Wednesday, November 25, 2009


If the subject matter of a book bothers you, is it your job to protect others from reading it? Annually, the last week of September is banned book week by the American Library Association. If you decide that something should not be read by your children, that is your right as a parent. However, you don't have a right to tell others what is right for their children. It is like the old joke, this is the condensed version, of a man in church listening to a very spirited sermon. He is agreeing with every point that the preacher is making, loudly shouting Amen with every point. Then the preacher rails against the demon alcohol. The man sits there stone faced. His wife whispers to him, "What's the matter?" The man whispers back "He's gone from preaching to meddling."

I had been planning on doing this post about banned books for over a month, but every time I got ready something else came up. A recent story however really drove this issue home. A couple of librarians in Kentucky were recently fired. The reason for it was they were trying to keep a graphic novel, The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier, by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill, out of the hands of the public. I have read the first two League books and enjoyed them. I haven't bought this one yet, but I will very soon and I will review it when I do. When this book arrived at the library, one of the librarians felt it was a mistake. When she asked about it she was told it had been requested by a patron and was ordered. In her mind, this was an evil book. She claims she had people praying over her when she read it so the images wouldn't stay in her mind. Since the graphic novels are shelved near the children's section she was afraid it would be a bad influence on them. Since the board had approved the book, she came up with a plan so that no one could read it. She checked it out herself and continued to renew it. This plan worked until an 11 year old girl requested the book. Since a hold was placed on the book, it could not be renewed. Here is where the second librarian came into the picture. The second one canceled the request for the book. When the library board found out about it, both ladies were fired. The one has refused to return the book. Since I haven't read it I can't judge how suitable the book is for an 11 year old. Based on the two that I have read, I would say it is a little advanced, but if my child wanted to read it I would allow it. I would be discussing the book with them, to make sure they understood what they read.

As far as the librarians go, I have no sympathy. What they did was insubordination. I do not agree with all of Wal-Mart's policies, but as long as I accept a paycheck from them I will abide by their rules. I will give the librarian credit for actually reading the book instead of blindly rejecting it. I do think being prayed over while reading was a little over the top.

It is too easy to be a sheep and go along with the rest of the flock. I do not want to base my opinion on what others say. I am a big boy and I can make my mind up for myself. If someone tells me something that I find hard to believe, I will look into it. After all, if someone misunderstands one word, the entire meaning changes.


Al Penwasser said...

Wow, those librarians SHOULD have been canned! There are a number of books I wouldn't want my children to read, but I wouldn't presume to foist my beliefs on others. And I'll be damned if I allow someone to foist THEIRS on me.
Incidentally, wasn't 'The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen' that movie with Sean Connery several years ago?

Howard Bagby said...

Yes, There was a movie based on the League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen with Sean Connery a few years ago. I have not seen it. It is a lot different than the graphic novel that it was based on. I really liked the story and haven't brought myself to watch the movie.

Al Penwasser said...

I would strongly suspect the books are MUCH better than the movies. That's how things usually go. In other words, don't bother renting it.