Friday, December 18, 2009

Porn in Brooklyn Public Library; Frustrated Patron Provides Photographic Proof; Library Refuses to Act; Two and a Half Million Dollars in Jeopardy Due to Possible Fraud

This is sad.  A patron in the Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn, NY, is so frustrated by the library's refusal to act regarding porn viewing on the public library computers that he reached out to SafeLibraries.  Based on the photos, his comments, and a little research, it appears millions of dollars in federal funding may have been fraudulently obtained and needs to be refunded.  Installing Internet filters may be the solution—just because legal porn is legal does not mean the library must provide it or cannot stop it.

Here is the email I received:

from      [elided]
date       Thu, Dec 17, 2009 at 6:33 PM
subject  Porn in the open, where kids wander around.

Took this at the Brooklyn Public Library today in the popular section. When I told the people who work in the library they said that unless the material is something illegal, like child porn, all I can do is file a complaint. They said it is perfectly legal for people to look at whatever they want, as long as the material is not illegal, like child porn. The woman at the information desk who gave me the survey sheet to me said the same thing.

I have been involved with past Brooklyn Public Library problems, including one where I'm called a "library watchdog."  I also wrote a 13 May 2008 blog post entitled, "Retarded Teen Raped in Library Bathroom and Library is Unaware."  So I suppose that's partly why the patron reached out to me.  Still, it's sad he felt that the library cared so little about "porn in the open, where kids wander around" that he reached out to me.  The first two graphics on this page are the photos I was sent.

So let me comment.  And I want Brooklyn political leaders to pay attention because the library obviously refuses to act for political reasons—there are no legal reasons why it could not act, such is by using Internet filtering software.

Here is evidence the library refuses to act to stop pornography viewing: "When I told the people who work in the library they said that unless the material is something illegal, like child porn, all I can do is file a complaint. They said it is perfectly legal for people to look at whatever they want, as long as the material is not illegal, like child porn." The photos are further evidence.

There is also evidence that the library may have fraudulently obtained federal funding that now, having been caught, may need to be refunded to the federal government.

Under the Children's Internet Protection Act [CIPA], "libraries subject to CIPA may not receive the discounts offered by the E-rate program unless they certify that they have an Internet safety policy that includes technology protection measures. The protection measures must block or filter Internet access to pictures that are: (a) obscene, (b) child pornography, or (c) harmful to minors (for computers that are accessed by minors)."

Library Executive Director and American Library Association [ALA] member Dionne Mack-Harvin, have you certified to this?  The top photo shows no "technology protection measure" is in place.  Further, the email I received from the patron supports the same conclusion.  Dionne Mack-Harvin, has your library received E-rate funding for Internet access fraudulently?

Before you answer, I am sure you know the Universal Service Administrative Company's (USAC) Schools and Libraries Division (SLD) provides the means for determining the type of E-rate funding that was received, by whom, and in what amount.  I did a search and found the following payments for "Internet Access" that appear to evidence you or another library representative have falsely certified CIPA compliance: $428,040.00 in 2008, $317,340.00 in 2007, $835.10 and $423,712.72 in 2006, $372,564.00 in 2005, $2,278.80 and $510,000.00 in 2004, and $1,920.00 and $504,000.00 in 2003, the year CIPA was found constitutional in US v. American Library Association.

The total amount of funds that may need to be returned to the federal government is $2,560,690.62.  People might be interested in filing a complaint with the "Whistleblower Hotline" for the return of the misappropriated federal funding.

I doubt that ignorance of the law can be used as an excuse for this multimillion dollar swindle.  Not only is ignorance not a defense, but there is evidence from Life magazine that the library knew or should have known of the CIPA requirements.

Pictured at right is a photograph from Life magazine entitled, "Supreme Court Rules On Internet Porn."  The photo is dated 24 June 2003.  The caption reads, "NEW YORK - JUNE 24:  An Internet-enabled computer runs at the Brooklyn Public Library June 24, 2003 in New York City.  The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that the government can require public libraries to install anti-pornography filtering software on their computers.  Photo:  Spencer Platt/Getty Images Jun 24, 2003."

As further evidence of the library's evasion of the law, look at the library's own statement:  "Policy Statement:  The Library will provide public access to the Internet and will comply with the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA), including filtered Internet access for youth under 17 years of age."  So the library claims to comply with CIPA.  It must know what CIPA requires.  It must have certified compliance with CIPA requirements.  Yet it is evident CIPA requirements are easily circumvented, as the photos evidence, and the library refuses to apply CIPA requirements, as the reported statements of the librarians or library employees reveal.

"Guidelines for Parents and Minors We will comply with the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA). This will enable the Library to continue to be eligible for certain federal funding."  Nice words, aren't they?  Might those words evidence the library knew exactly what it was doing?

So, Brooklyn, what will you do about this?  Naturally, everything I said should be considered to be my opinion.  A full independent analysis should be undertaken before any action is taken in response to this apparent fraud.  I will hazard a guess that the federal government will forgive the multimillion dollar amount if the library now applies the very Internet filters it apparently claims to have had and applied in accordance with CIPA all these years, which it has not.  The filters are legal, and US v. ALA points out they may be used to extend existing book collection policies over the Internet.  It is simply false when the library claims nothing can be done since legal porn is legal.  It is, but as US v. ALA points out, that does not mean a public library need serve it up on a silver platter:

Internet terminals are not acquired by a library in order to create a public forum for Web publishers to express themselves. Rather, a library provides such access for the same reasons it offers other library resources: to facilitate research, learning, and recreational pursuits by furnishing materials of requisite and appropriate quality. The fact that a library reviews and affirmatively chooses to acquire every book in its collection, but does not review every Web site that it makes available, is not a constitutionally relevant distinction. The decisions by most libraries to exclude pornography from their print collections are not subjected to heightened scrutiny; it would make little sense to treat libraries' judgments to block online pornography any differently. Moreover, because of the vast quantity of material on the Internet and the rapid pace at which it changes, libraries cannot possibly segregate, item by item, all the Internet material that is appropriate for inclusion from all that is not. While a library could limit its Internet collection to just those sites it found worthwhile, it could do so only at the cost of excluding an enormous amount of valuable information that it lacks the capacity to review. Given that tradeoff, it is entirely reasonable for public libraries to reject that approach and instead exclude certain categories of content, without making individualized judgments that everything made available has requisite and appropriate quality. Concerns over filtering software's tendency to erroneously "overblock" access to constitutionally protected speech that falls outside the categories software users intend to block are dispelled by the ease with which patrons may have the filtering software disabled. 

The library needs to comply with the law or return the money.  Legal pornography may be excluded legally.  Consideration should be given to whether honest library management should replace existing management, then library policy should be reevaluated.

By the way, in ACLU v. Gonzales, E.D. Pa., March 2007, the ACLU expert and the court agreed Internet filters are about 95% effective and no longer block out breast cancer and other health-related information—so effective that another law, COPA [Children's Online Protection Act], was found unconstitutional.  I say this because another excuse the library may use is that filters do not work.

Another excuse will be that filters are not needed since an "acceptable use policy" is preferable.  The library already has such a policy, it is evidently flouted with ease, and the library condones such behavior.  "4. Users should not display images, sounds, or messages in a way that will negatively affect those who find them objectionable or offensive."  Apparently the person who contacted me was negatively affected.  Another acceptable use policy bites the dust.

"Privacy screens" are a failure too.  They only provide the library CYA coverage for allowing what Internet filters would stop, and people can see through them anyway.  Obviously, the following library policy is still more policy not enforced: "6. All adults using computers designated for adults must use privacy screens."

Internet filters are the way to go.  But I eagerly await seeing how the people and political leaders in Brooklyn respond to this apparent fraud.

Hats off to the whistleblower who contacted me.  I urge him to update everyone with anonymous comments to this blog post.  Other whistleblowers will similarly get a receptive ear.  Sadly, libraries can be tone deaf to complaints about pornography.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

ALA Professional Limits: The Case for Saying Less

Steve McKinzie, 590:  Local Notes The American Library Association and Professional Limits: The Case for Saying Less,
21 Against the Grain 5, 76 (November 2009)
© Katina Strauch

     The American Library Association (ALA) recently threw its weight and influence behind specific federal health reform legislation.  On August 19th, the Association sent a letter to every member of Congress urging the passage of a “public option” in reference to health care legislation.  The letter stated emphatically that the association … “supports a “single-payer” option and believes [that] removing public options … would not accomplish the strong reform needed.”1

     Of course, such pontifications by the ALA on non-library issues are nothing new.  The ALA has a record of speaking out on a wide range of issues – environmental topics, gender concerns, foreign policy – even the treatment of terror suspects.  Nevertheless, this habit of the ALA’s speaking out so frequently presents some real problems.  Whatever may be the merits of these various views (and some of the perspectives do indeed have merit), the association takes enormous risks by such political arm twisting and maneuverings – risks that have far-reaching ramifications for the organization.   By passing numerous political resolutions on non-library related questions, by heading the recommendations of the ALA’s Social Responsibilities Roundtable, and by indulging its desire for political relevance – by saying, in short, so many things about so many topics – the association squanders precious political capital.  That’s right.  Such actions inevitably undermine the ALA’s unique and valuable role – its voice for librarianship and its advocacy of libraries.

     Everyone has had the experience of witnessing the phenomena of someone whose boldly brazen posturing does more harm than good:  the articulate faculty member who seems bent only on making his own views known, the fellow librarian who doesn’t know how to listen, but has a way of making sure everyone else hears what she thinks, or the local town gadfly ready to volunteer an opinion the minute the town-hall floor opens for debate.  These folks aren’t necessarily wrong.  They simply talk more than they should.

     Most of us have also likely had the opposite experience – instances where you find yourself in the presence of individuals who carefully weigh their words – who speak out when the time is right and on matters close to home.  People such as this have a way of winning your admiration.  You instinctively respect someone who speaks rarely but speaks well.  Such people gain a hearing.  Sometimes they have a expertise to share.  Often they have a constituency to serve.

     Their voices you heed – not because you necessarily agree (often you don’t) – but because you respect their understanding and their advocacy.  You recognize that they are not easily drawn into peripheral issues, that they’re not the slaves of one political ideology or another.  On the contrary, they have a mission. They have a purpose.

     You may not know, for instance, what Amnesty International thinks about global warming (for the record, they don’t have a official view on the topic) but you likely know a lot about the organization – that they care about human rights abuses – that they champion the rights of the politically oppressed, whether such people find themselves abused by the left or mistreated by the right.  To be sure, the organization is political and outspoken, but the leadership of Amnesty International is also unabashedly judicious.  They weigh their words.  They choose their fights.  They know their mission.  They understand their purpose.

     I think the ALA should be like that.  We should be outspoken in our advocacy for libraries and access to information, and just as importantly we should be careful to speak well and to speak infrequently.  Let us remember that like any professional organization, the ALA has only so much political capital.  If we squander that capital, that influence, on issues unrelated to librarianship, we will have just that much less clout – that much less influence on issues that touch our profession directly.

     The ALA’s mission statement makes this point better than I. It insists that we, librarians and library staff alike, are to “provide leadership for the development, promotion, and improvement of library and information services” – that we should do so, as the statement delineates, with a view “to enhance access to information for all.”2  Such professional perimeters embolden our advocacy, but they also narrow our focus.  We should speak out eloquently on censorship, champion literacy, and insist on the promotion of First Amendment Liberties.  Doing so is within our sphere of influence, within our expertise and responsibility.  Speaking out on non-library-related issues, however, only weakens our fundamental, primary mission.   That we should never do.

     Consequently, the ALA must reexamine its tendency (tempting though that tendency may be) to advocate certain controversial political positions that have little or no specific relation to the profession.  ALA must, in a sense, regain its focus, remember why we are here and what we are about.  Most importantly, the association should employ its precious political capital for the promotion and advocacy of libraries and librarianship – that and nothing more.


1.  For a copy of ALA’s press release and letter, see ALA’s Washington Office page:

2.  From the Coalition for Networked Information, A Compilation of Position Statements, Principles, Statutes, and Other Pertinent Statements.

The preceding is related to my recent blog post, "ALA Blowhards."  I hereby thank the author, Steve McKinzie (Library Director, Corriher-Linn-Black Library, Catawba College, Salisbury, NC), pictured above, and his publisher, Against the Grain and Katina Strauch, for permission to republish.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

School Librarian Curses at Children to Teach "Banned" Books; School Board Apologizes to Furious Parents But Not for Indoctrination; Direct Link from School to ALA is Established

No books in the USA have been banned for about half a century.  Yet the American Library Association [ALA] continues to claim book banning happens every day, and it created "Banned Books Week" [BBW] to push its anything-goes agenda into local communities.  Now, as Reverend Wright would say, the chickens have come home to roost in West Linn, OR.  The Athey Creek Middle School, to be exact.

A direct link from the school to the ALA BBW misinformation is the smoking gun to prove a causal connection that may make the ALA partially liable in the event of any lawsuit.  No, no media reports that link, but it is true, I'll show you, and I hope the media and the parents pick up the trail.

According to "West Linn Librarian in Trouble for Using Profanity in Class," by KGW Staff, Northwest Cable News, 8 December 2009:
Some parents of West Linn middle school students are angry that their children were exposed to vulgar language by their teacher. They shared their frustrations with the school board Monday night.

The parents told the school board that they were never asked or even told that their children’s librarian was going to write and use profanity as part of a lesson on controversial books.

However, when they heard what happened afterwards, from their 8th grade children, the upset parents said they were furious and in disbelief. They said the teacher exposed their kids to more than a dozen curse words.

“There was the “F-word” [sic] written on the board. The teacher yelled them at the kids and then asked the kids to yell them back at him," said parent Elizabeth Thiede. She also explained that her child was upset by the display that was apparently carried out as part of a language arts unit at Athey Creek Middle School.
Language arts! How artfully the librarian intimidated and sexualized the children—"Elizabeth Thiede said her child was upset by the display"; "several children told their parents they were uncomfortable and embarrassed"; even the school board called it inappropriate and not approved.

From my reading of the story and viewing of the video, there is the chance this experience will negatively affect some of the children for the remainder of their lives. This "drastic fall from grace," "making our children wake from the dream of their childhoods," has apparently fallen directly on the heads of the children in the Athey Creek Middle School.

Why? Why has this happened? Let's read on:
For nearly 10 years, the school has discussed banned and controversial books as part of a successful First Ammendment [sic] curriculum. But never before has profanity been used in such a way, school district officials admitted.
Well, I guess it is no longer successful:
"I didn't believe it, to tell you the truth. It had to have been exagerated [sic] a little bit. But then after talking to other parents whose children were in those classes on Monday, it was quite apparent that it was indeed an actual occurance [sic]," said parent Pamela Alarcon.
Indeed, from the West Linn – Wilsonville School District, School Board Meeting Minutes, February 4, 2008, we see:
4.3 Athey Creek Middle School – Reporting were Christine Biancardi and Josh Pratt – .... Eighth graders participated in a banned book challenge – they read and gave a report why they thought a book should or should not be banned....
Again, no books have been banned for about half a century.  Are children still being taught to duck and cover?  And the school library says, "Banned and Challenged Books - Celebrate the Freedom to Read!"

More importantly, why the emphasis on "banned and controversial books"? Might it be the ALA's BBW propaganda? Does the community want its children to learn ALA propaganda instead of reading, writing, and arithmetic? Sadly, it looks to be the case:
Board members were careful to point out that they were not apologizing for the banned and controversial book curriculum, just the particular way it was presented. They said this will not happen again.
Yes, it will.  Why?  Because the "language arts" curriculum has the ALA's propaganda embedded directly within.  In other words, there is a direct link between the ALA's fraudulent teachings about books being banned and censored across the USA on a daily basis and the Athey Creek Middle School teaching children about books being banned and censored across the USA on a daily basis.  The smoking gun can be seen in the lower right of the school's "Language Arts" page [older archived version as the school has already removed the page!], a graphic of which appears to the right.  Yes, the link to the ALA page is dead, but that's only a result of the recent rewriting of the ALA web site that killed almost all old links.  That ALA link is likely the source for the curriculum on "banned" books at the school.  Is there no liability for maintaining a false and misleading web site that may have led to children being sexualized in public school by a school librarian teaching the ALA misinformation?

So what we have here is the chickens coming home to roost in Athey Creek Middle School.  No books have been banned in the USA for about half a century, but the ALA claims they are banned on a daily basis as a means to ensure children retain access to inappropriate material it is perfectly legal to keep from children in public schools and libraries.  The Athey Creek Middle School has a 10 year program that indoctrinates the children with the ALA's fraudulent misinformation.  A direct link from the ALA to the school is evident on the school's "Language Arts" page, though, granted, the ALA likely did not force the school to add the link.  Then, as part of the curriculum to indoctrinate students about supposed banned books, the librarian shouts obscenities at the children and demands they shout them back.  As a result, several children are significantly and negatively affected, perhaps permanently.

I hope a lawsuit results, though it would mean some child has been affected negatively, and no one wants that.  No one, that is, except the cursing school librarian who didn't really apologize and the ALA that promulgates the false information used by the librarian and encouraged by the school board even after this incident. 

Yes, the school board indirectly defends this.  "Board members were careful to point out that they were not apologizing for the banned and controversial book curriculum, just the particular way it was presented."

No, the false lessons on "banned" books stays.  The chickens have come home to roost, and they will continue to roost until the phony curriculum is discarded.  I say keep the librarian, perhaps on a short leash, but dump the ALA-influenced curriculum and any links to ALA pages containing BBW propaganda.

See also, "West Linn Teacher's Censorship Lesson Spurs Outcry, Apology," by Nicole Dungca, The Oregonian, 8 December 2009.  Notice the librarian is not sorry for what he did, only that he got caught:  "Reached at the school Tuesday, Diltz said school officials had not authorized him to discuss the incident but expressed dismay at the fallout. 'I just wish it hadn't backfired like this,' he said."

The indoctrination of the children about "banned" books will not stop:
Last week, Athey Creek Principal Carol Egan issued an apology to parents through an e-mail list.
"It was meant to provoke student understanding and experience how words, taken out of context, can lose their significance. When taken out of context, an author's words can move a community to ban that author's book from a school library," Egan wrote.
Again, no books have been banned for about half a century.  Does Egan know about Board of Education v. Pico?  Does she know communities don't ban books from schools—even if it were possible the school board would have to do that, and then only after complying with existing policy?  Does she know a school board may remove books legally?  Yet the principal repeats the ALA book-banning propaganda as if it were true.

If any lawsuits result from what happened in that school, the plaintiffs should give thought to whether the ALA is partly at fault, along with the school, based on the direct link from the school to the ALA.  The ALA's grip is so strong that the librarian is only sorry that he got caught and the school board will continue with the "banned" book indoctrination.

The question is, will West Linn, OR, citizens and their government at least consider what I have said about the ALA link and considering severing that link?  The school clearly will not, and the offending librarian only wishes "it hadn't backfired."  Is it an ALA school or a public school?

Is censorship as a serious issue being taught, or is it only a political means to ensure children retain access to inappropriate material.  There is a significant difference, and the distinction further evidences why the school's censorship curriculum is for political indoctrination, not for the truth or any real interest in actual censorship:
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. [Source.]
Totally different.

"Afterward, students write an essay that argues why a book should or shouldn't be banned."  Oh, this must be early Twentieth Century American History since no books have been banned for half a century.

See also, "Repeat After Me...," by Scott Burton KGW, NBC-WSAV News 3, 8 December 2009, and watch the video.

Hat tip to LISNews:  "Language in First Amendment Lesson Irks Middle School Parents," by birdie, LISNews, 8 December 2009.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

ALA Blowhards

The Annoyed Librarian discusses another annoyed librarian and American Library Association [ALA] "blowhards."  Here is an excerpt from "Another Annoyed Librarian," by Annoyed Librarian, Library Journal, 9 December 2009, (and be sure to read the comments) emphasis mine:
The November issue of Against the Grain ... published "The American Library Association and Professional Limits:  The Case for Saying Less," by Steve McKinzie. McKinzie argues that:

"By passing numerous political resolutions on non-library related questions, by heading the recommendations of the ALA’s Social Responsibilities Roundtable, and by indulging its desire for political relevance — by saying, in short, so many things about so many topics — the association squanders precious political capital.  That’s right.  Such actions inevitably undermine the ALA’s unique and valuable role — its voice for librarianship and its advocacy of libraries."

He was prompted for action by the latest Council resolutions about health care legislation, which apparently library associations have some special expertise on that it's important to share with everyone else.

My argument is that such ALA political posturing just makes the ALA in particular and librarians in general look silly.  The ALA Councilors should speak to some non-librarians sometime to judge the response.  When I tell non-librarians about some of the more irrelevant resolutions, the response is always the same.  Why would anyone care what the librarians have to say?  When we speak about library-related issues, we speak with authority.  When we speak on issues of no direct concern to libraries, we're just blowhards.

McKinzie makes a similar point, asserting that "Everyone has had the experience of witnessing the phenomena of someone whose boldly brazen posturing does more harm than good," and contrasting this with the "voices you heed — not because you necessarily agree (often you don’t) — but because you respect their understanding and their advocacy."

When library associations speak about non-library issues, why would anyone respect what they have to say?  For McKinzie, it's the divergence from the ALA mission and purpose that makes these pronouncements irrelevant and endangers our credibility on relevant issues.

There's also the loss of political capital.  By speaking so often on any possible topic, the ALA makes it less likely anyone will take them more seriously when they speak on library related topics.  He concludes that "ALA must, in a sense, regain its focus, remember why we are here and what we are about.  Most importantly, the association should employ its precious political capital for the promotion and advocacy of libraries and librarianship — that and nothing more."
I agree, and I have previously said something similar:
And think about that sentence where McKinzie says, "Everyone has had the experience of witnessing the phenomena of someone whose boldly brazen posturing does more harm than good."  Banned Books Week, anyone?

Speaking of the Annoyed Librarian and BBW, remember:

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Phyllis Schlafly Exposes ALA Fraud; Banned Books Week is Ridiculous Event; Censorship Claims are Fraudulent

Phyllis Schlafly has exposed American Library Association [ALA] fraud regarding Banned Books Week [BBW] and false claims of censorship.  She is on the left in the picture at right (credit) with the former de facto leader of the ALA, the very person who created BBW.

See (or hear): "The Silliest Celebration," by Phyllis Schlafly, Eagle Forum, 4 December 2009:

The Silliest Celebration

A few weeks ago, the American Library Association announced with much fanfare that it was celebrating the ridiculous event called “Banned Books Week.” This announcement accused Americans of being “zealots and bigots who live in fear of discourse” and of being “screamers and book banners and book burners.” This Association arranged events and set up displays at libraries all over the country to pretend we have a problem with censorship.

The American Library Association puts out a list of books that it claims are being censored, which is a fraud because only government can engage in censorship and I assure you that our government is not censoring books. A so-called list of “banned books” was created by crying “censorship” anytime library patrons or parents of public school children complain about risque books being given to their children. The American Library Association claims that there were 186 cases of supposed censorship last year. But those were merely cases of ordinary people filing complaints with schools or libraries. Nearly all of these challenges to books took place at schools, and the rest of the complaints involved books available in the youth or children’s section of public libraries. These complaints had nothing to do with any book read by an[y] adult. These people accused of being “book banners” are just ordinary parents who want to limit their own children’s exposure to material they consider harmful or obscene.

Banned Books Week is not a celebration of free speech. It's a way for leftwing bureaucrats to bully ordinary citizens by stigmatizing those who complain with nasty names such as ‘bigots,’ ‘screamers,’ and ‘book burners’. The purpose is to intimidate parents from ever complaining about books that are given to their own children.

Listen to the Audio version of this commentary.
posted by Eagle at


I have updated hyperlinks that no longer work as expected.

GLSEN Gets It, the ALA Doesn't; ALA Challenged to Provide Notice of Potentially Inappropriate Material in its Book Lists and Awards

GLSEN gets it, the ALA [American Library Association] doesn't.  What is it?  It is providing parents with notice of potentially inappropriate material in reading lists.  I challenge the ALA to provide such notice.

GLSEN Book List Contains Material Inappropriate for Children

According to "Breaking: Obama's 'Safe Schools Czar' Is Promoting Child Porn in the Classroom–Kevin Jennings and the GLSEN Reading List," by Jim Hoft, Gateway Pundit, 4 December 2009, GLSEN has a list of "books that GLSEN’s directors think all kids should be reading: gay kids should read them to raise their self-esteem, and straight kids should read them in order to become more aware and tolerant and stop bullying gay kids":
Book after book after book contained stories and anecdotes that weren’t merely X-rated and pornographic, but which featured explicit descriptions of sex acts between pre-schoolers; stories that seemed to promote and recommend child-adult sexual relationships; stories of public masturbation, anal sex in restrooms, affairs between students and teachers, five-year-olds playing sex games, semen flying through the air.

Providing Notice is Simple, as GLSEN Illustrates

Be that as it may, this sentence from the story is revealing: "Note: GLSEN does advise adults to 'review content for suitability.'"

Providing notice is very simple, as GLSEN illustrates in the link, a graphic from which is at right, but the ALA refuses to do this simple act.

As I have said before:
Perhaps worse, no notice whatsoever is provided as to the content containing x-rated material and otherwise being pervasively vulgar.  The problem here is the ALA, not the book or the author.  The ALA awards a pervasively vulgar book containing an x-rated section for kids twelve and up, does not provide notice as to the x-rated contents or the vulgarity, and knows its lists are used as gold standards nationwide for promoting books to children.  That is the problem.
How true.  And GLSEN shows just how simple it is to provide such notice, red emphasis in original:
All BookLink items are reviewed by GLSEN staff for quality and appropriateness of content. However, some titles for adolescent readers contain mature themes. We recommend that adults selecting books for youth review content for suitability. The editorial and customer reviews listed at often provide information on mature content.

Example of Effect of Lack of Notice

Here is an example of what happens when an ALA-awarded book containing oral sex is promoted without notice of the contents:

Don't you love the gold seal of approval from the ALA on the book?  It is for the ALA's Printz Award. It is obviously the reason the store chose that book for a prime spot—evidencing the desired effect of the award, namely, broadest possible exposure.  "Lara unbuttoned my pants and pulled my boxers down a little and pulled out my penis. .... And then she wrapped her hand around it and put it into her mouth." That got the top award in 2006 with absolutely no notice as to such content.  Then it ended up in a grocery store checkout aisle at child eye height next to Bob the Builder, as the above picture shows.  And there is a child nearby.  I personally got the author to admit he wouldn't even give his own award-winning book to his own 12 year old if he had one.

Demand for ALA to Provide Notice to Parents

It is time people demand notice from the ALA similar to the notice GLSEN provided.

I call on the ALA here and now to provide notice in its book lists and awards of potentially inappropriate material for children.  If GLSEN can do it, so can the ALA.


Monday, November 30, 2009

Kentucky School Superintendent Exposes False Cries of Censorship; Removes Educationally Unsuitable Books from Curriculum Despite Being on ALA's List for Reluctant Readers

Montgomery County School Superintendent Daniel Freeman is a hero.  He has stood up to false cries of "censorship."  He has put "national anti-censorship groups" in their place (hint, not in Montgomery County High School).  He has acted in the best interests of the children and the local community that pays his salary.  That community ought to give him a public commendation.   Other communities ought to use him as an example of true school leadership.  See: "Book Ruckus Divides Montgomery County Residents," by Jim Warren, Lexington Herald-Leader, 29 November 2009 (404 link removed, try this):

"It's not censorship when you make wise decisions about what can be used in the classroom," parent Cyndi Murphy said.

The challenged books include Twisted, by Laurie Halse Anderson; Deadline, by Chris Crutcher; Lessons from a Dead Girl, by Jo Knowles; and Unwind, by Neal Shusterman.
The titles appeared on suggested book lists compiled by the Young Adult Library Services Association, a division of the American Library Association, for 12- to 18-year-olds who are "reluctant readers."

This is not the first time I've seen the American Library Association's [ALA] recommended books for "reluctant readers" given the heave ho.  For one example, the ALA listed a certain book in "ALA | Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers," and, as a likely result, a librarian ordered that book for hundreds of New York City schools.  Then the parents found out.  See "City's Ed. Boobs," by Carl Campanile, New York Post, Oct. 13, 2003.  That was the end of that. Hundreds of schools removed the ALA-recommended book.

The parents in Kentucky have the right attitude too.  (Hint, consider this for your own communities, especially the "literary quality" of the material in that it is not appropriate for college placement.  In another context, material can be "perhaps not the most literary," as even the ALA has admitted, but that's a separate issue):
Sterling and others note that students in classes where the disputed books were offered could opt out of reading them and select other titles if they chose.

But Nancy Cooper, a parent involved in the protest, contended that in practice many students might hesitate to opt out, even if they found a book objectionable.

"If there is a book and I think my parents won't like it, I'm probably not going to say so because I'm sitting there with my all peers," Cooper said. "You don't want to be the one who is different."

Cooper, who is a teacher, said parents objected, not just to the language and themes in the books, but also to their literary quality. She says she couldn't find any of them on college-bound reading lists.

"The reading levels on these books are fifth-grade and sixth-grade, but we are talking about accelerated, college-bound classes," she said. "It's a matter of what is appropriate in academics.

"We didn't ask for the books to be taken out of the library, or for them to be removed from the book club. We are saying that we think there are more appropriate and better reading materials available for college preparation."

This is what proves the superintendent has a spine and is a hero:
Meanwhile, Freeman, the school superintendent, contends that many who have protested his withdrawal of the books are misinformed.

"They seem to think the books were taken out of the library or that kids aren't allowed to read them, which isn't true," he said.  "I really think some people don't understand what the issue is."

Freeman says that as of now, he has told high school staff and faculty that the challenged books are not part of the approved curriculum, and shouldn't be used in class.

"I wrote the teachers over a month ago and said, 'show me why the books should be in the curriculum and we'll reconsider that decision,"' he said.  "I'm certainly not the world's final authority on what ought to be in a college curriculum.

"But so far I haven't heard a word from anybody about why we should use these books."

Bravo Mr. Freeman!  People who stand up to the "misinformation" are few and far between.  I hope your community recognizes you for the gem you are.

Speaking of misinformation, here are some of those claiming censorship and opposing Mr. Freeman:

Also, the National Coalition Against Censorship [NCAC] is one of the "national anti-censorship groups" to pressure the local community.  See: "Kids' Right to Read Objects to Censorship in Kentucky High School," by Joan Bertin and Chris Finan.  The NCAC promotes pornography usage.  Joan Bertin herself supports censorship of those trying to keep inappropriate material from children, and uses doubles standards and fact changes to support her cause.

The NCAC is authoritative on promoting porn and double standards, not on censorship.  Indeed, the NCAC misinformation conveniently left out Board of Education v. Pico.  "It's not censorship when you make wise decisions about what can be used in the classroom," said parent Cyndi Murphy, and that common sense is the essence of the Pico case from the 1982 US Supreme Court case that Joan Bertin left out.

By the way, teacher Risha Mullins should not be fired.  Neither should she be dropped simply due to this issue.  She sounds like an excellent teacher, based on the various sources I have read.  She could easily follow the new rules while continuing to encourage reading, even with the books removed from the curriculum—no one's censoring or banning anything.  Common sense, no?

I hereby encourage Ms. Mullins to work within the curriculum to continue to promote reading the best she can, then write a story about her experiences doing so.  I am certain her guidance may help many others to meet curricular requirements while encouraging children to read via her innovative means.  If I find out she has written such article, I will update this blog post accordingly.  Brava Ms. Mullins!


Author Chris Crutcher is actively involved in this matter.  I thank him for adding a link to my blog post on his own web site.  I'm with select company there, as shown below, so I can only assume he feels I have said something of value.  Might it have been my support for the teacher Risha Mullins and her work to promote reading, including the challenged material?  Please visit "Deadline Banned?" and see what he has to say on this and other matters.  I have always supported authors, so truly, thank you, Chris Crutcher:


Risha Mullins has written extensively about her experience and critically about this SafeLibraries blog post here: "Censorship at its Finest: Remembering," by Risha Mullins, For the Love of YA (Review & Author Interviews), 2 October 2010.

Here is how I responded in a comment on her blog post:

Risha Mullins said, "A patronizing post on Safe Libraries blog (which now follows my blog) heralded my superintendent as a hero while characterizing me as a misguided teacher with good intentions who didn’t know how to follow the rules:"

Ms. Mullins, thank you for linking to me and recognizing the blog post and particularly the comments are particularly interesting.

Based on what you said, I reread my own post to be sure I did not say what you said I said. Yes, the superintendent is a hero in a time where people are expected to bow down low and immediately to the American Library Association, the National Coalition Against Censorship, the ACLU, and other external pressure groups.

But I did not see anything negative about you. I did not say or even imply you were "misguided." I did not say or even imply you don't know how to follow rules, rather I said you could easily follow new rules and should not be fired.

So I said quite the opposite, and at a time when people who supported the superintendent were opposing you. Instead, I supported both of you. As far as I know, I was the only one doing so. Indeed, that's likely why so many interesting people directly involved in the issue responded to my post. Specifically, I said:

"By the way, teacher Risha Mullins should not be fired. Neither should she be dropped simply due to this issue. She sounds like an excellent teacher, based on the various sources I have read. She could easily follow the new rules while continuing to encourage reading, even with the books removed from the curriculum—no one's censoring or banning anything. Common sense, no?

"I hereby encourage Ms. Mullins to work within the curriculum to continue to promote reading the best she can, then write a story about her experiences doing so. I am certain her guidance may help many others to meet curricular requirements while encouraging children to read via her innovative means. If I find out she has written such article, I will update this blog post accordingly. Brava Ms. Mullins!"

I must say, Ms. Mullins, I have supported you. I will continue to support you. I would appreciate it if you would somehow correct the record where you said I said things that I neither said nor implied. I would really appreciate that. Thank you very much.


Shockingly, Risha Mullins has self-censored her own blog post!  See: "Censorship at its Finest: Remembering," by Risha MullinsFor the Love of YA (Review & Author Interviews), 2 October 2010, Version 2.  It now contains nothing of the original version.  However, the original post has been intentionally republished here: "Censorship At its Finest: One Teachers Story on How Ignorant Parents are Destroying Quality Education," by treeonthehill, Reddit, 5 October 2010.


Now Risha Mullins has deleted the entire blog post!  It's gone!  Sad!

Here we have a teacher who was extremely promising and willing to really educate children.  She has suffered an ordeal so bad that she can't even feel free to leave what she wrote about it online.  I urged her to write about her experiences the first time I wrote about her.  Now that she has and she has removed it, I feel even more sadness for her.

Contrast such an excellent, caring teacher with a teacher/librarian in New Jersey who has expressly refused to perform the duties for which she was hired.  Instead, this teacher, Dee Venuto, has decided certain books are so filled with inappropriate material that she can't read them but lets her students read them and decide if they are appropriate!  See for yourself at "School Media Specialist Passes Sexual Content Review to Students; Dee Venuto Says It Is Discrimination to Keep Children From Material Including Lengthy, Vivid Descriptions of a MĂ©nage a Trois," by Dan Kleinman, SafeLibraries, 18 August 2010.


Risha Mullins has explained her self-censorship in her newest blog post, "This is Not Me Backing Down," by Risha MullinsFor the Love of YA (Review & Author Interviews), 5 October 2010.

Quoting her, "I removed my blog in protest to the hostile, hate-filled rhetoric being sent to my former administration and colleagues in my name. [L]et me beg of you to stop this harassment."

It has been my experience that the free speech advocates are the meanest of the mean bent on pure harassment to shut down the few voices that are not cowed into speaking like them or shutting up.  What Risha Mullins has said is brave yet again since she is a free speech advocate, but one who speaks the truth about the viciousness of those who claim to be for free speech.

As Dan Gerstein said, "The ... elites have convinced themselves that they are taking a stand against cultural tyranny. .... [T]he reality is that it is those who cry 'Censorship!' the loudest who are the ones trying to stifle speech and force their moral world-view on others."

Thank you, Risha Mullins, for making that point crystal clear.


Friday, November 27, 2009

NCAC Supports Censorship with Double Standards and Made Up Facts

The National Coalition Against Censorship [NCAC] does not oppose the censorship of people attempting to protect children from harm.  It even makes up facts to avoid the obvious double standards.  When I directly challenged the NCAC to explain, its statements only worsened the situation, then it refused to budge.  See for yourself on the NCAC's blog post and associated comments here: "Kudos to a Courageous Kentucky Librarian," by Joan Bertin, Executive Director, Blogging Censorship, 17 November 2009.  All the relevant information is there, so I won't reprint it here.

The name of the NCAC blog is "Blogging Censorship."  Now you know why.

Let me add that I asked my own local library board why the public would not be allowed to talk at a public meeting without first having to announce in advance what one wanted to discuss.  Maybe I was missing something.  The board members said they never heard of such a thing.  Indeed, I am able to ask them anything I want without first registering my topic ahead of time.

By the way, the NCAC is the same group that promotes the use of pornography ("NCAC Promotes Porn; Says Keeping Inappropriate Material From Children is Censorship; It Has Lost All Credibility") while at the same time advising communities like Leesburg, FL, and West Bend, WI, why keeping children from inappropriate material is censorship.  It even has a "Book Censorship Toolkit" for public schools and a "First Amendment in Schools: Resource Guide."

So an organization that makes up facts to support the censorship of those trying to protect children claims it is censorship to keep children from inappropriate material.  It wants people to think it should be authoritative on censorship in local communities.

I thought you might want to know, just in case the NCAC and Joan Bertin come calling in your community.


Chatting Up Child Victims in Montpelier, VT, Courtesy of ALA Policy Controlling Yet Another Community's Public Library; Parole Board Should Consider Library Complicity

Oh look.  A child predator who went to jail for a few months of his 3-4 year sentence for "attempting to lure a minor and possessing child pornography" used Yahoo Messenger on a public library computer to lure his next child victim.   This was at the Kellogg-Hubbard Library in lovely Montpelier, VT.  The library's reaction?  He hogged the computers:  "The librarian stated that [the man] had been in the library frequently and that he has been monopolizing the computer several times a day in violation of the library’s own policies."  See "Man Denied Bail for Violating Conditions of Probation," by Jaime Cone, Brattleboro Reformer, 26 November 2009.

Why might this have happened?  "In 1997 the Board adopted an Internet Policy recommended by the American Library Association."  Uh oh.  The library adopted the ALA-recommended policy.  Clue one something is wrong.  Oh, that's right, the ALA does not control local community libraries, we're supposed to believe.  Nevermind.

Clue two something is wrong:

Internet Access
The Internet, a world-wide network of computer networks is an essential medium for obtaining and transmitting information of all types.  Therefore, public access to the Internet is germane to the Library's mission.

However, the Internet is an unregulated medium.  It also provides access to information that is inaccurate, illegal or that some may find offensive or disturbing.  The Library will identify on its web site specific Internet sites that have potential interest for Library users.  But the Library cannot control a user's access to other Internet resources.

That is flat out false.  The library can and may control a user's access to the Internet, it just refuses to do so because the ALA has directed how the library will act, according to the library's own admission.  It's right there in black and white.

The perp said he was "incredibly dishonest and manipulative about this stuff."  Perhaps it's the library itself that has been incredibly dishonest and manipulative.  

I think a better title for the media report would have been "ALA Policy Controlling Public Library Endangers More Children; Kellogg-Hubbard Library Falsely Claims It Cannot Control Internet Usage," by Jaime Cone, Brattleboro Reformer, 26 November 2009.

The perp has a violation of parole meeting coming up.  I suggest he argue that the library is partially at fault for refusing to take action that may have prevented his behavior in the first place.  I suggest the parole board consider the library to be under the control of a foreign entity, the ALA, and that control made it an "attractive nuisance" that the perp could not resist and that endangers children.
Will the local community allow this to remain another sad statistic, or will it do what it must to protect its children by kicking out the anything-goes policy of the ALA in the public library?   Is it the public's library or the ALA's library?   Ask the ex-con with the duct tape, camera, and the variety of alcohol found in his car in lovely Montpelier, VT.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Wrestling in the Boone County Public Library; Acceptable Use Policies Shown Ineffective Again

I'm wrestling with this one. Here is a story involving the Boone County Public Library in Burlington, KY:

"Library Patron Arrested For Indecent Exposure," by Jessica Noll, WCPO HD9, 18 November 2009, link added by me:

A witness informed a police officer at the Boone County Library that there was a man on a computer masturbating watching a wrestling video.

The "Library Computer Access Policy" includes, "Users may not use any library computer for illegal purposes."  "Individuals should use the Internet in a courteous, reasonable, and responsible manner."  The person arrested "for 2nd degree indecent exposure and disorderly conduct" evidently did not follow this policy.  Is this yet another example showing acceptable use policies are useless?

Could any library policy or content control software have possibly stopped what happened?

Does anyone have any ideas on what could possibly have been done to prevent this?

Hat tip: "Man Arrested For Masturbating in Public Library," by, Wendyista, 25 November 2009.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Global Warmism and Banned Books Week Have a Lot in Common

Anthropogenic global warming and Banned Books Week [BBW] have a lot in common.  Here are some headlines to decide for yourselves if you see any similarities.  (Other than the tombstone graphics, that is!  The first one hat tip to Climate Depot.)

Consider these headlines from Drudge Report:
Consider these headlines from the Wall Street Journal:

Now consider these writings on Banned Books Week:
Did you see any similarities?  Comment below to tell everyone what you saw.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

It's Not Censorship, It's Parenting! -- Best Explanation Ever for What's Wrong With the American Library Association and its Effect on Public School Libraries

Below is the best explanation ever for what is wrong with the American Library Association [ALA] and its effect on public school libraries. It provides further evidence why Banned Books Week is a fraud (some call it "National Hogwash Week").  It corroborates many resources I have provided, such as what Naomi Wolf and others have said about recent trends in young adult literature.

READ THIS CAREFULLY, SLOWLY, AND ABSORB IT, LET IT SINK IN, BOOKMARK IT, and consider forwarding this article to others then acting accordingly within your own communities. Every PTA member should see this, indeed the entire community may be interested.

No more will the ALA propaganda fool you since you will be aware of its tactics and informed of the truth:

"It's Not Censorship, It's Parenting! Removing Books That are Inappropriate For Our Kids is Not the Same as Banning Books," by Erin Manning,, 18 November 2009, reprinted with permission:

It’s Not Censorship, It’s Parenting!

Removing books that are inappropriate for our kids is not the same as banning books.

During the last week of September every year, the American Library Association holds what it calls "Banned Book Week." The purpose of this week, the ALA says, is to highlight "...the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States."

It sounds like a noble endeavour, right? In this day and age I think it would be hard to find people who would actively support the notion of outright censorship. Yet we know that at other times and in different kinds of regimes around the world this dedication to free speech has not always been the rule. Keeping the principle of free speech safe requires vigilance; if people in America really were seeking to ban books--to forbid their printing or sale, for instance--it would be important to focus on their efforts and to raise awareness about them.

But that kind of "banning" isn't what the ALA is talking about at all.

In fact, according to their website, the ALA's Banned Book Week is really called "Banned and Challenged Book Week.["] A "challenge" to a book occurs when someone objects to some of the content of a book, and, most of the time, asks that the book be removed from children's access. Parents were responsible for 57% of such challenges between 1990 and 2008, and an astonishing 70% of the challenges involved books that were either in a school classroom or a school library. Moreover, nearly a third of challenges made to all books (including books aimed at adults) were made because the challengers found the materials to be too sexually explicit.

Now, if the vast majority of challenges to books involve parents, centre around books available in schools, and deal with such issues as sexual explicitness, offensive language, or the unsuitability of the books for a specific age group, then I think we're no longer talking about book-banning or censorship. I think we're talking about parenting.

The attitude of the ALA is that a parent only has the right to censor or control what his own children read. He doesn't have the right to request the removal from the school library or classroom shelf those books which he finds obscene or dangerous to morality, because someone else might prefer for his children to read those books. The school alone has the final say in what books are appropriate for the children under its care to read, and if a child reads at school a book or books which his parents absolutely forbid at home--well, then, perhaps the parents' values are too narrow and restrictive to begin with.

Here's the dilemma for parents, though--there was a time when we could trust schools and libraries to support, for the most part, the same values we ourselves held, and to abide by community standards of morality and decency. There was a time when it would have been just as unthinkable to the librarian or the school teacher as to a parent that a book for children would have contained the following things:
  • --Graphic language about sex, drinking, drugs; laced with profanity and written in "chat speak" (TTYL by Lauren Myracle)
  • --Violence, implied sex, anti-religious and anti-Christian messages throughout; God is literally killed (His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman)
  • --Prostitution, witchcraft, voodoo, devil worship (Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya)
  • --Homosexuality, drugs, suicide, sex, nudity (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky)
  • --Sex, drugs, alcohol, eating disorders, profanity, smoking (Gossip Girl series by Cecily von Ziegesar)
These are some of the objectionable content found in just five of the ten most frequently challenged books for 2008. Given that most challengers are parents and most challenges involve books in school libraries or school classrooms, I'd be much more worried about society if books like these were never questioned at all.

Many of the challenges to these books are due to their presence on middle school bookshelves (or even in class assignments); middle school students can be as young as eleven years old. And yet the ALA views parental challenges to these books as being somehow akin to book-burnings and government censorship, as if there were no legitimate reason why a group of parents might not want their children reading novels in which gratuitous and explicit sex, violence, drug use, and the like were major elements of the story.

The fact is, there are plenty of good reasons to object to books with these content elements in them, especially when such young children are the ones who have access to these books. Even if the works rose to great literary heights parents would not be out of line to ask that they be moved from the middle school library; but most of these books are not, frankly, works of much merit at all. They are the fiction equivalent of mindless TV programs, complete with pandering, fantasy, commercialised writing, and shock value in place of decent storytelling, a well-developed plot, interesting and three-dimensional characters, and some idea of consequences for actions.

To put it bluntly, the ALA puts itself in the position of defending lousy, substandard, second-rate writing that would probably not even be published in the first place, were it not for the insatiable appetite for inappropriate content usually euphemised as "dark"or "edgy" by the sort of pre-teen who thinks angsty, brooding, sparkly vampires are a good idea. And they cast parents in the role of villains, as if their well-founded concerns about the content and merit of these books were on a par with Nazi book-burning efforts.

It is clear that in many instances the library and the school, as political entities, no longer share the cultural values of the vast majority of parents. We are living through a time of cultural divide--and whether you think it's a good or a terrible idea for novels aimed at eleven-year-olds to contain sex and violence -- is largely going to depend which side of that divide you and your family is on.

Because we no longer live in a world where it would be unthinkable for an authority figure to give a child a book in which depictions of sex, violence, drug use, profanity and the like are major elements, it is no longer safe to delegate the choice of reading material for our children to such entities as the school teacher or school librarian. Because we no longer live in a time where giving a child a book like that would be considered either child sexual abuse or contributing to the delinquency of a minor, but instead is supported with smiling approval by the moral midgets at the ALA, parents have to be more vigilant than ever. Because we no longer live in an era where we can trust the authority figures in our children's lives to share our values and foster the same view of morality and decency which we ourselves have, we can't afford to let our children read whatever trashy novel they pick up at school.

It isn't censorship, to teach our children that they can't trust their teachers or librarians to give them good, wholesome books. It's just the fallout from our fractured culture, which insists on calling evil, good--and then handing it to children.  

Erin Manning is writer living in Fort Worth, Texas. She blogs at And Sometimes Tea.

Copyright © Erin Manning. Published by Republished by with permission. You may download and print extracts from this article for your own personal and non-commercial use only.


See also, "Most Oppose Explicit Books in Public Schools Says Harris Poll."


This blog post was cited approvingly here:
See also: