May 9, 2010
Ah, censorship. There are few things that so easily get me this worked up. And I’d like to thank Miss Tina Harden of Longwood, Florida for making me defend trashy teen novels about spoiled rich kids.
Thank you, Miss Harden. It’s just what I needed this week.
If you haven’t heard, Harden’s daughter checked out four books by Cecily von Ziegesar in the Gossip Girl series. And, lo and behold, the books were the basis for a series on the WB that is still going as of this writing. If you never had ANY interaction with this narrative, I present to you an extended trailer from the show.
Dear gods… That cast is what horror movie fans call a “buffet.”
Okay, so the series deals with sex, back-stabbing wenches, underage drinking, and a slew of spoiled brats and what I can only surmise based on that clip is the bad-boy with a heart of gold from the wrong side of town. Truth is, I don’t need to know anything about this book series except one thing.
Tina Harden wants warning labels and held on to the books for almost three years so others wouldn’t check them out.
I guess in Florida they still have monks transcribe manuscripts by hand because, hey, there couldn’t have been more copies out there, right?
She doesn’t want the books banned, but she doesn’t want her daughters reading them. It’s a very motherly concern, I suppose. After all, if her daughter checked the books out, Harden had no way of knowing what was…
Harden herself checked them out for her daughter. It was only afterward that she realized what the books contained. From the St. Petersburg Times:
In 2008, Harden checked out four books — one in the Gossip Girl series and three in the spinoff It Girl series — after her daughter picked them out.
Way to make with the good parenting. Complain after you get something for your kid you didn’t understand and then go after the library.
Let’s get to the real issue. These books weren’t in the children’s section. They were in the library proper. I’m sure I could go into my local library right now and find a dozen books whose content I would object, everything from Intelligent Design to skewed political books. It’s going to happen. Libraries are not there to censor, label, or otherwise restrict reading materials. They’re there to provide information.
Except the story gets complicated because the local libraries do in fact censor internet searches in accordance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act. In other words, you can check out a book of erotica, but you can’t view any nudity on the library computers. It’s a bit of a double standard, and one that Harden took no time in using to her advantage.
Harden herself admitted she was doing this for the media attention and, although others donated replacement copies of the books and she herself returned the, well, stolen books, she insists the attention she received served a purpose.
Yes, it served a purpose. Harden showed just how ignorant some people are as to what libraries do and what they don’t do. While they are, in fact, paid for with tax dollars, that doesn’t mean they have to bend to the will of every person’s personal taste. Let me put it this way. Would Harden tell street repair crews that she didn’t like the new road they were building and they should stop? Would she tell a bus driver to take certain routes because she liked those better?
Then what in the world makes her think she has the right or the authority to dictate what a library can and can’t stock on the shelves? The free flow of information, even something as apparently trashy as Gossip Girl, is vital to a free society. I’d never read these books or watch this show. I have no interest in them.
But I don’t want them banned or labeled in any way. Information holds no power except that which we give it…
And can I just say how much I hate having to defend Gossip Girl? I feel icky now.