Archive - Jul 14, 2009

West Bent

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Memo to the "Christian Civil Liberties Union": TO THE EXTENT THAT YOU EVEN EXIST, YOU ARE DUMB.

This one's been brewing for a while, so you may have heard of it. The place is West Bend, Wisconsin, a small town north of Milwaukee. Now, for a variety of reasons, my personal elitist animus toward small-town Wisconsin is, in many ways, even more pronounced than my more general animus toward hick towns scattered throughout America. But even by my admittedly biased standards, some residents of West Bend have really raised the bar for small-town hickery.

You see, the "Christian Civil Liberties Union" has filed suit, in an actual court, with actual lawyers and everything, to have the West Bend Library's copy of "Baby Be-Bop" removed from shelves and burned.

I've gotta say, that's ballsy. Stupid, but ballsy. Delusional, but ballsy. I mean, I know Dubya appointed a lot of judges, but I still think the odds of finding a court in this country that's sympathetic to BOOK BURNING are pretty fucking slim. Clearly, the CCLU spent way too much time chuckling about the cleverness of its name, and sticking it to that Christ-hating ACLU, and not nearly enough time looking up the definition of "civil liberties" or actually deciding whether they had a chance in hell.

The book in question is about a closeted gay man, attempting to come to grips with his sexuality, who at some point ends up getting gay-bashed. The book came to the attention of a pair of local busybodies, Jim and Ginny Maziarka, who did the usual things fundie busybodies do when confronted with a viewpoint they don't like on display. They collected signatures, they made nuisances of themselves, they tried to get the book out of the library, they made a seriously fugly blog. This largely went nowhere.

And then the CCLU stepped in. Whoever they are. They apparently have a Milwaukee branch, according to one report, but that's all I'm able to find out about them to the extent that I'm willing to try. And since none of the news reports on this lawsuit provide any details either, I have a sneaking, unprovable suspicion that the CCLU doesn't actually exist outside of this one lawsuit. Real groups like this are never shy.

Anyway, they're not gonna get to burn the book. It's not gonna happen. No matter how much they argue that the use of the words "faggot" and "nigger" by homophobic and racists characters in the book makes the book a "hate crime". No, really. That's their tactic. So what are the Maziarkas doing to keep busy while this ridiculous argument wends its way through the American legal system? ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"These are YOUR librarians and YOUR mayoral appointed Library Board PRESIDENT telling ALA conference participants how they shut YOU down... PARENTS, BE FOREWARNED - THESE ARE THE PEOPLE WHO CHOOSE BOOKS FOR YOUR CHILDREN. THEY ARE THE LIBRARIAN CENSORS WHO HAVE REMOVED ALL COMMUNITY STANDARDS AND ARE, INSTEAD, IMPARTING ALA STANDARDS THAT PUT BOOKS CONTAINING CRUDE AND RAUNCHY SEX ACTS IN THEM FOR ALL CHILDREN ONTO THE SHELVES, CLASSIFIED FOR YOUNG ADULTS NONETHELESS, AT YOUR WEST BEND COMMUNITY MEMORIAL LIBRARY. YES, ALL CHILDREN! YOURS, MINE...THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY THEY SERVE! THEY ARE THE CENSORS. THEY CHOOSE. - The Miziarkas' blog, "WISSUP: Wisconsin Speaks Up".

Yes, they're complaining about how the mayor and librarians are traveling to the American Library Association conference and discussing the crazy bigots. And possibly using taxpayer money to do so! I know, it's shocking. The American Library Association is famous for its even-handed consideration of the viewpoints of blue-nose, book-burning assholes.

And what to say about someone who thinks that "censorship" involves putting MORE books on the shelves. I actually think that if you had the right methodology, you could take the fact that they think "censorship" means expanding the catalog to include things they don't like, triangulate it with the fact that they think the "young adult" classification means "for all children", factor in the love of all-caps, and come up with an accurate measure of the amount of lead in the West Bend water supply, plus or minus, oh, 5 parts per million.

Until that methodology exists, however, we'll have to settle for the unscientific "really, really high". Which, coincidentally, is also the unscientific answer to "How high do you have to be to try and sue for the right to burn a book?"