Saturday, July 25, 2009

Irony and Its Discontents

Irony can be difficult for the literal-minded to interpret. Ginny Maziarka certainly provides an example of that in this morning's post on her Wissup blog, where she accuses Mark Peterson of insulting the Bible and the unusually pious community of West Bend. Peterson's article was intended ironically, so Maziarka missed the point.

Dr. Peterson did not insult the Bible. Those doubting the accuracy of his descriptions of various passages should take the unusual step of actually looking them up.

But more to the point, Peterson tries to raise an important question: is it possible to develop a set of objective criteria that allows restriction of the library materials Maziarka objects to, yet leaves open access to the materials she approves of? The simple answer is that this is impossible because her criteria are arbitrary.

The WBC4SL wants to label and restrict access to some literature (text, not images) based on its informational content. Yet the Bible, and no doubt other books they want children to be able to read in the library, address the same themes. If they want to restrict access to books that mention homosexuality, incest, prostitution, adultery, and the like, the Bible clearly falls into that category. What is revealed here is that it isn't the mention of these themes that offends the WBC4SL, but the perspective a particular work takes. In other words, it's a question of which political party a particular book aligns with.

Maybe the library should just clear each title with "The Maziarka Committee." (Note to the literal-minded: this suggestion is an example of IRONY).

Mark Peterson's Blog is at:

His column, as linked from the Wissup blog, is at:

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