Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Will The Leesburg Censors Now Show Common Sense?

Today's DailyCommercial.com provides more detail on the library compromise in Leesburg, Florida (click here).

The situation is impressively similar to that of West Bend, and there can be little doubt that the censors in both communities are drawing on common resources.

The DailyCommerical reports: "More than 80 parents and residents wearing read shirts swamped the meeting to ask commissioners to remove only those books whose teenage characters engage in drug use, criminal acts and sexual situations."

Maybe that's just a journalists way of summarizing the speeches as the town hall meeting. But it is interesting that all of those are categories of speech protected by the First Amendment. It seems nobody even bothered with the usual censors' lies about obscenity and harm to minors. The censors just want to reduce the entire Young Adult collection to Dr. Seuss.

The commissioners voted to have the library split the Young Adult section into two separate sections, Young Adult and High School, and NOT to apply "Mature Audience" stickers to any books. Although the challengers are being too thick-witted to realize it, this is as much as the library can do. "Categorizing a book based on its content, rather than just the genre and intended reading audience, is not a common library practice and could plunge the city into a legal battle, said Barbara Morse, director of the Leesburg Library." And "city Attorney Fred Morrison said identifying a book on its intended reading audience rather than judging a book by its contents could protect the city legally."

A law suit, with the ACLU's help, is nearly guaranteed, if the library accedes to the challengers' demands for labeling and/or removal based on content that is protected speech.

I guess the ball is now in the censors' court. If they have any sense at all, they'll accept the compromise voted in last night. Their reported rhetoric indicates both that they lack that logical ability and that they are being egged on by individuals and groups who are quite willing to give them misleading legal advice. They're not that likely to sue the city themselves, just because such a case would be an obvious loser and no attorney is going to take it on (unless the censors have the cash up front). They'll just have to continue their political agitation, until they sooner or later harangue the city into crossing the line into censorship. Then a judge can finally put a stop to this idiocy.


  1. I've added a short page on the Leesburg censorship at http://www.bannedinwestbend.info/leesburg-fl. Anybody with useful info, please comment here or there. Especially: I'd like to know any resource that documents the 40-odd books now in question, and links to websites or blogs dedicated to this challenge.

  2. partial list of books here: http://www.cfnews13.com/News/Sidebar/2009/9/28/books_up_for_debate_in_lake_county.html?refresh=1

  3. Thanks, Anonymous!

    Click HERE to see the mentioned article on cfnews13.com.

    I've added a link to the article, and the book list, on my Leesburg FL page on www.bannedinwestbend.info (Click HERE to see it).