So How DO We Improve Our Public Libraries?
Now, that's nice work if you can get it, and Carmon has the perfect right to buy all the books her house can hold -- I would too, were I her -- but Carmon and I disagree over her notion that everyone should do as she does, or do without. Carmon and many of her commenters lament the fact that a portion of their tax dollars goes to fund their communities' public library systems, and she would like to see the end of the public library system and other forms of "welfare" in this country.
Today, Carmon described a growing problem in our public libraries that is a source of concern to me as well: the problem of sexually themed materials being made available to young people.
Carmon goes for maximum shock value, beginning her article with a disclaimer to warn "sensitive readers" that the article contains controversial materials, and goes on to describe how some schools in her area are showing their support for the gay and lesbian community with a "Day of Silence." Then she gets to what is ostensibly her real subject matter: the problem of sexually themed materials being marketed to children, and made available in our public libraries.
"These books are rubbing shoulders (bad pun) with such venerable volumes as David Copperfield and Don Quixote. Other more innocuous titles are there, as well, which may not be great literature, but light reading such as Star Wars and Holes. Sprinkled liberally (another bad pun) among these books are some of the most vile things you should never see."
...and, she goes on to describe some of those books. And they are bad.
In the "comments" section, I wrote,
"Carmon, for once you and I are in almost complete agreement. This sort of thing is filth, it is reprehensible, and if parents complain about this sort of thing being presented to children, they will be labeled as bigots, or worse. There is a way around the situation, though. To begin with, kids need to be taught right from wrong, and taught WHY wrong stuff is wrong. I was attracted to the occult section in our library as a young teenager, until our pastor told me about where that stuff comes from. Then I left it alone. And, whatever happened to the idea that presenting material dealing with sexual behavior - ANY sexual behavior, other than nuts-and-bolts-biology-book-type science - to children, is unacceptable? Children under 12 don't need to be exposed to stories dealing with normal sex, let alone the drek you're describing, and communities should be complaining. People can change this situation -- that's how those books got into the library in the first place, somebody who wanted them there complained and got their way -- and we can get them out, in the same way. We pay for libraries with our tax dollars, and we CAN get what we pay for -- democracy DOES work."
Now, Carmon's solution is simple: don't use public libraries, and vote to end this sort of "middle class entitlement" -- never mind the fact that that would leave millions of lower and middle class children and adults with virtually no access to literature at all, other than newspapers and magazines.
I find Carmon's solution to be almost as reprehensible as the problem she claims to want to solve, but, a solution is still needed.
Got any ideas? .......all comments are welcome, I don't do censorship, though I reserve the right to relace any four-letter words with symbols -- I don't allow that kind of $#@!$ here. :)
(I have reposted Carmon's entire article, below, with the comments (minus mine, which would have been Comment #5 - Carmon reserves the right to censor "nasty comments", and I guess my remark about democracy actually working was a little over the line, LOL.)
Don’t Keep Silent
Tuesday, April 17 2007 -- Filed under: Books Culture— Carmon @ 9:29 pm
Note: this is about a topic which is very controversial, and I am discussing things that sensitive readers may prefer to skip. Some of your filters may prevent you from reading it! Please forgive me for even mentioning some of this material, but I want parents to be aware of the dangers to their children in places that have been considered “safe,” but which are actually endangering the innocence of young children. Any nasty comments on this post will be immediately deleted as I have no qualms about censorship on my personal blog :-).
Tomorrow is a red-letter day in some public schools. My sister, who works in the office of a public high school, told me that memos have been sent around to school staff encouraging them to participate in the commemoration of The Day of Silence, which will be noted in schools around the country. It’s the day when the love that dare not speak its name gets a hearing—or not—among junior high and high school students, who are coached by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) on how to get noticed by the passive-agressive behavior of keeping silent all day in school.
There is a concerted effort in the media, in public schools, and in libraries to make what God calls an abomination acceptable and “normal” to the general public, which has had a normal abhorrance for such behavior. But nobody wants to be a “prude,” a “bigot,” or “intolerant.” Such namecalling is used to portray those who rightly perceive such perverse behavior as sinful, in a negative light so that they are forced to remain silent or be branded with epithets.
I recently visited Barnes and Noble alone, and while there decided to check up on a book that Sherry reviewed called Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. She pointed out the blatant perversity in a book that won an award for young adult fiction and which is targeted to teens in 9th grade and above. I sat in a chair in B&N and, hoping nobody who knew me was watching, leafed through a pornographic book. It was laced with the F-word and filled with details of intimate behavior which swung both ways. Disgusted, I returned it to the shelves and took a look at the other books there in the “teen” section. There were dozens of similar inane books which were about “hooking up” in the most literal sense between teenagers with no respect to gender or any morality whatsoever. There was a special end display with the covers facing out (with reprehensible illustrations on many) targeted to this teen audience. This section was just outside the area with the childrens’ picture books.
At least they are reading.
Yesterday, Gracie and I went on a fact-finding mission to a nearby public library. This was in a medium-sized rural town, at the main library in the next county, in a town we frequently visit. As with many libraries, it has a special teen/young adult area, where there were a couple of tables for the teens to congregate. We went in the late afternoon, so some kids were there after school, visiting, and a librarian tried to get us to move because they “want to keep this area available for teens to hang out.” I refrained from pointing out that the teens don’t pay the taxes to keep the place open, but instead told her that Gracie fit the profile and that I was with her. We sat at a vacant table and I went to look at the shelves. I soon found out why adults are not welcome in that area. While I was browsing, small children were nearby, looking at picture books with their mommies. I cannot even describe how angry I was that such filth was accessible to the youngest readers.
It only took me about five minutes to grab a handful of books which, from the jacket descriptions, were filled with material aimed at corrupting young people. These books are rubbing shoulders (bad pun) with such venerable volumes as David Copperfield and Don Quixote. Other more innocuous titles are there, as well, which may not be great literature, but light reading such as Star Wars and Holes. Sprinkled liberally (another bad pun) among these books are some of the most vile things you should never see.
Let me name names and give a little more detail, as repellent as it is, so that you understand just how bad this is. I didn’t have the time or inclination to leaf through many for the lurid details, but some of the worst were:
Two copies of Fly on the Wall, about a young girl who turns into a fly and spies on the boys’ locker room. Filled with expletives and descriptions of male anatomy, one mother in an Amazon review, complains that the attractive pink cover caused her 12-year-old daughter to check it out, and she was embarrassed and shocked by the contents. The mother was right when she said such pornography should not be available to under-18-year-olds.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, another “coming of age” story (watch out for that overused descriptor!), has drug use, suicide, homosexuality and other sexual experimentation, this is required reading in many schools. Anyone who complains is labeled with that nasty name: book banner.
Realm of Possibility by David Levithan, won an American Library Association award. It’s written in a very postmodern free verse kind of artsy style, with vignettes of different teens, including a homosexual couple who are celebrating an anniversary, and a girl who is a lesbian with a crush on a friend. Confusing in more ways than one. Written by the co-author of the Nick and Norah tripe above (shame on them for stealing those names from the wonderful Thin Man!)
Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez, by far the worst of the books I looked at, but I didn’t put more effort into this than I could stand. This filthy book was about—surprise—three high school boys who are dealing with their homosexuality. There was a very graphic scene with one of the boys engaging in an encounter with an adult man. This is also filled with profanity. The author has apparently written other “Rainbow” books.
To be fair, I should mention the Christian books I saw. There was Left Behind Kids, the whole series. And there was also an “issues” series with a “Christian” message, published by Think Books, a division of NavPress, the “Color Me Crushed” series by Melody Carlson. One book, with an endorsement by the defunct The Discerning Reader, was about a high school girl who finds out her friend is a lesbian, and who is shocked by the “unloving” response to homosexuality by the members of her church. The message was that we need to be more loving and tolerant in order to reach those who are involved in this lifestyle. While I agree that all sinners need to be given the gospel and that nobody is outside of God’s ability to save them, this book downplayed the need for repentance on the part of the sinner and portrayed a natural revulsion to perversion in an extreme manner, with stereotypical examples of Christian “pharisees.” In another book in the series, a girl who is upset with her father for leaving his family tries to get back at him by flirting with a boy to get him to sleep with her. When he refuses, she is relieved, but only because it would have “complicated” things, not because it would have been sinful and displeasing to God.
I apologize again for even giving this much detail about what I found, but I want to warn families about the mine fields that the bookstore and the libraries have become. If you don’t believe me, check it out yourself. It only took a few minutes for me to pull some of these books off the shelf. I sadly watched young girls (one looked about 9 years old) browsing the same shelves for something to read. What kid is going to pick a classic when there are much more titillating titles to choose? Do you really think that “as long as they are reading,” it doesn’t really matter what they read? Does it make you feel good that your tax dollars are being used to purchase this stuff for kids so that they aren’t left ignorant about such behavior?
Before you go, take a gander at this young adult booklist from the American Library Association, which includes “GBLTQ” books: “Contemporary fiction and nonfiction for teens of all persuasions.” Such booklists are used by librarians to decide what books to purchase each year. Why don’t you look in your library (many have their catalogs online) to see how many are in your town?
When I said that public libraries are cesspools, I wasn’t kidding. Am I the only person to notice? Where are the outraged parents, complaining about the pornography peddled to children? Why are you keeping silent?
Responses to “Don’t Keep Silent”
Cindy Says: April 18th, 2007 at 4:50 am
I am perusing your titles with my library’s website at the same time. So far so good but that is pretty much what I expected..for now at least. I will do the same thing with the American Library Association list. I understand your arguments about libraries but I still find myself visiting ours occasionally.
I am curious to know if our local highschool grades k-12 is participating in the day. I will be very surprised if they are. Rural Alabama is still one of the most conservative places I have ever lived.
Meredith_in_Aus Says: April 18th, 2007 at 5:02 am
Hi. I’ve been reading here for some time but I think this is the first time I’ve commented.
As you are aware, it is no accident that these books are deliberately published to drag young people down. I have commented to my husband several times, recently, about the “help” I received as a pre-teen and teen by books I had picked up from the library (in Australia). At the time, the target was turning children against their parents (this was early- to mid-eighties) with such titles as “Can You Sue Your Parents for Malpractice?” I wrote a very sad essay for my English class about the “emotional abuse” I received at home (read: my parents didn’t give in when I threw a fit about something they wouldn’t give me) after reading it. Fortunately, my English teacher (who’d been around for a long time) said it was poorly written, gave me a B grading (lower than my usual) and didn’t feel the slightest sorry for me!
Other lovely series around at the time were about the occult in the Pan Horizons books, plus other fornication encouragements in that series. Also, there were other books about the oppression of women in the home. The homosexual issue was just starting to be addressed in the teenage magazines in response to the early “coming out” films of the 80’s, with letters written in by confused girls who “weren’t sure” and who were encouraged by the helpful “Dear Dolly” columnist that they “might be wired that way” and the only thing they could do was to “carefully” experiment to find out.
Time after time I have come to realise that a thought or an attitude that I have is directly linked to those books I voraciously read. I am learning to take these thoughts captive to Christ.
Ladies, make sure you don’t let your kids borrow from the library without you having a good look first.
Meredith in Australia
Myfriendconnie Says: April 18th, 2007 at 5:10 am
Just last week I complained to the children’s librarian about a book, “Street Love” being displayed prominantly in the “New Books” section. She brushed aside my complaints, so I hid the book behind some others. I noticed yesterday that it had been found and put back on display.
Interesting you brought this up, though. Yesterday’s discovery of the found book prompted me to talk to my children, 12 and under, about protecting their minds from filth. I told them about when I was 12 finding a book about real, practicing witches in my public school library and deciding that I wanted to find out all I could about witchcraft. No one was there to protect me or remind me to guard my mind.
Thank you for this, Carmon.
Psalm 101:3 “I will set no worthless thing before my eyes.”
Carmon Says: April 18th, 2007 at 6:24 am
Cindy, the library we visited is in the second-most conservative county in our state. We live in the first most conservative.
It was actually a mother with children in an Alabama public school who first mentioned the problems with such explicit books in an article at WND that made me start looking at the local library listings more carefully. That was a couple of years ago. I am really shocked at how quickly the libraries have been acquiring such horrible books over that time.
Connie, those witchcraft books were very tempteing to me when I was in junior high.
Kim inTN Says: April 18th, 2007 at 6:34 am
We stopped going to the library a long time ago. Some friends use the “click and pull” option at the city library, which is an hour away. That way the kids don’t even look around. The mom just picks what books they want and the library has them all ready on the date they want them.
I prefer to buy, when I can, the books we want. Not everyone can do that.
Sarah Says: April 18th, 2007 at 7:55 am
This is why when I go to the library, I usually stay in the children’s section. People probably think a 20 year old browsing in the children’s section is weird, but that’s where all the Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery, and other decent books are. The “young adult” section is almost all trash…I only go there if there is a certain book that I want and have looked up on the computer. I go grab it really quickly and get out, hoping people won’t see me in there and think I read that junk.
Renee Says: April 18th, 2007 at 8:10 am
Carmon,I checked my local library and we had every title mentioned except Fly On the Wall.I appreciate the research and warning although we rarely use our local library.We prefer our own home library.Thanks,Renee
Kendra Says: April 18th, 2007 at 9:21 am
I remember being in Germany years ago and the filth that was prominently displayed there was amazing to me. There was a “news stand” that had pornography centerfolds placed for all passers-by to see. It has been obvious to me to for a while that we are in the cesspool too. It is sad, though, how many nice people I know that are shocked that these things are happening here. Like it just happened overnight! It hasn’t, but it has happened while we were sleeping.
Aimee Says: April 18th, 2007 at 10:24 am
I checked our library as well. It has every title you mentioned. It is heartbreaking to know that these books are there. Satan is seeking to destroy our children and we must never let down our guard~
Grace Says: April 18th, 2007 at 10:51 am
Re: Why am I keeping silent?
Well, I wish I had a better answer but mostly I am silent because #1 I am afraid, #2 I feel that the pagan’s could care less. I suppose me and Jonah have a lot in common.
But let me also add that all this filth doesn’t slip by unnoticed. I have to censor much of the media messages my kids would normally be exposed to because they are frankly or subtely p*rn*graphic. We try to stay out of the mall, keep our radio is turned off and make guarded trips to the library etc. Serious censorship is what parenting is all about.
Most christian parents would easily see the harm in some of the examples of filth you noted above. What really concerns me are soul destroying messages that our children are being fed subtley via very attractive media. Sort of like swallowing a little bit of poison mixed with jam. I would put almost every disney film I’ve ever seen into this category. I am suprised how many christian parents miss the pagan messages in these films.
The challenge for the modern christian parent is having to constantly guard your child’s soul. I would liken it to trying to protect your kids from flying bullets in a warzone. It takes it’s toll on the parents. Children while they are young often don’t realize or appreciate the sacrifices parents make on their behalf.
It has been obvious to me that very young children are being primed/coached/tutored/trained/prepared for destruction. The attacks on their souls are becoming less and less subtle.
I am not particularly for or against harry potter books but I have read some of them. The media and other predators who feed on a young childs soul bring to mind the “death eaters” in the potter books. Really, really, sickening and evil.
And then everyone wonders what went wrong in Virginia, Columbine etc. Take a guess…it’s not rocket science.
miller_schloss Says: April 18th, 2007 at 11:47 am
Thanks for this post…I forwarded it to my mother-in-law, a librarian ay a Christian school who is pursuing her MLS.
C.S. Says: April 18th, 2007 at 1:12 pm
THANK YOU! I forwarded this info along to my FIL who is a Pastor so he can share this with the parents within his congregation as well. It amazes me how many just sit back with their mouths shut….bu then again look at what they let their children watch on TV
Me Says: April 18th, 2007 at 1:43 pm
Just checked my library in western Oklahoma. None of the books are here, thank goodness! My town is about 10,000.
Anita Says: April 18th, 2007 at 7:27 pm
You know, I never go to the library, that’s because most books I want to read or have my children read are not in the library. I haven’t stepped foot in the library for months. And when I do go to the Library, I usually know what I’m looking for and go straight to get it and leave. I’m not a library browser. But I will forward this information to my homeschool group. Thanks for the info.
Molly with Two Mills Says: April 18th, 2007 at 8:35 pm
You know, the flip side of this Day of Silence is that all the Christians are at liberty to talk all day about Jesus, God’s wrath on sin, what sin is, the forgiveness found in Jesus Christ, the new heart created by the Spirit which longs for what’s right (=wonderful freedom from sin!), and the wiles of Satan, etc. And the godless get to sit silently and listen…
“When Satan comes in like a flood, the Lord raises up a standard against him”. (Isaiah)
Checking on those titles at our local library…
Carmon Says: April 18th, 2007 at 9:50 pm
I’m glad some of you are looking at the library catalog…make sure to say something to the librarians, as well. If you can stomach it, point out the graphic scene in the last book I linked, and ask them if such pornography is legal in your city or county to give to minors, particularly since it involves a man molesting a child.
My sister informs me that the administration at her school advertised this even for a week, and that many students participated, wearing t-shirts, handing out literature, with duct tape on their mouths. Colorful flyers were placed around the school with “statistics,” but some unhappy students removed them all. In our area, a group of Christian students came to school with t-shirts with messages against homosexuality, and when they refused to remove them, they were suspended. So much for “free speech.”
Leigh Says: April 19th, 2007 at 9:11 am
I don’t know why I am always shocked by such things. If I am ever blessed with children, they will certainly not be getting books from the library! Sheeeeesh. My parents were not all that concerned with what I read as a child and I still remember reading really inappropriate books by authors like Judy Bloom. At least I learned what my children will not be reading!
Thank you so much for that information! I had no idea!
Denise Varenhorst Says: April 19th, 2007 at 1:38 pm
The problem that all of you are describing- that of sexually inappropriate materials being pushed on young people in public libraries, is one that our organization, Family Friendly Libraries is also trying to address. We would like more citizens who feel the way you do (and there are many) to become more active in local library policy. You can start by questioning the library’s collection standards, requesting particularly offensive materials be moved to the adult section or removed from the library altogether, and start questioning library board candidates about their views before they are appointed or elected. You can find candidate questionnaires and other helpful information on our website www.fflibraries.org.Also, we are trying to highlight the issues you have addressed above by bestowing awards upon libraries that do uphold high collection standards and common sense policies. If you think your library is a good one, you may want to nominate it for a Family Friendly Libraries Award of Recognition. Please feel free to contact me through our website or at email@example.comBest,Denise Varenhorst, PresidentFamily Friendly Libraries
Cynthia Gee Says: April 19th, 2007 at 7:12 pm
Denise, I’d like to learn more about Family Friendly Libraries. If you like, perhaps you can write a guest posting for my blog, Commonsense, and use my site to tell more people about your organization and its mission.