Sunday, July 01, 2007

Let sleeping blogs lie?

As always - these thoughts are my own. No institutions or persons living or dead will or would ever necessarily agree with me.

As I linked to before Bartlesville has come to a conclusion regarding the Bermudez Triangle -- and it is reminiscent of another book controversy in Oklahoma.

Well the crusade to save the people of Bartlesville from themselves hasn't stopped. In fact Neil Gaiman has posted a letter from Maureen . For those not in the know Neil is a literary genius (seriously):

Bestselling author Neil Gaiman has long been one of the top writers in comics, and also writes books for readers of all ages. He is listed in the Dictionary of Literary Biography as one of the top ten living post-modern writers, and is a prolific creator of works of prose, poetry, film, journalism, comics, song lyrics, and drama.
And to have him comment on a challenge situation on his blog is tantamount to having Oprah add your product to her list of favorite things -- it will get noticed by a lot of folks. You can read the letter at his blog.

Something in particular that bothers me with Maureen's letter is the last two lines -- which reads:

I’ll probably go on trying to needle these idiots for a while yet. I can at least try to shame them some more.
Calling the decision makers idiots and trying to shame them isn't going to help get the book back on to open shelves. First off they have power and the ultimate authority and (even if they are idiots) only the tax payers and voters of Bartlesville can remove them from their positions of power. Secondly to be shamed you have to have the consciousness that you've done something improper -- the group that made this decision will probably never feel that because, I'm guessing, the vocal of the community does not believe that discussion of homosexuality (no matter how light and especially among students) is acceptable. The committee won't be shamed anymore than Maureen will be. If anything making this statement available in a public forum will probably push certain individuals try even harder to pull the book completely off the shelf -- by either changing curriculum, the collection development policy for the library, and or the process by which a book can be removed from the collection. After all -- this is an area with a southern state mentality and they don't liken to carpetbaggers telling them what to do (well unless it's certain circles and TABOR) ;-)

Instead of resorting to base instinct to attack the people who hold different thoughts -- what should be done, by open library stack proponents, is an education campaign. Perhaps start by tackling the myth as to the ability of teens to handle complex social situations (such as others have pointed out). Find the like minded people in Bartlesville who feel passionately about it and give them the tools they need to start an education campaign. This is exactly what the opposition groups of Maureen's do and they have a lot of success at it.

Remember -- similar topics are still on the public library shelves and it's important to keep them there because the public library serves a wider population than the school. Well -- at least I went to the public and local university library in mid/high school than I did the school library.

Go ahead tell me what you think -- I know you want to. :-)


Anonymous said...

I think what the committee did was ridiculous.

The book was defended as purchased to meet a class need for books on social issues. That's hardly a persuasive defense if that was all that was done. There is more involved in handling a book challenge than emailing an author and then resigning.

Further, there is NO EVIDENCE that anyone was demoted over this, and I'm tired of hearing that.

Placing blame, exaggerating "punishment" stories and calling people idiots is childish and unproductive.

I'm sorry the committee made the recommendation it did, and I will continue to work to change it, but frankly I'm pretty disgusted with all the major players.

Carleen said...

I often felt, throughout this ordeal, that it would have been more beneficial if Maureen had practiced a little better etiquette. She's a very funny writer, very sassy so I realize that a lot of it is just her style. But I wonder if it ended up hindering her progress when it came to communicating with the committee involved. I sort of feel that everyone on all sides could have handled this situation a lot better. Still, I feel horrible for her. She should never have had to go through this.