Zealot’s censorship attempt backfires (the best $40.96 I ever spent).

Tina Harden of Longwood, Flori-duh decided that four books in the Lake Mary public library did not meet her standards of morality. The Cecily von Ziegesar books Reckless, The It Girl, Notorious, and Don’t You Forget About Me apparently clashed with Ms. Harden’s view of what other people ought to read. So she refused to return them from the library.

“If I turn them in, they will be put back into circulation and they’ll be available for more young girls to read,” said the mother of three, who keeps the four books hidden in a closet. “Some material is inappropriate for minors.”

Harden said she doesn’t want them banned, but she does want the library to put a warning label on the four titles — one in the Gossip Girl series by Cecily von Ziegesar, and three in a spin-off series called It Girl — and make them unavailable to minors. (source)

The Seminole County Library agreed to reshelve them in the adult reading section, but refused to make them unavailable to minors. Jane Peterson, the county’s library services manager said “If we denied access to this particular title, it would be censoring.” (source)

That’s not good enough for Harden, who said that as a taxpayer she should have a say in which books land on the libraries’ shelves. “They’re supposed to be public servants,” she said.
(source)

Unfortunately, Harden’s view of what a “public servant” is supposed to do is a bit skewed.

I used to live in Lake Mary, and I was unfortunately not very surprised that this story took place there. There is a mormon temple right around the corner from this library. My former homeowners association’s treasurer (who claimed that he had a “bachelor’s degree in law” put up a confederate flag to welcome a black family to the neighborhood. That said, Seminole County isn’t all white trash, and they deserve access to books just like the rest of us.

So I called the library and told them that I would pay to replace the books. They were most grateful.

After my check went out, I received the following email from the library:

Ms Harden will be returning the books to the Northwest Branch today. We have also already received several donations of the books. We appreciate you offering to give a donation but since she is returning the books I wanted to let you know that you do not have to send us a check.

Of course, they can keep my $40.96.

Nice work, Harden, you nitwit… now, not only did you fail miserably, but more people than ever before will now have access to the books.

15 Responses to Zealot’s censorship attempt backfires (the best $40.96 I ever spent).

  1. Sean F. says:

    Hell yes!

  2. jesschristensen says:

    Funny, isn’t it, that it’s not ok for her daughter to read about “immoral” conduct, but it’s totally ok for mom to steal from publicly funded agencies? Great role model there mom.

  3. Ari says:

    Go get em!

  4. Justin T. says:

    as a taxpayer she should have a say in which books land on the libraries’ shelves.

    Apparently she hasn’t checked out any books on the democratic election process lately.

  5. KWW says:

    Story has been updated since the first link I sent you.

    Check out this new quote from her:

    “They’re taking some action in response to something that I’m doing, and that’s what makes our country so great, that we have that freedom,” she said.

    http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/breakingnews/os-gossip-girl-books-returned-20100506,0,7641285.story

  6. Jess – agreed.

    “It’s not that I lost the books or I didn’t feel like turning them in. . .”

    See, its not stealing if you meant to do it.

  7. McKingford says:

    Just because you publicly announce what you are doing doesn’t mean it isn’t still theft.

  8. Jordan says:

    A “Bachelor’s Degree in Law” is not exactly unheard of. The LLB is the standard law degree in most former colonies of the British Empire, although a few schools like the University of Toronto have rebranded them “Juris Doctor” degrees as a gimmick.

  9. splifton says:

    The only thing good to come out of that area was my lawschool hottub and Petty’s Meats.

    This reminds me of something that happened in my new neighborhood.

    http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20100212/NEWS01/702129837&news01ad=1

  10. ZC says:

    Her method was wrong, but have any of you actually read the Gossip Girl and It Girl books? They’re pretty inappropriate for the young adult section, and they teach some pretty negative ethics and habits. Not merely the sexuality, drugs, and swearing, but that there’s nothing more important than being popular and that being bitchy and cruel gets you what you want in life.

    They’re repugnant books, and they really shouldn’t be in the kids’ section of any library.

    I’m all for teenagers being able to read about sex, drugs, and all the illicit things this woman seems to object to. My problem is that the books are marketed to a specific age group (tweens) and the parents are often unaware just how adult these books really are. They should at least be warned.

    Putting them in the adult section of the library, instead of the young adult section, is good enough for me. A good parent will look at them and make a judgment for their own family.

    They are horrible books, though. The main lesson seems to be that cliques and popularity are good, and being weird and not giving in to peer pressure makes you a loser. That’s not something I’d like any tween to have reinforced by a book series as vapid as these are.

    The bottom line is that if it’s in the kids’ section, you don’t expect it to have sex, drugs, swearing, and enticements to follow the crowd. That stuff is best left in the other sections of the library.

    Gossip Girl doesn’t even have the class of Lolita. It’s just trashy romance/social lubrication for tweens, and it’s bad.

  11. Orwell's Dreams says:

    Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. – George Orwell

  12. Crudely Wrott says:

    This episode would seem to confirm the old maxim that it’s the squeaking wheel that gets the grease.

    Of course, the grease stops the squeak as well as facilitating the rotation of the wheel. Much to the surprise of the squeak, eh?

    Much to my delight. Oh, that should be our delight.

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