We’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth a brief recap.
A county library in Jessamene, Kentucky, recently fired two staff members, Sharon Cook and Beth Boisvert, for circumventing the library’s lending policies on Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier. The graphic novel which takes famous literary characters and tells new stories that incorporates them all, from Allan Quatermain to 1984 to Dan Dare, was reserved by Cook for a year to prevent it reaching the shelves as she believed it was pornographic. Then when an eleven year old girl who wanted the volume put a request in, Cook and Boisvert looked up her records then prevented her from taking the book out.
Anyway, yesterday, there was a public meeting of the Jessamine County Public Library Board to discuss the matter. Where evangelical preacher Earl Lee Watts yelled out “If this is not pornography, what is?” while handing out pages of the book in question, showing the New Adventures Of Fanny Hill to those present.
Or, in his own terms, disseminating pornography. Disgusting.
A petition presented by Darryl Diddle, a Wilmore minister signed by 950 people asks the library to remove a number of works from the library on the basuis that they “offended me in that they depict sexual acts and/or describe such acts in a way that in my opinion are contrary to the Jessamine County public opinion of what should be in a public, taxpayer, supported collection” stating that works constitituted a public safety issue in that they encourage sexual predators.
As well as League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier, they also include Snuff, by Chuck Palahniuk, the movie Choke and the movie You Can’t Fix Stupid.
In opposition, preacher’s daughter Bobbi Stout said “It’s dangerous to democracy when an interest group imposes its views on another,” she said, shouting “Stand up for the Constitutition” a speech that brought one librarian there to tears.
And DeWayne Brewer, a Baptist pastor, asking for a little common sense, warned that if the Bible ever went into graphic novel form the banning committee would have something to really fret about then.
One parent Christine Powell told how she almost stopped reading altogether as a child because her libraries wouldn’t allow her to read “above her grade”. Another, Kristina Sakowich, a mother of eight whom she homeschools, says it this affair has made her afraid of what her thirteen year old son might find in the library.
And local high school sophomore Alexis Kierstead brought another petition signed by 244 students asking that the board censor what they are allowed to read, saying “it takes a village to raise a child.”
Twenty-three people spoke on the matter at the meeting, each allowed two minutes each, dividing down the line. It all comes down to the policy that parents must sign for any children to receive a library card and from that point the parents are responsible for what is taken out – whether that be The Gruffallo or The Gruffalo Does Dallas. So, should libraries protect children from obscenity, or do they have no business playing a parental role? I certainly took work out of the library that some people would rather I didn’t – initially misstacked shich then let me to other, higher shelves. And I haven’t raped or murdered anyone yet. And anyway is The Black Dossier really that bad?
The board didn’t think so, with chairwoman Billie Goodwill lauding Black Dossier for his awards and commendations and that it was a book the library should stack. And that no action would be taken at this stage.
The big question was not answered however. Was it the standard version of League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier or the inferior Absolute version? Anyone? Anyone?
Boy, DC must just be loving this.
Photo of Earl Lee Watts by Dave Perry, Herald Leader