Saturday, May 09, 2009

Book banning in West Bend continues: no common sense on the Common Council.

Hi everyone,

Enough already. I'm calling shenanigans on the city council.

Saturday's column.
Where's the Common Sense on the Common Council?

OK, time out.

The library book-banning fiasco has finally mushroomed into a Mad Hatter's Tea Party, complete with hookah smoking city aldermen and a chorus of March Hares demanding a bonfire of books, plus cash, because they’ve “suffered mental and emotional damage due to the book’s very presence at the Library.”

Are we in America? Or are we in Bizarro World?

Normally the Marziarkas’ complaint would have been vetted through the library’s grievance process and then chopped into confetti by the U.S. Constitution’s protection of free speech and our country’s instinctive distaste for people telling us what we should or shouldn’t read.

But it hasn’t gone away. It just gets more embarrassing.

Last month, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Information Studies wrote a “Statement of Support for the West Bend Library” and, within the past week or so, The National Coalition Against Censorship, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the PEN American Center (an international association protecting free expression), and the Association of American Publishers joined to condemn the common council’s handling of the situation. They wrote a very polite letter reminding the Common Council of the essential details of constitutional law – in particular Sund v. City of Wichita Falls (N.D. Tex., 2000), involving similar complaints about literature with homosexual themes – as well as the difficulty of classifying books as legally obscene.

None of the books listed in the Maziarkas’ complaint are legally classifiable as obscene. West Bend is finally internationally famous for more than toaster ovens. Nice, nice, very nice.

Whose fault is this?

The truth is, it is not the Maziarkas’ fault. They exercised their right to complain. I disagree with them, emphatically, but I’ll defend their right to do so. That’s why we have a Constitution and public policies to address grievances. On the other hand, their constantly shifting complaint has exacerbated the process of getting it heard and resolved.

The Library Board, too, is blameless, despite the hair-triggered judgment of aldermen who believed the board was taking too long. The Library Board was not dragging its feet. It was acting on the advice of counsel to re-boot the complaint procedure after the Maziarkas went public and their original complaint mutated from one constitutionally unsupportable life form into another.

So why it is still alive? Because someone’s been feeding it.

It’s always easy to blame the media. The local news has had a field day reporting that the Maziarkas were angry about sexually explicit materials being available to children in the library. This left the impression that sexually explicit materials were, in fact, available to children. So far as I’ve seen, the press never asked whether any of the material in question was actually 1) sexually explicit or 2) shelved in the children’s section. The answer to both is no.

But I’m afraid those most responsible for making West Bend look like a bunch of bookburning yahoos are the Common Council members who voted precipitously against the library slate and, by prolonging this Mad Hatters Tea Party, have attracted the worst kind of national attention.

I’m sad to say my own alderman voted without reflecting carefully on the facts.

“They're all good people,” said my alderman – of the board members he’d just fired. Presumably “good people,” like a local attorney, a retired school teacher, a retired professional librarian with 24 years of experience on the board and a brilliant, young high school teacher don't have the experience, or morality, my alderman wants on the Library Board that decides what kind of books West Bend should make available to its residents. Does this mean he thinks they’re good, but immoral?

I know. It doesn’t make any sense to me either, but here we are.

So, here’s how the council can spare West Bend further embarrassment: On Monday night the council needs to gather up some common sense and move to reconsider or rescind their previous vote on the library board candidates – whichever will cause less parliamentary discomfort – and then seat the board. The board can then provide the proper public hearing, as policy and law require, for whatever the Maziarka’s complaint happens to be at this stage of its evolution.

Afterward, the board can render an informed decision and we can get back to worrying about the Brewers instead of whether West Bend is going to become known as a town that supports book burning.

But listen up: Nobody’s going to burn my Elvis records.



steev said...

Great, thoughtful post. I completely agree with your take on the issue. Another aspect of this case that has not been touched on is the complexity of the "book labeling" idea--who decides what the labeling system is? who decides which books the labels belong on? who designs, purchases and stickers the books? etc. It's a real "can of worms." spb

beesbess said...

I asked that specific question on Ginny's blog. She refused to answer.

Concerned West Bend Citizen said...

Well put.

wbman said...

Ginny Maziarka says she doesn't have time to explain how she wants to label the books, but found time to amend her blog to accuse you of having a "vendetta" against her. Her replies to beesbess and Concerned West Bend Citizen were a study in vacuity. It's pointless to debate her, because there's no intellect there. It's like discussing something with a child: "I want this 'because'".

John Foust said...

According to the Boots & Kittens blogger, they want to reshelve Moby Dick, too.

Kristina said...

Very well said today in the paper and here. Lest we all forget a small fraction of the many similar cases that have been filed over time. IE:
Miller vs California,Kathleen R.. v. City of Livermore, filed in the First Appellate District of the California Court of Appeal,
Reno v ACLU 521 U.S. 844 1997 Griswold V Connecticut 381 U.S. 479, 482 (1965) and so many more must they all be cited for these people to get that they have nothing on the legal side?

Anonymous said...

You're in West Bend world.... sad to say the time and money this is costing and is going to cost as it drags on, and the negative publicity on the national and international levels will have a lasting impact.

These types of issues are needed occasionally to remind us that our constitution is a wonderful thing, it is relevent, vibrant and helps us to expand our thoughts and insights.

In this situation the city and citizens are the losers, they're paying while they're being played by outside special interest groups who have no care what happens to West Bend and it's reputation or who is hurt by this action.

I hope the council can see how much this is going to cost the taxpayers, and has the humility and sense to calm this down before it goes further.

justanotherbovine said...

Good column - kudos to you & Sleepless In West Bend & West Bend Parents for Free Speech for prodding to action the saner & more intelligent members of the West Bend community - there really are some out there. The only antidote for stupidity is intelligence.

I can tell that you all are getting to Ginny - her response to this column is evidence that she is starting to disassemble and showing the community (those that are paying attention)the lack of intellectual depth that she possesses:

"West Bend has it's own illogical thinker... and he is given a small corner of paper and ink to wring his hands over the beautiful city we live in.

Mark Peterson's column today is filled with the same stale rant of his distaste for those who oppose his viewpoint. Since the Motley Cow does not suffice, he takes advantage of the West Bend Daily News, the "Official Newspaper of the City of West Bend", to take a hatchet to the very community that he claims to care about."

Is definitely exhibiting clinical signs of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Rich Kasten said...

I could not disagree with your conclusions more, Mark. The city is getting a black eye and the people who are squarely to blame are Mr. Tyree, Mrs. Engelbrecht and the rest of the library board.

There is no reason this is still going on. The Maziarkas filed their initial complaint and it should have been handled then instead of all the games the library board played with moving, postponing, etc. The city attorney then says the complaint is invalid because of what the Maziarkas said in the media?? Come on - the library board should have listened to the first complaint - like you said - it probably would have been denied because of the First Amendment and we could have put this behind the city.

Because of their stalling, we now have all these extra groups, terrible press for the city and a loss of respect my the nation. Ald. Dobberstein should not ask for reconsideration, they need to get new faces on the library board as this board has now been rendered useless by public opinion. They also need to get us out of the papers and the media.

I think you swung and missed on this one.

Mpeterson said...

well, today's column was almost an appeal to have the Bible removed from access to anyone under 21...

Thanks Kristina... yeah, one of my favorite observations in political philosophy is that what zealots hate and avoid most is the simple rule of law. I tried to tell Ginny early on that she'd have to find a better, constitutional, way to go about this business, but I'm no longer sure she's all that interested in the legal conditions of her citizenship. :^)

Again, extinction behaviour.


Mpeterson said...

Hi Rich,

Nope. I'm quite sure about this -- as was every single attorney I talked to before I wrote a word.

The Maziarkas continually adjusted their complaint and refused to go through the library's process. The library counsel advised the board to restart the process with the new set of complaints.

As noted, zealotry always avoids the rules.

But can you imagine being on the board and saying, "nah" to your legal advice?

I can't. What's more is that I know that essentially every last bit of US jurisprudence sides with the community against these badgering bits of religious zealotry.

The only thing I apparently got wrong in the column was that we're too late now to reconsider the vote -- they'll have to move to rescind.

Hope you've been well.


Rich Kasten said...

Hmmm, I am pretty sure the changing position was done through statements in the paper and in the newspaper and in blogs and was perceived as changes to the complaint. The complaint was changed only after the city attorney got involved based on the statements. So, I do see how you and all the attorneys can come to your conclusion if the base assumption is incorrect.

Either way, at this point we have no winners. And rescinding will only drag this out further and longer to the detriment of the city. Replacing a couple of Library Board members is not that big a deal in the big picture. If I were in their shoes I would welcome it as a sacrifice for the greater good of the community. But alas, Alderman Dobberstein appears to have his own ego-based agenda going on and unfortunately does not seem to have the best interests of the community in mind. Too bad - as much as I usually disagree with him, he has in the past shown a great interest in what is best for the city and I have always appreciated that.

Mpeterson said...

I think you're over thinking this... you can look at the time line and judge for yourself.

You aren't suggesting we replace library board members with people more sympathetic to censoring books, are you?

Did you know that the same folks from whom Ginny got her "how to raise a ruckus over gay material in your library" kit have also tried to have "Where's Waldo?" banned? Yeah, there's witchcraft in it. And possible cartoon nudity.

The irony is that it only took me about 15 minutes to Google up all the constitutional case law on this stuff. The whole circus went viral because those who started it -- and the aldermen who've now stalled it -- didn't bother to check on the, fairly well known and I'd've thought obvious, legal implications of what they were doing.

Actually, the bigger irony is that, had she asked me, I would have been happy to help Ginny shepherd her complaint through the proper process. Oh well.

And we have winners already: library patrons in West Bend who get a library that isn't being censored.

You're the winner Rich. ;^)

-- and strangest of all, so is Ginny.


Kristina said...

I would like to purpose a little history lesson here on the law. It has been a while for many of as far as school is concerned. We are so focused on the freedom to speak that we forget other things along the way. So here is yet another tiny morsel or our great country.

Now this may not sound practical here but this one can also be used. For either side of this issue. Here is where we get into due process, equal rights, etc. Yes, it speaks primarily of Civil War issues and added after the north won, but many of it's principals can be applied to the library issue as well. Both sides are to have the right to due processTcomplaintants are trying to menuvure through that now. The debate is did they or do they need to re - file for clarification purposes? All I know is what the law entitles both side to.

The Fourteenth Amendment (Amendment XIV) to the United States Constitution was one of the amendments enacted after the Civil War. This amendment was one of the Reconstruction Amendments, along with the Thirteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. It was adopted on July 9, 1868.
The amendment provides a broad definition of citizenship, overruling Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857) which had excluded slaves and their descendants from possessing Constitutional rights. The amendment requires states to provide equal protection under the law to all people within their jurisdictions and was used in the mid-20th century to dismantle racial segregation in the United States, as in Brown v. Board of Education (1954). Its Due Process Clause has been used to apply most of the Bill of Rights to the states. This clause has also been used to create: (1) substantive due process rights, such as parental and marriage rights; and (2) procedural due process rights requiring that certain steps, such as a hearing, be followed before a person's property interest can be taken away. The amendment also includes a number of clauses dealing with former slaves and Confederate states, but these clauses are either little-used or have been supplanted by subsequent changes in the law.

Rich Kasten said...

No, I am not saying we need to have a litmus test regarding a new library board applicant's position on the issue and only choose people that back the complaint. What I am saying is that the library board has lost the citizen's confidence on being able to handle the situation. Putting in new blood will definitely aid in restoring that confidence. I personally don't have an opinion one way or another on the complaint - I can see both sides of the equation.

And while you may consider us all winners, there is a larger issue I am more concerned about (and we may have already lost). People are laughing at West Bend. From what I have heard (ironically from Alderman Dobberstein) this includes business leaders here and outside the state. We have one of the largest unemployment rates in the state. How do we recruit and/or attract business to the city or region at large with this type of publicity?

That is why I say stop this request to rescind, move on, get the complaint in front of the library board, act on it, and get us out of the papers. I only hope we can regain some of the respect we have lost in order to attract business and stop West Bend from being the laughing stock it has become.

PaulyW said...

At one time, they wanted to ban Elvis....burning vinyl would stink up the neighborhood and certainly be against some ordinance. Time better spent watching the Brewers me thinks.

Eema-le said...


"Replacing a couple of Library Board members is not that big a deal in the big picture."It is a big deal when they've done nothing wrong. The Common Council had absolutely no reason not to vote them in. It was simply a way for certain members on the common council to force the hand of the Library Board in future matters.

Alderman Dobberstein appears to have his own ego-based agenda going on and unfortunately does not seem to have the best interests of the community in mind.I think that the alderman who seem to have an ego-based agenda are the ones who voted against the Library Board nominations. Namely Vrana and Turner. It's apparent, based on the comments that were made during the CC meeting, that they made up their minds without ever looking at the facts.

Concerned West Bend Citizen said...

Seems Ginny no longer wishes to publicly accuse you of being "illogical" or of "taking advantage" of the paper by filling it with a "stale rant", etc.

Her original post, for those who care, can be found here.

Mpeterson said...

Well, people like Belling have already called us morons for wanting to bring our schools up to ADA standards so, a little bookburning mania by a small group isn't anything we can't rise above.

Besides, not everyone has lost any confidence in the library board... they, at least, have followed good legal judgment -- unlike Mssrs. Vrana and Turner. Nick Dobberstein, for what it's worth, only brought Ginny's attention to the city council because he exercised sound judgment... opposing censorship in the library.

I'm unable to see how that's selfish or arrogant or egotistical. What I did see was pompous grandstanding ("the library as porn shop"?? uh?!) that completely ignored the facts in the case, and an insistence that the library board violate it's own policies ("I don't care about policy, I want those books out of there...") -- and none of that was Dobberstein. :^)

I can't believe you'd endorse Turner or Vrana's comments on this and that Nick was pursuing an "ego-based" agenda. Legally, Dobberstein was the only one of firm ground.

But you're confusing me Rich. Don't you think Dobberstein was on solid ground, legally and morally?


Rich Kasten said...

Eema-le - Inaction in my opinion is something wrong. Again, they had the original complaint. They (the Library Board) went to the City Attorney with the questionable claim that the Maziarkas changed their complaint. Had they acted then - this would most likely have been taken care of. As for Alderman Dobberstein - you think his vocal/email support for the opposing side without a hearing was ok as well? Kind of a double standard if you do.

Mark, I think censorship is a bit harsh of a description for what this issue has morphed in to. Original complaint - yeah. And my comment regarding Ald. Dobberstein in the previous paragraph stands here as well. He is on the Library Board and showed he did not have an open mind going into the hearing. As for morally and legally - I cannot comment on morally. Morals have become so subjective. AS far as legally, like I have said a number of times, if they had the hearing on the initial complaint (not on the City Attorney's perceived change of complaint) then he would more than likely have had the legal part on his side. But to continue to put West Bend in a bad light is not in our best interest. No matter what side you are on, we are all being affected by the laughing stock we have become by not being able to handle this situation in a timely manner. Putting himself above the greater good of the city is in my mind egotistical. If the law is on his side as black and white as you paint it, then remove the request to rescind, seat the new members and act on the complaint. Problem solved - and we can start to repair our image and hopefully we have not done permanent damage to our image.

Kristina said...

I am posting this on everyone's blogs I follow. First I am doing this in hopes that people will stop attacking others personaly. It is the issue we take up cause with. I personally have more rspect for people who stand up and speak up for what they believe even if I do not agree with it. It takes guts. If we continue to nit pick at every little thing or slam the person for everything they say we don't agree with INSTEAD attack the ISSUE. There is a seperation between the person and the issue.
The Title of this is:
Law, the Library from a Christian's Perspective:
Hang on this is a long one.
OK, it's my turn on my blog to speak some thoughts regarding some issues going on here in my small middle American town. We have not been under a negative spot light for anything until now. Yes, we are a suburb of Milwaukee that has in the past hit a great deal of negative number ones. For instance in the mid to late eighties I think I remember hearing that Milwaukee was number one for the national teenage pregnancy rate. So maybe we were in the shadow of that for a bit.

However, now in the 21st. century my little town is embattled in a constitutional tug if war. So what is the amendment being challenged? What else free speech. Yes, I know that we hear that a lot. However, this is one is really an all or nothing.

There is a local couple that filed a complaint against our little local public library. Stating that they have pornography on the shelves. What they are pointing to are books in the young adult section, on a total different level of the building also where the adult section is and a level away from the children's books. These are books written towards the LGBT youth. In case you do not know what that is it's a label and classification for youth that proclaim they are gay.

OK, now let me say I have said from the beginning that I do not agree with the mentality or behavior of those who engage in the boundaries of the homosexual lifestyle.

I wrote a letter to the editor of the paper (which I will put below this post.) In a nut shell I voiced my opinion that the action this couple took is something I do not agree with. I wrote in support of our library. It is there for everyone not only for those who espouse to be christian. I say this simply because after my letter ran I began to receive horrible phone calls at home. Attacking me as a Christian, threatening myself and my 78 year old mother. Calling me horrible names and telling me I am going to hell. This was all done under the banner that the callers were Christians. I had to turn ringers off of phones so she would not to hear many of the things that I heard.

So now there are two factions in our city. The couple that filed the complaint and her group, and the other side fighting for free speech. Here in lays the entire debate. I will say I have followed blogs and comments on both sides. The complainants were loud enough that our city counsel (our government) did not re-seat 4 members of the library board that were up for reconsideration for another term. They are nominated by the mayor. The counsel spoke out and said no to these 4. Stating their own opinions about the issue and not knowing all the facts of positions of those in the jurisdictions they represent. My opinion there. They said they are upset that the library board has stalled and drug this issue out as long as they have. The history and time line of the complaint speaks for itself.

Well OK now let me say there is a process that all complaints that get filed with the library must go through. It's a 3 step process. Meetings with the library director and I can't remember who else, and the 3rd step is taking it to the board which in turn is or can be a public forum. We got to the 3rd stage and the board meeting. It was so well attended that the fire marshal had to cancel the meeting because the room was over capacity and in violation of the fire code. Mind you this was after the meeting had been moved twice to larger venues.

The complainants since then have continued to be very vocal. They may not even realize that they have changed their position and argument at least in public several times. First remove the books completely from the shelves and building. To no, lets add books to balance out the gay issue, (that I did agree with adding books not taking away) and then after several more turns to now they want the library to change it's policy and to move them to adult section, and create a labeling system where minors cannot check them out without parental approval. Even though the National Library Association has already cleared these for the young adult section.

Now, let me say I have not changed my position. However, what I will say is there have been disappointing moments in this battle on both sides. There have been so many personal attacks on the both side of the aisle. I too have even lobbed a few in the beginning out of sheer anger, but offer that as no excuse. For that I do apologize. However, since that time I have come to realize that there is no need for personal attacks against the opposition when one has the precedent of a very thoroughly challenged law on their side.

While this is not a popular stance from the Christian perspective if one stands back and looks at the bigger picture they will understand that is the same argument that protects them as well.

In case you don't know the First Amendment of The United States guarantees free speech. Now this can get touchy but follow me through if you will. I am not fighting for or against the gay issue. I have put that to rest. Everyone knows where I stand on that one that is clear. I stand on my countries promise. If these books are moved, removed, or censored via labeling or regulating via parental consent than there will need to be people hired to go through every book on the shelves and red line anything that can be objectionable to anyone. Who will that be? Who will decide what is cleared or not? Will it be a Christian and an atheist? You get the point there. Every single book in that building someone can find something objectionable in them. So that is not logical.

Also, if these books are reclassified and the complainants are successful then what will be next? Will the people that oppose Christianity (remember the guy who went public filing a civil case with the supreme court stating he is an atheist and does not want his daughter to be forced to recite the pledge of allegiance at the beginning of her school day because it says under God?) Do you see there this is going now? If someone came in and filed a complaint that the Bible offends them, books regarding all faiths are offensive and wanted them removed. Even is they used the separation of church and state argument if the current complainants succeed there would be no legal grounds to keep the Bible and other books there. They would use this circumstance against us and win. At that point what books do we have left? You know that someone would end up testing the precedent this would set. That can't happen.

If people took a step back and looked into the future they would see that legally there is no grounds for this. Morally OK there may be a point but who is he final judge on that? God - CORRECT! not man! These books are not pornography. They are novels written for youth.

I will say one of my issues besides the legality of this is those that say this is not a gay issue. Unfortunately that is exactly what some people on both sides have made it to be. Not to mention what is the "christian" example being set for the youth to make church welcoming to them so they are given the opportunity to re - examine their choices if they want? Why are people not taking into consideration we are talking about teenagers whose frontal lobe of the brain has not reach full development and thus they have no concept of long term consequence of their immediate behavior? If you doubt that research it. It is fact. As teens all they know is they want it and want it now. Think about what you thought you believed as a teen? Have you ever done something stupid in your youth that you look back on now and wonder what you were thinking? Lord knows I have. Too many to count, I gave up that venture.

Not to mention many people scream that they want the government to stop telling them how to raise their own children. Yet, these are the same faction that are now asking the government to help "protect" all children. One voice or opinion should not have the authority to tell others how to raise their children. Or what morals or values they should install in them. That is nobodies place but the parents of said child, children.

At what point do we look at the parents and say we understand with the economy both parents must work but you choose to be parents. You made that decision. You have a responsibility to them to teach them according to your own values and beliefs in God, Allah, Buddha, whatever. I choose Christ. You have to know that when it comes time to turn your baby out into the world to begin their own lives independent of the parents you know you have done the very best you could and now they need to stand in the world on their own. We throw our kids out into the world some for the first time when they go to college and we hope and pray we have done our jobs. Parents no matter how many times you teen tunes you out, ignores what you say, your words are still going into their minds. They really do register them and you really are your child's best compass into adulthood. Peers are important but studies have shown that when it comes to many of the big choices in life children pull from their experiences and what they have been taught by parents or other strong authority figures in their lives. It's true. Trust your kids, believe in them, have faith in them and yourselves. Yes, children falter and make poor choices from time to time, but they will learn. You will still be there to help them and clarify things for them as they learn to navigate things for themselves. It will be the voice of the parents that will whisper ever so softly in their ear "No, don't do that." or whatever.

I also wonder at what point is far enough for someone to yell stop, think about what you are asking for. If the constitution protects the freedom of speech within the parameters of law, (you can't yell fire in a crowded theater, or threaten any ones life to name a few) than it is there for EVERYONE! It is at that point where the individual has to make a choice to read those books or not. I choose not to. That is part of God's plan by not making us robots that automatically follow Him. We have to make that choice on our own, and teach our biggest commodities for the future, the children, the same.

If these complainants succeed we as Christians will also loose our right to freedom of expression. So now it is time to take a stand. I stand on the law of the land and God's word. I choose not to read material that would not please the one who died for me. Educate educate educate your children. Trust your children and have faith in them to make the decisions in their lives that would also please Him if that if your values. Know that the First Amendment is not a simple excuse for smut. Think of it as an avenue that will allow future generations to go to a library and look at a Bible, research their faith, look at a concordance, read books about their faith. It is there to protect our lifestyle and beliefs as well.

Don't attack the people you disagree with look at the issue and choose a position. We are not living in the 50's anymore. Kids have access to all kinds of things we need to talk more to our children than ever before. It really is quality over quantity.

The following is simply a very small example of cases that has been fought some in lower courts most in at least a state supreme court. All have challenged some aspect of the Constitution and First Amendment and lost. Miller v California or griswald v connetticut or sund v wichita falls tx. Or reno v united states, Roth V United States to name a few.
Ok, so now I will display my original letter to the paper that got me into this issue. You will also see some posts after this with other information. One an actual first amendment case, the next on a little didy called the 14th amendment that also comes into play here.
I thank you if you actually read this in it's entirity. Please excuse grammatics and posible spelling errors I am very tired.
Thank You,

Mpeterson said...

We'll have to disagree about Dobberstein, then. I am unable to see how he was "close minded" in the meeting.

You don't think Vrana or Turner were close minded by ignoring the facts of the matter and spouting off with all that weird stuff about porn shops and "we don't care about the policy?"

clyde winter said...

I read it all, Kristina, and I liked it. I liked your funny spots best of all. Unless I missed it, no one else let slip even a tickle of humor. My, we can all be so serious, together, can't we? Let that be a lesson to me.

Just imagine what Mark Twain would say about the West Bend library tug-of-war. Yeah, that's it. Let's get us a big ol' rope and bring it to the county fair and decide there what should happen to the "feelthie" nasty book once and for all - until the next county fair, when we can reconsider the dreadful issue. Ten bucks to put a hand on the rope, with the winning side able to choose one book, any book, to either expunge from or install on the public library shelves. (At least until the next fair.) The bucks raised, of course, go to support our local public library.

See my blog for more startling revelations about our neck of the woods, and public policy wrestling.

Rich Kasten said...


I think there is a lot of blame to go around - I just disagree with your assertion in your column that the library board shares none of the blame.

Philosophically, we look at this issue two different ways - I look at it that the key issue is the continuation of bad media will hurt the city - perhaps irreparably and no matter what side you are on. You see the key issue as the potential to give up First Amendment rights. I don't think either one of us is wrong, just not on the same page.

As always Mark, thanks for the thoughtful debate - we certainly seem to have our fair share.

Mpeterson said...

Grin. Thanks Rich,

Yeah, the one thing I'm more and more certain about as I get older is that I don't know all the answers -- so the more of this kind of public discussion we have, the more likely it is someone who does have a good answer will appear.

MorninStar said...

I loved this column MP.

The group petitioning the library (currently lead by the Maziarka's) has been involved in a number of issues within the community - the library issue is just one of the many. Last year it was the Harassment policy at the High School and the Day of Silence. The group was protesting the 'safe zones' in school which included sexual preference as one of the many listed protected classes. They believe it is within their first amendment rights to 'verbally and physically' harass gays & supporters because they insist it is a 'choice' (unlike religion--also a protected class--which is not a choice??) It cost our school system a bundle, not to mention the hatred, division and violence the 'Christian' children leveled upon the student body. (It was a quiet day the previous year.. as well as this year.) In prior years there was the issue of the 'Candy canes' at the High School (complete with threat of a law-suit (via The Liberty Council) that the school system could not afford) and the issue of evolution in Biology class, etc.. etc...

This group has begun work on the next 'issue' by requesting the names of all of the books currently used in the public school system. So this book/library issue will not go away. And no one should be fooled, it IS about homosexuality.. and those who support anyone who is homosexual/questioning.

It will not stop.

I agree that the people of this group have every right to believe what they choose to believe, but they cannot force their religious positions on the population of our community at large. I am tired of them. I am tired of their divisiveness and their hate and their sense of entitlement that their every demand be met.


Mpeterson said...

Thanks Morningstar,

I think we need to bump this up to its own topic.