Tag Archives: censorship

Libraries are for Porn?

Come on, Anne, lighten up!
Since we’re still in Banned Books Week, I’m going to continue to gripe about censorship.  I won’t expand on book censorship.  Well, maybe just a little.  Here’s a list from the ALA website of some of the most ridiculous reasons given for banning books.
    1. “Encourages children to break dishes so they won’t have to dry them.” ( A Light in the Attic, by Shel Silverstien)
    2. “It caused a wave of rapes.” ( Arabian Nights, or Thousand and One Nights, anonymous)
    3. “If there is a possibility that something might be controversial, then why not eliminate it?” ( Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, by Dee Brown)
    4. “Tarzan was ‘living in sin’ with Jane.” ( Tarzan, by Edgar Rice Burroughs)
    5. “It is a real ‘downer.’” ( Diary of Anne Frank, by Anne Frank)
    6. “The basket carried by Little Red Riding Hood contained a bottle of wine, which condones the use of alcohol.” ( Little Red Riding Hood, by Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm K. Grimm)
    7. “One bunny is white and the other is black and this ‘brainwashes’ readers into accepting miscegenation.” ( The Rabbit’s Wedding, by Garth Williams)
    8. “A female dog is called a bitch.” ( My Friend Flicka, by Mary O’Hara)
    9. “An unofficial version of the story of Noah’s Ark will confuse children.” ( Many Waters, by Madeleine C. L’Engle)

If you think no one would really suggest banning a book for such a stupid reason, you clearly have too much faith in the human race.


Demon Worship 101 is HARD


But as I said, there’s more to censorship in libraries than just books.  Now libraries, in keeping with the times, have computers with Internet access.  For those on the quest for naughty stuff – to protect others from, of course – the Internet is a real treasure trove of opportunity.  It’s also a heck of a lot faster than trying to go through line after line of Harry Potter looking for the part where Harry, Ron, and Hermione perform that Satanic devil worshipping ritual for a school project.  Those little scamps!



But back to the Internet.  Many people are  understandably concerned about what their children might find on an average Internet search.  I mean, it should be safe to look up, say, bears (don’t).  Or possibly kittens (again, don’t).  Or maybe plushies (for the love of God, do not do this.)  Since even these seemingly innocent words could lead to all sorts of nightmares for years to come, clearly someone needs to sanitize this Internet thing.  But what can we do?  Maybe some sort of a filter, that lets only the pure and wholesome stuff out, but keeps the bad stuff in – you know, like bloodletting in the Middle Ages.


THAT’s the White House???

As it turns out, filtering is just as effective as bleeding out the “bad” blood in medieval patients.  Sure, kids are protected from seeing a woman’s bare breasts.  They are also prevented from seeing information on breast cancer, breast feeding, the breast stroke, and chicken breasts.  Yes, you can change up programs to specifically allow these terms, but after a while, this becomes a full time job.  People on the Internet may be scummy, but they’re clever.  A good way to get more traffic to their sites is to name it something totally innocuous, like say the White House (well, okay, maybe not totally innocuous).  Be sure to look up whitehouse.gov, or else you are NOT going to see the Oval Office.  At least not the one you’d like to see.

Not only are there problems with specifically keeping children from seeing the wrong thing (if you think using teddy bears as search query instead of just bears is gonna solve things, think again), these filters are usually set up on all library computers.  That means that adults must also be filtered from looking at information that, as adults, they ought to be able to access.  No, they shouldn’t be looking at porn in a public place, but there are plenty of things that are not obscene that they could be blocked from.  Taking the filters off for certain people doesn’t solve anything, because if you are researching, you don’t know what’s out there.  Therefore, you don’t know if you need the filter removed or not.  And if you do ask for it to be removed, will people assume you’re a pervert?  Many patrons would probably prefer not to take that chance.

Why would librarians use filters?  Many are forced to, thanks to CIPA, the Child Internet Protection Act, designed by our government with the best of intentions (which if you remember paves the road to hell).  If they want government funds to help pay for a computer lab, and many poorer libraries have no other way to fund one, then they have to agree to filter.  So then even those who would not want to use them otherwise are faced with a difficult choice – deny their patrons or deny their patron’s first amendment rights?  Not an easy choice.


This child has been online a bit too long . . .

What’s the answer?  I think it’s rather obvious myself.  Libraries do not act in loco parentis (in place of parents).  Parents should monitor their children’s Internet use, in my opinion, just as they should monitor what their children read.  They have every right to keep their children from certain books or websites, but they do NOT have the right to keep MY children or me from these same books and websites.  We all want to protect our kids, but this should not come at the expense of the rights of others.  It is, ultimately, our responsibility to parent our own kids in the best way we know how.  If filtering your computer is your choice, that’s fine.  But just remember – our kids have grown up with computers.  So filtering, in many cases, is about as effective on kids as your average child proof container.  I wish everyone good luck.

And hey – didn’t I WARN you not to look those words up?


It’s Banned Books Week, a week that the American Librarian Association hatched out to promote awareness of censorship (Not to actually promote censorship, we have Fundamentalists for that).  As parents, many of us want to protect little Jimmy and Suzie from the outside world as long as possible.  Obviously, some materials are not appropriate for them to read, which is why you rarely see an issue of Penthouse in a children’s library.  Oh, sure, there’s National Geographic for the truly desperate children, but most of them have figured out the Internet by now, so there’s probably not as many in the corners of libraries giggling over the shirtless women in third world countries.

But what is appropriate and who decides?  What is obscenity, and do you know it when you see it?  Many parents, teachers, administrators, preachers, politicians, and others with an ax to grind seem to know what it is, and by golly, they’re going to protect the rest of us.  These people work tirelessly to make sure that no one sees anything dirty, sometimes exposing themselves to loads of possible pornography.  No sacrifice is too great to protect the children!  At times, they have to go through MULTIPLE viewings, just to make sure.

So then, what are these truly horrific acts of disgusting, vile, trash that those freaky hippie librarians are trying to taint our precious offspring with?  For starters, I’ll give you the most banned book in America, according to the ALA  for 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2010 (apparently they were distracted in 2009).  Prepare yourselves, hide your children, squeamish people shut your eyes and plug up your ears, for this is not for the faint of heart.  The most banned book for these 4 years is . . .

Go ahead.  Look inside . . . if YOU DARE.

That’s right.  It’s not Satanic Verses, or Madonna’s charming “Sex” book, or even that Twilight  book (not for obscenity, just for general insipidness.)  Nope, it’s a book about, and do not forget this . . .

So what’s the story about?  Lance and Jerome, two penguins actively promoting their alternative lifestyle, decide to take a break from their animal gay pride parades in order to start a family.  It goes without saying that there is a lot of gay penguin sex in this book, and more than one Broadway musical number.  Your child will probably become infected with gayness immediately after reading this book.  Stay away.
Wait – are you thinking that’s NOT the actual story?  Okay, fine.  The fact is that this is book is based on a TRUE story about two male penguins in a zoo.  They were good buddies, and kept building a nest, and then were sorely dissapointed when nothing happened.  There was some part of the puzzle they were missing, but they couldn’t quite put their flippers on it.  The zookeepers noticed what was going on.  Now these types of penguins typically lay more than one egg, and the second egg often dies because the focus is on only one.  So they had this extra egg, and these two confused penguins, and thought “What the hell?” (They didn’t actually say that in the book, but that’s the gist of it).  Anyway, they gave them the egg, the penguins were delighted, and they raised the baby like any normal family.  Saying said family are penguins.  There is no gay penguin sex (sorry guys), in fact there is NO REFERENCE to homosexuality at all, except for one line mentioning that the penguins must be in love. 
Now let’s get one thing straight here.  These are not humans.  They’re goofy little birds.  Animals.  They don’t have orientations.  They do have urges, and if you’ve ever seen a dog hump a couch, then you get the idea that they aren’t usually picky about their partners.  Anything in the vicinity, even your leg, will do in a pinch.  But since this was a book for children, about two male anythings and offspring, people got very upset about it.  I’m not for certain whether these banners are prejudiced against gay people or penguins.  Maybe both.  Either way, it has been banned repeatedly, which is simply ridiculous, especially since said banning has only, predictably, increased interest and sales in a book that would probably have barely been noticed otherwise.  Nothing makes something interesting like saying you shouldn’t look at it. 
After seeing this book on the banned list so many times, I thought I couldn’t see anything sillier.  Then I saw this article about Bert and Ernie.  Gay puppets.  On Sesame Street.  For heaven’s sake, people, will you keep your children away from libraries and public television before we pervert the whole country?  Really, where have our standards gone?  Next thing you know, the kid’s going to want to grow up to be a politician.
Bert and Ernie leaving the closet?
Oh, brave new world, that has such people in it.
                                   – William Shakespeare