Texas Religious Leaders Try To Get Public Libraries To Ban Vampire Books For Them

from the church-and-state dept

Public libraries: they're important. Now that we've gotten that out of the way, somebody is going to have to explain to me why we occasionally see people attempt to take books out of libraries on either religious or decency grounds. It seems to me that these people often need a lecture on the First Amendment and how they probably want to be careful about eroding its protections. The latest in need of such a lecture is a group of Texas religious leaders who are circulating a letter demanding a local public library remove all works of fiction that have to do with vampires and the occult.

Phillip Missick and other religious leaders have called on the Austin Memorial Library to remove books about vampires, demons and other magical beings from the teen section. Missick is circulating a petition that requests that the "occultic and demonic room be shut down, and these books be purged from the shelves, and that public funds would no longer be used to purchase such material, or at least require parents to check them out for their children," according to the Cleveland Advocate.
Missick's reasoning for this is the same moral panic crap we've written about so often: if children read about the occult, they'll end up being demonic little hooligans or whatever. It's Dungeons and Dragons, video games, and chess all over again. But it's all the more egregious when a religious leader calls for the removal of secular funds from a public institution to fulfill his religious views. We don't do that in America. Let me show Pastor Missick why we don't do that, using one of his own statements.
"This is dark. There's a sexual element. You have creatures that aren't human. I think it's dangerous for our kids," Missick, a pastor at King of Saints Tabernacle of Cleveland, told KTRK.
Now, let me think what other books that might exist that I could argue contain dark literature, sexual elements, and creatures that aren't human? Oh, I know! How about the bible? Plenty that could be considered dark, what with the detailed descriptions of war and Cain killing Abel and all that. Sexual elements? Oh, you betcha, what with the incestuous date-rape of Lot by his daughters and the orgies and whatnot. Non-human creatures? Well, you know, there's God, angels, and demons, so yeah. Most public libraries carry the bible in the reference section, alongside the equally dark-n-sexy religious texts from other major religions.

So, are we going to ban the bible in public libraries because of this? Shall we insist no public funds go to buying religious texts, including the bible? Of course not, because libraries aren't for partisan texts, they're for all texts that have value to the public, including texts we may not care for. You can't understand literature if you don't have a basic understanding of religious texts and you can't understand the current realm of young-adult fiction if you don't have access to vampire books. Sad, but that's the way it is.

So, hey, to my religious friends: stop trying to ban books. You're chipping away at a federal law that allows you to exist.

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Filed Under: banning, books, moral panic, phillip missick, public libraries, texas, vampires


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  • icon
    James Jensen (profile), 4 Sep 2014 @ 12:13pm

    "You should read your Bible, sirs. You'll find all types of weird shit in there."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Sheogorath (profile), 4 Sep 2014 @ 1:56pm

    And Texan Twilight fans weep

    "Oh noes! Give back our sparkly wimpires!"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Applesauce, 4 Sep 2014 @ 1:57pm

    Just eliminate the libraries.

    That's the fairest solution. Otherwise it would be far too difficult to figure out what to ban and what not to. Besides, as long as we have libraries there will always be something "bad" in them. Not to mention that libraries represent a form of institutional piracy where people can read books without paying the poor publishers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    BentFranklin (profile), 4 Sep 2014 @ 2:19pm

    Can we use this tactic to stop the Federal government from aiding and abetting the movie industry?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), 4 Sep 2014 @ 2:21pm

    They've effectively banned the Bible by putting it in the reference section.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Sep 2014 @ 2:37pm

    called on the Austin Memorial Library to remove books about vampires, demons and other magical beings from the teen section.

    Okay. Let's get them in the pre-teen section today.


    "This is dark. There's a sexual element. You have creatures that aren't human. I think it's dangerous for our kids," Missick, a pastor at King of Saints Tabernacle of Cleveland, told KTRK.

    How could he possibly know?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Techanon, 5 Sep 2014 @ 12:58am

      Re:

      Maybe because he is one of them dark, non-human creatures that are dangerous for the kids. You know that saying: "It takes one to know one".

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Sep 2014 @ 2:38pm

    I feel like we're moving back towards the unenlightened periods.
    "Vaccines cause Autism" despite numerous scientific studies and evidence that prove otherwise.
    "Global Warming is not man-made" or "does not exist." despite numerous scientific studies and evidence that prove otherwise.
    "Burn the Vampire books because they create evil demon-worshiping children" despite evidence that proves otherwise.

    Fuck hard scientific evidence, believe in what I say because faith! Burn the heretics!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      James Jensen (profile), 4 Sep 2014 @ 2:44pm

      Re:

      It think it has a lot to do with general societal decline: everyone has the sense that something is going wrong but we're all jumping to different conclusions about what that is, and hanging on to them for dear life because that's all we've got to make sense of the world.

      Irrational beliefs simply play into the hysteria more easily than ones that can be easily checked and lend themselves to subtlety and nuance.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Sep 2014 @ 2:53pm

    Maybe instead of focusing on the books they should focus on the real bloodsucker politicians holding office.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 4 Sep 2014 @ 3:01pm

    I have to admit...

    I thought it was really weird when I went to the bookstore, and there was this "Teen Paranormal Romance" section...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Sep 2014 @ 3:13pm

    On one hand they are rabid lunatics that deserve to be smacked down, on the other hand they would help to get rid of twilight.

    Now that's a hard choice...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Sep 2014 @ 3:42pm

    This is an easily soluble problem

    Texas politicians (including the governor) have sporadically made noises about "secession". I think we should grant their wish, and allow Texas to exclude itself the US -- although we might want to set up an emergency evacuation and relocation plan for Austin, as it seems to be the one worthwhile place in the entire state.

    Liberated from the oppression of the United States and its pesky Constitution, Texas can pursue its own goals: lowering its education standards even further, striving to make illiteracy the rule rather than merely the norm, putting religious fanatics in charge of critical public functions, arming everyone with assault weapons, and making racism and bigotry part of the state motto.

    In this idyllic future paradise, Texans will be able to ban not just these particular books, but ALL books, in their unceasing quest to outdo the more violent parts of central and south America as the worst shithole in the Americas.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Sep 2014 @ 11:30am

      Re: This is an easily soluble problem

      Ironically most of the red states are vampires sucking more money from the federal government than they give to it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 6 Sep 2014 @ 6:55am

      Re: This is an easily soluble problem

      I think we should grant their wish, and allow Texas to exclude itself the US

      It would be fascinating to see what kind of constitution they would set up. I wonder how many of its provisions would be about gun rights. ;-)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Sep 2014 @ 4:04pm

    Now ain't this a trip.

    You have a religious group worried about imaginary creatures that don't exist influencing the children. Never mind this imaginary friend in another book they use as their guidelines.

    It's almost but not quite as bad as another group over in the Middle East willing to cut off heads of people over their imaginary friend.

    So how long will it take to get the good Reverend to go and fight for his imaginary friend? Bet it gets real quiet about that point.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 6 Sep 2014 @ 6:57am

      Re:

      It's almost but not quite as bad as another group over in the Middle East willing to cut off heads of people over their imaginary friend.

      Writing letters about removing books from public libraries* is almost as bad as beheading someone? o_O

      * it is worth noting that writing and sending letters is an activity protected by the 1st Amendment

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    JP Jones (profile), 4 Sep 2014 @ 6:56pm

    Now, let me think what other books that might exist that I could argue contain dark literature, sexual elements, and creatures that aren't human? Oh, I know! How about the bible?

    Nah, you're not seeing it from the right frame of view. Vampires are fictional evil monsters that destroy our children. The bible is a historical record of REAL angels, demons, and God.

    Obviously. Now go give me two Hail Mary's, and Our Father, and promise never to do it again.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 4 Sep 2014 @ 7:24pm

    As Arthur C Clarke Said ...

    ... “The greatest tragedy in mankind’s entire history may be the hijacking of morality by religion.”

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      James Jensen (profile), 4 Sep 2014 @ 8:28pm

      Re: As Arthur C Clarke Said ...

      I like that one. Archdruid John Michael Greer once said something to the effect that making religion the foundation of morality was a interesting but thoroughly failed experiment.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        JEDIDIAH, 5 Sep 2014 @ 8:31am

        Re: As Arthur C Clarke Said ...

        It certainly doesn't help that one of their key principles is that we are all born broken and completely incapable of altering this condition through our own efforts.

        "You're hopeless and there's nothing you can do about it."

        Great moral starting point...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 4 Sep 2014 @ 8:01pm

    'You gave me what I asked for, not what I wanted!'

    I can't help but imagine, it would probably be pretty funny if the librarian went along with their demands, and just followed them to their natural conclusion.

    Librarian: So you want the books pulled for containing 'dark, sexual elements, and non-human creatures'?
    Religious representative: Exactly, such things should be kept out of the reach of children, as they could easily cause damage to their developing minds.
    Librarian: Hmm, alright, I suppose I can see that, we'll pull all books that include that sort of thing.
    R.R.: Thank you, we knew you'd see the light.
    Librarian: Including, or should I say especially, the bible, which contains all that and more. If vampire books are damaging to the minds of children, obviously the bible would be just as bad, if not worse.

    And then you'd get to watch the special pleading and scrambling to explain that no, the violence, sexual content, and otherworldly creatures in the bible are somehow different, and don't count.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 6 Sep 2014 @ 6:58am

      Re: 'You gave me what I asked for, not what I wanted!'

      And then you'd get to watch the special pleading and scrambling to explain that no, the violence, sexual content, and otherworldly creatures in the bible are somehow different, and don't count.

      They would probably, without any sense of irony, pull out some sort of argument based on the 1st Amendment.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Sep 2014 @ 10:57pm

    Bah, who cares. Vampire books sucks anyways. Never seen good stories from those, even less from the movies (Except for Van Helsing. That movie was nice and it had old school vampires [evil, unholy creatures that want the oppression of everyone else, not this BS we have nowadays with annoying stories like that piece of crap called twilight], shottings, killings, everything at least i appreciate)... So why even care about it? I would worry if it was harry potter, Lord of the Rings or similar...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Nicola (profile), 5 Sep 2014 @ 7:13am

    If simply reading teenage fiction about vampires causes an "impressionable" teen into experimenting with the occult - then there are much bigger problems to be addressed than availability of a book!

    Most people can tell the difference between fantasy and reality. Most of us would also really like to be able to speak an incantation or wave a magic wand and do things like turn an irritating person into a ferret, or have our homes magically clean themselves, etc. etc. However we accept that is a pleasant daydream, and something to be found firmly in the classification of fiction.

    The tiny amount of people who can't tell the difference between fantasy and reality have a serious mental illness and need help.

    Which leads me to the big problem - Where were the parents/teachers/church leaders when these "impressionable" teens were developing the serious mental illness that led to this sort of delusion?

    Wouldn't a better thing to be focusing on would be making sure that teens with mental health problems actually got help? Then you can leave the rest of to either enjoy or scorn this literature in peace.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Sep 2014 @ 2:26am

      Re:

      Well, if you're from a branch of Christianity which believes in such things (in, for example, Catholicism, believing in most superstitions is itself considered to be doing the devil's work), it isn't so weird. The idea of coming across something in fiction and trying it to see if it is real isn't all that strange, which is why critical steps get left out of things like descriptions of bomb-making. OTOH, the parents should know better than to think that most occult fiction gives such useful information (even by accident) simply because they don't usually go into any real details about the nature of magic, or they include fictitious ingredients.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    JEDIDIAH, 5 Sep 2014 @ 8:17am

    Secret Squirrel

    If religious leaders expect librarians to go along with this, they have gravely misjudged the situation. Librarians as a group are anti-censorship.

    They are kind of cool this way.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Tweak (profile), 5 Sep 2014 @ 11:09am

    A Canticle For Leibowitz

    Want to follow this argument about the destruction of books to its rather predictable end? Read "A Canticle For Leibowitz" by Walter M. Miller, Jr.

    Meanwhile, the typical unthinkingly fascist mindset of your average American is on display yet again: "We should do this thing because it is right. It is right because I say that it is right. None shall be allowed to disagree with me because I am right."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Sep 2014 @ 12:25pm

    Phillip Missick and other religious leaders have called on the Austin Memorial Library to remove books about vampires, demons and other magical beings from the teen section

    Whelp he is going to be pretty mad when they remove all religious books as well with all those demons and magic beings in them....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    pouar (profile), 5 Sep 2014 @ 1:27pm

    I'm a Christian (with many beliefs from Mormonism) and even I think it's ridiculous to ban these.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    GEMont (profile), 5 Sep 2014 @ 6:07pm

    Vampire TM

    Actually this makes perfect sense.

    You see, in the beginning, vampires were Un-Dead creatures from Christian mythology, fearing the wrath of God and cringing at the very sight of a crucifix or a priest.

    Now however, Hollywood has stolen the concept and altered it to create the new Vampires - sexy living beasts of great power and speed who can make love to a woman for days on end and whose very glance is enough to initiate near orgasmic reactions in living females.

    I can understand very well why Christians would be upset.

    Too bad they're not willing to admit they created vampires to scare adherents into terrorised submission. Then they could just scream Copyright Infringement and make millions suing Hollywood.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    jamie, 11 Nov 2014 @ 2:04pm

    Hmmmm

    OK I guess I can see where this is coming from but really does it need to be banned? I think any publishing book has it's place, so banning is a bit 'harsh'.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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