Book Burning?? When I read the headlines, I was like WTF?? Is this the 1950's?? That can't possibly be in AMERICA. The Land of the FREE. No way. Then I read this article posted at ABC News. There isn't any that burns my ass (pardon the expression) more than censorship. While I fully admit that some books aren't meant for all readers, I deplore the idea that someone out there wants to take away my RIGHT to choose whether a book is ok for me or my kids.
In West Bend, Wisconsin, the Christian Civil Liberties Union has petitioned the courts to have the "racist book be removed and publicly burned or destroyed as a deterrent to repeating this offensive conduct." And not only that, they would like damages in the amount of $120,000 paid to them. The book in question? Baby Be-Bop by Francesca Lia Block. A description of the book from Publisher's Weekly:
A prequel of sorts to Weetzie Bat, the novel opens while Weetzie's best friend Dirk is still a child, lying on his mat at naptime. ``Dirk had known it since he could remember''-known, that is, that he is gay. Tenderly raised by Grandma Fifi, famous for her pastries and her 1955 Pontiac convertible, Dirk struggles with love and fear: ``He wanted to be strong and to love someone who was strong; he wanted to meet any gaze, to laugh under the brightest sunlight and never hide.'' After his first heartbreak, with his closest friend (who cannot accept Dirk's love nor his own for Dirk), Dirk battles more fiercely for identity; beaten up by a gang of punks, he slumps into semiconsciousness and is visited by his ancestors, each telling a haunting, lyrical tale of love, faith and self-acceptance. What might seem didactic from lesser writers becomes a gleaming gift from Block.
Now, mind you, I am writing this post without actually having read said book. However, I have read Lia Block before and her lyrical writing really is beautiful. But the CCLU has stated that this book is "explicitly vulgar, racial and anti-Christian" and is "inappropriate for the elderly and their minor grandchildren, and degrades the community," according to the complaint. Braun said he found the homosexual content particularly offensive. "They call one character 'faggot' with every swear word you can think of ... and they use the N-word," Braun said.
This isn't the first book on Homosexuality that has been challenged. And it won't be the last. I'm pretty confident that the chances the court will uphold a request to burn a book to be extremely unlikely. BUT that doesn't really make me feel any better. For a few reasons.
First of all, there are lots of books out there that I deem offensive (particularly anything written by Ann Coulter or Bill O'Reilly!), but I don't call to have them burned. Just because I don't agree with them doesn't give me the right to say they should be removed from book shelves...especially at a community library that's sole purpose is to give their community a vast choice of books to read. What do I do? I CHOOSE not to read them. Period. End of story. What I take offense to is having someone else's values shoved down my throat. If this group doesn't like the fact that the library has chosen to have Lia Block's book on the shelf, don't read it. Give up your library card if it means that much to you. But DO NOT petition a court for removal of said book and certainly don't burn it. THAT is a violation of the rights of others that would like to read this book.
You know, I am a Catholic. That makes me a Christian. One of the things that the church has taught me is to love and respect others, no matter what they believe in. To call yourself a Christian and then spout such hate-mongering words (and believe me, this is hate-mongering) goes against everything being a Christian is all about. It is fundamentally wrong.
Secondly, people need to wake up and realize the world we live in today is vastly different than the time we grew up in. Folks, this isn't the 1950's. Our children are facing challenges that need to be addressed. And I'm sorry, but Little House on the Prairie books are fine, but they certainly aren't indicative of the world we live in today. I think it's terrible that people think young adults today need to be shielded from topics like racism, sexism, and homosexuality. Young adults today are more worldly than ever and certainly are discerning enough to be able to handle these topics.
This whole lawsuit is just grandstanding, and frankly, it makes me sick. I would love to be able to stand-up in West Bend, Wisconsin, and make my voice heard. But I can't. So, this post is going to be my voice. Stand Tall, West Bend Community Library. I am behind you. Don't cave in to the intolerance and hate. Do what is right. I know you will.
Chime in here readers. What do you think? Am I wrong for being so offended by this? Are you offended by it?? What else can we, as readers, do? I'm all ears!!