Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tomorrow's show - Banning books and sacking library board members in West Bend

The southeast Wisconsin city of West Bend recently removed four of its library board members because the community library’s young adult section contains books that portray gay teenagers in a positive light, and the board should have responded to a complaint about them immediately by removing them or restricting access to them, some city council members said. One alderman compared the library to a porn shop.

Join Queery this Wednesday, April 29, at 7 PM CDT as we discuss the controversy with community and legal activists, including Maria Hanrahan, the founder of West Bend Parents for Free Speech, and Deborah Caldwell Stone, acting director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. That’s this Wednesday, 7 p.m., on WORT 89.89 FM (Madison, WI) or www.wort-fm.org.


  1. ""Tomorrow's show - Banning books...." No books have been banned in the USA for about half a century. See "National Hogwash Week." Further, the books will just be moved in the library. Even Deborah Caldwell-Stone has said that is appropriate in the appropriate circumstance.

    "[B]ecause the community library’s young adult section contains books that portray gay teenagers in a positive light...." That is your opinion. That is not the truth as presented by media reports.

    Your show will be more informative if you stick to the truth and ask relevant questions based on actual facts.

  2. I see that "Queery covers local and national news affecting Madison’s LGBT community." The matter going on with the library has absolutely nothing to do with anything "LGBT" specific.

    The only thing that might possibly be related is the original stance of the complaining party, but that stance has been abandoned long ago, and now people are seeking relief by using legal means for protecting children from inappropriate material in a public institution. It's a public library after all, not an ALA library.

    US v. ALA:

    "The interest in protecting young library users from material inappropriate for minors is legitimate, and even compelling, as all Members of the Court appear to agree."

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Regarding your second comment, SafeLibraries, we will allow Madison's lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender people to determine what affects them, not you. In any case, given the ongoing comments by the originators of the complaint, and the push for PFOX literature to be included in the young adult section, your argument is disingenuous at best.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Actually, Ginny Mazarkia, the originator of the complaint, said on her own blog that she was seeking to ban at least one of the books. See the last sentence of the quoted passage below:


    "Thursday, February 26, 2009
    West Bend Libary issue with GAY books for CHILDREN moves to Board
    Next Tuesday at 7 p.m. the West Bend Libary Board will have open discussion for community members on their offering of homosexual books for 11-17 year olds in the YA Zone (young adult).

    "Met with Library Director, Michael Tyree, last night. Nice guy, amicable conversation, respectful. Despite his stance, he was easy to talk to and I wouldn't have a problem talking to him again.

    "Here is the gist of the meeting:

    "He says he understands (thought he said "agreed", but cannot verify this in my notes) with our moral values, but says librarians cannot censor books. We told him he WAS censoring books by not offering a "balance." We also told him that we are requesting a "ban" on the The Perks of a Wallflower book."

  7. Books are censored a lot more often than people are aware. Mr. Kleinman, aka SafeLibraries, is quoted as saying, "No book has been censored or banned in the USA for about half a century." That is not the truth. The Gossip Girls series was removed from the West Bend High School Library. That is censorship. Ginny herself quoted a New York Library censoring the book Deal With It. Kelly Milner Halls, author and censorship fighter, sites just a few instances of BOOK BANNING here http://kellymilnerhalls.blogspot.com/ - with sources.

    It happens all the time. We need to fight it.
    Mr. Kleinman, that's calling the kettle black for YOU to be demanding others to stick the truth.

  8. For the record, Mr. Kleinman does not speak for me nor does he accurately portray my views or the views of ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom.

    Our understanding, based on reports from library staff, news reports, and statements from the WISSUP blog, is that the campaign to restrict access to books in the West Bend Community Memorial Library targets the library's young adult collection of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender fiction and nonfiction, as well as sex ed materials.

    The ALA opposes book banning and censorship in any form, including censorship that arises from disagreement with and disapproval of positive GLBT materials. We believe that libraries have a responsibility to provide materials that reflect the interests of all of their patrons, including young people and gay, lesbian, transgender, and bisexual people.

    Deborah Caldwell-Stone

  9. To our readers: The comments above addressing "Mr. Kleinman" are in reference to the "SafeLibraries" commenter. Dan Kleinman is listed as the contact for SafeLibraries.org at http://safelibraries.org/contact.htm

  10. Any chance the program will be available online for those who missed it?

  11. I said only the following about Deborah Caldwell-Stone: "Further, the books will just be moved in the library. Even Deborah Caldwell-Stone has said that is appropriate in the appropriate circumstance."

    To this Ms. Caldwell Stone responded, "For the record, Mr. Kleinman does not ... accurately portray my views or the views of ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom."

    However, in the past, Ms. Caldwell-Stone said, "There are times when a book might be moved, for example a young adult novel makes it into a fourth or fifth classroom and that's more appropriate for the high school library, and a committee can just say this was an inappropriate book to buy for this age group but it was an appropriate book to buy for this age category and it works for this high school library." Listen to the Deborah Caldwell-Stone say this in her own voice by clicking on the link located at "Deborah Caldwell-Stone Discusses Banned Books", by admin, American Library Association, 11 July 2008.

    Now my reading of that tells me that there are times when a book might be moved for reasons of age appropriateness. Yes, the context was a public school library, but the same principle applies, and the speaker was Deborah Caldwell-Stone herself.

    So when I said, "Further, the books will just be moved in the library. Even Deborah Caldwell-Stone has said that is appropriate in the appropriate circumstance," I have "Deborah Caldwell-Stone Discusses Banned Books" as my reliable source for that statement.

  12. Hi Anonymous,

    You can listen to the archived program here:


    It should be accessible for the next month or two. We always keep links to the five most recent shows in the left-hand sidebar on the blog, just under the community calendar.

  13. I would like to point out two key things to your readers, in case they are unaware.

    1) Using the term "banning books" is completely appropriate when discussing this particular Maziarka complaint. Ms. Maziarka frequently used the term "ban" (as an "we asked for a ban on...") in her own blog discussing the library issue. Mr. Kleinman/SafeLibraries is correct in saying that the Maziarkas/their group are not CURRENTLY asking for a ban on any books. But this issue/complaint did start with a clear request to remove materials from the collection.

    2) This is a GLBT issue. It is also a heterosexual issue. It is an issue that effects all of the library patrons in West Bend, regardless of their sexual orientation. Discussions about censorship in any form, including the idea of moving material based on someone's opinion of the material, are appropriate for any audience.

    Maria Hanrahan
    West Bend Parents for Free Speech

  14. Note to commenters: Comments should be related to the original post. Personal attacks will not be permitted in the comments section. While you may mention individuals by name, discuss their actions and give your opinion on such IF THEY ARE RELEVANT TO THE TOPIC, your comment will be removed if it assigns intentions and motives to an individual, comments on a person's intelligence level or appearance, or serves up more insult than substance. If you would like to spend your energy engaging in character assassination, slander and libel, do it in your own publication.

    If we allow libelous statements in our blog, we can be held legally accountable for them. According to the Associated Press Briefing on Media Law, a publication "can be called to task for republishing the libelous statement of another" ("republishing" includes things like quotations, letters to the editor and published comments). In the case of Web sites, the law can "hold them responsible only for publication of those matters which they actually know to be false or probably false."

  15. I have to disagree with Mr. Kleimann in the fact that the West Bend Library situation did indeed have to do with LGBT issues. Until someone coached the orginal complainant to broaden their focus, the complaint explicitly targeted LGBT fiction and non-fiction for youth. Once the complainant and her husband realized that there is significant power in the LGBT community and their allies, the broadened the scope to include sexually explicit material regardless of orientation. But if anyone has followed the complainant and her blog, or knows her, or has heard her speak at churches, it isn't difficult to surmise that this was driven by her disdain for gay issues and gay people. You can dress the issue up all you want, the what remains under the costume is homophobia and hate - PERIOD!