Monday, September 19, 2005

I'm Giddy With Excitement: Banned Books Week!

Is there anything more exciting for the self-important, ideologically motivated, hypocritical librarian than Banned Books Week? What must they be thinking...

This is the week when we librarians show all you rubes out there that but for the grace of LIBRARIANS you would be living in a fascist hell hole. Unless you are a mover and shaker in the ALA, in which you already believe we live in a fascist hell hole, librarian resistance notwithstanding.

In a country where you have access to almost anything instantaneously, it is important to remind the unwashed that somewhere an elementary school is taking a book off the shelf that has references to oral sex and masterbation. Stupid, stupid people! Don't you realize that by denying your seven year old that book you are consigning him to a life of ignorance (or worse, prudence!). Don't come running to us when little Janie (or Johnny) turns to Cinemax to acquire that essential information.

And let us not forget that we, as a nation, have a constitutional right to free speech. This means, of course, that all third graders should have access the cornucopia of delights that fall under the heading "Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies." And while certain far-right conservative types [gag! spit!] insist that the U.S. Constitution protects individuals against government censorship, we know that the founders (especially Madison) were thinking about homosexuality when they envisioned the First Amendment.

Now as sure as fascism follows the free market, some Bushitler supporters out there are going to charge us with not practicing what we preach. You may hear about certain books "censored" by "liberal/lefty types," such as The Myth of Hetrosexual Aids or The Bell Curve. Rest assured that when libraries and bookstores declined to carry these books (or in some cases removed them) they were only doing their part to stem to latest wave of hate crimes.

Here's an important distinction to keep in mind: If you take a donated copy of THE BELL CURVE and toss it in the garbage (where all such racist books belong) you are exercising selection, not censorship. This is true even if your library does not currently have a copy of THE BELL CURVE.

And if you remove a copy of THE MYTH OF HETROSEXUAL AIDS from the shelves, you are declining to participate in a campaign of homophobia against our gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered brothers and sisters (by "brothers and sisters" I am in no way assuming that such gender distinctions are anything but arbitrary categories enforced by dominant hetrosexual elites). This removal is not to be confused with censorship, which occurs when parents and other non-library-science-degreed professionals challenge a book. Your MLA confers on you the ability to know the difference between mob rule and professional judgement.

Our brothers and sisters in the bookselling world (again, no hetro-normative judgement here)will often use certain tactics to stem the flow of reactionary material to the populace, including telling a customer that they are out of the book Unfit for Command when there are copies unboxed in the back room; putting Bill O'Reilly's books spine out (instead of face out) in the hard-to-find Journalism Section (instead of Current Affairs, where other commentators are shelved); or simply telling a customer, in response to a request for a fascist book, that "we don't carry fascist books.". Sadly, this last approach is only good if you work for an independent bookstore like City Lights in San Francisco. Try this at Barnes & Noble and your likely to get a lecture from the manager about "serving all the customers" or some such tripe. We librarians are somewhat uncomfortable with these tactics, however sympathetic we may be to the desire to prevent hate speech. Best to simply not order such books in the first place, thus absolving us from the charge of bias.

Finally, don't forget your Banned Books table!. This is your way of telling your patrons that by checking out a certain book they are striking a blow for freedom, regardless of whether the book has any intellectual or scholarly value. I recommend that you fill your banned books table to its maximum capacity. This way, if any patrons -- especially ones without an MLA -- take it upon themselves to recommend titles for your display, you can reject racist and fascist books on the grounds that the display table is full.

Remember, being a banned book is a privilege, not a right.

UPDATE: A few of you wrote in to ask: "Are you serious? I thought you were conservative." You are reading this too quickly. I thought it was obvious that everything after the initial italic sentence was a parody of self-righteous, lefty librarians, basking in the cold sun of Banned Books Week, confident that they are the last defense against tyranny in the USA.


At 6:48 AM, Blogger Akaky said...

I thought we were the last bastion against bushitler dictatorship, except for the constitution, the bill of rights, the united states army, the united states navy, the united states marine corps, the united states air force, the united states congress, the united states supreme court, saturday night live, and the dutchess county sheriff's office.

At 9:47 PM, Blogger Oyarsa said...

Nice parody! Keep it up, you are a modern day Swift!


At 8:28 AM, Blogger Annoyed Librarian said...

I'm working my way through your old posts. Very funny, very accurate.


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