We're Offended, So Give Us $120,000 and the Right to Burn Books
Last week, the Library Board in West Bend, Wisconsin rejected efforts by a local couple to remove book they found objectionable:
The Library Board on Tuesday night unanimously rejected efforts by a local citizen group to restrict access of young adults to books depicting sex among teenagers or those describing teenage homosexual relationships.
Ginny and Jim Maziarka of West Bend earlier this year asked the community board to remove books that the couple considers to be obscene or child pornography from a section of the library designated "Young Adults." The couple formed an organization, West Bend Citizens for Safe Libraries, to promote their views.
The Maziarkas requested such books to be reclassified and placed in a restricted area requiring parental approval before being released to a child. The books also should be labeled with a warning about content, the couple said.
Ginny Maziarka in past interviews described two of the targeted books - "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" and "The Geography Club" - as explicitly sexual. She considers a third book, "Deal With It! a whole new approach to your body, brain and life as a gURL" to be pornographic.
"Sexually explicit content should not be on the teen shelf in the West Bend Library," Ginny Maziarka said.
Now the American Library Association reports that the board is facing a lawsuit seeking $120,000 in damages from people claiming to have been personally harmed by the fact that the books are in the library and who are demanding the right to burn said books:
[B]oard members were made cognizant that same evening that another material challenge waited in the wings: Milwaukee-area citizen Robert C. Braun of the Christian Civil Liberties Union (CCLU) distributed at the meeting copies of a claim for damages he and three other plaintiffs filed April 28 with the city; the complainants seek the right to publicly burn or destroy by another means the library’s copy of Baby Be-Bop. The claim also demands $120,000 in compensatory damages ($30,000 per plaintiff) for being exposed to the book in a library display, and the resignation of West Bend Mayor Kristine Deiss for “allow[ing] this book to be viewed by the public.”
Describing the YA novel by celebrated author Francesca Lia Block as “explicitly vulgar, racial, and anti-Christian,” the complaint by Braun, Joseph Kogelmann, Rev. Cleveland Eden, and Robert Brough explains that “the plaintiffs, all of whom are elderly, claim their mental and emotional well-being was damaged by this book at the library,” specifically because Baby Be-Bop contains the “n” word and derogatory sexual and political epithets that can incite violence and “put one’s life in possible jeopardy, adults and children alike.”
The complaint points out that library Director Michael Tyree has “publicly stated that it is not up to the library to tell the community what is appropriate.” Citing “Wisconsin’s sexual morality law,” the plaintiffs also request West Bend City Attorney Mary Schanning to impanel a grand jury to examine whether the book should be declared obscene and making it available a hate crime.
On a related note, the ALA also reports that the West Bend Common Council voted not to reappoint four library board members because they failed to remove the books, accusing them of “stonewalling.”
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