Concerned Woman Holds Library Book Hostage

The Sun Journal reports on a brave Maine woman who has declared that she would rather go to jail than return a book about sexuality to the public library:

A local woman said Wednesday she’s prepared to go to jail rather than return a library book about sexuality that she calls “dangerous” to children.

JoAn Karkos, 64, was confined to a courtroom at 8th District Court for about an hour after she was ordered by a judge to hand over the borrowed book: “It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex and Sexual Health.”

Judge Valerie Stanfill revised her order shortly after noon, giving Karkos until the end of the week to produce the property of Lewiston Public Library. Karkos also was ordered to pay a $100 fine within a month.

Talking with reporters outside the courthouse Wednesday, Karkos said she had no intention of giving up the book she claims violates the city’s obscenity ordinance. She said the library needs to change its book selection policies to conform with the city’s ordinances. She called her actions “civil disobedience.”

The book, written by Robie H. Harris and illustrated by Michael Emberley, was published in 1993. It features frank but cartoon-like pictures of naked people in chapters on topics such as abstinence, masturbation and sexually transmitted diseases.

Championed by Planned Parenthood and criticized by conservative groups such as Concerned Women for America, the book has been sold in 25 countries and translated into 21 languages.

In her closing arguments, Karkos accused the public library of contributing to an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases by disseminating prurient information.

“Children are not meant to be sexually active,” she said.