sex drugs and intellectual freedom

Some Thoughts on Intellectual Freedom, Plurality and the West Bend Library Book challenge

Wisconsin readers of SDIF may already be aware of the ongoing books challenge in West Bend, WI. Local Fox6 News has a video clip on the matter here (though you may cringe at its rhetorical pandering to this absurd construct collectively known as “the culture wars.” At least I did.)

While the situation has blown up into a call for the removal of certain GLBTQ books by the local religious community, that was not originally the case. Initially, (as I have come to understand it) the challenge centered around the book lists on the West Bend library’s website for Young Adults. A mother was concerned that the GLBTQ book list contained, in her mind, only pro-gay literature (whatever that means). Her request was that some sort of alternative viewpoint (specifically, a Christian-based homophobic one) be represented there as well. Presumably, this would come in the form of Christian “conversion” literature. That is, literature claiming that through Christian faith, one can overcome (or, in some iterations, “cure”) their homosexuality.

Now, this post is not intended to address the ideological battle over whether or not homosexuality is some sort of “sin.” I will state that I am certain it is not a sin, and that to believe otherwise is to engage in bigotry, plain and simple. I further believe that “conversion” literature has no place in a public library’s Young Adult section (or, in most cases, any section). But, again, while I am more than happy to argue why elsewhere, I do not look to do so here.

Rather, I would like to address some of the discussions among library and information science students and professionals that I have been privy to as of late. Specifically, I would like to address what seems to be a common consensus that, in the name of Intellectual Freedom, the GLBTQ books should not be removed and that some sort of “conversion” literature should be necessarily added to the collection.

In short: I find this quick consensus to be alarming and, frankly, dangerous.

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