Tuesday, September 26, 2006

You Know, For the Children

As should come as no surprise, it turns out that most "challenged" books are challenged in school libraries as inappropriate for children. According to the ALA, which is the only group who even remotely cares about this subject, about "70 percent of challenges take place in schools and school libraries. " Some fascists apparently are under the mistaken impression that there may be books unsuitable for children. Obviously those totalitarian idiots are mistaken, or at least that's what the ALA implies. Because according the ALA's logic, there are no books unsuitable for children. Perhaps they're "unsuitable" for children, but that's about as far as the ethically challenged ALA can go. To go any further, you might have to engage in some actual moral reasoning, and that requires a lot more brainpower than the ALA is capable of devoting to the topic. Plus you can't team up with Google to do it.

Let's look at the evidence. Perhaps, like me, you were wondering:

Why are Books Challenged?

Well, the ALA has a nice packaged answer for you.

"Books usually are challenged with the best intentions—to protect others, frequently children, from difficult ideas and information."

That's right, it's usually to protect children from difficult ideas and information.

And then they claim that "Censorship can be subtle, almost imperceptible, as well as blatant and overt, but, nonetheless, harmful."

Now we've somehow gone from challenging books in libraries (and usually challenges to unsuitable or perhaps "unsuitable" books in school libraries) to censorship. How did we make that transition? They must have a special department of defective reasoners there in Chicago to come up with this stuff. I think there are at least a couple of colleges in Chicago. Perhaps the Defective Reasoning Staff could take courses there in logic or critical thinking. This is what's known in logic as a non sequitur. For the folks at ALA I just want to say, that's a real phrase. You could look it up!

Nevertheless, defective reasoners or not, they now quote a very pretentious justification indeed for their already specious move from library book challenging to censorship. Check this out:

"As John Stuart Mill wrote in On Liberty:
'If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind. Were an opinion a personal possession of no value except to the owner; if to be obstructed in the enjoyment of it were simply a private injury, it would make some difference whether the injury was inflicted only on a few persons or on many. But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.'"

For a moment I was so stunned by the dense prose of John Stuart Mill that I forgot what he's saying here has nothing to do with challenging books in school libraries because they are inappropriate for children. The school library is not the world. Every opinion does not have to be represented. This should be obvious to any moron.

"According to the The 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books, Challenges by Initiator, Institution, Type, and Year, the top three reasons, in order, for challenging material are the material is considered to be “sexually explicit” contain “offensive language,” and be “unsuited to age group.”

Again, note the scare quotes. A book isn't sexually explicit, it's "sexually explicit." And no book can be unsuited to an age group, just "unsuited."

The very clear implication of this is that the ALA allows for no distinction for what is suitable or unsuitable for children, and is defending the idea that all books are suitable for children. After all, if it is attacking all challenges, then any challenge must be misguided. I wonder if anyone at the ALA really believes this. Surely some of these folks must have children. Do they think all books are suitable for their own children? Don't they think there are at least some books that are unsuitable for all children? Because if they think there are some books unsuitable for any children, as I and most reasonable people do, then they're terrible hypocrites and poisonous rascals for foisting this idiotic ALA "reasoning" on the world.

But AL, you say, I want an example material that wouldn't be suitable in a school library. Well, how about this or this. Or how about I write a "children's book" about a school librarian who is raped and tortured by potty-mouthed neo-Nazi middle-schoolers--and learns to like it! Someone would probably publish it, and then the school libraries could buy it with the ALA's blessing. See, I would think this book would have offensive language, be sexually explicit, and be unsuitable for children, but the ALA would just put quotes around those phrases and defend it as a bold provocative work that challenges children's perceptions about the acceptability of librarian torture by fascist adolescents.

Fortunately we rely upon school librarians not to buy this sort of stuff for their libraries. In other words, we rely upon them to be decent and reasonable human beings who understand that children are not adults and that there is material inappropriate for children. Fortunately most school librarians either fit that description or else have inadequate budgets, because I doubt any school libraries own the titles linked above or would buy my forthcoming book Hank the Junior High Nazi Tortures the Librarian. But if some sociopathic school librarian set up the new pornography approval plan and the books started flowing in and some parent or teacher dared to criticize the materials and ask that they be removed, all the critics would get from the ALA is abuse about how they're trying to silence opinions and censor thought and in general act like totalitarians.

Are the Banned Books folks at the ALA really this stupid? Can they really not see the illogical and morally unsound ideas they're promoting? I'm not sure, but I know one thing. If I had any children, I wouldn't want them around those folks at all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The ALA is really that stupid. They are so illogical as to base their anti-censorship arguments on the elevated grounds of Intellectual Freedom, screaming from their lofty perch that parents should be held responsible for their children's reading choices. But in what has become little more than a feudalistic library system, the ALA charges its cottiers with the tasks of making this as difficult as possible for any parent who actually wants to "censor" their child's reading.