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.