Since SafeLibraries has censored me on his own blog, I’ll have to take the unusual step of responding to his disinformation on my own. On Monday, November 9th, he posted an article about the firing of two desk attendants at the Jessamine County public library in Nicholasville, KY. “ALA Controls Nicholasville,” his headline shouts. Let's take a look at how he’s twisted facts into delusion yet again.
He claims that the employees were fired “overnight,” even though the Lexington Herald-Leader article he himself cites states clearly that they had been interfering with library policy for a year.
He claims that citizens who came to a library meeting to discuss the firing and the appropriateness of library materials were unfairly silenced because they weren’t on the agenda. He refuses to accept the plain fact that “not on the agenda” means no more and no less than “not on the agenda.”
He writes “the library actually refuses to comply with the citizens.” How so? He offers no details nor a shred of evidence that this is so. What did the citizens actually ask for? How many asked for it? Was a vote taken? Was it a majority opinion? By what legal process was some will of the people established? He’s just casting groundless aspersions.
In his view, the problem here is the American Library Association, which is somehow overriding community wishes. He offers not the slightest bit of evidence that this took place. The ALA is no more than a professional and advisory organization. It has no regulatory or compulsory authority over anybody or anything. Firing these employees was entirely the decision of the local library and library board, not of the ALA.
SafeLibraries is obsessed with the ALA, which he claims is imposing some kind of arbitrary ideology on libraries everywhere. He refuses to accept the fact the ALA policies are firmly grounded in Free Speech law. When I asked pointed questions about those laws, he claimed I was engaging in a personal attack and deleted my comments.
He writes, “In that battle, guess who wins? The ALA. The children lose.” As if the ALA was even involved in the battle! And how did the children lose? The unspoken, and unsubstantiated, claim is that children “lose” by having access to risqué graphic novels like Black Dossier. Of course, he counts as nothing the First Amendment rights of minors to receive information. Do children really win if, in our haste to protect them from age-inappropriate materials, we eliminate their Free Speech rights? He enters into evidence not a single legal principle that would allow the library to restrict any minor's access to that book.
He refers to Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison’s book The Bluest Eye as “the bestiality book.” I reviewed that book on this blog, and found that it contained the WORD bestiality, but not the slightest description of any such act. And when I called attention to his factual inaccuracy, he claimed I was trying to “besmirch” and “belittle” him, and deleted my comment as a personal attack.
He claims that “a community gets to decide for itself what is appropriate in its own public library.” In fact, no such legal principle exists. While the definition of obscenity is allowed to vary somewhat according to “community standards,” the Supreme Court has been quite clear that juries cannot push those standards to an infinite degree, and that materials like the Black Dossier book cannot be classified as obscene with regard to adults (see Jenkins v. Georgia). SafeLibraries fails to comprehend that Free Speech rights are defined by the US Constitution and are NOT subject to arbitrary redefinition by states or localities.
His abuse of legal precedents reaches its peak in his handling of the Supreme Court’s US v. ALA decision, which upheld the federal government’s right to require internet filters on computers used by children as a condition attached to the acceptance of certain government funds. SafeLibraries insists, relentlessly, that this case is some kind of major break with earlier Free Speech precedents, and no amount of quoting or explaining will snap him out of that utter delusion. The US v. ALA decision says absolutely nothing of relevance to the Jessamine County library situation.
I could go on and on, but I need to stop.