Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Don't Be Fooled

It seems to me that whenever someone disagrees with Ginny Maziarka and her viewpoint on this library issue, it is because they just "don't understand" what she's asking for. As I have told her, I do understand, and I still don't agree.

It wouldn't surprise me if local residents did not understand Ginny's complaint. After all, it has constantly changed. She often complains in her blog that they are not asking to ban books, and they are not going after specific titles. That may be true now, but that is what they asked for and did in the past.

She seems to think that what they have asked for is not censorship. You be the judge; do you consider it censorship when material that is universally considered to be for a Young Adult audience is moved to an adult section or labeled in such a way to make those books taboo? Do you think it is fair or wise to move books on the basis that some in the community may find them offensive?

The Maziarkas have been very skilled at changing their tune and tweaking their complaint to make it more likely that people will jump on their bandwagon. But let us not forget that their complaint did begin with a complaint about books they felt were "pro-homosexual" and that all of the books they originally objected to came from a list of books with LGBT themes and characters. Let us not forget that they did ask for some of these books to be banned. Then they changed their complaint and made it about material they felt was sexually explicit, throwing the word pornography around to create furor in the community. They instead asked for books to be reclassified or moved, and asked for labels on materials that were sexually explicit. Now they've said that they are no longer asking for these things, they are asking for policy changes that will "protect" the community.

Ginny and Jim Maziarka, thanks but no thanks. I don't need your help in protecting my children from material I don't find appropriate, and I certainly don't want your help in determining what is or isn't appropriate for them or using your morality as my family's compass. I find it hard to believe that others in this community want that, to give up their rights as parents to make those kinds of decisions.

Parents, if you don't like what your kids are reading, take it away, or better yet, have a conversation about it. But don't try to censor the collection of our public library, which is meant to serve the entire community. You may not like all the materials in the collection, and you have the right not to read anything you find offensive or objectionable. But you don't have the right to take materials away from other patrons, restrict access to them, make them harder to find, or label them as obscene simply based on your opinion or moral judgment.


  1. Maria, I want to thank you for your dedication and creative energies. You have provided a wonderful service to all of us affected by the attempts to censor library contents. I have five children and their path to wisdom is through knowledge. Don't let them get you down, you are doing the right thing. 
    Clark Blomquist - West Bend

  2. Thanks, Clark! I won't let anyone get me down because this battle will result in a victory for those that oppose censorship.


  3. Why is it such an issue to ask for specific labeling of books w/ sexual, violent etc. content? Why are there R-rated movies? My children cannot check out certain movies from the library unless they're 18 or older. Why can't the same go for certain books? What is the difference? There isn't one!!!!

    Yes..some of us would love for the books being discussed to be banned, thrown out etc..but I don't know that that will ever happen. Life has changed over the years, as we all know and have witnessed. These books would not be acceptable 50 years ago. So why now?

    What is wrong? It seems many have the view that 'anything at all goes'!? You must have some guidelines for your children!? What are they and why? What do you live by? What standards? Don't children need guidelines and morals?

    God's Word is my family's guideline and I know is Ginny's family's too. What is yours?

    God Bless you.

  4. Stephanie:

    Let me address your points. Your first paragraph talks about the idea of labeling books (based on sexual content) and you ask what is the difference between doing that for movies vs. books. There are several huge differences. You cannot compare the MPAA ratings system for movies to a rating system that might be enacted by an individual library. The MPAA ratings system was developed by the movie industry for its own purpose and only serves as guidelines for parents. The system is VOLUNTARY and NOT LEGALLY BINDING in any way. (As a matter of fact, if you call a local video store, you will find out that a parent can grant permission for their minor child to use their membership card to rent materials, and that once they do this, the child can rent ANY video, regardless of rating.) You are wrong about your statement that your children cannot check out R-rated movies from the library; once you give them permission to check out videos, they have access to the entire video collection. The other major difference is that WBCFSL is asking for the library to enact the labeling system, not the industry that produces the material (i.e., book publishers.)

    Please answer this question: how does my statement that only parents have the right to decide what is appropriate for their children, and that they don't have the right to decide this for others translate into "anything at all goes"?? Certainly I have guidelines for my children, but what those guidelines are don't apply here. I do not apply those guidelines and/or my morals to others, and I don't allow others to apply their morals/guidelines to me or my children.

    If the library were to enact a policy that enables an individual or group to make decisions about what is appropriate or not for an entire community or age group, that violates my constitutional rights (as a parents and a library patron) to make those decisions myself. That is something I cannot and will not allow.

  5. Your KEY word here is: PERMISSION. Parents need to give permission for their children to check out the R-rated movies!! If the books in situation were labeled w/ a warning to parents, then they themselves-as parents, would have to give their children PERMISSION.

    It's really not that complicated and would not cause such chaos as so many believe it would. It's not taking anyone's freedoms away, just protecting innocent children from the materials in these books! If some parents choose to allow their children to read about sex, homosexuality and violence, then that is their choice-but don't make it MY children's choice, lest they should come upon one unknown to me.

    My children are important to me. I want to be the one to choose to talk w/ them about these subjects. It's my God-given duty to be the one to do that!!

    The Bible says it best:
    It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. Luke 17:2

    'Nuff said.

    God Bless you as you make choices for your children.

  6. Stephanie:

    Parents DO give permission when they register their child for a library card. A child cannot get one with approval from a parent/guardian, but once they do, it gives them access to everything in the collection. It is the same at Blockbuster; kids can check out R rated movies if a parent has given them permission to use their rental card. (You seemed to miss that in my previous comment.) As I pointed out, the MPAA ratings system is voluntary and serve as guidelines for parents; retailers are not responsible for enforcing the guidelines beyond what their individual store/corporate policies dictate.

    If WBCFSL got what they wanted and certain books either were moved or labeled, it would make the books harder to locate for the YA category (because they would be separate/in the adult section) and therefore limit the access to that age group. However, if the material was located by a teen/YA, they could still check out the book/matierial with their library card, as all patrons have equal access to all materials in the collection, regardless of age. That is one of the principle tenets of a library.

    You are wrong when you say making these change doesn't take anyone's freedoms away. It takes that freedom, that responsibility away from the parents. If this were to change the way WBCFSL wanted, that group (or however was given the task) would get to decide for the ENTIRE COMMUNITY what YA books are approved for the YA audience and which ones are "too much." How is that fair? How can you approve someone else making that decision for YOUR children? And what right/responsibility is going to fall to the wayside next?

  7. I didn't miss your point at all! Having the books labeled differently and put in a different section or the computers set to warn for sexually explicit things does make a parent have to choose for his/her child!! If a parent wants their child to see this garbage, there would still be the potential for the child to view this, if the parent allows them to. Just because the child has a library card doesn't mean he/she can check any 'ol thing out from the library! My children under 18 have to have MY permission to check out an R rated movie from the library..EVEN if they hold a library card that I have signed for!!! That's my point.

    Why is it anyway that you would desire children to have the permission to view sexually explicit books where they are talking about intercourse descriptively or how to masterbate etc.? How is that HEALTHY? for a child of 11 or 12 or 16!? Why do you think the teen pregnancy rate is up and AIDS and other STD's so rampant!? It's because there is more of this type of material available to young adults!! They should be taught abstinence and purity, not how to have sex with the guy or girl in their class!!??

    God Bless

  8. Stephanie,
    I must say I disagree totally with your comments about "this type of material" causing increases in teen pregnancies and disease. If anything, books like the two sex ed books discussed publicly by WBCFSL would discourage sexual activity, because they show the negative consequences of becoming sexually active. Have you really read these books, or just read the excerpts printed online? I haven't read "Deal with It" in its entirety, but I have flipped through it several times. Doing so, I have tried to find the "explicit" parts of the book and have been UNABLE to visually locate them.

    You cannot compare a movie rating system to what was asked of the West Bend library. The MPAA ratings system was created by the industry and is a self-serving system; the MPAA provides these guidelines to serve consumers, who continue to frequent movies, rent videos, etc. The goal is to promote the movie industry and it is a business and marketing tool, not a system created to "protect the children." Same goes for ratings guidelines for video games and music CDs; they were created by those industries, not an outside source.

    If you want a ratings/labeling system for books, that is something that you should be asking of publishers, not of individual libraries or bookstores.

    About your first paragraph about permission: if a parent feels there are (or thinks there could be) materials in the library that they don't want their child to see, it is his/her responsibility to make sure that doesn't happen, not the library's. A parent can do this a number of ways. He/she can choose to not approve a library card for their minor child. The parent can keep the minor's library card in their possession so material cannot be checked out without the parent's knowledge/approval. He/she can attend the library with the child and direct the minor to material he/she feels is appropriate. The parent can ask a librarian for help choosing material (and state any concerns, such as "I don't want any books with sexual activity, or violence, etc.") and/or use other research tools (reviews of books, online investigation) to find such material.

    If you feel there is a risk, it is your responsibility to act accordingly. It is not the responsibility of the library or the rest of the community to rearrange the collection based on your viewpoints.

  9. Maria your value system is flawed and it shows. You type of people don't like it when it's pointed out that not everyone feels like you. Your morals are reflected in Ryan and Katie, lil potty mouths. I've heard it with my own ears, but once I found out they were yours, I knew it would do no good to point it out to you.

  10. Maria,

    Despite your absolute professionalism and ON-topic discussions, I am astonished that there are still people out there who would choose to make the disgusting, personally attacking statements as those above. I hope that you are able to (and I believe you are able to, as a woman of above-average intelligence) see that the horrible statements left by "Anonymous" is what the lesser intelligent resort to when they can no longer back up their viewpoint. I sure hope "Anonymous" lives in a glass house.

    I am just amazed that after months--MONTHS!--of this controversy there are people out there who cannot see this issue for what it is. A long time ago I posted on WISSUP (which went unanswered, of course) asking for clarification on a simple point, that I think it all comes back to: WHO gets to decide what is right to be labeled as "inappropriate" for children? *I* want to make that determination for my kids, and I want YOU to make it for yours.

    How the Maziarkas and others can't see that this is a slippery slope is beyond me. I believe that almost every book in the library could be objectionable or challenged by some. Even their precious Bible. Some people just wouldn't want their kids reading the more descriptive (and yes, vulgar) material in there, especially if that is not a book that they consider 'holy'. Do they want the Bible restricted as well? It would only be fair, if someone raised the complaint!

    Maria, you have been an eloquent and dedicated representative of this cause. I appreciate your willingness to stay the course, despite the attacks leveled at you on a regular basis. Your ability to stay focused on the issue at hand and not get sucked up in the rhetoric is commendable.

    I hope you keep it up.

  11. Aw, shucks. Thanks for your kind words!