Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Where I talk about how censoring Fifty Shades Of Grey was a action of a very stupid person

   The whole Fifty Shades Of Grey censorship mess is taking place in my backyard so to speak. The libraries that are the focal point of this screw up are libraries I walk into on a monthly basis. I gets holds from these libraries on a daily schedule. Great books and some very great people. But not so much sunshine on one particular person.
    Earlier this month the head of library services in Brevard County, Cathy Schweinsberg, made the decision to pull all copies of the Fifty Shades series from library shelves. Now, to clarify, Schweinsberg is not a librarian.  She is the library services department head and the director of the Central Brevard Library (basically, an administrator) (basically a paper pusher).
    Librarians did not make the decision to pull the book.  Individual libraries directors made the purchases (by the extended permission afforded them through the library's collection development policy).  According to her, the books did not fit the selection criteria for the library system.  The decision to pull the books was made quickly by Schweinsberg.  By herself.  With no review. A one woman moral compass.
    So what you might say? Well, first of all the books were selected and already made available to patrons.  And despite being on the top of every bestseller list and requested by 200 + library users, the series was deemed to be outside the scope of the library's collection criteria (or in Schweinsberg's words "mommy porn" which the library doesn't collect).  Plus, there's this little thing called the ALA Library Bill of Rights.
     Despite her statements and email stating this isn't censorship, it is.  This book was provided to customers and then taken away because of one person's point of view.
    That's censorship.
    And it's a problem because 1) even by the library's own collection development policy the selection of the books was acceptable due to public demand, 2) the books were made available AND then pulled off the shelves (instead of simply not being ordered), and 3) the decision to pull the items was made unilaterally (while the collection development policy states clearly that challenges to materials must be presented to the library board for a decision).
    (At this point I want to point out that other libraries who have chosen not to purchase the book are not censoring it.  Brevard County Libraries did; Cathy Schweinsberg did.  The book was provided and then removed without a review process).  The fact that Schweinsberg made the decision based on her personal reading of the title and the totally non-professional label of "mommy porn") shows that the decision was a biased one.
    To review the library's policy and decide for yourself take a look at LibraryJournal's coverage.
     One of the biggest problems here is that there was a complete lack of transparency in the decision making process.  The decision to censor was made by one person alone.  It was actually a violation of the library's own collection development policy.  And it was a capricious one at that.  As others have pointed out the library's collection has many other erotic titles.  So...which book will be the next to go?
     Even while facing international backlash (including statements from the National Coalition Against Censorship and Random House), Schweinsberg and the County are standing by the decision.  A library board meeting is taking please tonight so we'll have to see what happens.
   Take a look at the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom Statement on the banning.
   An area library user has started a petition on to tell Schweinsberg to restore the book to library shelves.
   And on a final personal note. I was at a local Target the other day and flipped through the book. I read a little bit and you know what, its really not that dirty from what I read. A little talk about anal fisting but I say whats so wrong with that word? Fisting, fisting. Has a nice ring to it. I need a parrot so I can teach it to say Fisting. I might end up having to buy this book to read it. It had me at "I want to conquer your ass." Sold me. It was my hello.

Cool links to check out:
   A Surreal Descent into Madness: Reviewing Children's TV
   Twice as Weiss: The Miracle of Swindon Town #110
   Girls With Slingshots is one of my favorite webcomics. Like this new one.
   Order a cool print or two from a cool artist.
"If you use the code SKETCHYSKETCH at checkout, you get stuff for 50% off today, because I'm testing the coupons function at Etsy. My curiosity is your gain."

Rants and rambles:
   Big publishers, entertainment companies aren't afraid of the internet and digital publishing because people are stealing their stuff, that scares creators, but big companies are afraid because people are making some really fucking cool stuff without having to go through them to do it.

   I really really really hate the bullshit of saying there is a certain way to use Twitter, Facebook, Blogger or anything else on the internet. Do your thing, have fun. People who push this BS are just trying to say look I'm a "real" Twitter user. If you want to post nothing but photos of food on Twitter, pics of cats on Facebook, or pics of guys without shirts on Tumbur, go for it.

   Wait, what? I thought this was legal now? Why are the going after him? 
   Too much?
   I think its fucking too much how our government is actually having debate whether women are targeted for violence and which women its ok to help or not. That is too much to me. That fucking pisses me. All of these people in our government doing this should have to travel to murder scenes like this and take in the atmosphere of the degree of hatred that is aimed at women every day.

   A conversation between me and friend after she read this story.
   My friend, "See there isn't a war on women. Just that bit between our legs. And the middle part and our brain for voting stupid. We're just silly females."
   Me, "Did you hear, Kentucky thinks women s toes are sinful and shouldn't be painted. It mentions it in Bible, somewhere in the back." 


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