Controversies over books in public libraries - mostly school libraries - have been around for decades but a new round of protests by parents is breaking out in Maryland, Virginia, California, Arkansas and other states.
With the introduction of a new genre of literature and the presence of the Internet, this battle has taken some new twists. Moreover, much of the usual propaganda promulgated by the American Library Association (ALA) regarding "censorship" and "book burning" is increasingly falling on deaf ears.
It’s a dirty little secret that the librarians of today are far removed from the prim and proper characterization which for years was part of American lore; today, these professionals - more precisely, the ALA - has taken its place among the militant left and has staked out positions well beyond the mainstream.
There are few very libraries today in which I would leave my 13-year-old son unescorted, because, unfortunately, the protection and safety of our children is simply no longer a priority for libraries or for the ALA. That may sound harsh, but it’s true and the shrill cry of censorship one constantly hears emanating from the ALA is really disturbing considering the shocking books they defend.
Unbeknownst to most people, a new wave of literature called "authentic literature" hit our public school libraries over the last few years. The ALA claims such books portray American life and culture in a more realistic fashion. But they don't. These books feature druggies, sex addicts, pedophiles, gang members and others on the fringes of society. Increasingly, this literature is replacing the traditional literature classics, which, in general, promoted mainstream American values or at least didn't undermine them.
The authentic literature books are rife with profanity and are dominated by themes of death, crime, drug addiction, rapes, gang beatings, weird sex, homosexual encounters, and so on. Shockingly, many of them violate state obscenity laws and even school district age appropriate regulations. In my former capacity as Chairman of the California Legislature’s Education Committee, I collected excerpts from hundreds of such books that are not only common in school libraries but are often assigned by teachers as mandatory reading assignments.
Naturally, parent groups have formed to protest such books and many have put up websites with excerpts, but much of it is too graphic for me to repeat here. The best of the parent web sites is www.pabbis.com; take a look and weep. Yes, this is the trash many of our public schools are feeding America’s youth. The books that used to inspire; which celebrated American values; that chronicled the exploits of trailblazers, astronauts, soldiers, and other heroes, are fast disappearing. And their replacements are books like: "A Woman in Heat Wiping Herself," "Outside the Operating Room of a Sex-Change Doctor," and the "Rainbow Boys," a story of three homosexual boys and the various routes they took in "coming out."
The ALA response to parental complaints was the creation a few years ago of a national event they call "Banned Books Week" in which outrageous charges are made about parents supposedly attempting to ban classics like "Huckleberry Finn" and "Of Mice and Men." It’s an ingenious tactic considering the ALA seems intent on phasing out the classics. However, parent researchers and bloggers have found many of these allegations to be false or grossly exaggerated; for example, the ALA counts as censorship incidents in which a parent simply requests that the school or library be more age selective when assigning books or amend a teacher’s mandatory reading list to include other books not so offensive.
For making the modest demand that schools not flood their children’s minds with filth until, for example, the 8th grade, the ALA, PTA, various state Department of Educations and some loony anti-Christian groups have responded by publishing outlandish strategy manuals on how to deal with "extremists," the code word for any parent with a religious-based value system.
But the ALA will not compromise on such common-sense requests by parents. Banned Books Week was clearly designed by the ALA to direct attention away from the onslaught of violent, obscene literature in America's schools. And it's not just books; it's the Internet as well. When I co-sponsored a bill to have filters placed on library computers so as to block pornographic and racist web sites, the ALA went ballistic. They flew in their big guns and in front of a hearing room full of shocked parents, argued that "the First Amendment is more important than parental concerns about content" and made clear they were totally against any effort to block content of any kind from children no matter what age. Indeed, the ALA web site arrogantly states, "Librarians do not serve in loco parentis."
The idea that our Founding Fathers wrote the First Amendment to allow children to view obscene literature is preposterous but the ALA is on a crusade to persuade all libraries to treat children as adults. It’s a bizarre crusade, because, legally and morally, school children are minors and school boards and librarians have been entrusted by parents to protect them from such literature. Indeed, when a library Internet filter bill was introduced in Congress, the ALA went all out to fight it. It passed but ended up in the courts where again, the ALA spent a fortune fighting it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. They lost. Thank God.
A 2000 report by the Family Research Council details how its researchers sent out surveys to every librarian in America asking questions about access to pornography. Despite efforts by the ALA to stop its members from responding, 462 librarians did respond. Their replies revealed 472 instances of children assessing pornography, 962 instances of adults accessing pornography, 106 instances of adults exposing children to pornography, five attempted child molestations, 144 instances of child porn being accessed and 25 instances of library staff being harassed by those viewing pornography. Over 2,062 total porn-related incidents were reported by a mere 4.6% of our nation’s librarians so one can assume the number of incidents is probably twenty times higher.
One would think after a Supreme Court loss and the increasing danger of perverts and pedophiles creeping about libraries, the ALA would shift to more important issues, like helping children learn how to read, but no, the battle promptly shifted back to literature.
Indeed, one can make a case that since their hands are now tied regarding Internet porn, ALA members have intensified their efforts to purchase highly inappropriate literature.
The ALA’s bias is so obvious that when parent groups have offered to place books in libraries with conservative themes or are critical of the left, the ALA’s claims of being First Amendment guardians suddenly look fraudulent. When one parent tried to donate George Grant’s book, "Killer Angel," a critical biography of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, the library sent a letter stating that "the author's political and social agenda…is not appropriate." Huh? A biographical book with zero profanity is banned but books that feature the "F" word a hundred times are sought after with zeal. Go figure.
Ironically, the biggest censor in America today is currently the ALA. Libraries with limited budgets make decisions every day as to which books to purchase or not to purchase. Such decisions are often based on recommendations from the ALA. With hundreds of thousands of libraries in America today, the purposeful actions of librarians to not select books with a conservative perspective is having an enormous impact on our culture, our value system and our youth. Remember, most teachers get their ideas for student reading assignments from the school library and the ALA targets classroom teachers with press releases promoting certain books.
Nowhere is the ALA's bias more obvious than issues regarding homosexuality. The ALA’s huge Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Round Table works closely with many of the nation's gay activist groups to place into libraries books glorifying the homosexual lifestyle. As a result, one will often find the ratio of pro-homosexual books to books critical of the gay agenda massively in favor of the former. Books by ex-gays are nearly impossible to find. Among the numerous pro-gay workshops at ALA’s annual convention are Building and Promoting GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered) Children's and Young Adult Collections. The homosexual books most heavily promoted by the ALA are those which receive its "Stonewall Award" like, "At Swim," "Two Boys," and "Lawnboy," both replete with pedophilia themes. Nor is it uncommon to find in today's libraries graphic homosexual newspapers rife with obscene personal ads.
It has become increasingly clear that the ALA is really not so much dedicated to defending the First Amendment as it is to challenging America's underlying value system. It’s time to acknowledge that libraries have changed. Those who think their children are safe in libraries today need to know that many of our libraries have been transformed from the caretakers of knowledge to key players in the militant movement to undermine America's Judeo-Christian heritage.