Tuesday, June 16, 2009

WBWJB: What Book Would Jesus Burn?

Demented Christianists, the local Jesus-centered version of Islamists, are on the rampage in Wisconsin. Their antics are clownish and show nothing but contempt for the basic values of American freedom.

Let me try to explain what happened in Wisconsin to rile up these fanatics. The local library carried a book. Christianists aren’t fond of books. I guess them “edecated folks” tend to “stop trusting the Lord” and such. But one particular book horrified these people—a relatively simple feat. The book was Baby Be-Bop, geared toward high school students. The story is part of a popular series by Francesca Lia Block. The main character in this story is struggling with telling his friends he’s gay. And saying the word “gay” in the presence of fundamentalists is like saying “Jew” to a beer hall full of Nazis.

Since the book does not damn to hell the main character, the Christianists in West Bend created a “group” called “Citizens for Safe Libraries.” They aren’t worried about out-of-control carts full of books, or paper cuts; they are worried that people will get any knowledge that doesn’t first pass muster with the Holy Word of God as interpreted by them. They marched on the library, demanding that the book be moved to the adult section of the library “to protect children from accessing them without their parents knowledge and supervision.”

I hate to say it, but by the time “children” reach high school and can hopefully read on their own, the last people who have any “supervision” over what they read are the parents. It’s far too late by then folks. so get used to it. The kids have minds of their own. I suspect that one thing that bothers the Christian Right about young people today is that most of them think the Religious Right is one heaping pile of bull turds. And in the opinion of this old fart, that’s putting it mildly.

The local politicians, afraid of the Christian lynch mob, told the library board that the members who opposed hiding the book would not have their contracts renewed. Cowards, but then they are typical politicians.

This group, in reality is Ginny Maziarka and her husband, Jim. Ginny loves the Bible, though, if her photo is any indication, not necessarily the verse in Proverbs that says: “Put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony.” Every now and then Ginny puts down her doughnuts and pulls herself off the sofa and campaigns for God and morality. Unfortunately, her campaigns mean that she wants political power used on her behalf. So her campaigns are always about using state coercion against others. She doesn’t mind. I suggest she might have a different opinion if Citizens Against Busybodies and Obese, Opinionated Self-righteous Ego-maniacs (or CABOOSE) decided to force her to exercise or give up brownies and cake for breakfast.

When Ginny started cataloguing all the books she wanted placed in a restricted section, she eventually found 82 such books. I bet she could find a lot more if she actually read these books but I suspect she gets lists from other fundamentalists and then merely checks if the books are in her library. She also decided that the library should put warning stickers on the books. I actually like that idea; nothing is more likely to get a teen to read a book than a warning sticker saying it shouldn’t be read by teens. Of course, if one were to restrict books with incest, orgies, murder, rape, and violence then the Bible would be restricted as well. Mark Twain suggested that this book was unfit for any child.

Ginny has the support of another fundamentalist group: Parents Against Bad Books in Schools. They tell parents that a bad book is one with “vivid descriptions of sex, violence, vulgar language or something else objectionable to you.” And when it comes to books like this, they want to protect the “right” of students “not to be exposed to it.” Some of the bad books they list on their website include The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, The Power of One, The Name of the Rose, The King Must Die, The Confessions of Nat Turner, The Color Purple, The Chocolate War, Snow Falling on Cedars, Shogun, River God, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Kaffir Boy, In Cold Blood, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Happy Endings are All Alike, and Exodus.

Ginny’s campaign backfired, since other parents immediately formed West Bend Parents for Free Speech because they didn’t feel that this gaggle of fundamentalists had the right to restrict access to books for everyone. Maziarka told the library board that all books with any neutral or positive reference to homosexuality “either not be carried or that they be put in a reference section to protect children….” They did not cite anything specific about books on gay issues, only that all such books be either removed or segregated from public view. In their place, they wanted Christian religious books that promise to “cure” gays through prayer and religion.

In spite of political intimidation, the library board voted unanimously to ignore the demands by Maziarka to hide books that she found offensive. And now things get really batty. A grossly misnamed group, the Christian Civil Liberties Union, has filed a law suit against the library, claiming that their carrying books that born again lunatics don’t like is a violation of the civil liberties of Christians. This group is seeking $30,000 in compensation for every Christian who is supposedly traumatized because the library has books that they have never read, never intend to read, and possible can’t read. According the CCLU these Christians “say their mental and emotional well-being were damaged” because the library had books contrary to their viewpoints. This is what they call “civil liberties!” They also are asking the City Attorney to call a grand jury to investigate books that “offend the plaintiff’s Christian beliefs.” All such books, they contend, must be removed from public libraries. “We don’t want it put in a section for adults. We’re saying it's inappropriate to have it in the library, and we want it out or destroyed.” Yep, “destroyed,” maybe we can burn a few books. And like all good censors, eventually we might be able to burn a few authors as well. Hell, if we get to burn gay authors it will be like Christmas. Whoopee! Don’t we all just love Jesus?

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