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Thoughts from library meeting


I wanted to share my impressions from attending the library board’s Sept. 14 meeting, in opposition to the avalanche of materials designed to entice, mislead, sexualize, and otherwise victimize children.

Chairman Anderson asked for a show of hands from all who agreed Renaissance art was not a problem, and seemed truly surprised when no one thought it was.  Some people believed they’re defending free speech.  They (and Chairman Anderson) seemed genuinely surprised we’re not against medical books, encyclopedias, anatomy texts, classic literature, Michelangelo, etc.  They’re not “getting” what the problem is.

After the meeting, I engaged a commissioner in a cordial exchange.  I said I believed the books must be removed — they have no place in a public library.

“That’s not a ‘ban’ —anyone can buy whatever they want.  Why can’t proponents just buy their own?”

The commissioner listened attentively.

It’s not a First Amendment or freedom of expression issue, since you can’t have a right to something someone else must provide.  You don’t have a right to make other people buy you porn.

Then there’s the public good. I asked the commissioner whether society has a right to exist and to continue to exist. He conceded it does.

All porn is unfit for kids. But LGBTQ teachings in particular do not produce a next generation, which, fully-adopted, would eliminate society in one generation. Literally. A society without children has no future.

Promoting our own extinction simply cannot be a public good.  Institutions must never promote things that destroy society, that violate the public trust.  (Mind you, not promoting doesn’t mean demeaning, or judging.)

The commissioner worried where to draw the lines; everyone dislikes something, so what do we do?  He seemed earnestly conflicted.

I suggested, “I notice we’re all wearing clothes, aren’t we?”  He agreed that we were.  “So by wearing clothes we’ve all already agreed that certain things aren’t appropriate, haven’t we?”  “Yes.”  This isn’t that hard.

I said it’s silly to say concern for children makes anyone “Nazis’ or that it marks the beginning of some campaign of oppression, that I was pretty sure we didn’t allow child porn even when we were fighting the Nazis.

And I said this community’s standard is clear — in over 200 years, no one ever thought child porn was acceptable until suddenly, quietly, our American Library Association-aligned board decided otherwise.  Now, our libraries are no longer safe.

Law Director Yeager opined that, legally, obscene and pornographic materials must be kept physically out of minors’ hands and sight. A discussion ensued.

Commissioner Allen rose to highlight the absurdity — that we’re even discussing physically restricting materials is proof they don’t belong.  Libraries are for things we can publicly share.  Not porn.

I believe, talking, we made some progress — the commissioner understood we’re not fanatical witch-hunters or medieval book-burners.  We’re against grooming, and victimizing minors.  That’s not unreasonable.

These materials have never been acceptable. Their introduction, ill-advised, is the entire source of this problem, and they must be removed.

James Arthur

Oak Ridge