Obsession: "Compulsive preoccupation with a fixed idea or unwanted feeling or emotion, often with symptoms of anxiety. A compulsive, often unreasonable, idea or emotion causing such preoccupation." [American Heritage Dictionary]
If you want to see what obsession looks like, check out the double-whammy on SafeLibries' blog today, GLSEN Gets It, the ALA Doesn't and Phyllis Schlafly Exposes ALA Fraud. Both show the lack of sound judgment and unwillingness to face simple facts that come from unhealthy obsessions.
Both posts do the one thing that is most important to SafeLibraries, far more important than protecting children from pornographic books, which is to heap blame on the American Library Association. I don't object to laying blame where it belongs, but I do object to heaping blame on the uninvolved, as SafeLibraries does in these posts.
In his first post, he blames the ALA for the fact that two books written for quite different age groups happen to be next to each other on a grocery store shelf. The two books in question, "Bob the Builder" and "Looking for Alaska" would not be placed together in most libraries. Arguably, they shouldn't have been together in the grocery store either, but what has that to do in the slightest with the ALA? It is impossible to imagine that the ALA has the any influence or even awareness, let alone control, over how books are arranged on a grocery store shelf, yet SafeLibraries would have us believe that this juxtaposition is somehow the ALA's fault. Somehow, in his mind, the ALA had a responsibility to warn the grocery store management of the difference in intended age group for the two books. Not the authors, not the publishers, not the grocery store management who decided one way or another to acquire these two books, not the grocery store managers who decided how to arrange their inventory, but the uninvolved ALA. This is a level of irrationality that comes only from unhealthy obsession.
If that weren't a sufficient example of obsession, Safelibraries goes on to repeat an especially thoughtless post by Phyllis Schlafly from her Eagle Forum. Somewhat behind schedule, or perhaps lacking something more constructive and timely to say, Schlafly claims (again) that Banned Books Week is a Hoax perpetrated by the ALA. In addition to inappropriate spin, her post contains two patent falsehoods. First she says that "only government can engage in censorship" This arbitrary and self-serving redefinition of the term is ridiculous, as if a semi-literate mob breaking down the library doors to pull out all the books they object to wouldn't be censorship, just because it wasn't being done by government. Secondly, she writes: "These people accused of being 'book banners' are just ordinary parents who want to limit their own children’s exposure to material they consider harmful or obscene." That's not spin-doctoring, it's a simple lie. Parents who really are trying to limit their own children's exposure are not labelled "book banners." But they are so labelled when they go beyond their own family, trying to rob other parents of the right make different choices. Even that wouldn't be so bad, if it were true that they were worried only about harmful or obscene material. The sad and well-documented fact is that many parents go far beyond that concern, demanding the removal of books for social, religious, and political reasons that have nothing to do with obscenity or harmfulness, going far beyond any kind of censorship the law will allow.
Rightly or wrongly, we might choose to overlook Ms. Schlafly's factual flub in this area. After all, she's not a specialist in Free Speech regulation or library practices. Those who make a study of this area cannot be so excused.