Archive - Nov 12, 2009

League of Ordinary, Gentle, Women

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Memo to Sharon Cook: YOU ARE DUMB.

I would have said you were a sucky library employee, but you're not a library employee any more, are you? No, you're not. And we both know why. You are being discriminated against! The library fired you for no other reason than the color of your nose.

The place of this travesty against justice? Jessamine County, Kentucky, which is pretty much what it sounds like. More specifically, the action took place at the Jessamine County Public Library, where Susan Cook and her blue, blue nose took bold action to prevent drawings of boobies from falling into the wrong hands.

The fun-bags (or terror-bags, depending on which side of the debate you fall) appear in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume 4: The Black Dossier, which is a graphic novel, which is to say a comic book. If all you know about the League is the crappy Sean Connery movie, you may be surprised to learn that The Black Dossier has nekkid ladies in it, and some of those nekkid ladies are kissing other nekkid ladies, and a few of the nekkid ladies are humping nekkid men. All things, by the way, that might have made the movie watchable.

Now, I haven't read The Black Dossier, but thanks to a Flickr gallery by what appears to be a busybody, I am comfortable in assuring you that everything in The Black Dossier is Cinemax-level soft-core in terms of what's shown and from what angles. Keep that in mind as I relate the sad, sad tale of one Cook too many spoiling the literary broth.

News stories don't say how Cook came across The Black Dossier, but when she did, last fall, she went through channels, and asked the library to review whether it should be in the collection. So far, so good. The library told her that yes, the book should be in the collection. So far, so better. That's when, taking a cue from comic books, Cook took the law into her own hands. Well, OK, she took the dirty, dirty book into her own hands. She checked it out. And hung on to it. And renewed it. Over and over again. For, if I'm reading the somewhat vague news stories correctly, nearly a year.

And then someone requested the book, so Cook's one-woman fight against pen-and-ink buttocks would come to an end. A lesser person would have given up her Quixotic tilting against skinmills, but not Sharon Cook. She and a co-worker looked in the records, found out the book was being requested by an eleven-year-old girl, deleted the girl's request, and kept the book. Two months later, both Cook and her co-worker got fired over their actions, and she still has the book.

Here's how libraries work. If the book's in the library, and you have a library card, you can check it out. There are two checks in place. First, the library board decides what questionable stuff stays in the library. Second, parents are supposed to monitor what kids check out. NOT library employees. Not as policy, which would be wildly impractical and open to abuse, and certainly not on an individual basis thanks to your freakish religious conservative views on nipples. How do I know the views were freakish, religious, and conservative? ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"People prayed over me while I was reading it because I did not want those images in my head."

Can I point out, once again, that I don't fucking understand religion at all? First, how does that even work? You see the images, your brain processes the images, and then the praying people over top of you suck the brain-images out of your head and... cast them into Hell? What's the theological mechanism for making someone forget they saw a drawing of lesbian tongue-kissing?

Also, who do you ask to do this for you, and how? And why do they then show up and do it? I find the image of two or more people praying over the head of a woman while she reads a filthy comic book to be way more disturbing than anything I saw from The Black Dossier.

Of course, if you ask her, Cook will deny trying to censor The Black Dossier all by her lonesome. She just objects, she says, to the book being shelved, and all you nerds reading this can say it along with me 'cause you know what's coming... IN THE GRAPHIC NOVEL SECTION. Next to the comic books. Even though the graphic novel section isn't a children's section.

I'm sorry, did I miss a decade? Did Cook? Or did Kentucky? Because I'm pretty sure we settled the whole "not all comics or cartoons are meant for kids" thing around the time we stopped worrying about two-digit dates making the banking system explode. Comic books and cartoons can have boobs in them. They can have people fucking in them. They can, if you look in the right (or wrong) places, have Nazi-tentacle-rape-death-machines in them.

It's not Cook's job to decide what books to take off the shelves. And luckily, it's not even her job to put books back on the shelves any more. Let's hope that one of the church gift shops in Jessamine County needs a cashier this holiday season, because that's the only way Cook's going to avoid coming into contact with the actual world and the actual art that's made in it.