Sleepless in Arkansas

There’s a father in Bentonville, Arkansas who is demanding that the director of the Bentonville Public Library be fired. His sons managed to find their way to a book entitled “The Whole Lesbian Sex Book” and his sons, who are 14 and 16, were apparently so disturbed that it caused “many sleepless nights in our house.”

Oh, and he’s demanding $20,000. For their pain and suffering, no doubt.

According to the father, the boys were looking for a book on military academies and somehow stumbled across this book.

Ahem.

There are so many things to say about all this I hardly know where to begin. First of all, it’s a public library. Stuff might be in there that you don’t want your kids reading. It’s your right as a parent to make that decision, but don’t expect the librarian to make it for you. That’s why it’s a public library, and not your kid’s school library.

Secondly, military academies are classified somewhere in the 300’s. “The Whole Lesbian Sex Book” is classified at 613.9. Nice tale for Dad, boys, but you’ve gotta be lookin‘ for this one, and it ain’t with the military stuff.

Years ago I spent a month or so in Bentonville. I worked for Wal-Mart at the time, and their corporate offices are headquartered in Bentonville. At the time it was a town of about 10,000 people. Buckle of the Bible Belt. Nice people. Freaked by the one inch of snow we had when I was there.

Now, I don’t know why the father is quite so upset. The lesbian thing, perhaps? Frankly, I find it very hard to believe that two teenaged boys were “very disturbed” by this book. (Though when I related this story to Dear Husband, his smiling comment was “Oh, they were disturbed all right.” )

I’m appalled that the director is in trouble for having a perfectly acceptable book in the collection. I’m disturbed that a parent is upset because their kids checked a book out of the library, and instead of using it as an opportunity to have a conversation with the kids, is using as a censorship opportunity. I’m upset that the “solution” is to pay him.

Luckily, it looks like Bentonville isn’t giving in to this nonsense.

[…]the city’s attorney dismissed Adams’ claim as baseless. She said the book is not pornographic.

“There is not a valid legal concern here,” Camille Thompson said. “In fact, (the request for money) made me question his motivation.”

Amen, Camille!

The library board, unfortunately, isn’t quite as open-minded.

The library’s advisory board voted earlier this month to remove the book from circulation. Board member George Spence said he found the book crude, but said it could be replaced with one taking a “more sensitive, more clinical approach.”

In an e-mail Thursday, Adams said that “God was speaking to my heart that day and helped me find the words that proved successful in removing this book from the shelf.”He said he would fight any effort to put the book back on shelves.”Any effort to reinstate the book will be met with legal action and protests from the Christian community,” Adams wrote in the e-mail.

As a Christian, I wish people like this would shut up. Gives the rest of us a bad name. (Of course, being Catholic, I’m not sure I was considered Christian in Bentonville. When I asked where the Catholic church was, I was met with a blank stare. It was an odd experience, since there’s a Catholic church on every block in some parts of Milwaukee, where I grew up. Chicago, too. But I digress.)

Oh, and Dad? I’m pretty sure the boys will be fine.

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2 Comments

Filed under Libraries and Librarianship

2 responses to “Sleepless in Arkansas

  1. Censorship in this day and age? wow…

  2. Pingback: Censorship and sex in Arkansas « Into the Stacks

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