Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I haven’t paid much attention of late to Ginny Maziarka’s Wissup Blog, since she clearly has changed her focus to non-library issues.  But I see she’s still getting in her digs at the West Bend library with a diatribe in the sidebar of her blog. I don’t know how long it’s been there, but iIt shows she’s learned absolutely nothing from her failed censorship efforts. 

The numbered items in bold are from the Wissup blog.  My response is under each item.
1. All materials should be available for all ages (anything goes). Really!

Anything?  I guess it is anything, if you ignore the fact that the library already keeps obscene materials off the shelves entirely, separates materials written for children from materials written for adults, and encourages parents to supervise what their children are reading.

2. National control cannot (and should not) be resisted; therefore, the disturbing value system of the ALA, OIF,WLA trumps local control of the library by the citizens and taxpayers it serves.

“National control,” of course, exists only in the imagination of the paranoid.  The organizations listed are only advisory, and each library makes independent decisions.  Citizens and taxpayers have exactly the same level of control over the local library that they have over any other agency of local government, and by exactly the same means.

3. Young adults are children ages 11 through 17. (Be sure to address your 11 year old in a manner appropos.)

This says nothing substantive.

4. Assisting parents in identifying sexually explicit materials within your library is not important to them.

The question is not whether it’s important, but whether it’s even remotely feasible.  For every five parents there are at least four different opinions about what any given child should or should not be allowed to see, and censors like Maziarka steadfastly refuse to provide tangible criteria to guide such grading of materials.  Why is that the library’s fault or responsibility?  Allowing parents to make their own choices for their own children is the only practical approach.

5. You must stay with your children and read each book he/she checks out to assure they are not entering into the YA Zone, that is, the "Yes to All Zone."

Parenting is work, especially if you’re the type who tries to limit the ideas and information children might find in books.  Calling the YA zone a “Yes to All” zone is a statement of personal values that any parent is entitled to make, but is irrelevant to public policy.

6. ..that if other people's young children (even younger than 11....) are openly reading books of a sexually explicit, graphic nature, say nothing...and by all means, don't stop them from checking them out. You, too, can have an 8-year-old snag "The Joy of Sex" off the shelf right here in your very own library!

Well, yes, as a matter of fact, you should parent only your own children.  When it comes to other people’s children, you should mind your own damn business.

7. ..that porn filters are not required, therefore, none are needed. True loyalty to the many children they serve. After all, we would not want to restrict freedom of speech to those young'uns!

The real stumbling block to the implementation of internet filters on computers used by children is the overreaching of the censors, who invariably try to take advantage of the situation in order to interfere with the Free Speech rights of both minors and adults.  If they would get just a little more practical, let adults be adults, and recognize that even minors have constitutionally protected rights to receive information, something could be worked out to limit children’s internet access to pornography. 

8. ...that organizations such as SafeLibraries, PFOX, PABBIS, and Family Friendly Libraries, that work to protect children from being sexually victimized are not welcome in our community.

Everyone welcomes organizations that actually work to protect children from being sexually victimized, when that goal is not merely empty rhetoric, and when it seems that the organization can actually achieve that goal.  None of the organizations mentioned here fits that description.  The primary goal of all these organizations is censorship first, with children’s safety at best a distant second.  None acknowledge the constitutional limits within which they must operate, therefore none of them can achieve any real-world goals.  And if they cannot achieve any real-world goals, they cannot protect children from anything.  All of these organizations should be resisted, if for no other reason than that they clog the communication channels with disinformation and hinder any real progress on either side of the debate.

9. That the excerpts listed below (WARNING: NOT SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN) are perfectly acceptable for the eyes of children.

As a parent, you should decide what is acceptable to you and therefore to your children.  But you have no right to assume that the whole planet agrees with you.  And by the way, obscenity law requires that books be evaluated “as a whole,” not on the basis of isolated excerpts.

This is a propagan[d]a battle to ensure children retain access to inappropriate mate[r]ial despite the law, common sense and community standards.

Despite what law, exactly?  If your library really is violating some law, then call the police.  If not, then stop making baseless claims. Talk about propaganda: the censors know they’re lying about the “despite the law” part. 


  1. It is so easy to see how dictatorial Ginny Maziarka's favorite organizations are, just by visiting their websites: "Parents Against BAD Books In Schools", "Family Friendly Libraries are libraries which uphold OUR written standards", their judgments are everywhere.

    Yet they keep repeating: "We are not telling you to..."

    Let ME think, would you?

  2. Bravo! You make such thoughtful points (and your response to number 6 made me chuckle).

    Ever thought of writing a book on the issue? I see serious potential in your writing ability. Even if you don't, you provide rationality and logic in an atmosphere that sends too many people into rhetoric-filled tailspins.

  3. Thank you so much for your kind words. A book would be an interesting idea..... although I'm not sure there's much of an audience out there.

  4. You deserve them. I don't say anything I don't mean, I'm Italian. /slightculturalinsensitivity

    You're invoking the artist in me a little, if you want to write a book and it makes you happy you should write it. People who write books shouldn't worry about audiences, that's why agents and/or indie publishing were invented.