Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Book Burning?

In this day and age you would think that the subject of book burning wouldn't be in the headlines. The Milwaukee branch of the Christian Civil Liberties Union and three plaintiffs are seeking the right “to publicly burn or destroy by other means” Baby Be-Bop, a book on the coming out of a gay teen by Francesca Lia Block. They are asking for $120,000 in damages after being “exposed” to it in a library display. The row over Be-bop, described by CCLU plaintiffs as “explicitly vulgar, racial and anti-Christian” blew up in April. Four members of the library board were suspended for refusing to remove the book and two others from the young adult section of the West Bend Community Memorial Library prior to the books being formally reviewed. The plaintiffs, all of whom are elderly, claim their mental and emotional well-being was impaired by seeing the book on display. One has to wonder if these people actually read the book.
In the book, "Dirk is beaten by gay bashers but steadfastly clings to the possibility of finding love," notes Salon. The book also uses "offensive" words... n*gg** and f*gg*t (I wouldn't want to be banned by spelling them out.) To a group calling themselves the West Bend Citizens for Safe Libraries, that's enough to harm children. Of course, Mark Twain used the first word in his (sometimes banned) books. When the library ignored the original request for removal, the CCLU came in with the lawsuit. They say it uses racist and explicit terms and promotes discrimination. In fact, the book uses the terms to expose such things. It attributes the "bad words" to the antagonists in the book in order to illustrate how wrong such irrational bias is. The American Library Association addresses the issue here.
Book-burning didn't go out with the Inquisition. It was practiced as recently as WWII by another belief-system, Nazism - i.e. the belief in world domination by a master Aryan "race". There will always be those who want to "protect" the world from "bad things" and those who fight to preserve free speech. Sure, there are really bad things out there which a civilized world does not need, like murder, racism, oppression, etc. However, if there are no laws being broken and no harm being done to others, where do you draw the line? Sometimes you have to expose the "bad" in order to fight against it. Fortunately, so far, the library is winning the fight. Unfortunately, it is a huge expense that didn't need to be taken on right now. The money could have been used for new books and library updates instead of fighting a nuisance suit which, if won, will not make the library "pure" by the CCLU's standards anyway.


Anonymous said...

Why can't the CCLU use their resources to teach instead of judging and persecuting those who believe differently?

Jen said...

They think they are fighting the good fight but they are only wasting money on something that won't help in the long run teach their beliefs.

Tera said...

Sometimes you have to protect your kids.