Books About Gay People?! Burn Them.

Baby Be-Bop by Francesca Lia Block is a book about a young boy who is gay. It was written 15 years ago, but it’s back in the news. Why?

Because conservative Christians want to move it, censor it, and burn it.

A group called West Bend Citizens for Safe Libraries was offended that the local library posted a list of gay-friendly books for young people on its website.

Then they demanded that the books be moved from the youth section of the library and placed with the adult collection, “to protect children from accessing them without their parents’ knowledge and supervision.”

What a horrible idea — trying to limit a child’s curiosity by making parents a filter of everything they read. That’s a hallmark of fundamentalist-religion-based thinking.

Thankfully, the library board has decided to keep those books right where they belong — in the young adult section.

It gets worse. Apparently conservative Christian groups have contests to see who can out-crazy the other.

You want to move the book? Screw you! We want to burn the book!:

Now an outfit called the Christian Civil Liberties Union has gotten in on the act, suing the library for, according to the West Bend Daily News, “damaging” the “mental and emotional well-being” of several individuals by displaying “Baby Be-Bop” in the library. Since attempts to label the novel as “pornographic” have failed, the (somewhat shadowy) CCLU hopes to brand it as hate speech, in part because it contains the word “nigger.” The complainants, described as “elderly” by the newspaper, claim that Block’s novel is “explicitly vulgar, racial [sic] and anti-Christian.” They want the library’s copy not only removed but publicly burned.

Random thoughts:

  • Given the religious climate we’re in these days, I wouldn’t be surprised if one of these Christian “watchdogs” burned the library to the ground. And then the West Bend Citizens for Safe Libraries will most certainly say they had nothing to do with it. Right…
  • Of course, this will all backfire. Censorship will only turn the more intelligent kids away from Christianity and onto the books the adults don’t want them to read.
  • Burning the library books is illegal. It’s not your property. It’s the same reason you can’t walk into a gas station and burn the nudie magazines. Not your stuff. You want to burn your own property? Fine. Don’t ruin property that’s not yours. You don’t see any of us coming into your church and burning the Bibles.
  • This is the type of “solution” you only see conservative Christians pursue: if a subject is too uncomfortable to discuss, let’s ban everyone else from dealing with it. Forget focusing on my family — I want to control yours. It’s pathetic and weak.
  • Why not let the kids read the book and then discuss it with them? Or is talking to your kids too difficult for you? Go do it: tell them exactly why their kids should never accept gay people like the characters in the book do — because we know Jesus hates the gays.
  • And why are they going after the book now? They ignored it for the past fifteen years… clearly, it wasn’t a problem when it first came out.
  • How many of these Christians do you think have read the “offending” books, do you think? The more vocal they are, the less likely they are to know what they’re even talking about.
  • I hope Block’s publishers send a box of her books to every library and school in the area. Get some positive publicity and generate attention for the book.
  • And the Christian Civil Liberties Union? Are you shitting me? Do they even know what “civil liberties” are?!
  • Where are the Christian groups in the area who oppose censorship? Why are their voices not being heard? Why are they not heard in the media? Are they absent or are journalists ignoring them?
  • Also, if you want to burn offensive books, religious ones would be high on the list. But (I hope) you wouldn’t ever see atheists burning the Bible — we don’t believe in that sort of censorship.
  • The website for the Christians who want to move the book has the subtitle “A Place Where Wisconsinites Can Come Out to Play!” Somehow, they missed the obvious joke in that…

(Thanks to Alan for the link!)

  • Eliza

    Hemant – why are you holding back? Why not tell us what you really think? ;-)

  • ethanol

    The conservative christian idea about the purpose of the ACLU has always confused me: they seem to believe that it does the exact opposite of its actual goal. I find it funny that in the end they are the only ones doing what they accuse the ACLU of: trying to silence their ideological opposition

  • http://chaoskeptic.blogspot.com Iason Ouabache

    Where are the Christian groups in the area who oppose censorship?

    That’s a “dog bites man” story, man. No one really cares what they have to say. Let’s go listen to what the crazy people have to say instead.

  • Sandra

    Hmmmm… sounds familiar:
    In 2008 the religious right here in CO pushed for (and got) censorship passed into law. It is now illegal to print the Bible because it promotes violence against children, gays and other minority groups.

    I have to admit — this strikes me as funny.

  • Zar

    “Liberty”.

    You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.

  • http://nerdiah.blogspot.com/ nerdiah

    Thanks to their campaign, my niece will be receiving another book by that same author next birthday. Similarly, my son will be getting a copy of “And Tango makes three”. Thanks, fundies, for making it easy for me to find books that instil the seeds of Queer tolerance and scepticism against your world-view! :-)

  • Jones

    Burning the library books is illegal. It’s not your property. It’s the same reason you can’t walk into a gas station and burn the nudie magazines. Not your stuff. You want to burn your own property? Fine. Don’t ruin property that’s not yours. You don’t see any of us coming into your church and burning the Bibles.

    If you play the religion card, you can get away with anything.

    How many of these Christians do you think have read the “offending” books, do you think?

    I doubt most of them have even read the bible.

    And the Christian Civil Liberties Union? Are you shitting me? Do they even know what “civil liberties” are?!

    Certainly not.

    Where are the Christian groups in the area who oppose censorship?

    I ask the same question about Muslims who oppose the suicide bombings, the stonings, beheadings, and all the wonderful activities of the religion of peace. “Not all Muslims are like that.” Really? I wonder why alot of people think they love violence? What could have given people that idea? Perhaps the rioting by the thousands over a freaking cartoon for starters.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    I did burn a copy of a book by Phillip E. Johnson once, but I got it from him for free, so… meh.

  • Cindy

    Funny…I want to ban all the books in my library by Tim LaHaye, Bill O’Reilly, Hannity, Coulter, etc. What would these old farts’ opinions be about supporting MY point of view? Oh wait, the library provides reading material to all types of people? So, there may be some books I won’t like? Ohhhh….

  • http://www.raywhiting.com/MyLife Raytheist

    The individuals suing are all seniors, not kids looking for books to read. These elderly folks went looking for books to ban; how can they claim their emotional well-being was damaged when they found what they went looking for?

  • Matto the Hun

    It’s incredible how stupid these people are. They want to complain about the books they don’t like and the “damage” they suffered. Ok you crusty old shit bags, well (as Cindy mentions above) your Christian books offend me. So now I can sue and burn them. Pretty soon the Library will be broke and all the books will be burnt and no one will have books. Nice job assholes.

    I find it odd that people so pathetically stupid and ignorant would be going to libraries in the first place.

    The only silver lining is pretty soon these old people will die and there will be less of them to cause this sort of problem.

  • EB

    It was a fine post. However, I must take exception to “we don’t believe in that sort of censorship”. Not because I believe in censorship… rather, because I don’t like someone else speaking for me. One of the things I love about being an atheist is that its “belief system” is simple: there’s only one belief (or, more correctly, a lack of belief). I always make an effort to never say things like “we believe”.

  • Miko

    Given the religious climate we’re in these days, I wouldn’t be surprised if one of these Christian “watchdogs” burned the library to the ground. And then the West Bend Citizens for Safe Libraries will most certainly say they had nothing to do with it. Right…

    So in other words, if it doesn’t get burned down, then you’ll never mention this again, and if it does get burned down, then you’ll immediately think that this group must be responsible for it. It must be difficult to simultaneously think that a certain group is responsible for a crime and also be uncertain as to whether that crime will actually occur.

  • Michael

    I find something odd here.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am against government sanctioned censorship all the way. But I am for parental censorship.

    As a society, we are telling parents to keep a close eye on what their children watch on TV, video games they play, music they listen to, what they eat, and movies they take them to. It’s the parents responsibilty to do this. We even aid them by putting rating on content.

    But to say…

    What a horrible idea — trying to limit a child’s curiosity by making parents a filter of everything they read. That’s a hallmark of fundamentalist-religion-based thinking.

    I just find this hippocritical. I don’t think this is religious based thinking at all. Most of the time, no one knows how a child will react to content better than their parents.

    If you have a child that tries to imitate everything he sees, you don’t let him watch violent movies or dare devils. Not until the child can grasp the difference between what he sees and is real.

    I agree, the way these parents are trying to censor this book from their children is the absolute wrong way to do so. If you don’t want the child reading it, don’t let them go to the library (or go to the library with them, that’s even better). Don’t restrict other children from reading it just because you don’t want your child to.

    Am I the only one who think so?

  • http://www.examiner.com/x-8922-Portland-Skepticism-Examiner Charlie

    Hemant said: “Given the religious climate we’re in these days, I wouldn’t be surprised if one of these Christian “watchdogs” burned the library to the ground.”

    I actually don’t think the religious climate is any worse now than it’s been for the past ten to fifteen years. When the Christianists controlled government, they were viciously angry because some people still had the courage to dissent. Now they’re viciously angry because “Satan is having his way with the U.S.” (Translation: everyone isn’t giving them everything they want exactly when they want it.)

    I may be naive, but at least for now, I think the recent uptick in far-right violence is more of an anomaly than a trend.

    The behavior of these particular religionists is already repulsive, however. Thanks for giving us the heads up.

  • Tom

    And why are they going after the book now? They ignored it for the past fifteen years… clearly, it wasn’t a problem when it first came out.

    Because they were told to. Right wing christianity in the US is very organized. Somebody at the top of the pyramid decides “the masses will now get upset about this book”, and promptly they do, because their pastors are told to whip them into a frenzy about it, and so they do in their next sermon.

    The sheeple have to have regular things to get upset about, so they can continue to feel that they are superior to everyone else. This feeling of superiority is what keeps them under control, giving plenty of money to right wing organizations, and voting as they’re told to.

    I thought this was all incredibly obvious.

  • http://superstitionfree.blogspot.com/ Robert Madewell

    And why are they going after the book now? They ignored it for the past fifteen years… clearly, it wasn’t a problem when it first came out.

    Probably because, they didn’t even know about the book in the library until they saw it on display.

    Also, why just that book? Baby Be-bop is the fifth book in a whole series of books that tackle issues like polyamory, homosexuality, single parenting, blended families, etc. It’s not even the “worse” book of the series.

  • schism

    And the Christian Civil Liberties Union? Are you shitting me? Do they even know what “civil liberties” are?!

    Actually, I find the name entirely appropriate, i.e. they desire civil liberties for Christians and no one else.

  • http://cycleninja.blogspot.com Paul Lundgren

    Hemant, I think a smashing-good idea would be to organize a Bible-burning in West Bend, Wisconsin for the International Day of Blasphemy. Of course, we’d have to hit up a bunch of unsuspecting Gideons first, because no way am I paying for that rot.

    Better yet, we could offer to ransom the Bibles back to these wingnuts and donate the proceeds to the library in question.

    And the title of this post reminds me of George Carlin’s foreign policy routine: “They have bigger dicks? BOMB THEM!”

  • http://betapwned.com Tanya

    Excellent time to remind everyone that most public libraries accept donations. *grins*

    Also – I personally keep track of the American Library Association’s Banned and Challenged book section ( http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/banned/index.cfm ), and make sure my home library is stocked with any of the Radcliff’s Top 100 that have been challenged ( http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/banned/frequentlychallenged/challengedclassics/index.cfm ) as well as any other challenged books my children show interest in, or I find especially well written.

    We live in a fairly conservative area – I’m not going to allow the Religious Right, or any other “moral” group, to deny my children access to those treasures.

  • ccubeman

    Whenever I see stories about book burnings I think of this

    Have some folks learned nothing from history?

  • Quester

    I wonder if these people planning on burning library books would have the decency to admit it to the library staff, and pay the fines involved. Or would they lie and try to pretend they did return the book?

    And I agree with Michael’s comment above. I have no problem with parents censoring what their own children read, by accompanying them to the library and talking about the different books. The problem is with those who want to censor what *everyone’s* children can read.

  • 5ive

    You know, there is a book that I think should be banned from the library using the West Bend Citizens for Safe Libraries same criteria. It talks about throwing women to the raping masses and then cutting them up in the morning to send each of the 12 pieces of her torn body to various parts of coastal Israel. It also has a nice description of 2 female bears ripping apart 42 children for teasing an old man. Oh! And my fave! WHen David’s son rapes his own sister! I love that one.
    Hmmm. I suppose the irony is entirely lost on them, isn’t it?

  • Jen

    First they come for the books… then the people

  • Tony

    Because they were told to. Right wing christianity in the US is very organized. Somebody at the top of the pyramid decides “the masses will now get upset about this book”, and promptly they do, because their pastors are told to whip them into a frenzy about it, and so they do in their next sermon.

    The sheeple have to have regular things to get upset about, so they can continue to feel that they are superior to everyone else. This feeling of superiority is what keeps them under control, giving plenty of money to right wing organizations, and voting as they’re told to.

    I thought this was all incredibly obvious.

    I wouldn’t start invoking unlikely conspiracy scenarios. I think it’s more likely that somebody has found out about the existence of this book just now and told a few people about it. The next thing you know is that something is in the news and a whole load of other people get mad about it too.

  • Siamang

    Cue Professor Henry Jones: “It tells me that goose-stepping morons like yourself should try reading books instead of burning them.”

  • John Larberg

    Much like sex and drugs, which are all good things in my book when in moderation, they are practically forcing kids to rebel and have the opposite opinion than them. I mean who wouldn’t be slightly compelled to read something that was deemed innapropriate?

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    There is a greater preponderance of bigotry in older people. How do I know? Well, I’m at least 20 years older than most people who comment on this forum and I know lots of people my age, some older, some younger.

    I think the world will get better as time moves on. Call me an optimist.

  • http://www.xanga.com/filow84 filow84

    •Also, if you want to burn offensive books, religious ones would be high on the list. But (I hope) you wouldn’t ever see atheists burning the Bible — we don’t believe in that sort of censorship.

    I agree, but then I saw the current survey on the American Atheists homepage. Hopefully, that is simply satire.

  • Becky

    I LOVED her books in high school. This is terrible.

  • V Diane Corbin

    Something happened and what I was writing got erased so I’ll start over. I am 78 years old and I have a number of gay friends. I attend gay gatherings such as about Prop 8 and I will work to try to get it redone because I believe all people should have the right to live their lives as they choose. I hope we can overturn it. At the recent Gay Parade I worked in a group that gave out information about the ACLU and I enjoyed talking to all kinds of people. So, please,try to understand that just because we’re old doesn’t make us bigoted. And,I’ll be glad to help that library full of the books that talk well about you and everyone else. I have loved books, all books ever since I can remember and I would want to take horrendous action against any one who even attempted to burn a book, any book, all books! Each of us has the right to live our lives in any way we see fit and I will stand up for that as long as I can stand!

  • drange

    why don’t they just use their library card to take the book out and just not return it?

  • http://superstitionfree.blogspot.com/ Robert Madewell

    drange,
    That’s exactly what the Scientologists do with Dianetics. They want people to buy the books, not to check them out for free, so they check out the copy in the public library and lose it somewhere.

    I’ve also heard of fundytastics checking out The God Delusion and not returning it too.

  • absent sway

    If someone checks out a book and doesn’t return it, eventually he will be fined for the price of the book and a processing fee; it usually only takes one or two books disappearing to raise fines to a level where the offending borrower is no longer allowed to check anything out from the library till payment is received. This could vary from system to system but I would be surprised if it varied all that much.

  • Doubting Thomas

    Welcome to the 1950′s…


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