Only ‘banned’ books here are those with different viewpoints
There seems to be misinformation, whether intentional or not, about the intent of those of us who have exposed some of the featured books in the “Ages 1218” section of the Lexington Park library. Our intent is that parents should be making the choices of whether or not their children are exposed to sexually explicit material — not the library director or library board of trustees. When this type of material is featured under the guise of a “banned book” in a section of the library designated for pre-teens and teens, an age group that do not need a parental escort in the library, that choice is taken away from parents. From the reaction, it appears that many citizens were not aware of the choices of reading material being marketed to our teens and pre-teen children by our library director and library board of trustees.
First of all, none of the books are actually “banned books.” As it turns out, this is a yearly promotional event of the American Library Association’s “Office of Intellectual Freedom” — a name that is eerily similar to the “Ministry of Truth” in George Orwell’s classic “1984” — which was notably absent from among the featured books at the library.
In 2015, a reporter at the website fivethirtyeight actually tried to investigate the methodology used by the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom to determine which books are considered “banned.” Guess what? He was stonewalled by the ALA. He ended up concluding that the list is a gimmick to draw extra attention to some books chosen arbitrarily by the OIF.
From my count, 25 percent of the “banned books” at the Lexington Park library display were sexually explicit. Why is that? Where were the books featuring alternative viewpoints to promiscuity and other risky and dangerous sexual practices? Where were literary classics like “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “The Grapes of Wrath” or “1984?” They were nowhere to be found in this display. I would think if the purpose was “merely pointing out the whole notion of banned books in America,” as stated in The Enterprise’s Oct. 25 editorial, some of these other “banned” books would have been featured. Actually, it seems that books with alternative viewpoints are the truly banned books — banned, apparently, by our library’s director and trustees.
It appears that simply accusing one of violating the First Amendment or freedom of speech is used in an attempt to eliminate all discussion on the issue of the library’s marketing of inappropriate materials for pre-teens and teens. All discussion of whether the material featured at the library meets the legal definition of obscenity or child pornography — or is simply material that is inappropriate for minors and should be moved to another area of the library — is shut down. Apparently, we must obey. Questioning is a “thoughtcrime.” County Commissioner Todd Morgan (R) was even lambasted in a previous letter to the editor for daring to suggest that “good common sense and judgment” be used. I guess the Thought Police are against common sense.
One more interesting note, the YouTube video of the Oct. 17 county commissioners’ public forum where some of us quoted from some of the books in question has a warning label on it: “Caution: Portions of the following program contain language and/or materials which may be offensive to some viewers. Parental discretion is advised.” This warning label was placed there by the administration of St. Mary’s County. Strangely, there is no such warning at the entrance of the area designated for pre-teen/teen children at our library.
Jennifer Mountjoy, Hollywood