Friday, May 7, 2010

Once more, I give you the Book Banning Thief of Florida!

Hey, want a laugh?

How about joining me in mocking Tina Harden of Orlando, Florida? The mom so ingenious that she decided stealing books from the library would make it impossible for children to read them, therefore skipping that troubling step of book-banning.

See, if it's not really banned, than she isn't evil. No, not at all. She's just a thief.

Let me explain why taking books out of libraries makes me so mad.

A book is, fundamentally, an idea.

Telling people their ideas should never be seen or heard is a violation of that person's right to freedom of speech (in that little section of amendments to the Constitution that people keep trying to ignore).

Telling people they can't express their ideas is illegal and, to use a Palin-esque turn of phrase, Un-American. Because it violates our Constitution. Which is the basis of what is and isn't American. See?

Here's why it's stupid for her to steal a book to keep kids from getting a copy: When someone steals a book, we all grumble. Then we buy another copy (It looks like those copies are pretty roughed up, so they probably had them on order when she took them. Unless she's been enjoying them behind a locked door when her children are at school...). And the new copy goes right out on the shelf where the old one was and gets read just like the old one was--or more, because someone is moronically complaining to media outlets. If you were wondering, complaining to media outlets about how "dangerous" ideas are only makes you look like a fascist and encourages reluctant readers to pick up those scary books.

Lesson 1: If you tell a teenager not to read something, they will read it. The same goes for telling a teenager not to do something. They do it anyway. Ask any teenager.

Lesson 2: If you tell teenagers that books are filled with dirty words and sex and drugs, they will want to read them, because it means said books are not boring.

Lesson 3: Stealing from the library is super-wrong. Not because you're stealing "from the library" but because you are actually stealing from your friends and neighbors. So, this woman totally stole from all the residents of her community.

The lesson we learn from Tina?

Be a parent. Control what your kid takes home from the library (which Tina failed to do) and be responsible for keeping them safe. It isn't the responsibility of the school, the library, or the police to teach your children to be polite and well-behaved or to keep them safe from the horrible parts of the world (like NFL players that have a disturbing hobby of...rape). It is your job.

My advice for the media: We--you--need to stop giving people like Tina Harden an outlet where she can proclaim all her fundamentalist views without also offering the counter-argument. So grab a civil rights attorney and have at it, or leave Tina off the front page. Unless you want me to write scathing blogs about how evil she is, which I am happy to do. I like ranting. I think it keeps me young.

Here is my advice for Tina: Pay your fine so your neighbors and your librarians don't grumble about you being a book-thief (and not the good, Markus Zusak kind). Then do your job, be a mom, keep your kids safe, and let other people do the same. If you really like book banning, you're a little late. I hear that guy with the funny moustache over in Germany already died.

Now if Library Journal stops sending me these, I'll stop ranting.

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