Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Library Bookburning roundup: West Bend makes Daily Kos, etc.

Hi everyone,

A little round up of headlines the attention West Bend has drawn this week:

Popularity is so much work.



PaulyW said...

Daily Kosmos....the beacon of truth (in their mind).

Mpeterson said...

How do you distinguish knowledge from opinion, Pauly?

PaulyW said...

There are facts and the many sides that twist them. What ever happened to "just the facts, ma'am". You can count on these facts, we will die, and we will pay taxes. Thats it. The rest of the facts can be twisted, analysed and opinionated. It is dang difficult to distinguish anymore. I just think the Daily Kos is opinionated and Foxnews is opinionated. I just like Fox better. To answer your question, I find it difficult anymore.

Kristina said...

Are you aware that there has been yet another open records request filed with the library and it's board? Yup, she has requested pages and pages of all email correspondence (sp) between the library and all the board and Deborah Caldwell - Stone?
So here we go again.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it's time to let the 1000+ signatories of the support petition know that this is happening... Maybe suggest that the common council begin to budget and raise property taxes to pay for these freedoms that are possibly being abused.

How is a zealot best served?

Mpeterson said...

They know.

James said...

To paraphrase O'Brien, truth is whatever the man with his boot on your neck says it is. Or in our society, knowledge is that which is shouted the loudest and with most repetition that reinforces our basest instincts and prejudices.

Mpeterson said...

Fortunately, it's not 1984 just yet.

What's most interesting to me is that people no longer believe it's possible to *know* anything at all -- many people believe that it's only possible to have opinions about things, not actual knowledge.

But then, knowing stuff is harder work than simply letting your feelings guide you. More interesting is that while people will actually *think* in order to work out their bank balance, they don't believe the same kind of thinking can solve social problems.

This is infinitely more effective a means of control than anything Orwell cooked up.

James said...

I agree, the situation rarely requires the application of raw force to "guide" people to the appropriate thinking. It is funny that all of a sudden certain fox viewers "know" that there is more oil in the US than the rest of the world combined, that Jefferson and Washington were fundamentalist christians and so on.

I guess my point was that enough people in our society love big brother to prevent a critical mass from forming to demand something better. Passive acceptance of the elite consensus by the majority is just as good as endorsing it, wouldn't you say? After all, "it's just too hard and there's a baseball game on".

You're absolutely right. Until the system of social control is broken, ginny and her fellow travelers will always consider "bad" books more of a social problem than, say, the 1 in 5 American children living in poverty. And those of us who disagree will continue to spend a disproportionate time fighting battles that should have been settled a long time ago, instead of moving forward.

Mpeterson said...

Yep, alas, we agree here too... but there is a weird cause for hope.

Most of these people, and their fantastical beliefs, collapse like rice paper in the rain if you simply show up. Once they're asked to explain themselves in person, outside the narrow, safe, slice of bandwidth afforded by the web, they typically last for about 3 questions before falling back on anger.

We'll see how the next round goes. As one of my favourite professors used to say, "at least we'll always have work!"

Buzymom said...

It's funny, the library controversy is now mentioned in West Bend's Wikipedia entry.

PaulyW said...

There is a reason this is a controversy. It is not black and white. While we have an opinion on what constitutes obscence (smut books) from a societal standpoint, its still an opinion. You can't force people to change their opinion of what they concider is morally wrong. So what makes it right to question their beliefs until you make them fold like rice paper in the rain? What makes your opinion any better than theirs? Not everybody is as well versed as you, but they have passion about the issue, just as you.

James Dionne said...

Tell me again how this book is not obscene and appropriate for a person under 16 years of age? Somebody, somewhere said it wasn't, so it just can't be inappropriate then, right?
Well, here it is. Knowledge. Not opinion. Decide for yourself.


Mpeterson said...

If you'll check the constitutional definition of obscenity, you'll see.

If you're saying that *you* think it's inappropriate for 16 year olds, that's your right.

If you're saying everyone else should think it's in appropriate for 16 year olds... sorry, you don't get to do that under our Constitution.

That's why the laws are messy -- to make sure I don't get to tell you what you should think, but it works both ways.

Or are you, like Ginny and Mr. Braun, operating under the assumption that your set of values should hold sway for everyone?

James Dionne said...

No, Mark, I said decide for yourself. Is this book appropriate for a person under the age of 16 and does that said minor have a constitutional right to access it? I've also previously posted the legal interpretive definition (not constitutional, our founding fathers never really wrote what defines obscene into the constitution) of obscene on a previous post. It stated in a nutshell that the average person would have to consider something taken by the whole to be obscene by community standards for it to be so. Please do not group me with the religious nutjobs. I do not force my views on anyone else I just express my opinion and you like to express yours. As I've said before just because the nazi's are too overzealous and simple-minded to argue the point, that does not mean the obscenity issue is not valid. I presented a link to one of the books in question. Like you and your previous commenter said, distinguish knowledge from opinion. I want to hear why it is not considered obscene, for a person under 16 (not an adult), even by the strictest legal standard, even by the legal definition interpreted by you.

Mpeterson said...

Oh, okay.

Um, yep. I think it should be available in the public library and to 16 year olds, whose parents are responsible for what they read, not the political system.

I was using Constitutional as short hand for "the application of Constitutional protections as cashed out in case law by the federal courts." Sorry if that wasn't clear.

Well, the legal definition of obscene requires prurient intent and a lack of other artistic or scientific value. The book in question has scientific value and its intent isn't prurient.

Have you read the definitions? If you have, where then do you think this text satisfies the definition of 'obscene'?

James Dionne said...

What about 11-15 year olds? The question wasn't "Should it be available to someone of legal age?" (It should) The question was "Is this book appropriate for a person *under the age of 16* and does that said minor have a legal constitutional right to access it?"
Do I find it obscene to me? No. And believe it or not I do think that the book could hold some merit to a person over 16.
Would the average person in West Bend find it obscene for a 12 year old? I'm kinda guessing they would. And that is the very crux of the issue.

The library already requires a permission slip for internet access for minors due to the ability to access material like this. They also require a parent to fill out a permission slip for a minor to get a library card, so I guess these restrictions are already in place for a child to at least check an inappropriate book out without parental knowledge.(Hey Mark-you have your frivolous "freedom of speech" lawsuit right there! Oh wait-that's right minors don't have those freedoms.) And with the twits on the library board not knowing basic facts about government or open records laws or community standards or open meeting laws, you just might have a chance. I don't think you'd win but hey, give it a shot.

Mpeterson said...

Are you asking whether it's appropriate for teenagers or whether it's appropriate that the library have a copy that a teenager might sneak a peak at?

If it's the latter, then the question of what qualifies a book for inclusion in a public library collection has been pretty well laid out in the law. If it's the former I'd say that's up to the parents.

But you're off base here:

"And with the twits on the library board not knowing basic facts about government or open records laws or community standards or open meeting laws, you just might have a chance."

What's perfectly clear from their comments during the last hearing is that they completely understand the questions about how governments and libraries are related within the context of US law. It's also clear, now, that they understand the open records law perfectly well.... right now it looks like the city attorney's opinion is clearly open to interpretation.