Monday, June 09, 2008

Nampa Public Library Removes Joy of Sex

On Friday June 3, 2008 The Library Board of the Nampa Public Library voted to remove two visual sex dictionaries, The New Joy of Sex and The Joy of Gay Sex of the shelves. As originally reported in the Idaho Statesman they also voted to restrict access to minors any material that has graphic sexual representation.

Patrons 18 years of age or older would have to request the materials which are now located in the Library Director's office.

This is not the first time that the library has had to contend with sexually explicit books. The First Amendment Center has an article from June 2006 where the library decided to physically move 60 books with sexual topics to the highest shelf to prevent youngsters from viewing the content.

Not everyone thinks that this is a bad idea. An editorial in the Idaho Examiner considers the books the equivalent of pornography, supports the mayor who appointed the Library Board members who voted to remove and thinks that there should be restrictions on the type of books that libraries and school personnel can select for public and educational viewing. The conservative online publication World Net Daily also supported the removal of the books.

The American Library Association has quite a bit of information concerning censorship, patron rights, and respecting access to information.

5 comments:

SafeLibraries.org said...

In general, the ALA material is entirely misleading. Consideration should be given to obtaining unbiased sources.

FYI, here are many web resources on this Nampa case.

Plus, I have obtained and made available a statement from Randy Jackson of Nampa, ID. See, "One Man Changed Library Policy And Explains How."

Gena said...

Thank you for your response. I want to acknowledge that there are other points of view.

I understand and respect that parents need to protect and inform their children.

Speaking for myself and not the library, I am a strong believer in the First Amendment.

I do not like censorship. I don't like the idea of saying one population can't read the materials because of age, sex, or political mindset.

There has to be a balance of rights for the sake of the democracy. I want no one person or group to decide what I can or cannot read or comprehend.

I feel that there had to be a better solution than to remove the books from the library main floor.

I also feel that to remove sexual education books, or materials that contain sexual explicit content (however you define it) is one stepping stone to removing any content that one patron find objectionable.

At some point you could wind up with empty shelves.

Again, thank you for the links to other sources.

SafeLibraries.org said...

"I also feel that to remove sexual education books, or materials that contain sexual explicit content (however you define it) is one stepping stone to removing any content that one patron find objectionable.

"At some point you could wind up with empty shelves."

That is the slippery slope argument. It essentially says, among other things, children should have access to any material whatsoever, no matter how inappropriate or even harmful, because if you keep that one child from reading such material, you could keep anyone from reading everything. Therefore, anything goes, there are no standards, and let the one without sin cast the first stone.

It is, of course, a false argument. Keeping sexually inappropriate material away from children will not start the ball rolling toward censorship.

Let's look, for example, at what a former ALA councilor said. She said:

"It also highlights the thing we know about Banned Books Week that we don't talk about much — the bulk of these books are challenged by parents for being age-inappropriate for children. While I think this is still a formidable thing for librarians to deal with, it's totally different from people trying to block a book from being sold at all."

She is right, of course. Censorship is totally different than using age-old common sense--children should not be exposed to sexually inappropriate material.

Looking at the law, the US Supreme Court in Bd. of Educ. v. Pico said essentially the same thing. I do not think the US Supreme Court can be accused of starting down a slippery slope of censorship by allowing pervasively vulgar and educationally unsuitable books to be removed from public school libraries.

Regarding the ALA's bias, the ALA, like you, believes it is age discrimination for a librarian to keep any material whatsoever from a child. The US Supreme Court, on the other hand, in a case in which the ALA lost and lost big, said, "The interest in protecting young library users from material inappropriate for minors is legitimate, and even compelling, as all Members of the Court appear to agree."

Personally, I choose to trust the US Supreme Court more that the ALA, especially where common sense says children should not be exposed to sexually inappropriate material.

Now I know you said, "I do not like censorship. I don't like the idea of saying one population can't read the materials because of age, sex, or political mindset." And that is very worthy. But in light of the information I have provided, which is just the tip of the iceberg, and of which it appears to me you may not have been aware, especially from reading the ALA's biased material, will you amend your statement accordingly? How? If not, why not? Is the ALA more authoritative than the US Supreme Court? Why?

Gena said...

"It essentially says, among other things, children should have access to any material whatsoever, no matter how inappropriate or even harmful, because if you keep that one child from reading such material,..."

You know, if you put a copy of Lady Chatterley's Lover and a copy of Goodnight Moon on the table I'm betting the three and four year old people would choose Goodnight Moon.

I'm am not trying to talk you out of your beliefs. My stated belief is that your need to have a damn good reason for removing a book from a library.

Sexual content is not a good reason in my opinion. I would argue just as strongly if a parent wanted to remove abstinence only books.

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

By the removal of the books from the stacks those adults who wanted to access the information in those books have had their right to information impaired.

It is the same as taking out the books and never bring them back, destroying them or extending the original objection to all materials that could be "potentially" offensive.

It is wrong.

I am not a member of ALA.

I do know what it is like to have information withheld because of a perception that I couldn't or shouldn't be exposed to certain ideas.

My trust in this instance is not in the ALA or the Supreme Court or your reasoned position. It is in the United States Constitution.

SafeLibraries.org said...

Okay. It has been a pleasure having this discussion with you.

If you like though disagree with what you heard and want to read and disagree with similar topics, please consider subscribing to my SafeLibraries blog.

Thank you.