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Monday, July 23, 2007


I’ve hinted that things in Bartlesville are far from over. Let’s talk a little about that today, as I will be talking about it later. I’m going to be on the radio tonight at 6:15 talking about the Bartlesville situation on The Agenda with Joe Solmonese, which is XM radio channel 120. If you don’t have XM, they should have it in the audio archive once it’s over. (And I’ll post the link here when it appears.)

As you will hear tonight, I have decided to try to fight this as much as I can. The reason is simple . . . this book has been “labeled” because it has homosexual content. Labeling or banning is an unconstitutional mess, full-stop. Labeling or banning an otherwise squeaky-clean book because it has positive homosexual content is salting the wound.

But people get away with it, because sufficient counter-challenges are hard to mount—and because, as we have seen in this case, people do things without telling the public.

So I have decided that my Life Policy is zero tolerance. If you try to take one of my books off the shelf for an insane reason like this, I will come running and flailing at you like a maniac. And I just won’t stop. And I promise it will not be quiet or graceful. And I’m going to bring as many of you who want to come with me along, and we can all run flailing and screaming. Decorum is so 2006.


To this end, what I’m working on now is contacting the ACLU, which is actually kind of decorous, but I can punch up my efforts later if I actually have to fly down to Bartlesville and do my long-promised improper dancing. I have no idea if this will work, but that’s what I’m doing. And the reason I think this might be effective is that there seems to be precedent in these cases. Look at this, from the ALA website:

Counts v. Cedarville School District, 295 F.Supp.2d 996 (W.D. Ark. 2003)

The school board of the Cedarville, Arkansas school district voted to restrict students' access to the Harry Potter books, on the grounds that the books promoted disobedience and disrespect for authority and dealt with witchcraft and the occult. As a result of the vote, students in the Cedarville school district were required to obtain a signed permission slip from their parents or guardians before they would be allowed to borrow any of the Harry Potter books from school libraries. The District Court overturned the Board's decision and ordered the books returned to unrestricted circulation, on the grounds that the restrictions violated students' First Amendment right to read and receive information. In so doing, the Court noted that while the Board necessarily performed highly discretionary functions related to the operation of the schools, it was still bound by the Bill of Rights and could not abridge students' First Amendment right to read a book on the basis of an undifferentiated fear of disturbance or because the Board disagreed with the ideas contained in the book.

I like it!

Can it be much clearer? Sorry, committee members (including my elusive friend Janet Vernon . . . 84 days of silence from you . . . you sly minx!), you are actually bound by the First Amendment.

The lesson is this, book banners:

No, you can’t violate students’ rights.

No, you can’t just wildly discriminate against other people.

No, you are not the boss of everyone.

No, you may not have a cookie.

Also, just no.

Who’s with me? Let’s fight them off together!

Also us.

So, if you know anyone in the ACLU, any group that fights things like this, law students who are interested in issues like this, or just people who like authors, let me know!

And committee guys in Bartlesville . . . if you just do the right thing and put the book back, a lot of annoyance can be avoided. Plus, you will be doing the aforementioned right thing.

I may fail, but I will at least have gone down improperly dancing. And be warned . . . this guy was my teacher, and I am just as good:

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Anonymous Marie said...

Go, team Constitutional Rights! Go!

12:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good job mj. Fight those nasty book banners!

1:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That precedent gives me hope for this case. Fight them Maureen!

1:44 AM  
Anonymous Ally said...


2:36 AM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

I love Electric Six. Their video's are hilarious. Also check out Gay Bar. (Though Gay Bar is actually kind of disturbing.)

2:56 AM  
Anonymous sarai said...

I'm coming after the librocidal maniacs with you MJ! And I'm bringing my little dancing otter too!


3:46 AM  
Blogger Becs said...

YEAH!!!! GO MAUREEN!! We are your cheering section. :D I'd say you've got a case, not that I'm a lawyer or anything. But of course you know that we'll do anything we can to support you. :)

7:58 AM  
Blogger Bugsy said...

All I have to say that is if there is a precedent then you have an almost impossible case to beat especially with a case like Counts vs. Cederville School District which took place so recently. Go Maureen!

9:29 AM  
Anonymous Danica said...

Woot! Go mj!

9:38 AM  
Blogger Allie Beckaliciousness =) said...

you are SO cool. =)

8:58 PM  
Anonymous Nichole said...

Rock on, MJ. Rock on. Improper dancing...yeah, it pretty much makes everything better. By the way, loved your work with Justine and Scott on the long line outside B&N. You guys are made of awesome. Too bad about that Trash Juice. Yelch.

1:56 AM  
Blogger Lindsay said...

Yay! Fight hard!

You are absolutely right that what these people value most is SECRECY- they always freak out when someone Looks Behind the Curtain. Your running and flailing is probably the best way to fight them, given that the more light you shed on this nastiness, the less the book banners like it.

If there's a rush from imposing irrational rules on people, I imagine there's something akin to a panic when you have to stand in front of a microphone and explain why. For example, I imagine it might be somewhat uncomfortable to see yourself on the evening news explaining that you hate gay people, and you firmly believe that if we ignore any evidence they exist, they will spontaneously dematerialize.

4:54 PM  
Anonymous hillary! said...

Why do people ban books? That's so cruel! I've heard of it happening, just nowhere near me. The books that get banned usually are the good ones too! I'm so ready to dance for you MJ!

7:45 PM  
Anonymous The Vintage Reader said...

So, if you know anyone in the ACLU, any group that fights things like this, law students who are interested in issues like this, or just people who like authors, let me know!

Check out the ACLU of Oklahoma: http://www.acluok.org/AboutUs/MissionStatement.htm. As an added bonus, their Development Director, Michael Camfield, has some real-life experience with challenged materials, since he was one of the people from whom a rented copy of The Tin Drum was confiscated during the big fight over that particular work in the late 90s in Oklahoma City (he subsequently pressed suit over it).

8:02 PM  
Blogger Little Willow said...

Right there with you. Except without the weapons. Can I borrow The Doctor's Sonic Screwdriver instead?


Actually, I think we should get The Doctor to join our crusade. He is smart, savvy, has the ability to travel through time, and dresses in pinstripe suits. (Also, they aired an episode this season that included a married couple composed of two women.)

If he doesn't scare them, we'll get one of the cats in wimples. That should do the trick.


10:05 AM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

Freedom + Hot Fuzz action moves + books = recipe for awesome. I hope the folks in Bartlesville are ready (actually, I don't hope that. I hope they're woefully underprepared.)

11:31 PM  
Blogger Tobias said...

I read this on engadget.com and couldn't help but think of you


10:09 PM  
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