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From Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. A webcomic with good sense. Click the image for the rest of comic.

Censorship, You’re Just Making Yourself Look Stupid… Again

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From Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. A webcomic with good sense. Click the image for the rest of comic.

The hew and cry of a parent who feels they’ve been wronged, when they actually haven’t been, is a loud, shrill tone that’s a mixture of “think of the children” and “things that are different terrify me.” Such is, again, the case with the Greenville County Public Library System who received a complaint from a concerned mother who freely admitted that she hadn’t looked at the item before checking it out. Now I could understand not flipping through it if this were a tome the size of War and Peace. As things go, this is a graphic novel we’re talking about here. You know, a comic book.

By Alan Moore.

Perhaps it was inconveient to flip through 176 pages of comic book to ascertain the content therein. Okay, fine. Me, I’m a huge fan of Alan Moore, so even though I’ve never read Neonomican (our title in question), I have a pretty fair idea what it’s going to be like. Just to make sure, let me take a look at the GCPLS online catalogue and see what it’s about. Kind of funny, that. You know, me checking the library catalogue. This mother certainly didn’t do that either, or she might have learned that Neonomicon is about:

“Brears and Lamper, two young and cocky FBI agents, investigate a fresh series of ritual murders somehow tied to the final undercover assignment of Aldo Sax– the once golden boy of the Bureau, now a convicted killer and inmate of a maximum security prison. From their interrogation of Sax (where he spoke exclusively in inhuman tongues) to a related drug raid on a seedy rock club rife with arcane symbols and otherworldly lyrics, they suspect that they are on the trail of something awful– but nothing can prepare them for the creeping insanity and unspeakable terrors they will face in the small harbor town of Innsmouth”–P. [4] of cover.

Oh, so it’s basically an X-Files meets H.P. Lovecraft book. Okay, so we know we’re dealing with madness and horror here along with a character who’s a convicted murder and there are occult overtones. Got it. Wait, there’s more, this book covers subjects like:

Occultism — Comic books, strips, etc.
Supernatural — Comic books, strips, etc.
United States. Federal Bureau of Investigation — Officials and employees — Comic books, strips, etc.
Murder — Investigation — Comic books, strips, etc.
Comic books, strips, etc. — United States.
Horror comic books, strips, etc.
Graphic novels.

Hmmmm…  it’s amazing what you can find out about books these days without even bothering to open up a cover! Technology, I tell ya. It works wonders when you’re not stupid.

Despite the parent’s ignorance here we find that, like Inception, we need to go deeper and look at the library’s Director. An internal investigation and review by librarians, professionals in the field of collection development and materials selection, recommended that the book remain on the shelves. Too bad, because the Director decided to do her own thing and pull the book anyway. Needless to say, that’s kicked off a massive storm of criticism from all over the library world and has made GCPLS look a bit of a laughing stock.

On that note, since the Director has taken it upon herself to ignore the review committee, that link above to the item in the catalogue may go dark. Try Amazon if you want further information about the title If you do, you’ll have done 100% more than the concerned mother who lodged the complaint. As always, this kind of thing makes everyone involved look incredibly foolish. After all, one should wonder if the Director will make decisions to:

I could go on, but I figure you get the point. Removing a title is stupid because there are always items like it, “worse” than it, or almost carbon copies of it with a different set of characters and settings. Heck, I was able to compare this title to the X-Files and Lovecraft – and I haven’t even read it. That’s because I bothered to take about two minutes, if that, to learn something about it and then compare that to my pre-existing knowledge of the world to decide if this would be a proper title for me or my kids. For my eight and five year old, no, I don’t think they’re quite ready for mind-bending,  Lovecraftian madness. For myself, this is something I hope we have in our catalogue because Mulder and Scully meets Cthulhu sounds amazing.

According to the article, Beverly James, Executive Director of GCPLS, said:

“I can override their recommendation…I’m ultimately responsible.’” James adds that she did not feel the book’s content was appropriate for the library system’s collection. She says she had the support of some library staff members.

Looking at the cover, I can surmise this doesn’t involve anything approximating Hello Kitty.

Yes, yes she is ultimately responsible… which is why intelligent people who frown on censorship are criticizing the hell out of her decision. She may not feel the book’s content, but a review group did feel that the book’s content was okay. She has the support of some library staff members? Well, that’s lovely, but she certainly didn’t have the support of the review group, nor did she support them in their decision. Looking at that from a professional standpoint, I’d never want to be on a review group there because, why bother? Why waste time looking at the material and making a well informed decision just so someone can come along and say “Never mind, we’ll do what I think is best.”? I don’t think that the support of some library staff members means a whole hell of a lot when you don’t say which staff members, who they are, what their jobs are, and why they support you when you’re going against a review group.

It’s just another shining example of how stupid a library looks when they start pulling things from their shelves simply because someone complained. I have a book recommendationfor Ms. James and her “supporters.” It’s shelved in Reference, so it should certainly be available. That is, unless she’s pulled it too.

It’s now very common to hear people say, “I’m rather offended by that,” as if that gives them certain rights. It’s simply a whine. It’s no more than a whine. It has no meaning, it has no purpose, it has no reason to be respected as a phrase – “I’m so offended by that.” Well, so fucking what?
~Stephen Fry

2 Comments

  1. Nice touch here and I am in total agreement with everything except: “Technology, I tell ya. It works wonders when you’re not stupid.”
    Hell it even works wonders for stupid folks too if they bother to use it. Most of them are simply afraid of technology, I know that is stupid, so they cannot get past FB and Solitaire. Both of which I have spent some of my time using too but I did manage to branch out once in a while. Stupidity is not a curse but a choice. A stupid one at that.

  2. As a former librarian who served on a review committee and also ordered adult and young adult fiction…I totally agree with you. And I feel that committee pain. What bothers me is the “offended ones” get to have books pulled from the shelves but in our town those who did a “suggested purchase” for Fifty Shades of Grey were turned down.

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