Friday, August 6, 2010

Brody's Notes... Censorship In Burlington County New Jersey Public Libraries

By Brody Levesque (Washington DC) AUG 6 | For the second time in less than six months, officials in Burlington County, New Jersey, have pulled the book; Revolutionary Voices, from circulation in both the Rancocas Valley Regional High School library in Mount Holly, New Jersey, and now the central public library system as well.
Reporter Jim Walsh, from the central New Jersey newspaper Courier-Post, writes that Gail Sweet, director of Burlington County's library system, told a worker that copies of "Revolutionary Voices' "needs to totally disappear."
Walsh reports:
"The county system's decision to remove "Revolutionary Voices," an anthology of first-person works by gay youths, was made quietly in the spring. But it's now stirring an online furor with the release of e-mails on the issue by the county's library director, Gail Sweet."How can we grab the books so that they never, ever get back into circulation?" Sweet asked in one e-mail to a library employee. "Copies need to totally disappear (as in not a good idea to send copies to the book sale)."
And when another librarian asked why the award-winning book was being removed, Sweet responded with two words: "Child pornography."
The e-mails were obtained through a public-records request by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, which provided them to the Courier-Post on Wednesday."
One angry local Gay resident notes:
"Don't you know only straight teens can come of age sexually in literature?? When LGBT youth start learning about themselves it's Child Pornography. This makes me sick, homophobia at it's worst. A book that shows LGBT kids that other kids feel what they're feeling, that they're not alone or weird or crazy is essential for every public library! You cannot imagine how literally life saving a book like that is for a confused gay kid who hates their thoughts and feels alienated from their peers"
The news-site report on the ACLU probe of the actions by the officials triggered the following exchange:
"Please tell me what this has to do with the Constitution, and please don't tell me censorship. This is a high school, not a public library. Parents should be able to dictate what kids have access to while they are at school. It is called parenting. I know it is rare these days."
Which generated this reply:
"Parents should be able to dictate what kids have access to while they are at school." The hell they should! If you don't like what your kids are taught and exposed to at public schools then homeschool. The curriculum developed there is written by professionals who have degrees in their field and have the college diploma to back it up. Letting parents run a school and dictate curriculum is like letting the inmates run the asylum. Like I said, if you don't like what your public school is doing don't send your kids there.
Rancocas Valley was wrong to ban that book. And, you should be glad for the ACLU and all it does. Without it this place could and would resemble 1930s Germany and/or the Soviet Union at its worst. Shame on you for saying such things. You obviously bring nothing to the table and offer society nothing."
One Asylum Network LGBT political blogger,  Zachary Wilson noted in an Op-Ed earlier today:
"A member of Beck's 9/12 Project took her library having a copy of Revolutionary Voices: A Multicultural Queer Youth Anthology, which features first-hand coming out stories and help with youth finding their identity, real personally and contacted the librarian to have it removed. Gail Sweet, the Burlington Country library director, removed the book from circulation, citing "child pornography" as the reason for removal. The idea behind Glenn Beck's 9/12 Project is supposed "to bring us all back to the place we were on Sept. 12, 2001," Beck said at the launch back in 2009. "We were not obsessed with red states, blue states or political parties. We were united as Americans, standing together to protect the values and principles of the greatest nation ever created." Except that whole access to information through tax-funded libraries thing"
The book was pulled from the county library and from the library at Rancocas Valley Regional High School in Mount Holly after objections from Beverly Marinelli, a Lumberton woman and a member of the 9/12 Project, a conservative group founded by Fox News Channel pundit Glenn Beck.


Trab said...

So why isn't someone quietly (or loudly) proclaiming all the straight teen angst and sexual awareness books as being pornographic and having them all removed from the libraries. It seems to me that making everyone deal on the same level playing field may make everyone realize how restrictive things would be if it were allowed to continue.

Basically, we can be equal in freedom, or equal under tyranny; why is the latter the preferred choice by religious nut jobs? Or is it that they don't really want equality at all?

Anonymous said...

The actual facts of the case are different from what has been repeatedly reported. I actually spoke with Gail Sweet, and the result is the ACLU got the story very wrong in very significant ways, then everyone reports what the ACLU said as if the ACLU is some unbiased source for information.

Here, take a look at what I wrote based on my conversation with Gail Sweet, and take note of the second comment:

"Et tu, Mary Minow? Then Fall, Gail Sweet!"

SafeLibraries said...

"On rare occasion, we have situations where a piece of material is not what it appears to be on the surface and the material is totally inappropriate for a school library. In that case, yes, it is appropriate to remove materials. If it doesn't fit your material selection policy, get it out of there."

"Marking 25 Years of Banned Books Week," by Judith Krug (of the ALA), Curriculum Review, 46:1, Sep. 2006.