leave them in dire need of such material.
Some of them I donated eventually to the youth shelters the gay and lesbian centers run in Hollywood.

This is appalling. I had an online THING with someone from the PFOX FB page about this sort of thing.
Where certain school boards and communities see a need for comprehensive education on sexual orientation, and the needs of gay kids.
The adults yell SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX!!!!

And want to shut everyone down.
Schools and libraries shouldn’t be into the same willful ignorance as some of the general public.
THEY are supposed to COUNTERACT that kind of thing!

During Jim Crow, it was bad enough a black person couldn’t use the library. Would it be much better to be able to use the library, but the only material available to you glorifies white people?

It’s the same thing here. What’s the point in allowing a gay person into a library, but no books about them or that suits their needs are anywhere to be found?

My father always told me that ignorance is a terrible disease to catch, and very hard to cure.
And that’s why I keep it away from myself as much as possible.

Christopher
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

SafeLibraries, you seem to think that censorship is always bad, or that it’s a term that’s used too loosely. Maybe my definition of the term is too broad, but, while I understand that libraries restrict access to certain materials, sometimes with good reason, it’s still censorship. It’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The point is that, in this case, a small number of people disregarded the established procedures for removing a book and took it upon themselves to do so. I suspect even you would consider that censorship.

I’d like to reiterate a point I made earlier: ALA membership is voluntary, and also open. You may not like specific policy decisions made by the organization, but bear in mind that those decisions are made by a large number of people–not a single person, or even a small group working in secret.

Chris McCoy
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

SafeLibraries said:

Actually, having such policies makes things easier for all involved. Unfortunately but unavoidably, it also makes it easier for people who avail themselves of such policies to be called “censors” by the ALA and its acolytes merely for filing the initial documentation in the first place.

I love when people get upset that other people use the word that means what they are doing.

Main Entry: censor
Function: transitive verb
Inflected Form(s): cen·sored; cen·sor·ing \ˈsen(t)-sə-riŋ, ˈsen(t)s-riŋ\
Date: 1882

: to examine in order to suppress or delete anything considered objectionable <censor the news>; also
: to suppress or delete as objectionable <censor out indecent passages>

Perhaps we should remove dictionaries from the library shelves, also. That way people won’t be offended when other people use words to accurately describe a situation.

If people are so upset about graphic descriptions of teen sexuality, then Shakespeare should likewise be removed from library shelves.

volpi
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

i have a question. was the book eliminated from the library or was it transferred in an “adult ” part? safe libraries could argue with some success that some books are unsuitable for children,but as far as i understand the book was eliminated complitely. a question for safe libraries. also persons above sixteen years old could be forbidden reading explicit sexual materials? in most states the age of consent is in fact fixed at sixteen.

Priya Lynn
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

Safelibrairies said “But it is simply not censorship to keep certain material inappropriate for children from children.”.

Of course its censorship. Anytime you prevent people from reading something its censorship. That’s not to say that all censorship is inapropriate, sometimes its a good thing but you have certainly not offered any reason to believe this book was justifiably censored.

volpi
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

i see a pattern. i remember i began be quite shocked when i heard glenn beck speaking about an ugly marxist plot of Nelson Rockefeller . his guilt consisted in having requested famous mexican muralist diego Rivera to paint a murales in the firm atrium in new york.Beck lauded the brave journalists that discovered that vladimir lenin was shown in the murales and asked the distruction of the painting,accorded immediately by Rockefeller.It is clear that in new jersey they have listened and understood well

Scott P.
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

In my junior high and high school years the ONLY book I was able to find as a resource (other than a few fiction books, which I will not name here, so they can’t be targeted by Marinelli and her ilk) was David Reubens’ “Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex but Were Afraid to Ask”. My brother and his wife had a copy and when I baby-sat for them I’d read everything I could. The section about homosexuality depressed me tremendously. That book condemned me to a lonely, loveless, unfulfilled future, which is EXACTLY what this censorious woman and her cronies want for all gay youth! They WANT us unhappy, they WANT us invisible, they WANT us to be easy prey for the likes of Exodus and the reparative therapy machine. The radical religious right keeps yammering on about “The Gay Agenda” but this is a perfect example of an agenda if ever there was one!

David C.
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

“When any government, or any church for that matter, undertakes to say to its subjects, This you may not read, this you must not see, this you are forbidden to know, the end result is tyranny and oppression no matter how holy the motives.”
Robert A. Heinlein (If this Goes On)

SammySeattle
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

I just ordered a copy (used) from Amazon. It will be donated to Lambert House after I’ve read it. Thanks, Ms. Marinelli.

Emily K
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

I wonder how many romance novels (basically, erotica) are stocked in this public library. Such stuff is presented in a much less critical and thoughtful way. And my instinct says it is more graphic.

And, as someone else said, Shakespeare would have to be censored too. He had a filthy filthy mind! (did you think I meant CoUNTry matters??)

Zoe Brain
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

I was horrified when I caught my 9 year old son reading some violent pornography that degraded women. It was the story of how a man deliberately let his girlfriend me gang-raped to death to save his own skin, then dismembered the corpse.

It was in a book called the King James Version of the Book of Judges, in Chapter 19. This filth is found in many omnibus editions with other books, describing rape, decapitation and graphic torture scenes.

I call on this book to be withdrawn from anywhere where children under age 18 can see it.

Penny Sautereau-Fife
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

How is a book with pretty much no sex in it vulgar and pornographic? And seriously what is it with nutjobs named Marinelli lately?

Oh btw Timothy, did you notice I got Louyis so tied up in knots trying to weasel out of my dissections of his lies that he finally just locked his blog outright?

Jim Burroway
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

Here is Burlington County Library’s Online Card Catalogue. How many “pornographic” books can you find?

My examples include the Joy of Sex and theNew Joy of Sex.

Timothy Kincaid
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

Zoe,

Ironically, the story of the Levite in Gibeah is a parallel (retelling?) of the story of Sodom.

Timothy Kincaid
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

Well, to be fair, I doubt that the Joy of Sex is in the children / youth section of the Library.

Timothy Kincaid
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

Penny,

Supposedly he’s working on a new site.

Jim Burroway
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

Well, to be fair, I doubt that the Joy of Sex is in the children / youth section of the Library.

I doubt that Revolutionary Voices was in the children’s section. And I doubt the public library has a separate Youth section, although they might have. Most smaller library systems don’t. They just have the main library and the children’s section, and this clearly wasn’t a “children’s” book, per se.

Besides, there is generally nothing to prevent a Jr. High or High Scool Student from going to the main (i.e. “Adult/Grown-up”) section of the library. And I don’t see anything in the card catalogue indicating that the Joy of Sex is reseved in a restricted location. It looks to me that if you go to the shelf holding “613.96 Com,” you’ll see it right there plain as day.

Timothy Kincaid
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

Jim,

I think they do have a “Young Adult” section. It even includes Alex Sanchez’ great Rainbow Boys books.

It seems they also have a “Parents Shelf” where gay related children’s books like King and King are kept.

Jim Burroway
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

Oh dear, I wonder of SafeLibraries knows about those books…

Timothy Kincaid
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

The items which Marinelli objected to so strenuously were the “child porn” which seems to have been conceptual rather than literal.

It appears that the book contains two illustrations that seek to artistically draw the reader to compare the “wholesomeness” of boy scouts with the reality of gay sexuality. While they are provocative, they are not obviously pornographic or obscene and certainly deserved that the established process be followed. They can be found on this anti-gay site.

The artist is Daryl Vocat and I’m not completely sure that the more graphic picture is even in the book. I’m looking for confirmation.

Tone
July 28th, 2010 | LINK

That is wonderful reporting, and more than a little disturbing. Our detractors are well-organized, well-funded, and many of them really would prefer if they could disappear us as easily as they disappear books that don’t meet their approval.

penguinsaur
July 29th, 2010 | LINK

In high school our school library had a copy of Mein Kampf sitting on a shelf where anyone could grab it and read it.

I doubt my library was alone in doing this and I’m going to laugh my ass off when they day inevitably comes, and probably already has several times, when a conservative group tries to get a book banned for being ‘offensive’ *AKA: not agreeing with them* while doing absolutely nothing about the book in the same library calling for Jew genocide.

Cassandra
July 29th, 2010 | LINK

God forbid that any queer children might need that book, or books like it, to understand or validate their sexuality. I guess they’ll just have to make do with the lunchroom gossip and the internet…and then if they grow up emotionally stunted and make bad relationship choices, or come to harm, the cry goes up, “it’s their own fault for being queer!”

The cry of “we must protect our children,” as always, remains “we must protect our straight children, but must ban books that educate, and pass laws against that which protects, our gay kids. Because it’s just not good for teenagers to know about this stuff.”

If parents won’t talk about sexuality with their kids in an effort to keep them innocent, and if the books talking about sexuality are banned in an effort to keep ‘kids’ in general ‘protected’ (from what? adult knowledge of sexuality) then where do kids turn? Lunchroom gossip? Other kids are kept from knowledge about sexuality via the same methods that you are, so anything you’re going to hear is very well likely going to be misinformed at best and actively dangerous/harmful at worst.

Protect our queer and straight children from knowledge!
Protect our queer and straight children from safety!
Protect our queer and straight children from taking their place in society as adults….

…oh, wait–isn’t that “protect our queer adults from taking their place in society as adults?”

It’s the same technique–bury the existence of queer people by destroying or twisting the information about them that is available.

This isn’t a teen issue, and it’s not even a queer issue–it’s an issue of educating people about sexuality and being silenced for it. Presenting it like a queer teen “safety” issue (as many media outlets and the library have) just obscures the fact that the same silencing techniques are being used to keep queer people of any age from understanding themselves, and being used to keep straight people of any age from understanding queer people:

God forbid some straight mom should want to know how other parents dealt with their teenage kids’ recently declared queerness–she might find out that other mom baked her daughter an Ellen cake! That would destroy the fabric of civilization as we know it.

I know my own mom relies mostly on books like this to try and understand me.

Mary Anne S
July 29th, 2010 | LINK

Sooo… when are Sonnie and her publisher going to sue Sweet for slander and defamation of character? She has falsely accused them, in her two-word email, of committing a crime, i.e., producing and disseminating child pornography. This is illegal in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and is a felony under Federal law. Those are not words one throws around to justify one’s own actions, Ms. Sweet.

On the other hand, it’s splendid publicity: Guess what title just went on my list of things to purchase? It may even go back into print if the demand is high enough!

Laura Herndon
July 29th, 2010 | LINK

It is the mission of any library to make information available, not to restrict access to information. Libraries are not meant to determine what is appropriate for any individual to see. If parents are concerned about what their children read it is their responsibility to monitor their selections. Libraries should not be forced into the role of babysitters.

Congratulations, Gail Sweet. By ignoring the proper processes for consideration of materials you have made a mockery of the basic tenants of library science and proven yourself a discredit to the profession.

SafeLibraries
August 1st, 2010 | LINK

I have more to say on this topic, including a citation to this Box Turtle Bulletin post, here:

http://safelibraries.blogspot.com/2010/08/et-tu-mary-minow-then-fall-gail-sweet.html

SafeLibraries
August 12th, 2010 | LINK

“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.”

“Marking 25 Years of Banned Books Week,” by Judith Krug of the ALA, Curriculum Review, 46:1, Sep. 2006.

http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-18037684_ITM

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