September 18, 2007

It’s a trend, apparently

Posted in Books, Censorship at 5:55 pm by The Lizard Queen

No longer a new one on me: a woman comes across a book she finds offensive and, having checked it out, refuses to return it to the library:

LEWISTON, Maine — A Lewiston woman who said she was “horrified” by the content of an acclaimed sex education book has checked out copies from two libraries and refuses to give them back.

JoAn Karkos made her feelings known in letters to the Lewiston and Auburn public libraries. Each letter was accompanied by a check for $20.95 to cover the cost of the book, “It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex and Sexual Health.”

In one letter, Karkos wrote, “I have been sufficiently horrified of the illustrations and sexually graphic, amoral, abnormal contents. I will not be returning the books.”

I love that she was “sufficiently horrified,” like she has a threshold of horror.  Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret?  Well, it was pretty horrifying… just not sufficiently horrifying.  It’s Perfectly Normal, on the other hand…

The library’s reaction:

Lewiston library director Rick Speer returned the check, along with a form Karkos could use to request that the book be removed from the shelves. But he said he may seek help from police if she doesn’t return what she borrowed.

Spper on Tuesday told News 8, “This is a first. We’ve never had someone come in take it out, remove it on their own accord and decide no one else can have it.”

Good news, everyone: book-banners are taking matters into their own hands!  :facepalm:

About the book:

Robie H. Harris’ book was published in 1993 and features frank but cartoon-like illustrations of naked people in chapters on topics that include abstinence, masturbation and sexually transmitted diseases. Its publisher said it has been sold in 25 countries and translated into 21 languages.

In a 2001 interview, Robie said, “A number of people told me not to put in abortion, that we would sell less books, that it would be controversial. Any book on sex in the USA is controversial if it has to do with reproduction and about making choices. I knew it was important to present both sides of the issue — pro-choice, pro-life. If I left it out, or if we left out particular drawings or other topics — I mentioned sexual abuse or sexually transmitted diseases — it would be saying, ‘We can’t talk about those things. You shouldn’t know about them.’”

She added, “Our kids already know about 99.9 percent of this stuff. What concerned me is that they have a lot of misinformation, no matter how much they tell us, and I wanted them to get accurate information. So I think the litmus test for me was, ‘What’s in the best interest of the child? What’s going to help a child stay healthy?’”

Someone who’s actually trying to focus on children’s best interests?  No way!

Finally, I like what Misty at Shakesville had to say about this incident:

These are public libraries where anyone should be able to receive information and knowledge via the books on the shelves, no matter how “horrified” one is by the content of said books. If Ms. Karkos doesn’t like the content of the books, she should not have them in her home. She, however, has absolutely no right to take them away from other people. None. Zero. Apparently Ms. Karkos lacks the intelligence to grasp such a simple concept and her money would be better spent on a dictionary where she can look up the meanings of “public” and “library”.

Her post is well worth the read, and contains information about the upcoming Banned Books Week (which I intend to blog about, of course).

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1 Comment »

  1. bookchronicle said,

    Wow! Definitely my first time hearing about this sort of behavior but I am not surprised in the least.


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