Tuesday, March 28, 2006

What to do About Sexually Explicit Teen Books?

A poster, plan2succeed.org, has posted some thoughts that I think get to the heart of the issue in the censorship of children's book. I thought they deserved to be highlighted in their own post:
You guys being authors, I have great respect for you. Let me ask you some questions. First, I am specifically not addressing the issue of homosexuality. To me, that is up to the people themselves, and books containing homosexual characters or themes should not be separated solely because of such characters or themes. So let's set that aside for now.

My problem is with sexually inappropriate books for children. Whether they involve homosexual or heterosexual or animal-human sexual activity to me is irrelevant -- the problem to me is the sexual content being inappropriate for children.

Look for example at "Looking For Alaska" by John Green. That book gets awarded the ALA's top honor for "young adult" books, the 2006 Michael L. Printz Award. The "academy awards" as YALSA head Pam Spencer Holley puts it. I read the entire book. It is very well written and entertaining. But on the issue of appropriateness for children, the book contains what I consider to be hard core sexuality. A boy pulls out his penis, she puts it in her mouth, and on and on.

Now "young adults" being defined by the ALA to be as young as 12, i.e., not even teenagers, let alone not even adults, are finding that the best book of 2006 for 12 year olds as recommended by the ALA is a book containing hard core sexual activity. The fact that the ALA awarded the book as its top YA book of 2006 means the book will be read widely thanks to local librarians and school librarians following the ALA's lead.

I'll set aside for now why librarians get to decide what's the best book for children instead of authors like yourselves who actually write the books.

Now let's all assume for the sake of argument that a book about detailed oral sex experiences is inappropriate for 12 year olds.

The question becomes could such a book be taken out of the children's section and placed into the adult section. That's the nut.

The ALA says no, it's not a librarian's decision. As Judith Krug said, it's real life issues so kids should read about real life issues to become an educated electorate.

I'm not sure how you authors would approach this since I narrowed down the hypothetical to winnow out extraneous issues.

But, in your responses, please discuss what you think the answer should be. Then, read US v. ALA and also Board of Education v. Pico, two US Supreme Court cases I believe to be relevant, and describe if reading those cases makes you change your answer in any significant way and why.

I thank you for your interest in this matter and I look forward to your responses
And my response:

Plan2succeed.org, I think you raise some interesting points. But do keep in mind that all "young adult literature" is not necessarily ALL for ages "12 and up." How could it? The difference between a 12 year-old and an 18 year-old is HUGE.

The genre actually divides roughly into three categories: lower YA (10-14), mid-range YA (12-16), and upper YA (14 or 15 and up). LOOKING FOR ALASKA is definitely upper YA, as are most of the Printz selections. That means they're typically "age-appropriate" for high school students. (For the record, LFA is about as sexually explicit as teen books ever get, IMHO.)

Also keep in mind: the "children's" section of a library also includes a "teen" section. So the only way LFA is going to be read or seen by anyone younger than a teen is if that kid is in the "teen" section (much the way a kid could also be in the "adult" section).

Would some parents not want their teens reading LFA? Absolutely. That's why it's essential that parents be involved in their teenager's lives, aware of the books they're reading.

I know that sounds like a cop-out, putting the responsibility on parents. It's a LIBRARY, right? The "teen" section, but still. Parents don't want to have to constantly monitor everything that their teenager is doing at every second. And they want to think that a library is a "safe" space for them, especially in terms of age-appropriate materials.

But what's the alternative? Are librarians supposed to decide for everyone what books are and are not appropriate for which kids for the whole community? To some degree, they do do this in the books they buy, but only in very broad terms. They have to leave the individual decisions to...well, individuals and individual families. That's because parents are all going to choose differently, based on their values, their interests, their kids' interests, the maturity of their kids, etc. etc. If librarians were take it upon themselves to censor certain teen books and topics from their collections, they wouldn't be doing what it is they exist to do, which is serve the ENTIRE community. (They would also be stigmatizing certain topics and members of the community, gay folks most definitely, which, as I've blogged before, I think it absolutely criminal.)

Think about how wildly different the values in any given community are. There are people who wouldn't want their children exposed to any book that criticizes the president, for example, or America, or Christianity. Should their values rule? What about the vegetarian who thinks it's immoral to shoot an animal and doesn't want his children exposed to that? Should these values by the deciding ones?

These are extreme examples, obviously, much the way LOOKING FOR ALASKA is an extreme example, in terms of sexuality.

(And we can't put the issue of homosexuality completely aside. There ARE lot of people, maybe even majorities in some communities, who think that children's and teen books with gay themes should be segregated, or not purchased at all. So should their values rule?)

There's also the fact that teens themselves are a diverse lot, and so are teen books. It would be ridiculous to restrict a "teen" collection so that the youngest teenager could read every book in the collection.

I think the only way to settle this clash of ideas and values, age groups and maturity levels is for librarians to stock the books that are sold and marketed as "teen" books in the "teen" section, and then leave it up to individuals and individual families to decide which of those books they want to read.

In the end, are some kids going to encounter books that some parents might not want them seeing? Perhaps. But that is the cost of ensuring that the library can meet the needs of as many people in the community as possible. In short, they're erring on the side of, well, freedom and liberty.

I know this is a complicated issue, with shades of grey. But I do think that these are important things to remember.

Anyway, thanks for contributing, Plan2succeed.org. I'm happy to hear others' thoughts!

Brent Hartinger

P.S. As an author, I would be perfectly happy to decide which books kids get to read. I pick mine! ;-)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a librarian who ends up explaining this over and over and over and over on the internet...
I think I'll just link to this post from now on. Beautifully stated.


12:16 PM  
Blogger Brent Hartinger said...

Thanks, Marla.

1:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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6:53 PM  
Blogger plan2succeed.org said...

Mr. Hartinger,

When you say “the genre actually divides roughly into three categories” based on age, and Looking For Alaska [LFA] is in the upper category, I don’t doubt you for a minute. However, I wish to point out that the ALA does not make this distinction, at least anywhere I have seen, and certainly not on the page announcing the award for the book. Therefore, while you are correct, your point is irrelevant. It has no relevance where the ALA does not make the distinctions you make.

Actually, your point tends to buttress my statement about why librarians get to decide what’s the best book as opposed to authors. Apparently the ALA decided the best book for 12-18 is LFA, while you, an author, someone who knows about writing, not organizing, books, choose the “upper YA” category of 14 or 15 and up. That 2 to 3 year difference is quite a contrast for children at that time. You who knows books better set a higher level for the book (although not for my children), while librarians, who claim it is age discrimination to keep children from seeing any material whatsoever, even despite the ALA’s loss in US v. ALA, set the level at twelve.

And your point doesn’t address why the ALA calls kids “young adults” when they are not even teenagers yet. I don’t expect you to answer that one, but that further supports my point as well – the ALA is recommending inappropriate books for children.

Regarding your comment about kids only seeing LFA if they are in the “teen” section, it is just not realistic to think a kid won’t go into a teen section. They look so alike and are often right next to each other. I have seen LFA at adult waist level right next to Star Trek books. Kids are drawn to Star Trek books – that’s why there are so many. And LFA is right next to it, and, oh, it looks just like that large poster of the ALA award winning books.

About parents not wanting their kids to read LFA and it being “essential that parents be involved in the teenager’s lives, aware of the books they’re reading,” that’s unrealistic. But not for reasons you think. That’s unrealistic because even very discerning parents could easily make the mistake of thinking they are getting their children appropriate books by selecting from ALA lists, or even from ALA award winning books. Naomi Wolf admitted in a recent New York Times article, “Young Adult Fiction: Wild Things,” that parents would be “in for a surprise” if they actually read one of these types of books. So this is not just my opinion – others feel the same way.

Listen. When you and I were children, librarians were not awarding sexually inappropriate books with award after award and placing them in top ten lists. It goes right over the heads of people our age with children that times have changed and the ALA now finds these types of books to be the real award winners. I make this statement based on Cat Yampbell’s recent work, “Judging a Book by Its Cover: Publishing Trends in Young Adult Literature,” among others. Even other children’s book authors are disgusted with this trend, e.g., Barbara Feinberg, according to Laura Miller’s “Why Teachers Love Depressing Books.”

Under this circumstance, yes, it’s a “cop-out” to say the parents should know. They don’t. The ALA is perfectly happy to keep them in the dark. Did the ALA advise about the sexual content of the book? No. It’s a lovely book to them. A real winner. Until it becomes generally known that the ALA is recommending inappropriate books for children, and parents still choose those books for their children, then at that time I would agree with you. As it stands now, parents are largely unaware of what’s happening, so they rely on the ALA to select the best books for their children.

You are not expecting every parent to read every book before they give it to their children, are you? That would presuppose knowledge that the ALA is recommending sexually inappropriate books that parents need to screen out. That is just not the case right now. It is to you and me, and that’s why we read them first, but not to the vast majority of people.

So the issue is not as you frame it, and, actually, as the ALA frames it, whether “librarians are supposed to decide for everyone what books are and are not appropriate for which kids in the whole community.” The problem occurs before that. The problem occurs at the ALA. It’s the ALA, librarians now – not authors, that selects sexually inappropriate books in the first place. Had they only not selected a sexually inappropriate book as the best book of the year for kids twelve and up, there never would be an issue of whether a local librarian is supposed to decide what’s what for children. Sexually inappropriate books should not have been placed into the mix in the first place.

Do libraries leave loaded guns on tables and put up signs as to which gun is the award-winning killing machine and leave it up to parents to keep their children from playing with the guns? No, they don’t put the guns there in the first. The same goes for the books. The books are loaded and awarded and left for the parents to winnow out. That’s like an opt out rule. Here are all these sexually inappropriate books to choose from, kiddies, as decided by librarians with an agenda. If your parent’s don’t want you to read them, they will opt you out.

On the other hand, having such books in the adult section, or not giving them awards in the first place is like allowing the opt in feature. If parent’s have a child that they decide for whatever reason should read a sexually inappropriate book, they get to opt in. They actively select the book for their child, instead of actively winnowing out books from the many sexually inappropriate books that have become the trend as of late. Oh the ALA could very well still make them aware of the existence of the book, even giving it a top award, but they could at least advise as to the sexual nature of the book so parents can make an informed decision. Hmm. Informed decisions. Sounds like medical issues. Patients are supposed to have the information needed to make informed decisions. That should apply here as well.

Now I suggested you read US v. ALA and Board of Education v. Pico and say how your answer would change. You raised the issue of a slippery slope and all the other books that might suffer if sexually inappropriate ones are kept from children. Pico addresses that issue nicely, so I won’t comment further except to say your slippery slope argument is a red herring as it could never happen under the law. Please read those cases and tell me what you think.

By the way, in your post’s title and in your text you use the word, “censor.” The word just does not apply. Keeping children from reading sexually inappropriate material is not censorship. I think you agree with that. The ALA uses the word a lot just to frighten people into acting the way the ALA wants. You are not the ALA. Censorship is something completely different than keeping children from reading sexually inappropriate material.

And as to teens being a “diverse lot,” I really can’t think of a single instance where a sexually inappropriate book for a teenager becomes appropriate merely for diversity. If diversity means reading sexually inappropriate books, then, well, then something’s wrong somewhere. You have a vegetable garden that grows strong because you pull out the weeds from time to time. You don’t say the garden should grow unattended, the weeds will add diversity, and the vegetables will learn how to deal with them. And you don’t let the ALA purposely plant weeds and leave it up to the parents to pull them out, especially where the parents don’t know the ALA is adding weeds because they never used to in the past.

Children accessing sexually inappropriate books for children is not “freedom and liberty.” That is a silly argument, one the ACLU and the ALA make. On the one hand the law says it is “legitimate, even compelling” to keep children from sexually inappropriate material, but on the other hand the ACLU and the ALA argues allowing children access to sexually inappropriate books for children is considered liberty and freedom. There they go again wrapping themselves in the flag. I just don’t buy it, and neither should anyone else who clearly thinks about it.

Now let me say this. I have and am thoroughly enjoying this reasoned debate back and forth. I hope you are too. I really appreciate your separating out my comments into a separate post and seeing it for the important issue it is. I would like to continue to have such dialog with you. And, like you, I encourage others to join this debate with their own ideas as well. Please everyone read US v.ALA (2003 SCOTUS) and Bd of Educ v. Pico (1982 SCOTUS).

Lastly, I have written an article about how the ALA pushes porn on children, and I use LFA as the example. You will see that I actually praise the author. The issue is why are librarians awarding such a book as LFA as the best book for children as young as 12, and remember they made no such distinctions as you did with regard to age. I have put significant effort into the article, even including major sources, such as Cat Yampbell’s article, then I draw conclusions from those and other quotes and information I found when researching the issue. If you wouldn’t mind, take a look at that and let me know your thoughts. See www.SafeLibraries.org/pushers.htm


By the way, at some point I’d like to ask for your autograph and the autographs of other AS IF authors! Come to think of it, my family does a whole lot of reading of children's books. Life just won't be the same without the wonderful works you create.

11:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do people think that if the ALA didn't award "sexually inappropiate" books (whatever that is) from us we wouldn't find them?
What would anybody ever think that we would read anything that our parents recommend?
Isn't finding things on your own part of the growing process? Isn't the experience of finding a book that you LOVE (and your parents wouldn't), no matter the content, something that will nurture your love for reading?
Why do people think that a 12 year old cannot have the maturity to read "sexually inappropiate" content?
And what do you think would happen to a kid that reads it? A trauma for life? Nightmares?
I don't see what's the big deal. Really

--from a 12 year old kid who loves reading those books, among others

12:12 AM  
Blogger plan2succeed.org said...

Well, anonymous 12 year old, I have to give you a lot of credit for being interested in this matter in the first place. But now that I'm speaking with you and you are being polite, your previous post about a link to your game system wasn't really a nice thing to do to this AS IF! blog that has nothing to do with such advertisements. Please be considerate of other people's work and try not to post such advertisements in the future.

Be that as it may, children are indeed upset by these types of book being forced on them. In Laura Miller's article, "Why Teachers Love Depressing Books," we see an example of another 12 year old, only this one, Alex, has to "steel himself, again and again, for the joyless task of completing the assigned reading for his 'language arts' class...." Now that does not sound like much fun to me. Actually, it sounds joyless, no fun. Of course everyone is different.

And it is a big deal. You may think it's fun to read this stuff, but from you not understanding what "sexually inappropriate" books are, I'll bet you really don't know how bad this writing is for children. And I do not want or expect you to know. That's for your parents to decide.

That's the whole point -- your parents should decide. Your parents should make an informed decision of whether a book is okay for you to read. But librarians, people who buy and arrange books on shelves, tell your parents that books are wonderful for you even if your parents, if they only knew, would not have given you that book. Parents sometimes rely on librarians to help them choose books, and when those librarians mislead them as to what's in the book, then the parents cannot make an informed decision exactly because they do not have the information needed to make that decision. And if the reason why they do not have the information is that the librarians at the American Library Association misled your parents on purpose into thinking the book was okay for you, then that is a really bad problem.

Unfortunately, that's the problem. Some, not all, librarians are purposefully misleading parents about the contents of the books, then blaming the parents for not more carefully choosing which books to give their children. And I'm talking about books your parents would not want you to read if they only truly knew the contents of the book. You don't think it's fair for librarians to mislead your parents into buying a book for you that they would not buy if they really knew the book, do you? And you don't think it is unreasonable for parents to rely on the recommendations or awards of the American Library Association that claims over 64,000 librarian members and has been reliably guiding parents for decades and decades, do you?

I really can't blame parents for being fooled by that Library Association. What I blame is that Library Association for misleading the parents into buying the books in the first place.

Your parents do not let you see X rated films, do you? If a movie was rated G but actually was rated X and your parents bought it for you thinking it was G because the rating system in the past had always been reliable, you couldn't really blame them, could you? And if you parents stopped relying on the G rating because it might actually be an X rating, that would be good, right?

Well, unfortunately, parents are still relying on the American Library Association for G rated books when they are actually X rated books. All I'm doing is trying to inform parents that the American Library Association can no longer be trusted to properly informed parents about the contents of books.

What do you think about that?

7:27 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Uh, Dear Plan2,

The previous post about a game system was spam. That's my fault because I forgot to set the spam blocker up on this website. I've changed that. So it wasn't posted by the other 12 year old anonymous poster. He didn't deserve being chastized.

I don't think you understand what X rated is. It's typically reserved for pornography or extremely violent movies. It's rather insulting to compare the work of writers who often spend years on their "literary" books to pornography. Thanks a lot. Previously you said you have respect for us. I hope you were being genuine.

Your comparison to X rated movies is heavy handed. It's meant to hammer home a point but fails because it's not an adequate or even a proper comparison.

Yes, you're right about librarians and the ALA, though. They do have a secret agenda: they're trying to get kids to read books.


9:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If any on you think that {besides ps2} think Looking for Alaska is appropriate for a 12 year old, you should have your head examined.

12:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Sir or Madam or whatever you are
Art is right, I did not post that thing about the game. I don't do that. And I didn't appreciate you scolding me about it.
I don't think you understand that when you enter middle school, your parents no longer choose any books for you. In fact, I'd run away from any book that my mom ever recommended (For the record, I don't have a dad) as we are totally different and like different things.
Yeah, there might be kids out there who cannot handle some books. I know some. Same way that there were kids who got sick all the time in kindergarten because their parents had kept them away from us, the infectious creatures.
But let me tell you, if I wanted to see pornography, I would check the Internet. There are plenty of sites out there that you can look at. And no, parents can't do anything to prevent us from seeing that either. Because as young and "innocent" as we are, we'll always find the way to go around any parental block in any school or any computer.
I don't like pornography, Sir. I like books. I like reading literature.

You gave me credit for being interested in this matter. Thanks. But with all my respects, I don't think you know much about 12 year olds.

--the 12 year old boy who doesn't know how bad this writing is for him

12:35 PM  
Blogger Brent Hartinger said...

I don't have time right now to respond to all your points, but I must say, the librarians you describe are NOTHING like the librarians that I know and work with on a daily basis. The librarians I know are very eager to work with parents and readers, to help them determine if a book is appropriate for that reader. I know you said you weren't describing "all" librarians, but I haven't met ANY librarians like the ones you describe, who you suggest take some sort of secret delight in getting explicit books in the hands of younger and younger children. That said, yes, they are quite forceful in thinking that parents and teens who want "edgier" offerings should, in fact, have access to those too.

Incidentally, when you and were kids, the genre of YA basically didn't exist. Teenagers when straight from ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHIN to adult books. This genre is a relatively new phenomenon (for complicated reasons). But since it is appealing to older teens, it makes sense the topics and writing would be edgier.

As for the Printz Award, again, from my POV, the ALA has been VERY clear that this is an award for "upper YA." In fact, that's the whole purpose of the award--a very specific contrast to the Newbery, which has broader appeal. Yes, a book aimed at 12 year-olds is "eligible," but that doesn't mean that every winner is appropriate for a 12 year old. Again, in what world could every book aimed at 12 year-olds also be interesting to 17 year-olds? And again, where do we put books marketed and sold as "teen" books, except in the "teen" section of the library?

1:32 PM  
Blogger plan2succeed.org said...

What an interesting thread this is. Thank you everyone. As to the 12 year old who did not post the spam, I apologize. I did not realize that "anonymous" could mean anyone instead of only one anonymous person as opposed to anonymous2 or anonymous3 that a blog could do just by looking at IP addresses. So I take that back.

Brent, again I have to agree with you. In all my years I too have never met a librarian as bad as I described. But I have never met Judith Krug. She is essentially with the One ring that rules all the other rings and in the darkness binds them. She is the one who, before or during her decades long stint as the leader of the ALA's Orwellian "Office for Intellectual Freedom," served on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Division of the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU is the organization that almost always does everything contrary to the American way of life -- in fact has expressly admitted to attempting to bring about the end of the American way of life. Be that as it may, Judith Krug then likely caused two major changes in how librarians treat people. 1) Librarians now claim they are no longer responsible for children, and 2) librarians now say it is age discrimination for a librarian to keep a child from any material at all. Likely Krug herself is directly responsible for these. These two changes are directly responsible for the ALA's general position on the issues, which happen to exactly mirror Judith Krug's position, the former ACLU Director. With librarians no longer watching over children and no longer preventing them from accessing inappropriate material, it is easy to see the influence of the ACLU here -- there is no other logical explanation for allowing children access to sexually inappropriate material that the law and community standards say children should not access.

Now I have spoken with numerous librarians. Every last one of them said they would not recommend LFA for a 12 year old. Every last one of them was aware that the Printz award is for kids as young as 12. Every last one of them, if they had a teen section, had a sign of some sort advertising LFA as the best book of 2006. One of them, the only one I spoke with on this issue, said she felt uncomfortable putting up that sign about LFA, but felt pressured to do so by the ALA and by the pressure she would feel from other ALA librarians who might question her actions. I am telling you here librarians are literally afraid not to spout the ALA line. These librarians are really not to blame, frankly, for Judith Krug's actions. Judith Krug is the one at the de facto head of the ALA, and this agenda of Judith Krug's is the de facto most important issue that the ALA is carrying out. Lest you all start thinking, well, there he goes again, consider this article: The Krug Contribution; She Convinced ALA to Put Its Money Where Its Mouth Is, by John N. Berry III, Editor-in-Chief, Library Journal, June 15, 2005. I read this article and to me there can be no doubt of what I am saying. She is the one mainly responsible for the actions the ALA takes to minimize US v. ALA, Bd of Educ v. Pico, CIPA, and so many other laws and cases in an effort to ensure her likely ACLU-inspired goals of essentially ensuring children have unfettered access to pornography. When one person has this much power, as evidenced by the article by the Editor-in-Chief of the Library Journal, the ALA's publication, I feel very confident in saying Krug has the power others say she has, the ALA's top goal is Krug's top goal. In other words, words mean things. Those statements about her would not have been made if they were not true.

It is very, very sad that so many have to all be so afraid of the Office for Intellectual Freedom and its top dog, Judith Krug.

Oh, in real life Judith Krug is very sweet and pleasant. Her easy banter and her intelligence and lively spirit make her an entertaining and engaging speaker. So I am not saying she is a bad person. It's her policies, however, that are inimical to the health and welfare of children nationwide. It's her policies that need to be exposed to the public for what they really are, not for the superficial, well-practiced method of charming anyone with whom she speaks, again as that article shows. I have no need to make this stuff up when it is right there in print on the ALA's onw web site.

Had she never came to the ALA and caused the ACLU-like changes that she likely caused, none of this would ever be occurring right now. Parents would be properly informed of the contents of books so they could make informed decisions on whether their own children should read the book or not. Librarians would not have to feel forced to act in a way they personally cannot justify but must so as to keep a job. Children would not be raped and molested in public libraries that would have have filters under CIPA and US v. ALA but for Krug's likely action in advising libraries how to skirt the law. Etc., etc.

So, it's Judith Krug, the de facto leader of the ALA that is the cause of all this angst, not local librarians who are only following orders, or else.

So, Mr. Hartinger, again I agree with you. Apparently I only need to articulate better exactly what the problem is. In general, it is obvious that the ALA's constant attention to sexually inappropriate books is beginning to take its toll on the public. My effort is to try to specify exactly how this is happening and to what extent, then suggest what could be done to stop it. In no way will I ever recommend the censorship of books or that authors should writer "cleaner" books. That is not my issue. The ALA and its policies is what I'm after. And I feel supported by the law in my efforts, such as US v. ALA. I am not using any other justification such as religion, morality, etc. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a citizen suggesting that the ALA is not complying with the law or community standards.

I know the books you write from news reports but I have not said word one, one way or another, to suggest anything about them in any way. And if I ever do, it will likely be in the context of the ALA again skirting the law or defying community standards.

I am not creating the facts about the ALA, I am merely gathering the evidence together in one spot for people to make up their own minds. All my work (except these blogs for technical reasons) are well sourced so that I can provide proof of the matter being asserted from reliable third party sources.

Again, I thank you and look forward to continued correspondence with you.

5:06 PM  
Blogger Laura Ruby said...

Plan2succeed, thank you so much for your comments on our blog. I’m glad you chose to share your perspective here. In response to the points you make in this blog and in the article you mentioned, which I did read, I have a few points of my own.

Firstly, I feel I must follow Brent’s example and defend our librarians. I grew up going to the library weekly with my mother, haunted the library as a teen, and worked as a library page as in high school. Today, I talk to and work with YA librarians regularly. I know of no group of people so passionately committed to working with children, teens and their parents to find the most appropriate materials for each individual and family. On listservs, librarians endlessly discuss parental concerns over all sorts of materials, pass tips and book lists of “gentle” reads for parents of younger kids, and try to define their roles as providers of information to communities with diverse needs and interests. And when I say “communities with diverse interests,” I mean exactly that. What you consider “sexually inappropriate,” I might consider fine literature for teens. (Looking for Alaska is a case in point). There are people who consider books with homosexual characters, wizards, or religious overtones inappropriate (and believe these are the books that should be banished to the adult room the way you believe LFA should). And librarians have to find a way to serve all of us. This is a challenging job, one that I believe they do admirably well. I have never met a librarian who was trying to “keep people in the dark” about the content of a book.

The second point I’d like to make is that having a book shelved in a teen section of a library does not mean that librarians are “pushing” that particular book on anyone. Nor does an award sticker mean that librarians are forcing the book into anyone’s hands. An award means that the book is of high literary quality, nothing more, nothing less. Discussions about content and what is appropriate for which child is necessarily the province of parents. And in this area, librarians are allies. They are the experts. Again, I have never met a librarian who has failed to take the concerns of a parent seriously and who has not gone out of his or her way to find books that make sense for individual people and families.

I think, in reading your most recent post, your biggest concern is the access teens under the age of 14 might have to material that they might not be ready for. I understand these concerns. But then, more than 25 years ago, as a 12 and 13-year-old, I was wandering over the to the adult room and taking adult titles out of the library. Not all of them had explicit material in them, but some did (Stephen King, as an example). Was it the librarian’s job to stop me from taking these books out or flipping through them while I was there? Should the adult shelves be roped off? If I was unsupervised, was it really the librarian’s job to supervise me? (I wasn’t unsupervised, by the way. My parents knew what I was doing/reading.)

Parents looking for appropriate books for their children and teenagers should talk with their local librarians, examine reviews on the Internet, and/or read the books themselves and discuss them with their kids. (Many parents do all this already). And no, I don’t think these are unrealistic expectations or a “cop out.” We read books with our children through grade school. Why would we be less involved/interested in our children’s reading lives after they’ve reached age 12? Why would we want to leave this job up to someone else? And how could we possibly expect librarians to act in loco parentis when families are so different, when one parent would happily pass LFA to his13-year-old and another parent might be horrified to find his 17-year-old with it? To whose mores are the librarians supposed to subscribe?

As a writer who has written a couple of books for younger readers and a forthcoming novel for older teens, I hope that parents will want to know all about my books before they buy or borrow them. I hope that parents will read the reviews, interviews and information I post on my website. I hope they will turn the books over and look at the age designations posted by the publisher. And then I hope those parents will go talk to a librarian.

8:39 PM  
Blogger plan2succeed.org said...

Laura Ruby, welcome to blogger! I see you joined, as in creating a new blogger ID just today, possibly to respond here. Great! Maybe you can join with AS IF! and become a regular contributor.

Now in response to your comments, I have to say again that I agree with you all the way. However, you missed the issue I am raising. You said, for example:

"Discussions about content and what is appropriate for which child is necessarily the province of parents. And in this area, librarians are allies. They are the experts. Again, I have never met a librarian who has failed to take the concerns of a parent seriously and who has not gone out of his or her way to find books that make sense for individual people and families."

Parents are key, but sometimes they are being misled, not by local YA librarians, but by the ALA itself, specifically the Office for Intellectual Freedom, which usually means by Judith Krug.

Judith Krug does not take the concerns of parents seriously, except to craft effective ways to counter their concerns. She has said, for example, "Blocking material leads to censorship. That goes for pornography and bestiality, too. If you don't like it, don't look at it ... Every time I hear someone say, I want to protect the children, I want to pull my hair out." [Quoted in "Preventing Kids From Seeing Illegal Smut Is Not Unconstitutional; It's Common Sense" by Janet M. LaRue, National Center for Policy Analysis, 2001.] Here's a good one: "I get very concerned when we start hearing people who want to convert this country into a safe place for children...." Quoted in "Oak Lawn Library Vows to Keep Playboy on Shelf," by Jo Napolitano, Chicago Tribune, Jun. 23, 2005. Oh, here's another gem from Judith Krug: "I have a real problem when people say, 'Well I walked by and you should have seen what was on the computer screen.' Well, don't look, sweetie. It's none of your business. Avert your eyes." ["A Library That Would Rather Block Than Offend," by Pamela Mendels, The New York Times, Jan. 18, 1997.]

Now while you said and everyone agrees that we all "have never met a librarian who has failed to take the concerns of a parent seriously," I think you and I and everyone here can see Judith Krug fails to take the concerns of the parents seriously, and she is the top policy maker in the top section of the ALA doing it top activity, according to the Editor-in-Chief of the Library Journal, as I noted in my previous post.

Can we all agree that the Judith Krug quotes presented above illustrate a total disregard, or at a minimum a lack of caring, for the safety of children in public libraries, and necessarily for the concerns of parents? Can we all agree that while we all love so many librarians the very one at the top of the librarian hierarchy makes truly unbelievable statements for someone in her position of power and influence?

This is what I am talking about. This is why I am doing what I am doing. This lady is out of control and out of step with the law, the US Supreme Court, and the public in general. Yet she stands at the pinnacle of the library profession, making pronouncements that affect thousands and thousands of public libraries and public schools nationwide. When the US Supreme Court says in US v. ALA (2003) "The interest in protecting young library users from material inappropriate for minors is legitimate, and even compelling, as all Members of the Court appear to agree," but the ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom, meaning Krug, responds by saying "Despite the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA), which permits the government to require libraries that receive certain kinds of federal funding to install filters, ALA policy is unchanged," and libraries decide to follow Krug instead of the US Supreme Court, I see this as, well, I don't know how she gets away with this total drive to push porn on kids even against the weight of the US Supreme Court and everyone goes along with it like the ALA is some sort of authority we are supposed to take so seriously.

Does anyone here think "young library users" should not be "protected from material inappropriate for minors" when the US Supreme Court says "The interest in protecting young library users from material inappropriate for minors is legitimate, and even compelling, as all Members of the Court appear to agree"? Really, does anyone here think doing the exact opposite of what the US Supreme Court says to do is the proper thing to do, even legal? Judith Krug, likely with her years of experience as a Director in the ACLU, has no problem whatsoever doing the exact opposite of the US Supreme Court where the Court stands in the way of her agenda.

Judith Krug, the person setting ALA policy, the decades-long de facto leader of the ALA, the person doing the most to create and maintain the separation of librarians from any responsibily at all toward children, has actually gone so far as to say, essentially, that parents who don't buy their children Playboy magazine don't really care for their children. "Parents who would tell their children not to read Playboy 'don't really care about their kids growing up and learning to think and explore.'"

Can there be anything much more shocking than that? Can anyone consider the ALA to be an honest source of information under these circumstances? Parents, while they should and must get involved with selecting their children's book, can they possibly make an informed decision when the person at the top of the ALA is so misinformed about the needs of parents for information, and probably intentionally so?

11:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a writer of young-adult novels, and I just wanted to add to the discussion that many of us are not just writers, but parents also. Same goes for librarians — this is not a war between besieged parents on one side and the uh, One Ring that Binds Us on the other.

I know as a parent how challenging (sometimes anxiety-attack provoking) it can be to watch our kids develop so quickly from babies to preschoolers to charming little bundles of school-age curiousity and then, in a flash, to tweens and teens who are suddenly not quite under our control anymore and interested in things that seem too much, too soon.

I also understand quite well how terrifying it is to know we are launching our precious children into a culture that our personal values may be quite at odds with.

I do believe that the difficulty of these feelings, this anxiety and terror we sometimes feel as our kids grow up, is a big part of why the idea of BOOKS being the problem or LIBRARIANS being the problem seems to make some intuitive sense to some people. These are concrete targets and they give a false sense that something is being done to alleviate the alleged problem -- that kids as young as 12 can and should be "protected" from the topic of human sexuality.

It makes intuitive sense that the world is flat, too. But it's not.

Books are good for our kids. Librarians are the flame-keepers of our brilliant American traditions of freedom of speech and a tolerant, diverse and secular public life that fully respects the private religious practices of its citizens.

Children and teens are absolutely interested in sexual information, and they are getting plenty of it -- from tv, movies, music, video games, the internet, from each other, from life experience, hopefully from their parents and teachers, and from what they read.

Good books are an excellent source of information for kids. Good books, like Looking for Alaska, show sexual activity in a human context, with feelings and ambivalence and consequences -- just like real life!

Porn is a totally different animal. It's tells a big lie about what sex is like, what desire and fulfillment are, how people should treat each other. It's totally misleading to use the word "porn" to talk about any art that represents human sexuality. That's a big lie too, and it pulls the rug out from any reasoned discussion of this topic.

Kids whose good books are taken out of reach will learn about sexuality from porn, Grand Theft Auto and each other.

Buy them a good book instead. Talk openly about sexual subjects. Make friends with your librarian so you and your kid can be steered toward good books.

We can't keep our kids in bubbles, and we'll always worry that they are growing up too fast in a troubled world. It's important to acknowledge the real anxiety that parents face. Our kids live their lives in a soup of technology-driven communication and information that did not even exist when we were their age, in a culture where nothing is taboo.

That particular horse, however, has already left the barn. It's our job to raise our kids and give them the knowledge and real values to safely navigate this culture, not lock them in towers, or soothe our fears and feelings of helplessness by attacking easy if misguided targets.

Now more than ever, books are good for our kids. Librarians are parents' allies, not our enemies.

Maryrose Wood

6:52 AM  
Blogger plan2succeed.org said...

Maryrose Wood, welcome. And once again, I have to agree with you completely, but you too are missing the point. First of all, in the decision to make all information available to children or to protect them from such information, one could fall on either side. Why fall on the side of all information instead of the other side of protecting children? The laws and the US Supreme Court cases and the community standards and poll after poll after poll fall on the side of protecting children from inappropriate information.

The "Office for Intellectual Freedom" of the ALA on the other hand falls on the other side. They do not even inform parents with an accurate, unbiased description of what's inside a child's book. Why not? If they believe children should have access to this, well that's fine, but why not just honestly describe the books so parents can make informed decisions for themselves? Why say all books are wonderful when for some parents that is clearly not the case?

There is some kind of fundamental unfairness when the ALA refuses to properly inform people about the books, particularly where they say the books are wonderful, but make no information known about potential causes of concern for some if not most parents.

Falling on the side of "anything goes" in the case of the ALA, the supposed gurus of the excellence of books (when they are just librarians, and authors should be the gurus of books), necessarily means the ALA fails in its job of informing parents with information needed to make proper decisions about books. For example, there was the case of a school librarian who removed a sexually inappropriate book from her school. When asked why she allowed the book in the first place, she said she had only read the ALA blurb on the ALA web site and the book was glowingly written up.

Would you want me to give your child any random shot from any random needle and not inform you of the true nature of the injected liquid or the source of the needle used? Addicts do that, but not doctors. The same should go for the ALA. I see no reason why it should get a free pass just because of its size, power, and past laurels. It's still injecting unknown substances into children's minds and not informing the parents of the true nature of the injection.

Lastly, as to LFA, calling that stuff "human sexuality" is like saying murder is "part of the natural cycle of life." Further, LFA goes on to specifically describe scenes from porn movies, step by step, blow by blow. So your argument that LFA does not contain porn is, in this specific case, incorrect.

As far as the horse already left the barn, that may be for older kids, but new ones come up each year and are injected with the ALA's mystery substance that it purposely refuses to disclose. I am only trying to take the mystery out the equation, and only then by adhering to existing law, Court cases, and community standards that the ALA takes delight in defying. I am tired of reading story after story of the latest kid raped or molested somewhere where they would not have been so injured but for the ALA's directives advising people to skirt the law. Aren't you?

7:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is too much. This is great. This is entertainment of the highest quality.
I should introduce myself first – so that Plan2succeed.org can welcome me to the forum in a polite and friendly before bowing to no argument or reasoning.
I am Australian, I am a creative writing post-graduate student studying young adult writing. I have not read Looking For Alaska. There.

Now – sex sex sex. Yes. Sex sex sex sex. So far we’ve had no less than two 12 year olds declare an interest in books about sex. Not sex itself, but books about it. They’re curious (as we all are) and they’re not growing away from a sexual world, they’re growing towards it, whether they like it or not. Sex is indeed just sex, people touching, feeling, emoting etc. It can be a fine thing. But when it’s compared to drugs, rape and murder by the likes of people like Plan2succeed.org, things get a little confusing.
I realise that the majority of Plan2succeed.org’s debate is centred around the ALA recommending books with sex in them to people as though they didn’t contain any sex. Particularly Judith Krug’s crusade against the recommendations of the Supreme Court seem to be causing a lot of bother. So she’s telling people to spread the information around see what happens. So that could be a little irresponsible. So a twelve-year-old picks up a book with a horrible, nasty sex scene in it. So there are descriptions of penises and vaginas in there. What next? What do you really imagine our sheltered little hypothetical twelve-year-old will do after s/he reads this colourful and graphic scene? Will they cry? Maybe. Will they feel ‘weird’? Maybe. Will they walk around for days afterwards thinking about it? Probably. Is that such a terrible thing? Is it? Do you seriously think that exposure to this kind of material will provoke some kind of immediate, life-changing, unalterable negative effect? Do video games make people violent?
You’ve had the twelve-year-olds saying they’ll read the books anyway. You’ve had authors, librarians and parents all saying that the opportunity to read sex in a book is much worse than the opportunity not to. You’re still not going to be swayed from the opinion that Judith Krug should play by the rules and tell people when there’s sex in books. Maybe you could be suggesting some kind of innovative, standardised ratings system for books like we have for movies and video games instead of railing against Krug’s crusade to end childhood innocence. Although I’m betting that this won’t work as intended by those who put it in place – putting a ‘This book contains sex’ sticker on the front not only demeans literature by categorising novels by the things that offend conservative taste, but it would also have a lot more kids reading those books (you know what I mean). And what is sex in a book? Does a dream count? How about an autobiography? What about metaphor - ‘The man sat in the little boat, rowing as fast as he could’ etc? What about bad sex? What happens when sex is okay, but rape is too much? Someone would write a book whose plot revolved around the nature of consent and then we’d all be stuck.
Let the kids read. Write to the lovely Judith Krug and explain to her your issues with her abuse of power. Let the kids play on the swings and fall off and skin their knees.

Ps. “ I am tired of reading story after story of the latest kid raped or molested somewhere where they would not have been so injured but for the ALA's directives advising people to skirt the law.
You can’t be serious. Please please please post links to the stories where the ALA is named as responsible for rape and molestation. I can’t believe this story hasn’t received more attention. “Librarians Incite Sex Crimes!” Shocking. Truly shocking.

11:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, have a computer go out on ya, and come back to a full-blown, fascinating debate here on the AS IF! blog...

There's a lot to respond to, and I appreciate Plan2Succeed's willingness to stick with it, debate-wise. I did want to speak to the ding against the ACLU, since they frequently go to bat for authors, and the right to read (as far as I can tell, they usually do the most "American" work of all...)

I also want to underscore Brent's comment about YA being a "new" category -- for those of us graybeards who have since grown up to become writers ourselves...

There were kid books and grown-up books, and I went back and forth and read both, from about nine years old, on.

I read "Manchurian Candidate" in 4th grade (some strong sex stuff there) but at the time, was reading it for the politics. Though later on, I snuck my parents' copies of Henry Miller off their shelves...

...while still reading Ray Bradbury short stories, sci-fi tales, and the occasional "Batman" comic.

(hmmm.. maybe my overall mix hasn't changed all that much...)

I find many more things in society startling and corrosive than oral sex descriptions, and if I'm frequently stumped by which books the ALA chooses to award, it's usually for different reasons entirely.

1:06 PM  
Blogger Melinda R. Cordell said...

Hey guys!

Fun stuff. I just gotta say that I feel that Plan is a little off in his understanding of young adults.

I'm a writer for young adults, but I'm also a substitute teacher for area high schools. I love the job because I get to eavesdrop on these kids. I write down conversations, I listen to them in the hall, peek at the books they read and the songs they listen to on their i-Pods and CD players. It's fun.

Man, you would freak out if you've heard some of the things I've overheard! But I think you would also be encouraged. They aren't completely clueless. But they are pretty fixated on, shall I say it, sex.

Remember when you were in high school, and when all the hormones hit, and you had zits and kept falling in love with people who never looked at you, etc.? And there was the little sex thing. Young adults do think about sex in their everyday lives. And if you listen to Hollywood, only one thing matters, just one thing. (Well, okay, let's make it two things and include violence.)

What the novelist has to deal with is treading the path between showing life as it really is and tastefulness. We really do take pains to do this, believe it or not. Our characters are teens, a walking mess of hormones. But different characters respond to sex in different ways. My shy main character sings Broadway musicals in order to cope, i.e., "just singing about sexual tension instead of going out and experiencing it first hand." While the MC of my other novel is -- no way to put this nicely -- a male slut. But he has to start thinking about his choices when he falls devastatingly, Dante-like, in love.

And I just have to say that the ALA doesn't choose books based on their sex scenes, they choose them based on literary content. Go back and read the book, this time paying attention to the book's structure and theme and how this works with plot and characterization. Don't just say, "Yikes, it's a penis!" Every boy has them, I'm told.

Just curious -- do you also worry about the sexual content of grown-up novels? Do adults need to be protected from these?

(Though you gotta admit, there are some adults that could use the help!)


5:19 PM  
Blogger plan2succeed.org said...

Well, I just read the last three posts and it appears the common theme is, essentially, who cares, kids know about sex anyway, and they're not going to melt after all. Now "franzy" is not going to like my tone here, but you may all be correct. I don't know. My point, however, is that there must be a reason for these laws and Supreme Court cases.

You are all suggesting that we just shrug off the existing laws. You are suggesting a whole bunch of uptight people went nuts and tried to protect kids from things they are going to see anyway. Sorry, "franzy," but you all may be right again. I'm not smart enough to know. (But you are all ignoring, perhaps conveniently, the corollary, that the ALA went nuts and fundamentally changed librarians relationships to children.)

All I want, however, is to ... now are you all sitting down ...

Are you sitting down?

Hola, Dora! Hola, Boots! Dora, some nice people wrote you a nice law to protect you from yucky things. Isn't that nice? Then some more people tried to block that law, so bad things might happen to you. But don't worry, Dora, some more nice people in beautiful black robes, one with racing stripes, made sure people understood those bad people were wrong, and you are much safer now. Only now a few years have passed and the bad people are convincing other people that the people in the beautiful black robes were wrong. So, Dora, should people do what those nice people in beautiful black robes, one with racing stripes, said to do, or should they do what the bad people want and forget the good ones ever existed?

Now Dora is a lovable, popular character but she does not know all the nuances and legalities of CIPA, US v. ALA, and other applicable laws. However, if someone asks her if people should do what the nice people who act to protect children want, or if instead they should forget those nice people ever existed and children will continue to be assaulted, I'll bet Dora would make the right choice. Si?

You guys are essentially saying, ah, who cares about existing laws, children don't really need protection anyway--what's the harm after all? Even Dora knows that's wrong. Of course she hasn't grown up enough to make excuses for not otherwise following the law.

Now I've been criticized for being nice. I apologize. But if we set aside our differences, we really are all enjoying writing back and forth to each other. I've also been criticized for alluding to children's books. That's not my usual habit. I'm just doing that here as a nod to children's book writers everywhere.

By the way, on a separate note, let me tell you what book I read as a child that had the biggest effect on me, and it wasn't a child's book either! SiReNs!! WoWWW WWooWW! Plan2Succeed admits reading an adult book as a child!!! ;-) Well the book, at least the one I can remember, was The Andromeda Strain, by Michael Crichton. I was FASCINATED! I read it 5 times in a row! I've been fascinated with science ever since. And have you seen that movie? SCARY! But, as usual, the book was better. Hats off to you authors.

6:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the 12 year old back here

Hey, that Dora thing really freaked me out! And those men in black robes... I don't know, man... you are really scaring me now

I'm out of here

7:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep - great tone! Love it, love it. Keep the debate coming. Not really sure what Dora comments are all about, I think we can all understand each other without pretending to cartoon characters.

I believe I understand what your problem is: the Supreme Court has set down some rules. They are a bunch of smart people, they wouldn't just make stuff up on a whim. Their function is to serve the people and to protect them and their interests. The ALA is deliberately disobeying those rules, and that is WRONG. That is naughty and illegal and they should abide by the law.

BUT (he proclaimed, finger held high) laws can be changed and challenged. Laws can change with the times. Laws made with everybody's best interests at heart have been changed before, right? Those changes don't necessarily originate from within the government or judicial systems either. At the risk of sounding patronising: that's democracy.

Surely the ALA is in a better position than a bunch of conservative judges to make decisions about children's/YA literature? Or am I mistaken about the role of the supreme court in the US?
I know they make laws, I know those laws are to be followed by all good citizens, but isn’t becoming apparent through this discussion and the state of contemporary YA literature that those laws need to be challenged?
Plan2 (can I call you Plan2?) you are fighting a two-pronged argument here. Prong one appears to be against the ALA’s breaking of the law, which one would assume they are not doing for no good reason and Prong two appears to be about the exposure of younger-than-you’d-like children being exposed to sexual content. I think Prong one is resisting the idea of any challenge to authority, which is a dangerous thing in itself and Prong two is wildly overstating the impact of sexual content in YA books on young adults and a weeny bit patronising in itself.
Prong three, the linking of reading to sexual abuse, I’m still unclear on. You mentioned it again to Dora and Boots, but left it open. This is very concerning. If you have any evidence linking reading to the sexual abuse of minors (or anyone), please share it with this forum and we will do all we can to stop this horrible chain of cause and effect.

8:48 PM  
Blogger plan2succeed.org said...

Franzy. You hit the nail on the head, almost. I'm not saying the ALA is breaking or transgressing the law. It is not, I hope, though I suspect it is in some instances, but I like to point to sources, and I have not done the research on that issue yet.

The ALA is, however, skirting the law. That means it is not breaking it but it is somehow getting around it.

Oh the Dora thing. Dora is a popular child's character right now. I was writing in Dora style to simplify the issue, among other reasons. (My kid was watching the same episode over and over again.) The black robes are the US Supreme Court. The racing stripes was Chief Justice Rehnquist who had 3 stripes added to each arm to set himself apart from the others. The new Chief Justice does not use the racing stripes. Apparently my simplifying things didn't work because even the 12 year old didn't get it!

As to times changing and there no longer being a need for people to follow the law, you have to know that is was the ALA itself that lost the case and immediately set out to minimize it the very day it was decided. This is not a question of democracy, more a question of defiance of the US Supreme Court.

Please, please read the case. It is one of the major sources I use to make my arguments. Not religion, not morality, not anything like that, I just look at the law and see the lengths to which the ALA goes to skirt the law. Please read US v. ALA. Everyone read it, except the 12 year old -- it's lots of legal gobbledygook for you.

The US Supreme Court, the top court in the USA, addresses every issue head on, the same ones the ALA raises again and again in local communities as if the case doesn't exist. The ALA just plain lost, and lost big. Oh it claims it was a partial victory for them. That's just lawyerly bravado. It was a fiasco for them. That's why they are trying to skirt it. The case answers your questions, what you call my prong 1 and prong 2.

Prong 3: What books are causing sexual abuse? None that I know of. But the way the ALA goes about skirting the law affects more than just books. It affects Internet filters on library computers as well. While the case of US v. ALA found a law designed to require Internet filters in public libraries to be constitutional, the ALA has advised libraries how to get around this law. Therefore, some libraries that would have had Internet filters after US v. ALA decided not to use such filters. I have links to documents where local libarians admit this. In those libraries that would have been filtered but for the ALA's advice not to use filters, children may be raped or molested by adults using the unfiltered computers. I further believe their are actual cases having occurred in actual libraries fitting the description I gave. I say it is only a matter of time before someone, post US v. ALA, brings suit against the ALA for the damage done to a child that would not have been done had the library complied with the law instead of with the ALA. One possible case is here: Support Fund.

Let me say this as well. My web site is not radical left or radical right. We praise former President Bill Clinton for signing CIPA, the Children's Internet Protection Act that was found constitutional in US v. ALA, for example. Further, those wanting to protect children from this and the ALA's agenda include Republicans and Democrats. Democrats, in my opinion, often get the most done because Republicans, trying to do the same things as the Democrats, get accused of being right wing or religious nuts. Well no one accuses the Democrats of that so their arguments, even if the same as Republicans, are seen as being more based on reason instead of other factors. To that end, the Democratic Mayor of Phoenix has, in my opinion, had the most success in halting the ALA's agenda, in this case in Phoenix, Arizona, USA public libraries. This is really not a left or right issue. I myself have been accused of being radical left, radical right, and dozens of other lovely things in between. It doesn't bother me at all. I'm not doing this to force my views on anyone. I'm doing this to expose how the ALA is forcing its views on the nation, and in light of US v. ALA, this is especially egregious. Before US v. ALA, the ALA's crazy view that it is age discrimination for a librarian to keep a child from inappropriate material was, as you say, a part of democracy.

But now, after the ALA lost big in US v. ALA, the ALA has not turned ship to follow the course set for it. Instead it goes on to ensure children have unfettered access to anything at all, just as if the case never existed. Now that is just plain wrong. And my being the messenger saying that doesn't make me into the nasty things the ALA says about me or people like me in an effort to try to boost its own image.

If I and others like me are successful, less children will be raped or molested in public libraries, or exposed to inappropriate sexual material. There is nothing wrong with that.

10:13 PM  
Blogger Melinda R. Cordell said...

Whoa Bessie!

It sounds to me like you're saying that librarians are encouraging adults to rape and molest kids!

I'd definitely like you to back up that claim. All the librarians I know are nice people and wouldn't go for a thing like that. I myself was interested in getting a library degree, and I never noticed "Committing Sex Crimes" on the curriculum. I don't see articles like that in the ALA Journal, either.

Back up your claims, please. Just because one librarian approves books you don't like doesn't mean that all librarians are depraved.


9:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's not how I see it, Melinda. It clear to me he is talking about some Krug person at the ALA that somehow is setting some agenda, although I don't see any clear links yet, but I'm beginning to get the point. I looked at his "Support Fund" page. I think he's saying that is an example of a crime that might not have happened if only the library listened to the law (is a court case a law?) instead of the ALA "skirting" the law. Yes? If that's the truth, its pretty bad. Personally, I think the situation must be pretty bad if people have to set up "support funds" for victims of crimes in libraries, even after that case he begs averyone to read.

3:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi. I'm a young adult novelist and my books contain some mature content, so to speak. I have been a member of As If! from inception.

I think we often judge young adult literature as if it were giving a message: watch porn! don't watch porn! do drugs! don't do drugs!
As if it were a billboard.
It is literature. It is made for contemplation, discussion, dislike, even.
A book is not a message.

I've read Looking for Alaska. Two teenagers do watch a porn movie for a couple minutes, get bored and turn it off. They are looking for a deeper connection. They are showing off their bravado, and essentially fail. There is a lot of discussion in that book about men idealizing women (sexually and otherwise) and what it means. The porn scene is not porn because it's not in there to titilate. It's in there because Green is exploring these topics intelligently and from many angles. He's not advocating porn, or condemning it, or trying to let us see a little of it even. It's literature, not a billboard for a value system.

5:32 PM  
Blogger Melinda R. Cordell said...

Hey anonymous (the latest one) --

As far as I understand it, the law is what is passed by the legislating body (either the state or the national one) and the court cases are interpretations of the law. If the Supreme Court rules to overturn a law, then the new law they've written becomes the norm.

But don't quote me!


6:24 PM  
Blogger plan2succeed.org said...

All, don't have much time to answer. More time tomorrow. As to "e. lockhart," I am not judging the books or their contents. I am saying the long term, most trusted book recommendation source, the ALA, should not be recommending sexually inappropriate books for twelve year olds and up without providing adequate notice that it is doing so. Really, that sound totally reasonable.

4:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Plan2 - sorry mate, it's all just going downhill from here.
You've made your point that laws shouldn't be broken, yet you haven’t provided an alternative to the quite totalitarian view of "We should just always do what they say".
You've made your point that the ALA should provide more detailed information about the subject matter of the books they recommend, yet you haven’t really explored the issues surrounding the subject matter that you feel people should be more informed about. (Nb. You often describe children being exposed to “inappropriate sexual material” – have you thought this concept through? I’d be interested to hear exactly what sexual material you feel is appropriate for 12-year-olds).
It feels like each point you make is boiling down to the same argument: "But it's just WRONG!". That’s all well and good to feel that way, but you never move onto the more taxing questions in life: why?
I believe you are over-simplifying a complicated issue by refusing to enter into a meaningful debate on any of the issues that have been raised in this forum. You’ve never really asked yourself ‘why’ and answered in a defensible way. Understandably. Moral arguments often don’t hold up well under such scrutiny.
Yes, the ALA DOES have its own agenda, I’ll give you that, but I don’t think that it’s “corrupting young people” as you seem to believe, I think their agenda is “promoting reading and thinking”.
They are not the FDA. They are not in place to protect people. No, they’re not. As E. Lockhart so eloquently put it: a book is not a message. Nor is it a command or a text taken as the absolute truth. No book is like that (yes, no book). A book is an organisation of ideas, nothing more.
I believe you are doing readers everywhere a disservice by implying that they don’t have the capacity to handle material written on a page. That’s why every other person on this page is getting all snicketty with you: on a base level, you’re saying that they can’t think for themselves and make judgements about the world around them. Even the 12-year-olds – especially the 12-year-olds.

And one more thing, speaking of agendas: 8-year-old girl molested in bathroom at library by homeless man there to look at internet porn? What could have prevented such a tragedy? The ALA not providing information to libraries about how to avoid internet restrictions? Are you serious? You’re blaming the ALA’s stance on information restriction for that? What about the other factors that could have more easily and forseeably prevented this tragedy? Like:
Children being allowed in public libraries?
Children unsupervised in public libraries?
Internet access in public libraries?
Unmonitored computers where inappropriate material can be accessed in public libraries?
Any naughty material at all in public libraries that people of questionable moral standards can access?
Closed toilet facilities in public libraries?
Security guards in public libraries?
Homeless people allowed in public libraries?

If you were really really concerned about this case, then you would not be trotting it out as “proof” that the ALA’s stance on censorship is resulting in actual harm to the very people it claims to support.

7:02 AM  
Blogger Laura Ruby said...

Some last comments about the ALA and the Internet and then I think I'm going to get back to work. You can see if you go to this page:
ALA Library Fact Sheet to find out about the ALA's policies on Internet filters (which were already in use in a lot of libraries even before the 2003 Supreme Court decision). Far from offering advice on how libraries can "skirt the law," this fact sheet talks about the use of filters, the cost of filters, etc. Other articles on the ALA website give examples of case studies in which Internet filters/policies were implemented to both comply with community standards and alleviate parental concerns pre-2003.

In other words, I don't believe librarians are the demons here.

As for the ALA recommending "sexually inappropriate" books for 12-year-olds, as Brent pointed out, books eligible for the Printz awards are those books written for people anywhere from the age of 12-18. That doesn't mean that every book that is recognized by the Printz committee is appropriate for the very youngest of that range. And, as you can see here, Plan2succeed, many of us don't believe that Looking For Alaska is inappropriate for the high schoolers it's intended for. And therein lies the problem. Who gets decide what is and isn't appropriate? And if it's parents, do certain parents get to decide for ALL parents?

Perhaps it is time to revisit that very broad 12-18 age range and split it into two (frankly, it already is split functionally, with books designated "middle grade" for those 10-14 and YA for those over 14, with an over 16 range emerging lately.) Shelving and space issues do exist, and what many of us keep trying to tell you is that the librarians discuss and debate this endlessly to find the right solutions.

I have another point to make here that I think is important. Sexuality does not equal porn. Pornorgraphy is sexuality (or violence) stripped of all context and comment, existing only to inflame. Pornography, to quote Maryrose, is a lie. John Green, in Looking For Alaska, chose to expose porn for what it is -- boring, disconnected, limiting. This is not a message a lot of kids are getting when they stumble on porn on their own.

Which leads me to your point about the ALA having some sort of responsibility in alerting parents to the content of books (which, as I've said, librarians do all the time). But I'm guessing that you mean some sort of labeling? What kinds of labels would make sense? The kinds on movies, "Strong sexual content"? or whatever? But what is THAT supposed to mean? What exactly IS strong sexual content? Is it contextual? Necessary? Gratuitious? And how strong is strong? (Even though movies use those sorts of designations, I STILL look up reviews on the Internet to understand what might be appropriate and what might not be.) Designations for language and violence are equally muddy. The Printz winner for last year was a book called "How I Live Now," which contained no graphic sexuality but did describe life during wartime in some pretty brutal, though realistic and appropriate terms. I would have no idea how to label that particular book. And then there's the issue of all these labels reducing works of literature to a single sex scene or handful of "bad" words. (Not to mention the very real difference between the way we process the written word vs. the way we process visual images).

Contrary to popular belief, reading isn't necessarily prescriptive for teens. Just because they read a scene in which someone smokes a cigarette, or jumps off a cliff, or rides a broom, or has sex, or attacks someone, doesn't mean that the teen reader will drop that book and go out to DO exactly what they read about. Real literature is not a list of instructions and I don't believe teens treat books that way. I know, because I was an avid reader as a teen. Instead of pushing me to explore behaviors I wasn't ready for, books helped me think about things before I was confronted with difficult choices.

And, finally, I think it is a huge leap to say that including books like LFA or How I Live Now or Speak or a host of other books in teen sections somehow leads to the physical mistreatment of children by adults (i.e., books like these are the equivalent of putting loaded guns on library tables).

I understand the anxiety of letting our children make their way in the world. And I understand wanting to limit what your children see and read (and you have that right). But just like I believe that librarians are passionate about finding the right materials for each individual family, I believe that the authors of teen books are just as passionate about helping teens to make sense of the very real world they are living in, and trusting them to have brains in their heads even though they might lack experience. Sometimes the books we write will be cheerful and uplifting, other times, they won't be. Perhaps the answer isn't poring over books to count the number swear words on the pages but looking at ourselves to see what kind of role models we are. And then we can do something totally radical: we can talk to our teens about it.

7:21 AM  
Blogger Lisa Yee said...

Wow, fascinating thread here.

I am an author and a mom, and a member of AS IF! And while my kids are too young for books like LOOKING FOR ALASKA (which I loved), I think it is up to me to discuss the reasons why with my own children.

Is it possible that one of my kids will pick up a book that I don't feel they are ready for. Yes, yes, of course. I know I read PLENTY of books that would have made my parents cringe.

However, I also read hundreds of wonderful books as well. And honestly, I can't remember any of the salacious books I read. Nor do I recall becoming jaded, a pervert or a sex fiend.

We are not discussing manditory reading here, rather freedom of choice. That said, I think that responsible adults, like parents, teachers and librarians can help guide kids to books they feel they might benefit from. Or at the very least, provide a sounding board to discuss controversial books, their meaning and their content.

But even if a dialog never takes place, to deny a young person the right to choose what they read is a sad state of affairs.

11:37 AM  
Blogger plan2succeed.org said...

Ouch. You know anyone reading this can see I get kind of ganged up on. Except a few "anonymous" posters here and there. Basically you all have the same message, 1) freedom and 2) let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

Where to start. Where to start.

Brent Hartinger. Let's start with him. He started this thread, after all. Professor Hartinger said in his other blog that's tracking this one, "I'm glad there are websites that document the content of teen books, so parents can have more info."

Bingo! I agree completely. The Professor goes on to say such web sites essentially have agendas of their own, but his clear implication is that 1) the ALA has fallen down on the job, 2) he agrees providing people with some kind of notice about the contents of books is at least potentially worthwhile, and 3) some existing reputable source should consider some appropriate rating system satisfactory and available to all. At least that's what I read in this statements.

Where next. Where next.

Ah. The US Supreme Court. "The interest in protecting young library users from material inappropriate for minors is legitimate, and even compelling, as all Members of the Court appear to agree." US v. ALA. All members. Unanimous. 100%.

And from Board of Education v. Pico: "With respect to the present case, the message of these precedents is clear. Petitioners rightly possess significant discretion to determine the content of their school libraries. But that discretion may not be exercised in a narrowly partisan or political manner. If a Democratic school board, motivated by party affiliation, ordered the removal of all books [457 U.S. 853, 871] written by or in favor of Republicans, few would doubt that the order violated the constitutional rights of the students denied access to those books. The same conclusion would surely apply if an all-white school board, motivated by racial animus, decided to remove all books authored by blacks or advocating racial equality and integration. Our Constitution does not permit the official suppression of ideas. Thus whether petitioners' removal of books from their school libraries denied respondents their First Amendment rights depends upon the motivation behind petitioners' actions. If petitioners intended by their removal decision to deny respondents access to ideas with which petitioners disagreed, and if this intent was the decisive factor in petitioners' decision, 22 then petitioners have exercised their discretion in violation of the Constitution. To permit such intentions to control official actions would be to encourage the precise sort of officially prescribed orthodoxy unequivocally condemned in Barnette. On the other hand, respondents implicitly concede that an unconstitutional motivation would not be demonstrated if it were shown that petitioners had decided to remove the books at issue because those books were pervasively vulgar. Tr. of Oral Arg. 36. And again, respondents concede that if it were demonstrated that the removal decision was based solely upon the "educational suitability" of the books in question, then their removal would be "perfectly permissible." Id., at 53. In other words, in respondents' view such motivations, if decisive of petitioners' actions, would not carry the danger of an official suppression of ideas, and thus would not violate respondents' First Amendment rights."

Maybe you all ought to read that again.

My own opinions? Franzy asks about my own opinions? Someone else asked what the standard should be and which parents get to decide? Irrelevant! Who cares what we think! The case was not Plan2Succeed v. ALA.

It was US v. ALA. It was Board of Education v. Pico. Those are where the standards are set. Those are the standards the ALA is not following. That failure to follow those standards is what I'm exposing. That failure is what I'm suggesting is endangering children.

I was even questioned on my definition of "inappropriate sexual material." Who cares? That's not the issue. That's the way to divert people from the issue. The issue is the US Supreme Court and various laws have set the standard, and the ALA is unilaterally deciding to not follow that standard. Just because I cannot articulate the standard perfectly does not mean it does not exist.

Was the little girl in Philadelphia, was she attacked due to the ALA. I don't know, but it sure seems quite possible under the circumstances of that case. It's just a matter of time before someone sues the ALA, post US v. ALA, because there's already a pre case, and I guarantee these issues will come before the court. And courts are often very careful to weigh all the evidence and not be swayed by propaganda. We'll just have to see what happens then.

I thank you all for your continued interest in this matter, and now off with the kids again.

2:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is getting beyond hysterical! I haven't checked back to a forum site so much in years!
Plan2, I'm sorry - I've over-complicated things. I'll ask you straight out:
If the ALA is made of librarians who know about books'n'stuff and the supreme court is made up of 9 people who are there to interpret long legal documents and principles, who do you think is best suited to make decisions on behalf of contemporary young readers?
If you took the two groups of people out on the street and took a straw poll, who do you think people would pick to scrutinise books for children? a) This bunch of nice people in black robes? or b) The librarians?
I KNOW you're making a point of law. Point taken. I want you to go beyond that and ask WHY this law is being challenged and WHY you have a problem with that. And no sneaking back to "we must obey the constitution". Let the legal stuff go for a moment and think about WHY you keep coming back.

ps. I'm going to keep coming back to this girl in the library. I will not let this rest. Say the library DID have filters and the man DIDN'T visit library ever and the little girl was spared. What if he was at the beach to look at women in bikinis when he decided to attack a little girl? Would you suggest that women cover up on the beach? Could someone conceivably sue a swimwear manufacturor for the attack?
Questions, questions, so many questions and not an answer in sight.

6:06 PM  
Blogger plan2succeed.org said...


It is clear you are enjoying yourself with statements like, "This is getting beyond hysterical! I haven't checked back to a forum site so much in years!" I credit Brent Hartinger for recognizing an important issue and highlighting it in the first place.

Now, on to the issues. For first question is, "If the ALA is made of librarians who know about books'n'stuff and the supreme court is made up of 9 people who are there to interpret long legal documents and principles, who do you think is best suited to make decisions on behalf of contemporary young readers?"

Off the top of my head, here is your answer. The ALA. However, there's more to your question than that simple answer. Your question redefines the ALA. It is redefined as "librarians who know about books'n'stuff." Would that it were.

The principal person at the ALA, according to the ALA itself as I explained above, is Judith Krug. Your "librarians who know about books'n'stuff" take second fiddle to her and her Orwellian "Office for Intellectual Freedom." I have no doubt at all that most librarians, perhaps almost all, do not hold the radical, extremist views of Judith Krug, and for sure not a single other librarian is in the position to force her views into the ranks of librarians nationwide like she does.

Like the librarian who told me about why she is displaying an award for LFA although she would not recommend the book to the age group the ALA recommends. Like the librarian who told me she hates to give such books to children when they ask just because they are ALA awarded or placed them on ALA Top Tens lists. Like the librarian who told me she wanted to call the Police about the child sex offender in her library that had been kicked out of a neighboring town's library for using library computers to troll for children but her library director told her not to -- he has freedoms, you know -- so she went home and called the Police from her home. Like the former ALA librarian who told me she quit years ago because of the radical, extremist positions the ALA takes on political matters that have nothing to do with libraries or the library profession.

Now as to the Court. Because Krug runs the ALA show, because Krug decided to challenge the law that protected children from harm, because the ALA actually did challenge the law, the case went to the Court and the Court decided against the ALA. That's done and over with. You can't go back now. You can't make believe it never happened. It's too late for "straw polls." And the Court did not "scrutinise books for children" neither is it expected to, nor does it ever, except in the context of a particular matter before it.

So, if your original question were reworded in light of reality, some other entity would be considered, while the ALA loses out. Again. Just like they did in US v. ALA.

Your second question is this: "I KNOW you're making a point of law. Point taken. I want you to go beyond that and ask WHY this law is being challenged and WHY you have a problem with that. And no sneaking back to ‘we must obey the constitution’. Let the legal stuff go for a moment and think about WHY you keep coming back."

Again, the way you ask the questions assumes something that is not true. You ask why the law is being challenged. It isn't. It's being ignored. The legal challenges are over. The highest court in the land says what I quoted above. Yet the ALA, read Judith Krug now, is apparently ignoring the case. In the United States of America, people are not supposed to ignore US Supreme Court cases, yet that is essentially what the ALA is advising local libraries to do, in my opinion. And that is partly why I have a problem with the ALA's actions. I have respect for the rule of law. Another major part of my problem with the ALA is that, as a possible consequence of the ALA's actions, children continue to be raped and molested in public libraries nationwide in a way that might not be occurring but for the ALA's actions.

Now on to your PS. "I'm going to keep coming back to this girl in the library. I will not let this rest." Franzy, that is fantastic. That shows me you truly want to get to the bottom of the issue. I agree with you completely and look forward to the day when the ALA is sued on this or a similar case. There are plenty of them. Only through a lawsuit will the proper resources be brought to bear on the ALA. I can't do it alone. And that's what the ALA fears, the shining of the light of day on that case and other similar cases. Hence the need for the propaganda campaign to avert people from the true cause and effect of continued harm to children in public libraries. However, you are now curious enough to take a specific interest in that case. Wonderful! Now I need to get enough other people interested enough so something finally gets done about it.

You then say, "What if he was at the beach to look at women in bikinis when he decided to attack a little girl? Would you suggest that women cover up on the beach? Could someone conceivably sue a swimwear manufacturer for the attack?" This is, sorry to say, an irrelevant issue I see very frequently. Essentially the argument is this: there are so few people harmed in public libraries that if the goal is to protect children there are plenty more places were you could protect many more children all at once, so why waste any time on public libraries. Also: Kids getting harmed in public libraries is so rare, especially in light of kids getting harmed in homes, playgrounds, religious places, movies, etc.,etc., so trying to protect the few kids in libraries is a waste of time.

The answer to that is, and you may not like to hear this, the law is the law. You don't just ignore the law because someone can think up an excuse to minimalize its usefulness. You don't say a law shouldn't apply because the effects of the prohibited action are worse in other locations. It's not a balancing act. The law issues and you follow it or challenge it. After the final challenge you follow it. You just can't decide which law will be randomly followed and which law will not. You want to talk about a society falling apart at the seams? That's the one where everyone gets to decide whether or not he will follow any particular law.

Based on this, I hope your answers are now "in sight." So, what say you, my Australian friend?

By the way, by my writing all this stuff into this blog, can I now be considered an author? ;-)

6:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hm, I am looking at Looking for Alaska even as we speak. A signed copy, no less. I have turned this book over and over inside and out and see no age designation. As a parent, I don't care what the ALA says, or where it is shelved. If I am not absolutely sure it is appropriate for my child, I will have to read it first--the WHOLE thing. A pain? An inconvenience? Maybe. But that's what they call parenthood. And if you are not up to the task you better keep your pants buttoned up.

That said, I am a parent advocate. The bottom line: The parent must decide. And the parent's choice must be respected. I don't want ANYONE telling me what my child can or cannot read. It is my responsibility and not someone who barely knows my child. Too often I think we are eager to shed our responsibility because we are "too busy." My response: Get over it. You had a kid. A kid is not a hobby. They are time intensive for 18 years. READ the book if you are not sure about it, before your child reads it. It is YOUR responsiblity.

I live in California. California says a child can drive at 16. Just because my child turns 16 doesn't mean he or she is ready to drive. I don't care what California says, it is MY responsibility to decide if my child is really ready to be behind the wheel of a car. Period.

Plan 2 succeed, I understand your issue with the whole 12-18 thing, and I would agree that Looking for Alaska is probably not appropriate for most 12 year-olds, but looking at the ALA site, no where does it say that it is for 12 year olds. IF you go to the criteria for nominating a book for the Printz, it has to fall within the "range" of 12-18. That is a big difference. Looking for Alaska definitely falls within that range. But ultimately, it doesn't matter what YOU think, or what I think, or even what the ALA thinks. It is what the individual parent thinks. Yep, back to that again. Responsibility. It ain't easy being a parent.

And finally, you questioned "why librarians get to decide what's the best book for children instead of authors like yourselves who actually write the books."

I guess that might point to my book. It won this year's Golden Kite Award for fiction which is awarded by the SCBWI--a writing organization of children's and young adult authors. But the fact that it is awarded by authors does not necessarily mean it is any more or any less appropriate for any particular reader. Personally, I wouldn't give it to my 92 year old grandmother to read, but there are many 16 year olds out there who it would be just right for.

Again, not to belabor this (which I guess I am) but no organization is the bottom line on what should or should not be read. I appreciate your concerns. I am sure you are a very involved parent. But your concern should remain with parenting your own children and not mine. And finally I have to say, I have raised two of the kindest, most thoughful, resourceful, moral, and upstanding young women this world will ever know. You're welcome, world. And I did it without relying on any organizations to tell me what was appropriate for them to read. I trust other parents to do the same. And I trust you to do the same for your children.

"By the way, by my writing all this stuff into this blog, can I now be considered an author? ;-)"

Darn close ; )

Mary E. Pearson

12:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

POSITION: Mom, Mommy, Mama, Ma Dad, Daddy, Dada, Pa

JOB DESCRIPTION: Long term, team players needed, for challenging permanent work in an, often chaotic environment. Candidates must possess excellent communication and organizational skills and be willing to work variable hours, which will include evenings and weekends and frequent 24 hour shifts on call. Some overnight travel required, including trips to primitive camping sites on rainy weekends and endless sports tournaments in far away cities! Travel expenses not reimbursed. Extensive courier duties also required

RESPONSIBILITIES: The rest of your life. Must be willing to be hated, at least temporarily, until someone needs $5. Must be willing to bite tongue repeatedly. Also, must possess the physical stamina of a pack mule and be able to go from zero to 60 mph in three seconds flat in case, this time, the screams from the backyard are not someone just crying wolf. Must be willing to face stimulating technical challenges, such as small gadget repair, mysteriously sluggish toilets and stuck zippers. Must screen phone calls, maintain calendars and coordinate production of multiple homework projects. Must have ability to plan and organize social gatherings for clients of all ages and mental outlooks. Must be willing to be indispensable one minute, an embarrassment the next. Must handle assembly and product safety testing of a half million cheap, plastic toys, and battery operated devices. Must always hope for the best but be prepared for the worst. Must assume final, complete accountability for the quality of the end product. Responsibilities also include floor maintenance and janitorial work throughout the facility.

POSSIBILITY FOR ADVANCEMENT & PROMOTION: None. Your job is to remain in the same position for years, without complaining, constantly retraining and updating your skills, so that those in your charge can ultimately surpass you

PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE: None required unfortunately. On-the-job training offered on a continually exhausting basis.

WAGES AND COMPENSATION: Get this! You pay them! Offering frequent raises and bonuses. A balloon payment is due when they turn 18 because of the assumption that college will help them become financially independent. When you die, you give them whatever is left. The oddest thing about this reverse-salary scheme is that you actually enjoy it and wish you could only do more.

BENEFITS : While no health or dental insurance, no pension, no tuition reimbursement, no paid holidays and no stock options are offered; this job supplies limitless opportunities for personal growth and free hugs for life if you play your cards right.

QUIRKS : Must rely on other organizations for assistance then be ready at a moment's notice when those organizations are no longer reliable - example - the ALA has reliably recommended books for decades and decades but suddenly starts recommending books parents would never give their kids. Must expect to be told repeatedly by librarians that you are responsible for your own kids, the very same librarians who mislead the parents as to the information you need to make proper judgments about books. In the ALA, you CAN have it both ways! As a parent, you are supposed to be superhuman and remember it doesn't take a village and librarians no longer help you, unless of course the library claims it needs funds to make up for the funds it turned down by refusing to use filtering software. THEN it takes a village. But the village isn't there when you are a grandmother with 2, 3, and 8 year old children and the 8 year old needs to use the bathroom in the public library and your grandkid is attacked brutally by a know offender in an unfiltered library despite the law and the librarians tell you it's your own fault for not watching your own children. THEN it doesn't take a village. Have I gotten this right?

3:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Welcome to UNC-We love kiddieporn, Apr 5, 2006 by Mike S. Adams.

3:38 PM  
Blogger plan2succeed.org said...

Mary E. Pearson and all others, I am not suggesting how people should parent. Stop trying to use me personally as a reason to ignore the entire issue.

The point is not that I should force my views on others, rather that the ALA should not force its views on us. By failing to inform parents honestly, and by in some cases misinforming parents, the ALA is effectively forcing its views on us.

Maybe I have not made not point strong enough. (Or maybe I have but people refuse to listen, or are afraid to say so for fear the ALA will ignore your work.) Therefore I will provide another example that will irrefutably show the ALA is pushing inappropriate material on children.

If the ALA admitted that it was pushing inappropriate material on children and keeping parents in the dark, would you then believe this was happening? If the ALA itself admitted it?

The ALA has indeed admitted it. Implicitly. A certain book was described for parents and teachers as being for grades 11 and up. In several places. Yet that same book was described for teenagers, by teenagers, as being wonderful for all ages. And all this on ALA web sites.

So let's set aside the book's actual identity and content for now. Do you think that the ALA telling parents a book is for grades 11 and 12 but telling teenagers the book is for all ages is not misinforming parents and also teenagers?

6:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's still just a book. Where's the harm in reading? You know what your teenager's ready for and what they aren't, as do they.
Why are you fighting the ALA so much? They're just making recommendations. Or I am I seriously mistaken about their role in the US? Do they actually set a standard reading curriculum for schools and thereby forcing kids to read the books they prescribe?
If they are coercing people to read the books they choose, then I withdraw all previous comments to the matter. I was assuming that people had a choice in what they read.

ps. Aaaand back to the girl in the library: no, I wasn't using the beach analogy to imply that the attack was a negligible risk. I was implying that criminals can strike anywhere. I would wager that you would have more sickos at the beach than at the library, drawn by the real ladies in swimsuits, as opposed to the pictures of them in the library. Children are also plentiful and difficult to keep under constant observation in a beach setting. You're blaming the ALA for setting up a policy that attracted the sicko to the library. Who/what would you blame for a sicko at the beach?
I'm guessing that a reasonably analogous entity here would be somewhere between the women's rights movement for letting women out in public and the city council in charge of the beach for allowing semi-clad bathing.

9:13 AM  
Blogger plan2succeed.org said...

Franzy: "It's still just a book. Where's the harm in reading?" You are missing the whole point, I guess. I've explained it often at this point. Here goes again.

If there is never any harm in reading any book or in seeing any porn on computer screens, then CIPA and US v. ALA and the ALA's recommendations and everything else is all a big waste of time. Since there's never any harm, there's no big deal, right?

Perhaps that's why "Judith Krug, the director of the office for intellectual freedom at the American Library Association, said that psychological studies had shown that children were not so easily affected by sexual imagery." "Voters Defeat Measure on Filters at Library," by Keith Bradsher, The New York Times, Feb. 24, 2000.

Perhaps that's why Judith Krug said, "Material that might be illegal is such a minuscule part of what is available that we have to remember--and I mean not only librarians but everybody has to remember not to let it overshadow the incredible wealth of information that is available in this medium." "Easy Access?," by Spencer Michels, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, Aug. 7, 1997.

"You should have access to ideas and information regardless of your age," Krug said. "If anyone is going to limit or guide a young person, it should be the parent or guardian -- and only the parent or guardian." "We want to provide as much information as we can, and say to our users: 'It is all here. You make the choice,'" Krug said. "I have a real problem when people say, 'Well I walked by and you should have seen what was on the computer screen.' Well, don't look, sweetie. It's none of your business. Avert your eyes." "A Library That Would Rather Block Than Offend," by Pamela Mendels, The New York Times, Jan. 18, 1997.

"I get very concerned when we start hearing people who want to convert this country into a safe place for children...." So said, guess who, Judith Krug, de facto leader of the ALA. "Oak Lawn Library Vows to Keep Playboy on Shelf," by Jo Napolitano, Chicago Tribune, Jun. 23, 2005.

So I guess we should all jettison the law, common sense, and community standards. Krug is right. Anything goes. Kids are not affected by porn. If you don't like it, avert your eyes, sweety. Children should have access to ideas and information regardless of age, even if it is hardcore pornographic material that we in our little minds, the little people, think is inappropriate. Krug is right. You are right. CIPA is wrong. US v. ALA is wrong. I am wrong for wanting the ALA to follow US v. ALA. You win.

There, children are safer now. Judith Krug is clearly a more enlightened source than everyone's own innate knowledge that you should not push pornography on children. Judith Krug's time as Illinois Director of the ACLU has indeed been valuable to help us all to see that children have civil rights to view and read pornography. I'm so sorry a repressive person like me brought this up in the first place. Sorry all.

9:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, I didn't understand your answer. My question still stands:
How are books harmful?
I don't want to know about pictures of pornography on computer screens, just black and white text on a page.

1:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

franzy, ever heard of paper cuts?
Plan2 please don't go. I'm learning so much here! I even started to read LFA, and I read all that boring article that I wasn't supposed to read.

8:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice one.

7:39 PM  
Blogger plan2succeed.org said...


Books in themselves are not harmful, so far as I know. But my knowledge or lack thereof of various things does not make the whole thing right or wrong. I'm irrelevant. All I know is there are a lot of laws and cases all saying inappropriate material should be kept away from children. There must be a reason for that. I think it is better to follow those existing laws and cases than follow the ALA and Judith Krug, especially when you look at those ridiculous statements she has made, such as parents who care give their children Playboy magazine.

5:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Books in themselves are not harmful"
Excellent. We're finally getting somewhere.
Where I think you're still wrong is when you say that you're irrelevant and that you should listen to one set of people over another about what your child reads. I don't think that's thinking for yourself and that's what I've been getting at the whole time.
You say that there must be a reason for the court to make a rule, but you still haven't asked what that reason is (once again, I'm not referring to internet porn, I'm talking about books). Nor have you given a reason (other than personal, moral reasons) why the ALA shouldn't stick to its guns and champion the cause of information dispersal.
You talk about giving Playboy magazines to children and molestations in libraries, but what about a tastefully-done, educational, thought-provoking sex scene in a book aimed at a section of society who spend most of their waking hours worrying about sex?
I'll agree with you, people shouldn't be looking at porn in public libraries, Playboy probably should be kept on the top shelves and laws are generally good things to obey. But not without question or consideration.

(Incidently, the content of the debate on this very site would result in it being blocked by most internet filters in libraries along with the pictures of naked girls because we've been using the words 'sex', 'teen' and 'porn' with gay abandon - oops, there goes another one!)

10:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I don't think you understand what X rated is." OK, I am one of those ignoramuses who do not understand what X rated is. That said, let Disney film it! It will certainly be rated "G" and shown nationwide in matinées, correct? Who knows, PBS might even put it on right after Sesame Street! Parents will love it, won't they? Why, LFA is NOT X rated, is it? Oh, yeah: and then, force taxpayers to subsidize the dissemination of this material to "Young Adults"!

5:41 PM  
Blogger Jordan Sonnenblick said...

Hey, Milla. Welcome to our discussion. But what are you _talking_ about? Please construct a logical argument.

Also (and this goes for you too, plan2succeed), it would be great if you chose to shed your anonymity. All of the author/members of this site reveal our real names, and I think it engenders a more honest and civil discourse if nobody is hiding behind a web identity.

7:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Milla - hi!
Thanks for the comment on my blog, but I'd rather keep the debate here where it belongs out in the open, rather than off to one side.

I'm going to post your comment from my blog below, partly to clarify something, but mostly because it actually contains an excerpt from Looking For Alaska, the little book that's causing so much controversy.



posted by: Milla (reply)
post date: 04.10.06 (5:38 pm)

"Plan2Succeed is so characteristic of every pig headed dolt out there with an agenda"... Wow! I'm impressed! So that's how you guys build your arguments...

"Just as the Bradys were getting locked in jail, lara randomly asked me, "Have you ever gotten a blow job?"
[…] "I've just never geeven one," she answered, her little voice dripping with seductiveness. It was so brazen. I thought I would explode. I never thought. I mean, from Alaska, hearing that stuff was one thing. But to hear her sweet little Romanian voice go so sexy all of a sudden . . .
[…] "I think I want to," she said, and we kissed a little, and then […] Lara unbuttoned my pants and pulled my boxers down a little and pulled out my penis.
[…] She looked up at me, but didn't move, her face nanometers away from my penis. "It's weird."
[…] And then she wrapped her hand around it and put it into her mouth. And waited.
[…] Should I do sometheeng?"
"Um. I don't know," I said. Everything I'd learned from watching porn with Alaska suddenly exited my brain. […] "Um. Maybe we should ask Alaska."
So we went to her room and asked Alaska. […] She walked into the bathroom, returned with a tube of toothpaste, and showed us. In detail. Never have I so wanted to be Crest Complete.
Lara and I went back to her room, where she did exactly what Alaska told her to do, and I did exactly what Alaska said I would do, which was die a hundred little ecstatic deaths, my fists clenched, my body shaking. It was my first orgasm with a girl, and afterward I was embarrassed and nervous, and so, clearly, was Lara, who finally broke the silence by asking, "So, want to do some homework?"

Yup, you're right, every parent who's not a "pig headed dolt" should make sure his 12 year-old daughter or sun read Looking for Alaska!


Firstly I would like to say: Plan2succeed, I'm sorry. I don't think you’re a pig-headed dolt. That was someone else posting on my blog. I think you have argued strongly and intellectually about a difficult and controversial issue.
Secondly, what is the actual problem with a 12-year-old reading the above passage and the other 150 or so pages of novel around it? Yes, it’s sex. It’s definitely that, but so what?
How long can you hold back 12-year-olds from turning into 13-year-olds?

9:49 PM  
Blogger John Green said...

Well I'm flattered that "Alaska" has been defended so well by so many of my favorite authors, and what means the most to me to be honest is that so many people have said they liked the book. To highlight a few comments:

1. I'm with Mary. I have no problem with a parent reading my book and saying, "Nah, I don't want my child reading this." That's fine. In fact, if I had a 12-year-old, I might not let them read 'Alaska' for any number of reasons.

2. The book has never been marketed to 12-year-olds. Never. It is packaged like an adult book; it doesn't even say it's published by a kids' book imprint on the cover, and it's never shelved in the children's section of bookstores. It's a book for high-school students. Furthermore, the ALA does not hand it to 12-year-olds or say that it's appropriate for 12-year-olds. As Mary also pointed out, it's for a book that falls within an age range that starts at 12 and ends at 18. In my case, the book is published for kids 14 and up.

3. You know, I believe that sexual morality is important. I really do. But Jesus Christ. There comes a point when you begin to confuse having a system of sexual morals with having an actual comprehensive system of morals, and it seems like we're coming to that place in this country. The relentless focus on sex and nothing else--it's sort of weird, really. Why is it that some people find it so repugnant that a book contains a brief, funny scene about how physical intimacy can be uncomfortable and awkward and generally miserable -- and yet no one mentions the fact that it contains teenagers who binge drink and smoke?

Alcohol and tobacco abuse kill a lot more teenagers in this world than blow jobs do, and yet by focusing narrowly in on this one facet of morality, we really do a disservice to the larger moral questions: How should I treat others, and how can I expect myself to be treated by the world? What should I value? What if anything is the meaning of suffering? What are my responsibilities to the social order? How do those responsibilities differ from my responsibilities to my friends?

Those are questions worth asking, and while sexuality has some bearing on those questions, it's certainly not central to them. Maybe I'm crazy, but I've just never thought that sex is THAT important in the scheme of things. And that, finally, is why I only devoted about 800 words of my 65,000 word novel to it.

2:12 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Exactly, John!

"Maybe I'm crazy, but I've just never thought that sex is THAT important in the scheme of things. And that, finally, is why I only devoted about 800 words of my 65,000 word novel to it."

That last sentence says it all.


4:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


6:34 PM  
Blogger plan2succeed.org said...

Exactly, John, and I am so happy you have commented on this debate. I agree with you completely. My issue has never been with you or other authors.

Your book, as you say, is for 14 year olds and up. It just happens to have been selected by the ALA as the best book of 2006 for 12 year olds and up.

It is the ALA, not you and not the publisher, that is marketing the book to the 12 year olds. Granted, they are not marketing in the sense of making money, but they are marketing in the sense of promoting the book as the best book for kids 12 and up. You say 14, they say 12. That is a very big difference at that age range. You wrote the book for 14 and up, yet the ALA markets the book for 12 and up.

And they market it big time -- with large, beautiful poster-sized presentations in public libraries about what are the best books for children as young as 12 to read. Many library teen sections promote your book based solely on its having won the ALA award(s).

I understand totally it may be very hard if not impossible for you or any author to admit the ALA is recommending the book for children younger than your own recommendations, and further that the ALA should stop such promotion. I understand if the ALA awards your books, they do really well in the market, and that is very important to you all. I really understand that.

I am just happy that, despite and the twists and turns in this thread, you all, especially the author, John, have made my point. The book, inappropriate for 12 year olds, should not be promoted as such.

On an personal note, John, since I'm writing to you directly, I really did enjoy the book -- it was very readable. You clearly are very intelligent. I look forward to more of your work.

Oh and your book doesn't need defending. It the ALA's policies in promoting the book to children even younger than your own recommendation, for example, that need defending.

8:21 AM  
Blogger plan2succeed.org said...

Yeow. Sorry about my grammar errors. I was in a rush earlier.

4:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad you're back!
So, a 12-year-old read the excerpt from LFA I posted below and didn't mind it. Could it be that LFA is appropriate for some 12-year-olds then? Or is this kid just a freak? (Sorry CC, I don't think that)
Who should decide? The ALA? You?
Or maybe the precious 12-year-olds themselves? Is that so unthinkable?

9:28 PM  
Blogger plan2succeed.org said...

Thanks, Franzy. I just found an interesting "Excuses Excuses" page, other than my own, that seems to answer your questions. Please see Citizens for Literary Standards in Schools at ClassKC.org and "Excuses Excuses" at www.classkc.org/excuses.php.

And for all to see how John Green's statements support my efforts, and please do comment here on what I said, see Porn Pushers - The ALA and Looking For Alaska - One Example of How the ALA Pushes Porn On Children at www.safelibraries.org/pushers.htm. You can't miss the quote - I remark on it in big, bold red letters.

10:51 PM  
Blogger plan2succeed.org said...

John Green,

I just read your comment on Brent Hartinger's MySpace wherein you said:

"A very thoughtful and well-reasoned response, Brent, to what is basically a thoughtful and not-at-all mean-spirited letter."

I really appreciate that and I thank you for the complement. I think we all can admit there are really extreme people out there of all stripes. I often get lumped in with that crowd just as a means to attempt to nullify my arguments.

I intentionally try to limit my arguments to mainly just the facts and the law. And I intentionally try to find sources upon which I can base my arguments. Perhaps that's why my comments are link rich.

The kind of comments you, Brent, Jordan, etc., have made only give me more reason to respect you all.

Contrast this with the arguments I often get from the ALA crowd. For example, you can see the original letter and our response to an Actual Hate Mail From a University Librarian Student.

I have come to learn that when people are in a losing position and they know it, they often rely on, well, evasive manuevers such as personal or religious attacks in an attempt to win the argument. And that's another reason why I attempt to keep my arguments on the issues.

Oh my gosh, a bird just started singing outside. I better get to bed. Thanks again for your good will and the good will of others in addressing the thorny issue as originally phrased by me in my comment to Brent Hartinger.

2:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for what Plan2?

With every post you make I'm even more sure that you don't want young people to think and chose for themselves.
Are you honestly saying that you want to deny a young person access to a book?
Can you think of someone else who wanted to stop people reading books because he disapproved of their content?
Yes - that's exactly what I'm suggesting.

2:14 AM  
Blogger plan2succeed.org said...

Franzy - Thanks for saying you were glad I was back.

Franzy, the reason I don't really address your questions directly appears right in the first message I wrote that Brent Hartinger posted here that started this whole thread. I said:

"Now let's all assume for the sake of argument that a book about detailed oral sex experiences is inappropriate for 12 year olds.

"The question becomes could such a book be taken out of the children's section and placed into the adult section. That's the nut."

Your questions neglect my request to just make that assumption for the sake of argument. I did that purposely to avoid issues extraneous to the original concern, that of moving sexually inappropriate books from a children's library section into an adult library section.

See the conversations we have had as a result of playing the who says what's what and when is right for whom game. They go round and round and no one agrees or can possibly convince each other, precisely because the chase is subjective. And they avoid the real issue of moving the books from one place to another.

I have tried to remove the subjective issues. Please understand.

8:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh right – no worries, I’m glad you’re not gone!

Sorry, but I'm just not going to follow your rules "for the sake of argument". I enjoy thinking for myself.

If the physical movement of a book from one place to another in the library was the only core of debate then we'd all have been siting Dewey numbers instead of discussing the broader issues.

You want to try to remove subjectivity, but your own parameters make this impossible. To assume that a book is "inappropriate" still implies that someone has assumed this - looking at it and deciding one way or the other that the book is appropriate or inappropriate. By asking everyone to "assume for the sake of argument" a choice that is not our own about the suitability of a book then you’re asking us not to argue or think and I don’t think that’s a very courteous way of defending your position.

If LFA was made of broken glass, then maybe you’d have support in your desire to have it moved to a different section of the library. But it’s only made of paper and ideas, and that’s where you start getting into sticky territory where I think you have to start asking yourself: do I want these ideas restricted or not? Which ones? Why?

9:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh right – no worries, I’m glad you’re not gone!

Sorry, but I'm just not going to follow your rules "for the sake of argument". I enjoy thinking for myself.

If the physical movement of a book from one place to another in the library was the only core of debate then we'd all have been siting Dewey numbers instead of discussing the broader issues.

You want to try to remove subjectivity, but your own parameters make this impossible. To assume that a book is "inappropriate" still implies that someone has assumed this - looking at it and deciding one way or the other that the book is appropriate or inappropriate. By asking everyone to "assume for the sake of argument" a choice that is not our own about the suitability of a book then you’re asking us not to argue or think and I don’t think that’s a very courteous way of defending your position.

If LFA was made of broken glass, then maybe you’d have support in your desire to have it moved to a different section of the library. But it’s only made of paper and ideas, and that’s where you start getting into sticky territory where I think you have to start asking yourself: do I want these ideas restricted or not? Which ones? Why?

9:30 PM  
Blogger plan2succeed.org said...

Franzy: Keeping children from sexually inappropriate material is not "restricting ideas."

Come to think of it, I'd like to hear from you and others like minded how keeping children from sexually inappropriate material is "restricting ideas." This is relevant because this is one of the many ALA excuses. [Big hint: Board of Education v. Pico.]

12:23 AM  
Blogger Jordan Sonnenblick said...

Plan2 -

I am confused. You keep citing Pico over and over again. But the Pico case was a victory for those who would KEEP BOOKS IN school libraries. It overruled a school board that had removed books inappropriately.

Readers can check this out here:


and here:


Please explain.


PS - You are still anonymous. Why?

4:01 AM  
Blogger plan2succeed.org said...

Jordan, I'm so happy you asked, but I have to take my child to a fishing derby. In the mean time, look back in this very thread to see the long quote I included from the Pico case. That should start to give you an idea of where I will be going.

6:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who defines something as inappropriate?

You are asking how keeping children from a certain kind of material (be it sexually appropriate or inappropriate*) is restricting ideas.

Stopping someone (child or not) from reading something, no matter how awful it is, is still stopping them from access to information.
It's how we teach children to deal with information that is the important part. That's what library is not there for. They are recepticals, not teachers. Teachers are teachers. Parents are teachers. Friends are teachers.
We should not shield children's eyes (even if they are 12 or 13) and tell them to read Star Trek. We should talk with them about porn, Playboy, sex, love, violence, drugs and truth.
"Son, I know they have Playboy in the library, and you'll probably want to go and have a look. It's just pictures of women on paper, not real ones. You won't learn anything useful about women there - go and talk to women instead. Listen. Learn something. If you have any questions, about anything, I'll tell you. I'm not afraid. I want you to know as much as you can, think for yourself and be happy."

* I am till interested in your definition of sexually appropriate material for children, surely there must be a flip-side to the "inappropriate" material you keep mentioning. No need to get too graphic if you don't feel comfortable - how does the "base" system work for you? You know, first for 12-year-olds, second for 14, etc.

9:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Franzy, do you apply the same premise to books against tobacco, alcohol and fire arms? Are these appropriate subjects for minor children? How many books on the subject does your local Public Library have in their Children and Young Adult (12-17 year-olds) Departments versus sexually explicit books (like "Looking for Alaska")?

4:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Now – sex sex sex. Yes. Sex sex sex sex. So far we’ve had no less than two 12 year olds declare an interest in books about sex. Not sex itself, but books about it. They’re curious (as we all are) and they’re not growing away from a sexual world, they’re growing towards it, whether they like it or not. Sex is indeed just sex, people touching, feeling, emoting etc. It can be a fine thing."

Hmmmmmmmm... So, my Aussie friend, since "no less than two 12 year-olds declare an interest in books about sex," why are Public Libraries FULL of "books about it" in their Children and YA departments?! I'm glad Dr. Martin Luther King didn't have your same approach --inevitability-- to racism! And, yes, sex is "just sex, people touching, feeling, emoting etc.," and it can end up in gonorrhea, syphilis, hepatitis A and B, cytomegalovirus, shigellosis, giardiasis, amoebic bowel disease, herpes and AIDS. Yup, you're right: it can be a fine thing!

5:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

G'day Emilia!

I'm sorry, I don't fully understand your first post. Are you asking whether there should be books about alcohol, tobacco and firearms?
Of course there should! Books are good! They help people think and teach and learn!

And sex sex sex leading to disease and death as well as good feelings and love? It sure can. You also forgot that sex can also lead to abuse, psychological damage, social stigmatisation, guilt, nightmares, violence etc.

Do you think people could learn to avoid those things at all? How? Do you think books could help? Maybe even just to raise questions?

And you ask why public library YA sections are full of "books about it" and I would say that's because young adults are curious about "it". I would also deny that every YA book is purely concerned with sex and nothing else.

12:42 AM  
Blogger plan2succeed.org said...

Jordan Sonnenblick,

I really enjoy these discussions with all of you authors because, aside from the polite nature of the conversations, we can all learn a lot from each other. For example, I have learned a lot from you and the public has learned a lot about me.

About me. Earlier in this blog I said, "[Judith Krug] is the one mainly responsible for the actions the ALA takes to minimize US v. ALA, Bd of Educ v. Pico, CIPA, and so many other laws and cases in an effort to ensure her likely ACLU-inspired goals of essentially ensuring children have unfettered access to pornography." Then I quoted Pico, a large quote, and I bolded this section: "On the other hand, respondents implicitly concede that an unconstitutional motivation would not be demonstrated if it were shown that petitioners had decided to remove the books at issue because those books were pervasively vulgar." I emphasized the importance of this by saying, "Maybe you all ought to read that again."

Despite this, although I really can't blame anyone at all for not reading the entire blog everytime they write, you said, "You keep citing Pico over and over again. But the Pico case was a victory for those who would KEEP BOOKS IN school libraries. It overruled a school board that had removed books inappropriately. Readers can check this out here: http://www.ala.org/ala/oif/firstamendment/courtcases/courtcases.htm ...."

Now I checked out that ALA site you cited. Here's what it says about Pico, "After years of appeals, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld (5-4) the students' challenge to the board's action. The Court held that school boards do not have unrestricted authority to select library books and that the First Amendment is implicated when books are removed arbitrarily. Justice Brennan declared in the plurality opinion: 'Local school boards may not remove books from school library shelves simply because they dislike the ideas contained in those books and seek by their removal to prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion.'" So I can totally understand why you shouted Pico "would KEEP BOOKS IN school libraries."

Notice, however, what is missing from the ALA's summary of the case. Can you see it? Of course not, it's missing. It is the section I had bolded above about "pervasively vulgar" books not being part of the decision. In other words, "pervasively vulgar" books are not, repeat not part of the books that Pico would keep in the schools. And I said the ALA "minimizes" Pico, then you gave me the link from an ALA source that proves my assertion.

So what have we learned about me? We learned that I make statements based on facts. I said the ALA tries to confuse the public about the nature of the law, you demonstrated a total confusion about the law, you even cited an ALA source that evidences the ALA's efforts to confuse the public, and I said this is what the ALA did in this very blog thread before you came along and proved this very thing in this very blog thread. We learned that I can prove my facts based on objective observations of ALA sources and statements made in reliance of ALA sources. We learned that my statements based on collections of ALA statements and those under its thrall are very accurate, at least in this case. And you helped me to show this. I really appreciate this so much.

Jordan, I know you to be a very nice and gentle man. Your reputation precedes you. I know you are very concerned about so-called censorship of books and ideas. I, too, am concerned, but in the USA there is almost no such censorship in the context of children's material as it is truly defined, and when there is I am against it. But the ALA's definition of censorship, and its whole propaganda effort to claim censorship where none exists, just so it can continue its efforts to push pornography on children, is where the problem lies.

We have all seen, as I have shown, how you have unwittingly bought into the ALA smoke screen, for example by claiming Pico is against removing books from schools when that is not the whole truth. And the partial truth as presented by the ALA was believed by you to be the whole truth. You even cited to an ALA source to confirm your perception of the whole truth; you unknowingly used the ALA's half truth to support your belief of the whole truth that the ALA wanted you to believe.

I know you to be a fair and honest man. I am not asking you to agree with me. I am asking if you will consider whether it is even possible that you have been even slightly mislead by the ALA. Do you think this is possible? Do you think it is censorship to remove "pervasively vulgar" books from public schools? Do you think Pico shows no books may be removed from public schools for any reason? The ALA, in giving a half truth about the Pico case, implies this. Do you think the ALA should more accurately reflect the contents of the Pico case?

Jordan, if the ALA has been misleading you even in the slightest, is it possible they may be misleading in other areas? Would you be willing to reevaluate your own beliefs in light of anything you may conclude about the ALA's efforts to occlude the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Is it possible the ALA has been misleading you and many, many others about censorship? Do the results of the ALA's occlusions mean children have access to "pervasively vulgar" material to which they might not otherwise have had access? Is this okay with you generally that children, say 12 year olds, have access to "pervasively vulgar" books? Is the ALA's whole claim that it is age discrimination for a librarian to keep a child from reading inappropriate material not a total sham? Could this ALA claim be the whole truth where the ALA uses half truths to autonomously assert then support other related claims?

I really don't care what you answer me here on this blog -- my goal is to get you to think -- think for yourselves -- think the ALA may be misleading you -- may be misleading many. Think. Books. Children. Censorship. Schools. Pornography. Effects of pornography on children. The ALA. Recent trends in ALA promoted books. The nationwide pervasiveness of the ALA's agenda in public schools and public libraries.

What's the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?

8:34 AM  
Blogger Jordan Sonnenblick said...


Thanks for complimenting my moral and interpersonal attributes. I try.

I'm still not buying your argument, though. I still feel you're misusing Pico.

I absolutely read and understood the "pervasively vulgar" part. However, I still feel it is YOU who are misrepresenting the whole gist of the case, because "pervasively vulgar" was clearly an EXCEPTION to the general precedent the case was setting.

And among the books we have discussed at this site, there is NOTHING that would pass a "pervasively vulgar" test. None of the books that get routinely challenged in our nation's schools would, either.

Harry Potter? Nope. LFA? Nuh-uh. To Kill a Mockingbird? Please.

I must admit, though, that I've never taken or administered a pervasively vulgar test.


12:42 PM  
Blogger plan2succeed.org said...


Now that's an interesting answer. Problems with Harry Potter, Huck Finn, To Kill a Mockingbird and the like are silly. But LFA. We may have an honest disagreement on that. Why? You say it is not pervasively vulgar, I say it is.

I looked up vulgar. And I looked up pervasive (pervade).

I think LFA is, in fact, pervasively vulgar. First, as to vulgar, is seems to fulfill the definition of that word. Second, as to pervasive, the book's vulgarity, while clustered in spots, is generally evident throughout. In other words, its vulgarity is pervasive.

I will admit there could be an argument made that LFA is not vulgar when considered in comparison with other more vulgar material.

Brent Hartinger, by the way, seems to support my view. He says, in his original response to my original post, "(For the record, LFA is about as sexually explicit as teen books ever get, IMHO.)" [IMHO = in my humble opinion.] To me that's close enough to pervasively vulgar.

So we have a difference of opinion on LFA.

Be that as it may, recall my original post said let's all assume we are talking about material that is inappropriate. Let's just assume that so we don't get sidetracked by issues of whether or not material like LFA is pervasively vulgar or whatever. Assuming it is, is it appropriate to move it from the children's section to the adult section, or at least a section for its proper age group?

What say you about that?

Hey, let me add this. Let's say the book, when it is moved, is moved to any area where it is still available to the children. Not a locked room. Not a high shelf only tall people can reach. Just into another section of the library. Let's say, only for the sake of argument, LFA is taken out of the children's section and placed into the adult section. (Young Adult sections are for kids as young as 12, thanks to the ALA, so they don't count, let's say, for the sake of argument.)

So let's be clear I'm not saying take them out of the reach of children. I'm just asking to move books from children sections into other sections if the books are sexually inappropriate for children, pervasively vulgar, or whatever. How about that?

3:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about we let young readers decide for themselves?
Let's say, for argument's sake, that LFA did get moved to the "adult section" (is that like in the video store?). Would you support a poster in the YA/teen section explaining where the Book of the Year winner LFA was (fiction A-L) and why it had been moved? (Bd of Educ v. Pico decision in the Supreme decreed this book as 'pervasively vulgar' and has asked that it be moved away from the Star Trek novels).
That's not a bad compromise, is it? The book's been moved, Plan2's happy, but young readers can still find it, everyone else is happy (except for probably Emilia and Milla, both of whom may be the same person).

4:39 PM  
Blogger plan2succeed.org said...

Franzy, no. No, Franzy. Do you work for the ALA? You are now suggesting another ALA trick to ensure children maintain access to inappropriate materal. The compromise.

You say, "That's not a bad compromise, is it?" You think people doing the right thing will tire of stopping the people who are doing the wrong thing and will comprosmise just to end it.

A killer says he's going to kill 10 people if he is not given ransom money. You negotiate for hours and hours, what seems like an eternity, then the killer says, "How about this. You give me only half the money, and I'll hold only one hostage. That's not a bad compromise, is it?" Does the negotiator take this compromise?

When something is wrong, you don't compromise. You don't give in. You don't split the baby. If it is wrong, and compromise does not make it right. Giving children a sign pointing out where material inappropriate for them can be found only sends them on a, well, an easter egg hunt. It's still material inappropriate for them. The ALA still should not be recommending such inappropriate material for children in the first place.

No, Franzy. No compromise where the ALA is just plain wrong. Children are more important than the ALA's agenda to sexualize them.

5:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So can I assume that we're beyond "assuming for argument's sake that the book is inappropriate"? You now seem to have moved beyond the theoretical to the actual, assuming for argument’s sake no longer. It’s now just bad, for real.

I think I'll be working on the assumption that you don't want young people to choose and think for themselves.
I put it to you that you do not believe that people as young as 12 are capable of choosing their own reading material and making decisions about it.
If you had your way and LFA was spirited away from the teen section with no indication as to what had happened to the book, or its existence in the first place, then you would be no worse than you claim the ALA to be, pushing your views on young readers.
You would have books removed rather than put on shelves. You don’t want young people to think about or know about sex. I put it you that you equate a young person thinking about sex as triggered by a book or a film to them being sexualised (but sexualised to whom?).
Young people are not sexual beings, but they can think about it.
I put it to you that you want to stop young people thinking about sex.

7:23 AM  
Blogger Brent Hartinger said...

In fact, I do not agree with you, Plan2Succeed. In fact, I could not disagree MORE with your comments like this:

But the ALA's definition of censorship, and its whole propaganda effort to claim censorship where none exists, just so it can continue its efforts to push pornography on children, is where the problem lies.

A "propaganda" effort? No censorship? Are you implying that because the government is not actually banning the printing of books, then there is no censorship? If so, we're getting caught up in semantics. There is a widespread, active movement in the U.S., in the government and out, to suppress and exclude certain ideas from literature, and to restrict access to these books. I think that's censorship, and I think it's disturbing. You scoff at efforts to ban classic works, and books with homosexual themes, but that is exactly what's going on all across the country.

For the record, I meant that LFA is "extreme" in terms of its placement in mainstream YA lit. But I DO think it fits perfectly fine in mainstream contemporary YA lit, for an older teen readers, as in my experience, it's ALWAYS been portrayed. "Pornography?" I find that suggestion truly outrageous.

This whole debate now seems rather silly to me, because it seems to be about the fact that you don't like LFA--that you think it's "pornography," not literature. Well, okay. But if this discussion has proved nothing else, it's proven that lots of other people disagree with you, including many parents on this list.

So we've got a book where the vast majority of people with knowlegde about teen books--booksellers, critics, authors, readers, Amazon reviewers, librarians--who seem to think has much literary merit. And we've got you, who thinks it's "pornography." So where do we go from here? Apparently, we can't agree to disagree, because think that access to the book should be restricted, and that no library or school should buy the book in the first place (you're argument has been amended so much, I'm not sure what you're arguing anymore, but you've implied that you want some sort of "warning label" on the book, but that can't be the case, since even a warning label wouldn't make pornography acceptable to teenagers, right?).

Anyway, I'm not sure where we go from here, except to call it a day.

12:33 PM  
Blogger Jordan Sonnenblick said...

Amen, Brother Brent!


1:47 PM  
Blogger plan2succeed.org said...


Thank you for responding. You have totally misread me. Totally. Perhaps because the thread is too long to read.

You say the following, for example:

A "propaganda" effort? No censorship? Are you implying that because the government is not actually banning the printing of books, then there is no censorship? If so, we're getting caught up in semantics. There is a widespread, active movement in the U.S., in the government and out, to suppress and exclude certain ideas from literature, and to restrict access to these books. I think that's censorship, and I think it's disturbing. You scoff at efforts to ban classic works, and books with homosexual themes, but that is exactly what's going on all across the country.

First, I am only talking about sexually inappropriate stuff, or pervasively vulgar, whatever. Not ideas. Second, you say I scoff at efforts to ban books, even books with homosexual themes. Wrong. I specifically excluded such books just to get to the issue of moving books from one section to the next. Further, I did not scoff at the efforts, only at the ALA for doing what it is doing.

Be all that as it may, I think if you and I had a direct discussion face to face, or telephone to telephone, it would be easier to see that we agree on a lot of things. This blog format makes that very difficult, honestly. And where we disagree we would likely do so politely.

Your statement about my view of books intended for homosexuals really bothers me because you are so wrong. You do not know me. I never said bad word not one about such books. In fact I specifically excluded them from the discussion for the very reason that it inflames people just to even talk about the subject. My interest is only the ALA's actions that are hurting children nationwide, in my opinion. My interest is in encouraging people to seek legal action against the ALA for some of the reasons I am raising. I hope that happens and the ALA is forced to stop promoting sexually inappropriate books to children. Pornography is not "ideas." I am perfectly within my rights to do that. Your attempts to scandalize me by essentially claiming I'm against or scoff at books intended for homosexuals or about homosexuals is so, so wrong.

Really, you should apologize. That's where to go from here. Then after you do, let's talk together. I value your opinion.

Oh yes, there is nothing wrong with LFA at all. Actually, it's a very good book. But no one should be recommending it for 12 year olds. People disagreeing with me is no surprise given the effectiveness of the ALA efforts to force sexually inappropriate material on children for about 30 years now. Should my voice disappear just so we all agree with the ALA?

And Jordan, I would like to speak with you as well. John Green too.

1:54 PM  
Blogger Brent Hartinger said...

You said:

But the ALA's definition of censorship, and its whole propaganda effort to claim censorship where none exists, just so it can continue its efforts to push pornography on children, is where the problem lies.

I don't know how else to interpret this except that you think that the work that the ALA is doing, which is FREQUENTLY focused on challenged works with gay themes, is "propaganda" and that "censorship" doesn't exist.

I'm saying that censorship DOES exist, that the ALA is pretty much telling it exactly like it is--and that their words are not "propaganda" at all.

I also take great offense to saying that libraries and the ALA are pushing "pornography" on "children." I think it's you who needs to apologize for using such outrageous, misleading terminology. Frankly, I think it's slander/libel.

Incidentally, you keep changing your argument, and the terms of the debate. You now say that LFA is a "good" book, but you've also said, repeatedly, that it's "pornography."

Honestly, we have to agree to disagree. This is getting ridiculous. No minds are being changed here.

3:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brent - look I've had a very interesting time testing Plan2's arguments and not really receiving any straight answers and I'm probably guilty of facilitating, if not forcing Plan2's jumping around from issue to issue: the equating of moral issues to legal ones, book placement to murder, internet policy to rape.
Plan2 doesn't seem to understand that censorship isn't a moral issue, it's a legal one. Plan2 will argue that keeping nine-year-olds from reading Playboy isn't censorship, it's just common sense. And Plan2 would be right. Censorship is removing the opportunity to take in information and ideas: stopping people (young, old, whoever) from having access to information and therefore, access to thought. And that isn't just a slippery slope, that's switching off a light. Plan2 wants a decision made about this "inappropriate" material and its access rights, but there is never ever a discussion about who should hold this power over other people's thoughts - the argument never dips deeper than "it's just wrong". There's never a "why" question answered and I would suggest that this because for all Plan2's referencing and issue jumping he/she does not want to have to start questioning or explaining his/her own values or why they should take precedence over someone else's.

Because censorship is pretty much like precedent, you censor one book for one person, what's to stop you censoring another book for another person, and another and another until you control everything and the way people think?
To quote the greats: "you don't compromise. You don't give in. You don't split the baby. If it is wrong, and compromise does not make it right."

9:07 PM  
Blogger Brent Hartinger said...

Thanks, Franzy.

I guess I am annoyed by his/her frequent disparagement of the ALA. The fact is, bills are frequently introduced all across this country that would, in fact, ban and censor whole ideas from schools and libraries: any positive mention of gay people or themes is a common one. Absolutely, the reason why more of these bills do not pass is solely because of the tireless, thankless work of the ALA, as they educate legislators and citizens on the real ramifications of their actions.

Like the ACLU, I may not agree with every single stand the ALA has taken over the years, or will take in the years to come, but that's not the point. The point is, I whole-heartedly and enthusiastically agree with the principles they are fighting for. They're fighting a much larger fight than any one book, or even any one issue, and I believe it's a fight that there is absolutely no guarantee that they're going to win (especially these days). Anyone who cares about free expression and, frankly, literature, should be joining their voice to theirs.

And now I really am out of here. I don't have time to come back again.

11:43 PM  
Blogger plan2succeed.org said...


Wow! Thank you for coming to my rescue! So all this back and forth had not been for naught!

I see Brent is out of here. Well, this thread has certainly been interesting, not only because of the content, but also because of the authors like Brent being involved.

For the record, Brent, if you are still peeking in, I agree with you when you said, "The fact is, bills are frequently introduced all across this country that would, in fact, ban and censor whole ideas from schools and libraries: any positive mention of gay people or themes is a common one."

For the record, I and my Plan2Succeed Citizen's Group are against the recommending and/or pushing of sexually inappropriate material on children, and particularly where this occurs despite the law and despite community standards because of the ALA's directives and/or agenda, particularly where the ALA's actions are enforced through the use of misinformation and/or propaganda and through the group attack approach that almost always overwhelms local citizens ability to act. Let something go awry on the ALA agenda anywhere in the nation and the group attack and misinformation campaign begins almost immediately. Local citizens don't often stand a chance.

But, as his thread evidences, I get lumped in with those taking stands against solely homosexual material, whether or not sexually inappropriate material aimed at children by the ALA is at issue, and suddenly I'm attacked as if I agree with them. It's an easy way to disparage me and avoid the issue. Talk about libel/slander!

So, everyone, it seems we may be at the end of the line soon. Please continue to check in on this issue and more at SafeLibraries.org - Are Children Safe in Public Libraries? or at the admittedly much uglier Plan2Succeed.org.

5:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Plan2 - since the thread is probably coming to a close but for me and thee, I've just got one question:

Should young people choose and decide for themselves what they read?

8:02 AM  
Blogger plan2succeed.org said...

Franzy - It depends, but let's say the child is 10. I don't think he should chose for himself whether or not to read pornography magazines. I think he just doesn't get them at that age. Judith Krug, top dog at the ALA, says parents who care get their children Playboy. I say it's the exact opposite. But Judith Krug is the top dog at the ALA -- so she must know better, right?

While I'm writing, I am about to read Jordan Sonnenblick's book. I tell you all what I think of it, if people are still writing here.

Oh, and LFA is being made into a movie, and the book got a new cover a provocative one this time. Honestly, I never understood the candle smoke and thought it was cigarette smoke. But the new cover makes it look trashy like the other books with trashy covers. I'll guess the movie will be PG-13. If it were up to the ALA, it would be rated G for what everyone else would call PG-13, and if young children were kept out, the ALA would scream censorship.

7:22 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Plan2 wrote: “Judith Krug, top dog at the ALA, says parents who care get their children Playboy. I say it's the exact opposite. But Judith Krug is the top dog at the ALA -- so she must know better, right?”

Frankly, Plan2succeed it is hard to trust any of your facts when you throw around misrepresentations like this. I assume you’re referring to the article from Focus on the Family Magazine (written by a let’s say less-than-impartial writer) that quotes Krug as saying, “Parent’s who express such grave concern over their child’s reading of materials ...say to me that they don’t have very much confidence in themselves as parents. Restricting the kinds of materials that are available in libraries is not going to solve those parents’ problems. Letting children read materials in the library is probably one of the most benign ways to permit young people to explore different ideas. I’ve never known a book or magazine to make any girl pregnant. It’s not going to hurt the kids to read.”

You magically twist this into “Krug recommends Playboy to kids.” That’s irresponsible and weakens your argument. It could also be twisted into “Krug recommends Looking For Alaska because young adults might learn that they aren’t alone in wondering what sex (or life) is about.” Or Krug says “Get your kids to read The Geography Club because kids might learn that being gay is just another part of the whole wonderful human experience.”

In the end parents should decide what kids read, but they shouldn’t decide what should be in the library. It’s not a daycare. It’s where we keep our information (all of our information).

“Oh, and LFA is being made into a movie.”

It’ll make a great movie. It’s silly to pretend that the ALA will be upset that that the movie has ratings. The ALA is concerned about open access “in libraries” not in movie theaters. So your comparison doesn’t work.

Finally, like Jordan, I’m curious why you hide behind the identity of your organization. To me it’s a false way of trying to lend more weight to your argument. By posting as plan2succeed you are saying that you are not just an individual, you present yourself as an organization, therefore inferring that what you say must carry more weight. Of course, we all know on the internet all it takes to make an organization is an e-mail account and a website. You don’t even need any other members.


8:29 AM  
Blogger plan2succeed.org said...


Often I agree with people as this thread shows. Not in your case. You are just plain wrong.

1) Consider a continuation of the quote you provided. Krug: "I know there are parents out there who are panicked. I think that they better not permit their children to go anywhere." Wow!

Krug: "What parents are trying to do to their children today in some cases is very frightening." Wow, wow!! Protecting kids from sexually inappropriate material is "very frightening"!!

Now that nasty, antagonistic attitude of hers is confirmed by other statements she has made, such as "I get very concerned when we start hearing people who want to convert this country into a safe place for children...." See this and more here: Judith Krug Wikiquote.

The point being her nasty attitude towards parents is evident throughout her career at the ALA, is evident in the continuing quote I provided that you left out, and further supports my original evaluation of her quote that you deride as a misrepresentation.

2) Consider now the contents of the quote you claim proves I am wrong. The way anyone without bias would read this is that parents should not be too concerned about what children are reading or else the parents have a serious lack of confidence problem. The "parents' problems" are the problem, to Krug, not that children are reading sexually inappropriate material. Then, in true ALA fashion further evidencing she really is the top dog at the ALA, Krug says something that today is ALA mantra. She says "letting children read materials" allows them to "explore different ideas." To her, that includes sexually inappropriate materials.

In your world, Art, apparently by your support for this top propagandist and former ACLU director, you think allowing children access to sexually inappropriate material allows them to "explore different ideas."

So, what do we have. We have parents with problems who don't want children to experience sexually inappropriate "ideas." That's what Krug is saying. That's what you cited to prove I was misrepresented things. Really, no honest person giving a fair reading to what she has said and what I have said could possibly think her position is better than mine, community standards, legislation, and legal decisions.

3) Consider further the totality of the ALA and the world it is in. The ALA has extremely close association and massive financial support from the Playboy corporation. I am not here going to go into that side issue. Sometimes ALA people have worked as Playboy people, just as Judith Krug has also been an ACLU director. And, in line with my feelings about LFA, the Playboy company is not my concern, only the ALA's actions with regard to the Playboy company are of interest to show how motivated the ALA might be to protect our children from sexually inappropriate material.

4) Consider that the ALA often inserts itself into legal matters that have absolutely nothing to do with the library profession but that have everything to do with supporting the position of Playboy and the pornography industry in general. Again, I take no position on the porn industry. I am concerned, however, that the ALA is helping the porn industry in ways that have nothing to do with libraries or librarianship. It is evidence of the ALA's intent regarding sexually inappropriate material and children.

One would have to ask, why would the ALA keep children away from sexually inappropriate material when it obtains great support from and lends great support to the pornography industry? It is far easier to blame the parents for being too uptight then to explain the close association with the porn industry.

As far as my identity. First, people in the know have it through private communications, including the ALA, even Krug.

Second, your name is out in the open because you are a public figure and an author and your name is part of your product. I am not a public figure, neither do I want to be. I only want people to learn the truth about the ALA and its insidious propaganda like you even cited -- imagine, people are supposed to think sexually inappropriate material is "ideas" and it doesn't hurt to expose kids to such "ideas." Phoooey!

Third, once my identity is known, it will be used in ad hominem fashion to divert people from the issues. I am trying to keep the arguments to the facts.

Fourth, other people working similar issues have been directly targeted by people. Now I actually trust the ALA not to do this. But there are lots of weirdos out there. I have a family. Others working similar issues have had published online by sickos their names, family names, family photographs, family telephone numbers, family address, Google photographs of their house, directions to their house, and the urging of people to go to their house to protest. Now Art you obvious disagree with me, and in my opinion because the ALA propaganda cloud is so effective -- since I cannot actually believe you think sexually inappropriate material includes "ideas" to which children should have access, but I am sure you would not want happening to me what is happening to others who speak up against the ALA. I am sure you understand that.

Fifth, my personal identity is totally irrelevant to the issue. I am no one of any special significance.

Sixth, there are likely more reasons but that's enough for now.

So, Art, you are just plain wrong. You don't need to admit it to me, but you need to seriously reevaluate whatever the ALA has misled you into believing. Start with a fresh slate. Go from there.

5:04 AM  
Blogger plan2succeed.org said...


I just reread your message to me. It's even more wrong than I first thought, and it's a total smear on me, and I expect an apology.

You say "You magically twist this into 'Krug recommends Playboy to kids.' That's irresponsible and weakens your argument." You said this after quoting material that did not include the word Playboy.

The Playboy word comes right from the article, not from me! I did not "magically twist this into 'Krug recommends Playboy'! That is the quote under the picture, the quote that you "magically" ignored. And I quote the text under the photograph:

Parents who would tell their children not to read Playboy "don't really care about their kids growing up and learning to think and explore." ALA's Judith Krug said in an interview with Citizen.

So, earlier in the thread we saw Brent Hartinger unfairly besmirching me for something I did not do, and now here you are joining the feeding frenzy (sorry, Franzy) besmirching my reputation by claiming I magically make things appear as if they never didn, then worse, you use that as a reason to support Krug even further.

This is exactly what people who have no real argument do. They use ad hominem arguments. There is no argument really that children should be able to read whatever sexually inappropriate material they want. But it is easier to attack me for saying that than it is to support that. You are evidencing exactly what I have been saying. You are attempting to besmirch me with the goal being to support the ALA. You have made false claims about me without addressing the issues I have raised no matter how ineloquently.

You, Arthur Slade, you are the one that, as illustrated right here in public view for all to see and in your own words, you are the one who has cast doubt upon your own statements. You made ad hominem arguments. You claimed I "magically" injected Playboy when I did not. You failed to support why children should have access to sexually inappropriate material. You failed to explain how and why sexually inappropriate material is considered "information." You did this yourself, to yourself, in your own words, in full public view.

You said, "Frankly, Plan2succeed it is hard to trust any of your facts when you throw around misrepresentations like this." Everytime someone in this thread has challenged me, I have been about to back up everything with direct evidence, in detail, with links to source material.

Let's see you link to source material that says sexually inappropriate material is "information" to which children should have access. Let's see you link to articles proving that parents are the ones with the problems for not wanting children to read sexually inappropriate material. Citing to Judith Krug would be circular reasoning; find another source.

I did not "throw around misrepresentations." I did not "magically" make facts. Please apologize.

6:01 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Dear Plan2,

I am sorry that you are so offended. I'm believe I'm right about the Playboy thing, though. It appears you might have been misled by the magazine or safelibraries.org. The quote is: Parents who would tell their children not to read Playboy "don't really care about their kids growing up and learning to think and explore." This indicates to me that Judith didn't say the "Playboy" part of the sentence. This conclusion is further supported by the fact that there is a "legal link" on the site related to that quote. So I was wrong. You didn't twist her quote. They did. You just repeated it. If Krug really did say that whole line I'd appreciate seeing it somewhere.

Thank you for explaining why you remain anonymous.


6:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bet you thought I'd gone eh?

Quick question: you represent an organisation, yet you demand an apology. To whom? The website? You want a person to say sorry to a website that exists to purely to propagate views that the person disagrees with?
You what?

Another quickie: 'sexually inappropriate' - still waiting for a definition there.

11:20 PM  
Blogger Jordan Sonnenblick said...

Plan2 -

I have one major point that I think needs to be made. You wrote of the authors here that, "Second, your name is out in the open because you are a public figure and an author and your name is part of your product." That is precisely _why_ shedding our anonymity is a brave act and a hard decision -- because, in tying our public identities to a controversial argument, we are risking injury to our sales figures.

I worry about this: my book sales feed and clothe my children. Also, I write very mild, even G-rated "young" YA books, so I don't benefit personally from the defense of upper YA; in my case (and that of many other writers here), the risk is not balanced by any potential gain.

3:22 AM  
Blogger plan2succeed.org said...


Thank you for saying that.


I’ll tell you why in a second. And my definition is irrelevant – I just use it as a shortcut for whatever the actual legal definition may be.


Your book, your writing, is really fantastic so far. I’m not done yet but already I can see why you are a success and will continue to be one. I fully understand your concerns and I really do appreciate you all the more for being willing to make public statements in light of possible consequences, and I’m sure your readers do as well.


First, I don’t have time to copy edit. Please forgive mistakes.

Here’s why I get excited when people unfairly tar me with things either I did not say or I did not imply. Man to man, it’s just plain wrong. Man to man, when one makes a mistake, the other should apologize. My group really has nothing to do with it on a man to man basis.

Now I’m sure we all agree that this method of communication is not the most optimal; it lends itself to misinformation, innuendo, and rumor. So in the context of this blog, I fully understand how people can make mistakes, can make assumptions, and I am not immune either. Indeed I assumed that 12 year old added that spam/advertisement based on both bloggers being named “autonomous,” and I apologized. Stuff happens.

But it is totally unfair to make such misrepresentations then not have them immediately addressed. Imagine someone reading this blog without seeing my responses to certain statements. One would then be lead to believe what was said about me. It’s being totally false would not be known to the reader without my responses. Confirmation from the other, or rather an apology from the other fairly and squarely allows people to know it was not true, it was just a disagreement that may have been heated.

You all have been totally fair to me, at least after I explained some of the things I was accused of doing or not doing that I didn’t or did. And in this cyber world, these comments stay forever. So it is important that we are all fair to each other.

The real problems arise when we are not fair to each other. The problems arise when we are falsely accused of things that we are not and the accuser does not withdraw the comments. Worse, the real problem occurs when an exchange of information and ideas is stifled by the actions of one party that wants everyone to think the way it does and in no other way – anyone saying anything different must be silenced.

The ALA has called me “antipornography.” That is not true. But by calling me that it effectively gets people to think that I’m wrong since pornography is legal so the ALA must be right. Thus the ALA agenda to sexualize children is that much further advanced. Thus the focus of the ALA’s actions in sexualizing children is diverted to the personal faults of the people claiming the ALA is sexualizing children. Essentially, the ALA is attacking the messenger, not the message. And as we all know from Copi’s logic, ad hominem arguments are fallacious. But they obviously are effective since so many rely on them.

As you know I like to back up everything I say with evidence. So let me point to some evidence. On 28 Marc h 2006, the Alliance Defense Fund wrote a “Cease and Desist” letter to the Ohio State University [OSU] regarding Scott Savage, the librarian head of reference and instructional services in Bromfield Library, who was falsely accused of sexual harassment for recommending that incoming college freshman read books by conservative authors. [Brent - this might be another thread you could start.] www.telladf.org has all the details, including the actual letter. Several professors wrote entirely wrong things about the librarian and went out of their way to besmirch him illegally in the eyes of his employer, OSU, and the world in general. To summarize this, the author of the cease and desist letter said, “Rather than engage Mr. Savage in the marketplace of ideas, Hamlin, Jones, Buckley, and Kennedy have begun a campaign of defamation and intimidation to discredit Mr. Savage’s professional reputation.”

There you go. In a nutshell, that’s what I’m against regarding the question Franzy raised. That’s what has been happening to me here and there. That’s why I react so strongly and demand an apology. Better to stop to misinformation now, right here, before it spreads.

Here’s an example where this happened to me and where I demanded and received an apology. A person wrote to a library claiming a popular scientific magazine was porn and should be removed. Now isn’t that ridiculous? Well I wrote in to say so but that porn was available elsewhere, like on the unfiltered computers. Someone then wrote in some “censorship” alert blog that I said the magazine was porn. I never even mentioned the magazine! Well the editor of that magazine published on his magazine’s blog that I said his mag was porn. I explained to him that I never did, that he may have been misled by some propaganda-like “censorship” blog, and he apologized online.

That’s an honest mistake the editor made. But there are cases where such mistakes are not honest – indeed they are intentional, not mistakes, intentional misrepresentations of the truth to give the permanent black eye to the person being attacked. That started to happen to me here, but then that issue was cleared up. But again, let me show you evidence from another source of an example of this.

Back in that cease and desist letter we see an exhibit, a letter from one professor Norman Jones. Jones wrote how the book Scott Savage recommended was “anti-gay” and “homophobic tripe” because the book contained the following quote: “the widely revered father of the ‘sexual revolution’ [Dr. Kinsey] has been irrefutably exposed as a full-fledged sexual psychopath who encouraged pedophilia.”

Do you see how this insidious, devious attack works? No? Scott Savage never said word one, nothing, that was “homophobic.” Yet it is ascribed to him as if he said it. That having been done, he is then attacked for having said it. But he never did! Look closely at that quote again. Do you see anything, anything at all about homosexuals? I see psychopaths and pedophiles but no homosexuals. The professor made it up! Worse, the professor makes the logical connection between pedophiles and homosexuals!! This is blatantly wrong!! But he does it, then he says Scott Savage does it, then he accuses Scott Savage of being “homophobic” and “anti-gay”!

Now I’m just one person. In all my experience I never heard of a homosexual pedophile. All the pedophiles I know in the news are heterosexual. Labeling homosexuals as pedophiles is not only factually wrong, but it is a common misconception about homosexuals that is used to attack them. And here, here we see a professor saying that a book about a “psychopathic pedophile” is homophobic. It’s the professor himself that connects the pedophilia to the homophobia. He’s the offender here. Yet he ascribed this to the librarian, then attacks the librarian as if the librarian said this! Frankly, this appears to me to be a latent attack on homosexuals by OSU Professor Norman Jones.

Anyway, I’ve been writing long enough now. I think you see my point, you see examples of my sources for my point, you see some of my past experiences, and now you can understand more why I do not want to be mischaracterized – and why I stick to seeking enforcement of existing laws, i.e., the rule of law, not my own opinions. The whole goal being informing the public about the ALA in a manner that will help to prevent crimes against children in public libraries.

6:14 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Dear Plan2,

you said: "But it is totally unfair to make such misrepresentations then not have them immediately addressed."

I would like to know whether you think Judith Krug really made that comment about Playboy. As I pointed out in my previous point it appears to be a misrepresentation of her words. It appears you made a mistake repeating false information. Should you not apologize for that?


7:20 AM  
Blogger plan2succeed.org said...

Good question, Art.

I agree with you that based solely on the quote itself it appears that Playboy was added. What would prove this is if the statement was totally out of character with other statements made by Krug as reported by other sources. Standing alone, with no previous or subsequent history, the statement and the inclusion of Playboy is at least eyebrow raising.

But we have many other sources for many other statements made by Krug. Those other statements are similarly outrageous. Year after year, publication after publication, left wing or right wing, ALA published or non-ALA published, Krug makes one statement after the next that is shocking or outrageous. I have no doubt many librarians cringe when they hear the outrageous statements of this self-proclaimed "radical, militant." (I am not certain but I think when she expressed support for a 9-11 terrorist, an ALA top official of the year backpedaled for her.)

There I go again saying something else about her that's unbelievable. Right? Naturally, your instinct is to immediately side with her. Right? Besides, who am I. I'm just a mere mortal compared with the great and powerful Krug fighting the forces of censorship trying to keep children from learning ideas that will make them an informed electorate.

Ah, but Krug actually created a button the ALA sells proclaiming librarians to be "radical, militant." Here's the ALA press release about the "radical, militant" button. Here's Krug actually wearing her "radical, militant" button.

So, Art, and again I don't blame you or anyone for not knowing this, but when you take all of Krug's reported statements and highlight the wacky ones, when you take all the actions of the ALA in supporting and being supported by the pornography industry, when you consider the ALA's refusal to change its age discrimination policy that Krug had been enforcing for decades despite the US Supreme Court in US v. ALA that the ALA lost big, one gets a consistent picture of a person who would say exactly what was reported she said by the one source you are calling in question. So no, there is nothing to apologize for.

Do not consider the quote alone. Look at the totality of the situation, and consider I just mentioned the tip of the tip of the iceberg hidden below the surface and headed for our children, in some cases possibly with children already damaged and sinking in the wake.

I'm trying to expose that iceberg. You have yet to see for yourself that it exists in the first place. But the fog is hiding the iceberg, the miasma of ALA propaganda is working effectively hiding the truth from you and many others.

The question is, do you want to use your own brain or do you want the ALA to think for you?

Don't answer, I know the ALA comes down hard on those that don't follow the ALA/ACLU line, and I really don't want you to jeopardize your career by becoming persona non grata with the ALA.

I can only hope enough people will in the future finally be willing to stand up to the ALA and expose it for what it has become. Only then will people have true "intellectual freedom." Until then, do as the "Office For Intellectual Freedom" expects or be blacklisted for life.

8:29 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Dear Plan2,

Whether Krug made other“outrageous” statements has nothing to do with the Playboy quote. The fact that you use what appears to be a doctored quote to bolster your arguments calls all your other arguments into question.

Thank you for saying “The question is, do you want to use your own brain or do you want the ALA to think for you?” I laughed until I nearly ruptured my spleen. I didn’t realize the ALA was thinking for me. Now when I forget to take the garbage out I can say to my wife, “The ALA forgot to tell me to take the garbage out.” All this time I thought I was using my own brain. How silly of me. You’ve set me straight.

Oh, and thanks too for suggesting that I’m taking the ALA’s line because I fear becoming “persona non grata.” But I’m a Canadian and the ALA actually has little influence on my career. The majority of my sales are up here in Canada. All your talk about the ALA has led me to read a lot more about the organization. In my view they’re doing a lot for the betterment of your country and all library patrons.

Anyway, that reminds me--what I do for a living is write books. I should get back to that. I don’t intend to visit this issue with you again. There’s been enough written on the posts above to let other readers make up their minds.


9:31 PM  
Blogger plan2succeed.org said...


Apparently your method of argument is to make a false statement, then, when it is refuted, make it again. Then make it again and again as if repetition makes it true.

I did not make up that Krug quote. It's published for all to see. It is totally consistent with her other statements. I'm not necessarily saying it's gospel, only that it is sourced and it is consistent with other statements and other surrounding information. I even dug up and posted the entire artcle so anyone can look at it in its full context. Heck other web sites had it incorrectly sourced, but I like to source it myself before commenting on it. And I'll add that she has never made a statement in denial of same, as least so far as I am aware.

Oh, by the way, she got personally involved in a case where citizens tried to remove Playboy from a public library that makes the magazine available to children of any age! Indeed that magazine's availability to children was the genesis of SafeLibraries.org! [There's only so much slop the ALA can heap on the public before someone, somewhere reacts.] Krug was happy to see the library retained its Playboy subscription and remarked how she was tired of people trying to make libraries safe places for children! And you doubt the Playboy quote you question?

Here's another Krug statement. "I have a real problem when people say, 'Well I walked by and you should have seen what was on the computer screen.' Well, don't look, sweetie. It's none of your business. Avert your eyes."

Here's another statement, "I told him that I discovered some pornography websites that he belonged to which I found very disturbing. .... The Respondent blamed me, rather than taking any responsibility for his actions. He told me that 'I was a prude' and that 'I was overreacting.' He reiterated that there was nothing wrong with the sites that he was accessing and that I needed to 'turn my head' and ignore it."

Who said that statement? Well it was said by a women seeking a restraining order against her out-of-control husband. See www.thesmokinggun.co m/archive/0421061sheen12.html. The legal action, right there, we just read it, complains about the husband telling his wife to "turn her head and ignore" the pornography streaming in on the Internet. That's an actual part of an actual complaint for relief from an actual judicial system.

"Turn your head and ignore it." "Well, don't look, sweetie. It's none of your business. Avert your eyes." One statement made in a legal action seeking protection from an abusive husband, and one statement made by the de facto leader of the ALA to rationalize why public library computers should be unfiltered.

Do you get my point here? Had that legal request for help said "Well, don't look, sweetie. It's none of your business. Avert your eyes," then it would have said the exact same thing. "Turn your head," "avert your eyes," one's an example of an abusive relationship and one's the policy setter and enforcer for the ALA regarding children's access to library materials. And you hold this person in high regard and the ALA is supposed to be considered authoritative.

Really, Art, I'm not asking you to agree with me. But you have to at least question whether you should be agreeing with Judith Krug of the ALA and pretending that Krug does not make or would not make such statements like the one you keep promoting again and again while denigrating its source and the person bringing the statement to the public's attention.

And you are from Canada and not frightened by the ALA? Great! Then maybe you can say something about the ALA and Krug. Say it, Art, don't just go about life forever thinking it's okay to push sexually inappropriate material on children. If I give it to your children, you'd have me arrested. If Krug gives it to your children, you'd be, be, what, Art, how would you react in such a situation?

And I have to admire how you are all doing the hit and run act. You say something, then you say, "Well, I'm out of here, never to return!!!!" Now that's real intellectual freedom!

10:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My dear adults

(Art, Francy, Jordan, Brent, I hope you're still there)
I turned 13 yesterday!!!! (No need to sing happy birthday) So I'm no longer the 12yo. reading all this adultish stuff.

I kept reading this blog trying to get answers. But honestly, I got none.

I do have a question to Plan2succeed and all the authors or adults.
Plan2: Has your organization or anyone elses done some sort of chart that lists what is sexually appropriate and what's not for a certain age? You know, like the food pyramid and things like that.

I wonder what that chart would look like. Maybe something like:
0-5: some kissing and hugging from members of the same family
5-10: kissing in the lips within man-woman of different families.
10-12: some deeper kissing, but risking brain injury
13-15: some more advance sex, except blow jobs in LFA

I wonder who would have a saying in that chart. Could us teens vote?
I wonder what's appropriate for me to read now that I'm a little older.

Plan2: I also want to tell you that I love the way you document your responses. So I did my homework for you and I have a link that you could check:

It talks about how us teens perceive all that sex that seems to be so harmful for us.

Now you can sing happy birthday ;-)

C.C. , the 13 yo kid who still loves to read

PS: I got a 98 in health! How I wish Plan2 could have signed my test!

10:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've got a good aussie nick name for you there.
I'm back. I'll never go away! I never get tired of seeing you switch from broad issues to specifics and then back again to avoid the relentless tide of differing opinion that continues to roll down the page!

I've also got books to write, so I'll just shoot with a quick question and check back later. This isn't a loaded one, I'm actually curious as to how this happens:

How do American libraries 'push' material onto children? In Australia we only have bookshelves.

7:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy birfday to u!
Nice one, mate. Puts us adults in our place - yet again. Why is no one just listening to the 12-now-13-year-olds of the world and running from there?
Why all this constant running in circles around 'the intentions of the ALA' and law vs morals. What gives us the right??

ps. That link seems to have gone off the side of the page. I'll repost:


(first try with html linking - sorry for errors!)

11:52 PM  
Blogger plan2succeed.org said...

Anonymous (formerly 12 now 13 years old):

You said, "I do have a question to Plan2succeed and all the authors or adults. Plan2: Has your organization or anyone elses done some sort of chart that lists what is sexually appropriate and what's not for a certain age? You know, like the food pyramid and things like that."

Not mine. Not others that I know of. I know of several that list the actual content of certain books precisely to allow others to make up their own minds. But I sense you would have too much fun reading such material and I'm Plan2Succeed; Plan2Sexualize is the ALA.

By the way, Happy Birthday! In another year you'll be the age the author of LFA thinks should start reading the book; but as to the ALA, you should have read it by now! Get cracking!


Good to hear from you again. You said, "I'll never go away! I never get tired of seeing you switch from broad issues to specifics and then back again to avoid the relentless tide of differing opinion that continues to roll down the page!"

That made me chuckle. If anything, this page is exactly that.

You then asked, "How do American libraries 'push' material onto children? In Australia we only have bookshelves."

You are right, and you're being funny again, bookshelves can't push anything anywhere. But I claim it's the ALA that does the pushing. My web site is loading with examples. The ALA's awarding LFA with the top award for books for children as young as twelve, preteens they call adults, is but one example.

Anonymous, again:

Great link. Note, it went off the page, as Franzy noted. Where that happens, you have to "View, Source" to see the source code and get the link. Then Franzy put it in a link.

You could also do this:
http://www.medicalnewstoday.co m/medicalnews.php?newsid=22235
Note I put a space after co and before m in .com. Everyone will know that's an error and will correct it, but they at least will see the rest of the link.

You could also use HTML code, as Franzy did. Try this:

<a href="http://www full web address here">Text you want people to see</a>.

5:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not really trying to be funny - but it doesn't seem that awarding a book a prize is pushing of coercing anyone to read it. What's the next step after that? Does it get automatically get placed on curricula for 12 and 13-year-olds at schools?
And another thing that I realise I'm not informed about: what do you mean by 'sexualise'? (Oz spelling! Hooray)
You seem to be applying it to just telling children about sex. I had sex ed when I was in year 6 (age 11) and we learnt about puberty and sex and pregnancy and childbirth (watching a baby being born on video!) and everything grouped in together. Is that what you mean by 'sexualise'? I counted that as a very important part of my education and it meant that in subsequent sex ed classes that dealt more with sex and peer pressure and contraception, I felt more comfortable than my peers who hadn't gone through any such thing. And way more comfortable than my Catholic-educated fiancée who was simply told, in biology class no less, that "condoms don't work"!
I think of the 'sexualising' of children as being the viewing of them by adults as sexually mature and sexually equal beings, ready for sex and the emotional baggage and physicality that comes with it. I think adults who think that children and teenagers in terms of sexuality are stepping way over the line of good taste and responsibility. Like I’ve said often: it should be up to young people themselves to decide what’s good for them to think and read about.

4:38 AM  
Blogger plan2succeed.org said...


You're going to get me in trouble again by leading me around on goose chases that I that get accused of going on! But you defended me at that time when I was so accused. Thanks.

Now you said, "Not really trying to be funny - but it doesn't seem that awarding a book a prize is pushing of coercing anyone to read it."

Here I go again. You are correct. Awarding a book a prize is not coersion. But I never said it was. What I have said is that it is another of many, many examples of actions (not necessarily coersion) that, when all put together, establish a clear pattern of conduct designed to sexualize children.

You can take almost anything, drill down to a single incident, then argue anything you want. But if you pull back and look at the big picture, you see something totally different.

You could, for example, look at a person being treated terribly by other people. You could see that person being beaten constantly and starved. You could see him or her getting a limb or two hacked off by a crazy man. And you would think that is a terrible thing.

But then you could look at the big picture. You could look at the thousands and thousands of Christians being tortured in the same fashion by slave owners of another faith who are enslaving them precisely for religious reasons. Suddenly that single person having a terrible life becomes something totally different. And look, no one really does anything to stop that from happening. Christians being subject to enslavement and torture by the millions goes on and no one does much about it. Even the United Nations is uninterested, what with all the corruption in that organization. Other religions are similarly treated by yet other religions. Very few do anything about it. Some people do. Here's iAbolish, an American Anti-Slavery group proving "slavery is not history." Go there to see the slavery going on essentially worldwide, even in the United States of America and Australia.

Now looking at the one case you see nothing but cruelty, but looking at the bigger picture, you see a totally different situation.

And those taking part in the slavery, when challenged, try to get people to forget the worldwide situation and just treat it as a local misunderstanding.

Well the same applies to the ALA. They use method after method after method after method after method of ensuring children have continued access to sexually inappropriate material and criminals have continued access to children, in my opinion, and I look forward to courts of law proving so. The awarding of LFA with the top award for 12 year olds is just part of a massive, decades-long effort to do exactly as I am suggesting. And no one does much to stop this.

Your claims that the LFA incident standing alone does not prove it only shows the allure of the technique of splitting off one little thing then claiming its being misrepresented. One little slave is unfortunate. One little book award means nothing. But look at the big picture and it's part of a pattern of religious persecution, or it's part of a pattern of the sexualization of children by the ALA.

Regarding sexualization, you said, "[W]hat do you mean by 'sexualise'? (Oz spelling! Hooray) You seem to be applying it to just telling children about sex. I had sex ed when I was in year 6 (age 11) and we learnt about puberty and sex and pregnancy and childbirth (watching a baby being born on video!) and everything grouped in together. Is that what you mean by 'sexualise'?"

No. That is not what I mean. Sexualization is, in my opinion, I'm not the expert here, the process whereby adults expose children to sexually inappropriate material, emphasis on inappropriate, whereby the adult hopes to or actually causes the child to, well, how should I say this, enter the world of adult sexuality earlier than he or she might have, and often the world of deviant adult sexuality that they might not have otherwise entered at any age, like sex with animals or sex during asphyxiation, etc., with the negligence, knowledge, or purpose of doing exactly that to the children.

Franzy, I have enjoyed our back and forths, but at this point your defense of the indefensible is getting tiresome, and my time could be better spent elsewhere. You are, of course, welcome to continue to write, and my email address is at my web site. Good luck.

6:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If SmartFilter can't tell porn apart
From a site that posts links to some art
(As BoingBoing likes to do),
And will block it for you,
Then their filter is not very smart.

7:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(Darn it - I cut off the rest of my post. So much for a glorious sign off...)

I love asking questions that never get a straight answer!
That slavery analogy was way shaky btw: One slave getting beaten = terrible. Many slaves also = terrible.
Therefore ... put YA books with sexual content in the adult section and hope that kids never find them?
Run a website dedicated to taking down an organisation you disagree with through the courts, rather than getting active and leading your own children by example or just butting out and letting other people's children live their own lives with access to their own information?
Just because Krug said that parents should give their kids Playboy, doesn't mean you have to! Freedom of choice man!
And when you finally win, and the ALA's board gets fired and a new conservative, child-friendly bunch of individuals springs up in its place and those people only choose and recommend books with "appropriate" content and who steer clear of sexuality and issues surrounding sexuality (because that’s a parent’s realm after all), do you think you will have prevented children from being exposed to sex? What’s the point, man?
I take an interest in censorship and freedom of speech and thought for young people because that’s my area of writing and research, but you here have taken up thousands of words trying desperately to present your opinions as facts. No one’s opinion is a fact. That’s why music and literature and art are so popular. Everyone likes something, but nothing takes precedence because there’s no accounting for taste.
Why on earth did you keep returning to a forum that was so obviously convinced your opinions were wrong trying to sway everyone else to your point of view? You say I’m defending the indefensible (I’m not even sure which ‘indefensible’ you’re referring to), but you sir, are using your own right to freedom of speech and thought to restrict the rights of other.
Robert Cormier’s Fade was a favourite book of mine when I was eleven. I can still remember his brilliant and beautiful writing, it inspired me to read further and pursue a career in writing. You would have stopped me from reading that book. Hands off!

7:29 AM  
Blogger plan2succeed.org said...

"Conservative," as you say, it not the issue. Both conservatives and liberals, Republicans and Democrats in the USA, and almost everybody, even most people in the ALA, do not want children to have access to inappropriate sexual material. Neither do the laws and the court cases. Neither do any public surveys. And it's not a matter of keeping kids away from sex. You trivialize these issues down to nothingness. To you, there are no lines at all. Nothing bad could ever happen because its just someone's judgement. I should only take care of only my own kid and every other kid in the world can go to the devil. I should see people subverting the law and I should only protect myself selfishly and take no further action. This is what you are saying, Franzy. This is how I read you. The courts, the law, the community, they cannot force their morality on children who might actually be interested in how to stick their fists up other people's rectums up to the elbows. After all, who's to say that's wrong? That may be good for the kid! This is what you are arguing, Franzy. Really, you look ridiculous making these arguments. It is not censorship, Franzy, to keep a child from inappropriate sexual material. It is not a violation of freedom of speech to keep a child from inappropriate sexual material. No matter how much you poke fun at me, or my arguments, or my methods, or anything else about me or anyone else, you cannot deny what I just said about censorship and freedom of speech. This is why you are just wrong. This is what you keep ignoring. This is what the ALA keeps ignoring or explaining away despite US v. ALA. This is why someday, somewhere, some people will finally get the right legal team together to expose what the top leadership at the ALA is doing for all the public to see. Until then, you go on thinking it's censorship to keep children from inappropriate sexual material and they are well equipped to make up their own minds on whether to read it or not.

2:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I knew you'd be back!
I've hit on the problem: the grey areas. No one is saying that 17 year olds should be shielded from books with kissing in them and on the other end, no one is advocating that 5 year olds be subjected to the kind of 'elbow' material you described and seem conversant with.
The grey area is the one occupied by 'young adult' literature and the one we've all been arguing about. Once you start restricting parts of it that offend sections of society, you've got to start restricting other sections and that's a road that ends in wide-ranging censorship and no one wants to go down there either.
But (and I'm sure you'll find something supportive here) to take the road the other way, the way you describe would be to have porno videos given to children and books about serial killers studied in primary school (ages 5 - 12 here). That isn't workable either, I think you'll agree.
So we're left with this grey area. (Grey being a fairly unsuitable colour choice for such a hotly debated topic). Tweenagers, teenagers and young adults are categories that define such a broad range of people and developments that it is impossible to suitably police them all to make sure they grow healthy. I think the ALA is trying as hard as it can to cater to everybody and make sure no one misses out. They merely hold the information, it's up to us - you and me - to decide how we consume it and how we want our loved ones to consume it.
I guess I'm just saying: be vigilant.

It's not black and white. You're kidding yourself if you think for a moment that I'm advocating the things you say I am. I'm sure if you went through a list of materials from 'gross' to 'acceptable' to show a twelve year old you would find my threshhold. Then you would have to find me another twelve year old and go through it all again because subject number two would have different interests.
And after all that, those two 12 year olds would do something different anyway...

7:46 PM  
Blogger plan2succeed.org said...


Planny here.

Often I say you are right but....

Now you are wrong again, and your slippery slope arguments about slippery slopes are standard ALA fare.

Now to prove you wrong again, or merely to further illustrate what I have been saying, and in part to gently wean you away from the need to provoke long responses from me, I present you with the following:

X-rated 'Children's' Books
Outrage Students' Parents;
Titles on Required-Reading Lists, Offerings in Libraries Include Bestiality, Sex Drawings

Posted: March 15, 2006
1:00 a.m. Eastern

By Ron Strom
© 2006 WorldNetDaily.com

4:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah - it's still adults telling young people what to think and read. I'm not really buying the whole 'slippery slope' argument either. I'm still not convinced that children and young people aren't a lot smarter than you give them credit for. Maybe you should be asking why these books are being read by young people in the first place?
And here's a little bit of fun for you too:

6:36 PM  
Blogger Stu said...

First of, I must state I havent read the entire blog, but I was very interested to see how the debate evolved.

I only have one question for "plan2", you seem to be saying that books are synonomous with the internet in your references to USvsALA.

Clearly they are two different things and to extrapolate the constitutional finding on restrictions the latter to restrictions on the former is but a veiled attack on the first amendment.

The court in no way "makes laws", they decide on the validity of laws. Their decisions are usualy related to wether the State, i.e. the congress, is violating the rights afforded the public as enshrined in the constitution.

The question decided was "can Congress require that libraries using certian federal funds (E-rate and LSTA) install internet bloking software".

Are you really trying to compare this novel to "illegal and harmful pornography"? If I am mistaken on this observation, do you hold the publication "Playboy" to be "illegal and harmful pornography"?

7:57 PM  
Blogger plan2succeed.org said...


I don't have time for a full answer now. Reading the whole blog will give you a hint where I will go when I get a chance to write again.

Thanks for your interest in this important issue. I'll write soon.

6:11 AM  
Blogger Dick said...

I've read 3/4 of this entirely too long page and apologize in advance if these issues have already been adressed...

The first major issue I see here is the definition of YA. YOUNG ADULT. I don't know what moron decided that YA included 12 year olds, but they are sorely mistaken. As it goes, YA is a fairly new to the book world. I remember being 12 (all of four and a half years ago...), walking through the library or book store, and unable to find anything of relative interest in the "Children's" section. On the same note, the "Literature" section was just over my head. But with the invention of YA, there was something for my (rather mature) pre-teen heart to devour.

It took only a year before I outgrew that section too. And off my thirteen year old self goes to the most rediculously explicit adult section I could find in barnes and noble. Did my parents stop me? I didn't even let them know what I was buying beyond a title. Did the cashier give me a funny look? Other than complimenting my taste for a 13 year old, she didn't blink an eye.

I swear I have a point here... a kid who is looking for "sexually explicit" content, is going to find it regardless of its placement.

Do I think that a book suggested for a 17 year old should be in the "childrens" section of a library? NO, that is obviously inapropriate. Is it wrong to place that book in the teen section? HELL NO.

Something should be said about LFA's sexual content, well duh, it's the extreme of YA. Most YA goes into the before/after dilemma of sex, and 99 percent of the time not the "during." But I'll be frank here, if I 12 year old is in the Teen section, they are looking for mature-er content. If the whole idea of oral sex is beyond their grasp or their mental capacity, I'll guaruntee you they'll shut the book or skip the pages. But the fact of the matter is that they probably wanted to find that scene in the first place... which leads me to another very important point...

I've always held the stance that if a parent cannot trust their teenager in a book/movie/magazine store, that teenager has no right to be there. If, as a parent, you cannot trut your 12 year old in a library alone, then you don't send that kid to the library. Period, end of story.

So I guess it all comes down to my original point, that YOUNG ADULT means young ADULT. And if a young adult can't handle that mild of a sexual scene there are certainly much bigger problems than the scene's existence.

11:28 AM  
Blogger Robin said...

I agree with your statements, Mr. Hartinger.

I agree that this book is not appropriate for all teenagers. You can't judge a person's maturity based solely on their age.

As John Green, the author of Looking for Alaska says, the sex scene is this book is meant to awkward, and unfun. He wants this to contrast with a scene nearer to the middle of the book, when there is a scene that is very emotionally intimate, instead of physically.

You can watch a video with John Green talking about LFA and the banning of his book in some schools here:

4:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, so it doesn't say when the last comment was posted, but I'm just going to assume that few people read this anymore.
Still; the whole discussion really interested me, possibly because I'm exactly in the age range of the intended audience of LfA. Also because I just finished reading it.

I'm not really sure what to say, except that believe me, there is not that much difference between a 12 year old and a 14 year old, and also that teenagers are much smarter and much more intuitive than you think. Is there a particular boundary? When a person is 12 years and 360 days, does that mean they still "can't" read it without being horribly scarred for life?

I agree with someone waaay earlier, kids are learning about sex at younger and younger ages. But that's how it works now, and that's really schools doing it, not anyone else. By 12, in Britain at least, students enter their second year of secondary school, by which point very very few of them are naive enough to believe that all the world is good and innocent - at least in non-Catholic, state schools. I know, it shouldn't have worked out that way, but it did. Most people I know, people my age, wouldn't bat an eyelid at the sexual content in Looking for Alaska. After all, we don't read it for the sex scenes; we read it because we like books. The book is not structured around the sex, it's just a part of the book. Just like the protagonist going to boarding school is a part of the book. No-one cares; no-one is going to grow up to be a necrophiliac just because they read a book which is in the Teen section, which means that if they were there, they should be able to see the sign.

As Mr Green said, the entire purpose of the scene is because it is essentially emotionally empty, while the scene directly following it is full of emotion with practically zero physical contact. There's a reason for it; it's not just sex for the sake of sex.

Also, this line made me laugh:
"deviant adult sexuality that they might not have otherwise entered at any age, like sex with animals or sex during asphyxiation, etc., with the negligence, knowledge, or purpose of doing exactly that to the children."
I mean, I get your point, but no-one's claiming that Looking for Alaska, or any of the ALA-recommended books contain either sex with animals or sex doing asphyxiation, and I'm fairly sure librarians don't plan to do that to the kids just because they're reading those books.

I know I'm repeating a lot of the points already mentioned. But I just wanted to give another "young adult"'s perspective. For the record, I'm 14 (only just) and my other 14-year-old friend highly recommended this book to me because of its brilliant writing and its view on the world and life. Not because of its sex scenes.

The parts of the book that I will remember, that will stick with me, I'm sure, for years to come (as really good books generally do) will definitely be the scene directly after the sex scene, and the whole last quarter of the book. Because a lot of it nearly made me cry.

Believe me when I say this: teenagers aren't as affected by explicit content as much as you think we will be. On the whole, we don't seek it out actively, but we don't cry every night because so-and-so got laid in some book. Not even some 12-year-olds; really depends on the maturity of the person in question (I know several who would definitely be mature enough to easily handle Looking for Alaska).

Just my view...I hope it was vaguely interesting to at least someone.

5:31 PM  
Blogger googlyboogly said...

I strongly agree with the above comment.
I am a thirteen year old girl.
I read this book over the summer.
Is it really the sex scene that stays with us in the future?
After reading Looking for Alaska, were you thinking more about the blow job, or more about the poetic ending?

Here's another thing. Did Pudge gain any kind of sexual satisfaction from the blow job? No.

Does that tell you anything?

Maybe the message is more "sex isn't necessarily what's going to give you satisfaction."

Maybe, just maybe, it's not pro-sex. Did you think about that?

Have any of you ever read Speak? Speak also has a sex scene, though it is more a rape scene. Laurie Halse Anderson, the author, said something that I think relates to this; "But censoring books that deal with difficult, adolescent issues does not protect anybody. Quite the opposite. It leaves kids in the darkness and makes them vulnerable. Censorship is the child of fear and the father of ignorance. Our children cannot afford to have the truth of the world withheld from them.

There's my two cents.

1:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good to hear there's someone who shares my views, rittiville, and I completely agree with Anderson's view on the topic.

Teenagers are more mature than most adults give them/us credit for, most of the time. :)

3:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry for writing a comment that will possibly be redundant since I skimmed the comments, but I just had to speak up.

I am currently 13 years old, and I'll be 14 in two days. I read this book shortly after I found out about the video blog run by John Green and his brother. I was 12. And you know the part of the book that sticks with me to this day? "Thomas Edison's last words were, 'It's very beautiful over there.' I don't know where 'there' is, but I believe it's somewhere, and I hope it's beautiful."

That line echoed in my head for thirteen months. This book taught me more about acceptance, life, death, and love than any other piece of literature. To Kill A Mockingbird is second to it, and I read that in a Catholic school at the age of 12.

My current English teacher at said school read LFA recently, and she loves it. The one thing she was struck by (and something that has been mentioned in the comments several times) was how the author used the scene in question to show how empty the pleasure in sexual acts are compared to pure unadulterated love.

As for the ALA marketing the book, the problem is, hormones have no timeline. There are ten-year-olds I know who are more than definitely beginning puberty, and pretty soon they'll start to have questions about sex. LFA answers a lot of questions by saying "Sex without actual love is as empty as a roller coaster that just goes an a circle."

True, there is some language that parents probably wouldn't want to encourage, but here's the sad truth, moms and dads: some ten-year-olds use the f-word on a regular basis. Why? They see older kids using it at the bus stop, after school, during recess, whatever, and they think it's cool since they pretty much idolize those who are older than them and younger than 18. It's a cycle, and the only way to end it is to put your kids in solitary confinement. Sorry.

So, while I still believe it should be up to the parents to decide whether or not their particular 12-year-old should read a book like LFA, I believe the ALA has every right to recommend it to 12-and-up. The parents decide things, not the librarians.

11:32 PM  
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8:20 PM  
Anonymous Katja said...

"Now let's all assume for the sake of argument that a book about detailed oral sex experiences is inappropriate for 12 year olds."
2 things:
1. There is no way you actually read the book if you would describe the scene where Pudge gets head from Lara as a "detailed oral sex experience."
2. Why are we assuming this? When you're twelve you take sex ed, which goes into much greater sexual detail than LFA ever did, and that doesn't make all the twelve year olds start shagging each other.

"For the record, LFA is about as sexually explicit as teen books ever get, IMHO."
Speaking as someone who was a teenager up until quite recently, that's utterly untrue. I would put Looking For Alaska somewhere in the middle of the spectrum of sexually explicitness for young adult books.

Anyway, I think the whole idea of limiting the availability of certain books to certain age groups is ridiculous. I had heard a more detailed description of fellatio than LFA provided when I was in lower school. But, you know, if you want to abuse your power as a parent and try to mold them into a something you like rather than provide guidance and assistance as they mold themselves, go right ahead.

I would also like to comment that I read Looking For Alaska because it was assigned in my 10th grade english class.

11:16 PM  
Anonymous Cory Archie said...

Rittieville, I agree with everything you said. I read this book when I was 14. I could have cared less about that scene. What really struck me was the character's and their relationships.

1:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would just like to add that I read this book when I was 13 and it has done no damage to me. I don't think adults realise how much we already know at that age. The sexually explicit scenes in that book were nothing I hadn't heard about before or even read about. There were plenty of other books that I read about at the same age which had very similar content but no award. Not having an award didn't stop me from finding it. I also read other books at that age with slightly worse content. I rememeber reading a book about a sexual relationship between a teacher and a student which was in the teen section. When I borrowed it, I didn't know what the content was going to be like however without the award I still found it. Surely that kind of content is worse than what is in LFA! I honestly don't think it is as big of a deal as you are making it out to be. LFA is not that bad really. Sure there is some sexual scenes but really?

18 year old who still remembers what it is like to be a kid.

4:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since I haven't really read everything here, sorry if I'm a bit behind.

What my opinion on this is (And I completely believe that comment moderation will filter my comment out) that some 12 year old kids, like myself (I try to think) are mature enough to handle some of the truths of life. I can't speak for anyone else my age, but one part of growing up, for me at least, is discovering things before anyone tells you about them. I discovered all the gory details about every subject imaginable online. Sex included. It's not like LFA would be a "violent introduction into adult life" or anything. We've seen movies. We've read other books. It's sort of unfair to pin this one on LFA. I mean, really. I've read that book, maybe 5 times. I've never been affected by that section. I hadn't even remembered it until it was mentioned. And, furthermore, as John Green HIMSELF (Which is so amazing) so eloquently put it, 'That's why [he] devoted only 800 words to it'. And would you look at that. A 12-year-old was mature enough to recognize a good quote when she sees one, whereas no sexually themed quotes immediately come to my poor traumatized undeveloped mind. Something worth remembering, hm?

-Yet another 12-year-old. But this time she correctly capitalizes her sentences. And spells everything correctly.

12:54 AM  

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