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Friday, March 17, 2006

Plain brown wrappers

Posted by: Hammer / 7:52 AM

Oklahoma, where the wind of censorship come sweeping through the library wants to put up curtains in your local library:

A proposed bill in the Oklahoma Legislature would require public libraries that receive state funds to remove materials containing sexually explicit content or homosexual themes from general reading areas.

The proposed law easily passed a State House panel last week and now heads to the full House for a vote. The bill would withhold state funds from public libraries that do not put objectionable material in a special place. Steve Crampton, chief counsel with the American Family Association's Center for Law & Policy, says the bill is reasonable.

"All it does is remove [the material] from, basically, an accidental kind of discovery by children that oftentimes are pre-kindergarten in age," says Crampton. "There's just no excuse for allowing kids to access this kind of material in a public library paid for by taxpayer money."

If we're worried about pre-K, why not just put the books up a little higher? The third shelf ought to do, doncha think? Most pre-kindergarten kids aren't strong readers, so I guess we're mostly worried about the hard-core gay porn found in most OK libraries.

What this is really about is yet another attempt to keep kids away from the notion that being gay is normal. Heaven knows that the streets of Oklahoma are teeming with seemingly straight kids who would turn queer if only some book at the library said it was normal. Good gracious, who wouldn't want to be a gay kid in Oklahoma? You're first in line for all the beatings, you get your own water fountain, all the straight kids have a moment of silence for you...sounds like a dream.

Whether you want to label this censorship or not, it's very clearly an attempt for one segment of the population to segregate and stigmatize what's not okay. That rather takes the public out of public library. A library houses books, which are ideas set on pages. In the public sphere, we all encounter ideas we don't like. The answer isn't to remove the ideas from public view. The answer is to understand and address conflict ideas in a personal way.


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