Responsibility to Protect
Opinion piece contributor, Carolyn Harrison
IDAHO FALLS PUBLIC LIBRARY’S POSITION ON SEXUALLY-EXPLICIT BOOKS
“You can’t protect the kids from everything.” “Most of these books have been in the
public libraries for years.” “From a freedom point of view, this is NOT freedom.” “Our
solution would have to be to eliminate high-school kids from a good portion of the
Library.” “This is the same as minors watching the castration of pigs/cattle, World War I/
World War II photos, as well as the Renaissance paintings.” “Parents just don’t parent
anymore; parents should do their jobs.” “We will have to train people coming into the
Library about the First Amendment.” These were the “insights” from the Idaho Falls Public Library’s Board of Trustees during their March 27th Board meeting, when the topics of sexually explicit books at the Library, as well as legislative actions to prohibit this material from minors, were discussed.
The first item of business was when I presented a letter to the Board members, as well as a
copy of the Idaho Family Policy Center’s “Pornography in Public Schools and Libraries: A
Statewide Problem” manuscript, written by Blaine Conzatti, President of Idaho Family Policy
Center. At issue in my letter was the fact that in the aforementioned publication, the Idaho Family Policy Center Team scoured dozens of school and public-library catalogues throughout the State, looking for five (5) commonly available titles that fall under the umbrella of “obscene” for children and teenagers: “Gender Queer”; “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic”; “All Boys Aren’t Blue”; “It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health”, and “Dreaming in Cuban”.
In this study, the Idaho Family Policy Center Team found the Idaho Falls Public Library has all
five books on its shelves; could there possibly be more?
The aforesaid letter was provided to the Board as an opportunity to give their input before
Letters to the Editors were sent. The Board told me they would assign someone to answer my
questions; as of this date, no one from the Library has responded to my requests for joint
discussions. In answer to some of the first-paragraph statements, as it relates to First- Amendment and “freedom” issues, federal courts have ruled that children do not have First-Amendment rights to access or receive material that is harmful to them.
Additionally, the implication, above, is that these books are integrated into the Library’s second-and-third-floor book selections and not cordoned off into a dedicated area, which is not accessible by minors. The result: if not overseen by an adult, there is the very real “opportunity” for our children to openly partake of this obscene material, at will.
This is not the visual castration of animals; this is not a graphic view of what was, ultimately, the freedoms bestowed upon us by war-time conflicts; this is not a classical/cultural 14th-to-17th-century European artistic enlightening learning experience. This is the raw and explicit display of sexual organs and/or activity, intended to stimulate erotic, rather than aesthetic, feelings—and it should be stopped!