Peace. Love. Banned Books. Big Orange: Don't Say I Didn't Warn You!

Categories: OC Bookly
Wearing my handsome and, it seems, provocative "Peace. Love. Books" T-shirt the other day, purchased as a birthday present for me by the Biblio-Gal, a puzzled, perhaps delighted clerk took me in, admittedly long-haired (graying), middle-aged dude in cool Ray-Bans possessing, yes, a certain je ne sai quoi and offered, unembarrassed, unshyly that I was "Something right out of the '60s."  Unsure if that was a good thing, I smiled that winning (if charmingly condescending) Bibliofella smile and explained that he was right (though he was wrong) because, indeed, having been born in 1960, you couldn't be any more "out of" that era than me, could you? Of course, I knew what he meant, but the universal and timeless ideals of peace, love and reading books have been advanced by many for decades, centuries, and I probably should be pleased that he didn't see me as out of the 1930s, though, of course, that's a decade of radical political activism I would also have been right at home in. 
I'm just fine with my own era, thank you, and can't stand the dumb, easy demographic identification via TIME magazine-style lowest common denominator. The T-shirt was from a favorite indie bookstore, Point Reyes Books, where I have spent happy hippie hours reading, and being from all kinds of times and places, yet still close to the magnificent Pacific coastline, the rolling hills, Tomales Bay and other thoughtful people who perhaps, unlike the clerk, get out a bit and meet interesting people . . . like me! 

Tastes like chicken
Still, that clerk gave me my lead for this week's post, and what I should probably do is track him down and gift him a book. And blow his mind, man. Or let him know about those other people, a lot of them out of the '60s, who don't like books and want others to be frightened, timid, incurious. 

I know it's only early August, but there's no time like right now to start planning for the next American Library Association's Banned Books Week. I've organized public read-ins and talks in past years for this wing-ding. It's fun! Maybe I will stand outside a Ralphs in Lake Forest and read dirty books, thus being another easy stereotype! Below is a handy (alas, incomplete!) list from which you and I might pick excerpts from work to which some knucklehead or other has objected, for all kinds of so-called reasons, concerns or, mostly, to ostensibly "protect" children from words, even as we spend millions dropping--no, not books--bombs and drones and handguns on the world's kids.  Don't get me started! (Oh, and what is it with Ralphs not having an apostrophe?  Is it that there are so many guys named Ralph or that he has a store?)
"Damn liberals can't spell" - Ralph
Yup, all across the US of A, Sept. 30 through Oct. 2, non-knucklehead Americans will go all out for the 30th annual celebration of my favorite holiday, if still the kind you have to go to work for. The title of this year's celebration is "Thirty Years of Liberating Literature."  Dig it, as they used to say in the '50s and '60s.  Cool.  Awesome.  Bitchen. Groovy, too. Unlike the totally uncool people who didn't like these books and, according to the Office of Intellectual Freedom (Freadom) at the ALA, challenged, pulled, removed them from shelves in public libraries, school libraries or bookstores.

Here, then, some of their unfavorites:  The Catcher in the Rye. Beloved. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Catch-22. 1984. Animal Farm. Everything by Judy Blume! The Grapes of Wrath. Find a more complete list at its nifty website.

And while you've got your calendar out, do pencil in the weekend of Sept. 21 and 22, which marks Chapman University's inaugural writing conference, modestly titled the Big Orange Book Festival: A Festival for Wordies, Film Buffs and Artists In the Heart of Orange County.  And, yes, from the Land of Kismet, this Sunday morning blog's intellectual freedom through-line arrives courtesy actress Mary Badham, who as a child played Scout in the excellent film adaptation of everybody's favorite book, To Kill a Mockingbird.  
Freadom fighter!
She'll be at the conference. Except, wait, the seminal 1960 (sic!) novel about the South and America and injustice and integrity and secrets, is one of those books --- you guessed it! --- absolutely most assaulted by unhappy morons eager to add it to the virtual bonfire. Badham joins more than a dozen local and national writers of crime and fantasy and literary fiction and memoir and all the rest of it on the little college campus with busts of Margaret Thatcher and Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King and Ronald Reagan and George Schultz, which goes to show that people can be so wrong about so many things and yet still be right-on about a lot others.  Except that somebody famously stole the Reagan and the Schultz, which makes me smile. A guy in Huntington Beach collected a $250 reward when he found Schultz in a trash can. Reagan's head remains at large.  

In no particular order, but to inspire you to keep a lookout for more information (here) on prices, lineup and other details, here are a few of the excellent writers appearing a the Big Orange Book Festival
Big. Orange. Books.

Alison Benis White, author of two quietly brilliant poetry collections.

Alice Sebold, author of a novel you and the whole world may have heard about, telling the story of a murdered girl name Susie Salmon, and a memoir, Lucky, about sexual violence, family and memory.  I certainly hope the organizers have asked Sebold (like White, a UC Irvine MFA grad) to present  the keynote address.
We're lucky to get her!

Sapphire, celebrated poet, performance artist and, of course, novelist whose Push became the film Precious.

Gustavo Arellano, editor in chief of a certain alternative weekly in Orange County, political advice columnist, food writer, occasional KPFK radio host. Has anybody noticed that the OC Weekly does community reporting the other papers ignore?  Or that the families of the recent Anaheim police riots sent their photos and video to Gustavo at the Weekly and not, say, the other two papers?

Edward Humes, author most recently of Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair With Trash.  
Dirty book.  

Martin Smith, who will no doubt be reading from and talking about his newest nonfiction treat of a book, one that nobody but Marty could write, called The Wild Duck Chase: Inside the Strange and Wonderful World of the Federal Duck Stamp Contest. So, yes, strange and wonderful little book from the editor in chief of fancy-fun Orange Coast magazine, former assistant editor at the Los Angeles Times, crime novelist and author of other terrific weird books with long, instructive subtitles. Just now I am reading uncorrected proofs of Wild Duck and will review it here, with hopes of hosting Mr. Smith on Bibliocracy Radio.  Just because I am such a darn '60s of a person!  Sheesh.

So, here's your first head's-up toward encouraging you to attend the Big Orange and organizing a read-in or literature table at your place of work or study--or at the entrance to Ralphs. Seize the day. Seize the book.   

Andrew Tonkovich hosts the Wednesday-night literary-arts program Bibliocracy Radio on KPFK-FM 90.7 in Southern California. 

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Banned Books Week is a hoax. No book has been banned in the USA for about half a century.  Keeping inappropriate material from children has nothing to do with banning books.


Thanks for the tip about the new Martin Smith book.  Can hardly wait for it to come out.  Alice Sebold wrote another book after "Lucky" called "Almost Moon" which was eclipsed by her previous works, but should not be completely ignored.


 @safelibraries Hey, Mr. Safe. Hardly a hoax.  We may disagree on who should keep what away from whose "kids."  See the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom, "Terms and Definitions."  Why do some other parents get to usurp my right to deliver intellectual freedom to my own child?  


 @tartofdarkn3ss Thanks, Ms. Tart!  You are right, indeed.  I heard her read the first chapter, and have the book in the pile of novels I mean to read.  


 @atonkovi " See the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom, 'Terms and Definitions.'"  ALA terminology is intentional drawn to change language to promote its minority views. For example, read one of the top two librarian bloggers, this one at the Library Journal: "Annoyed Librarian Rips ALA for Banned Books Week 'Nonsense' and for an 'Incoherent and Self-Serving' Definition of Censorship":


And I quote: "The ALA's definition of censorship has no relationship whatsoever to what everyone else in the entire world understands by the word. It's incoherent and self-serving."




 @atonkovi I see where this is going. I assert things relying on reliable sources.  You say I only reference myself and I'm illogical.  So I point out the sources are people like the author of the Children's Internet Protection Act, the winning library director Dean Marney, and the author who admitted the ALA fakes things--I even have a recording to hear for yourself.  In response you say I only reference myself and I'm illogical.  I point out the impeccable sources again  Again you say I only reference myself and I'm illogical.


I see where this is going.


So, in silence, you have answered the question by revealing you are a union leader who will place ALA dogma above the interests of your own union members if/where those interests conflict with those of the ALA.  I was hoping you were not like that.  But your repeatedly making false statements as if repeating them will make them true, and your ignoring legitimate questions proves you are not interested in conversation, only in moving people off the legitimate issues by focus on me, and those issues are:


Banned Books Week is a hoax. No book has been banned in the USA for about half a century--Fanny Hill having that honor.  Keeping inappropriate material from children has nothing to do with banning books.


Let me add that even the ALA's Banned Books Week hoax creator said if school books do not meet the school's book selection policy, "get them out of there."  But that will be one more relevant source I would provide only to have you repeat that I only reference myself and I'm illogical.  I get it.  So forget linking that here as it'll only give you another chance to say that I only reference myself and I'm illogical.


I'll likely not comment here further, for obvious reasons.



 @safelibraries Not prickly.  I have an analysis, and a position, and am eager to have it challenged.  While I am pleased to get your take on this, no, enjoying is not what I would call our conversation.  Your evidence is self-referential, built on problematic definitions, illogical.  You offer no evidence, only anecdote and assertions, interpretations which seem to support you politically rightist position.  That's fine.  Good for you.  But you seem not to grasp how the rest of the world defines, for instance, sexual harassment, which is a term of art and of course a workplace problem which the university itself, in addition to the union MOU, prosecutes, toward protecting employees (unionists or not) and members.  A librarian at UCI would file a complaint if he or she perceived sexual harassment, and perhaps go to the campus ombudsman.  I know of nobody at UCI or anywhere who has been "harassed" due to ALA policies.  I frankly don't know what that would even mean consistent with their job description.  And you have not offered any evidence of any such episode.  


 @atonkovi Yes, that's me.  Used to be two of us, hence the "group" is correct and sic is not needed.  One had a terrible accident.  He created the name SafeLibraries and the basis for SL started in his town, Oak Lawn, IL, where the ALA got directly involved in the public library to ensure that it continued to purchase Playboy magazine and make it available to children despite most opposing that, with even the government itself sending an unanimous letter asking the library to stop buying Playboy.  The ACLU leader who changed the ALA forever got involved and said she was sick and tired of people trying to turn public libraries into safe places for children.  So to this day, Playboy remains available to children in that library.  The mayor told me he will not sue because he was afraid the ACLU/ALA would turn it into an expensive case.  So the ALA forced its way on yet another community--notable since many say the ALA has no such influence.


Back to our previous conversation, I'd like you to answer a question already asked.  The question is, when the librarians in your union are being sexually harassed due to ALA policies implemented locally that keep the libraries awash in porn it would otherwise be legal to stop, will you speak out to assist those librarians, or will you instead keep still or defend "intellectual freedom"?


By the way, I'm enjoying this conversation with you.  I hope you like this too.


 @safelibraries Oh, I see.  You are indeed. DK himself.  And you are, perhaps, the advocacy group (sic) or blog "Safe Libraries"?


 @atonkovi I have no idea why you are so prickly and cannot just have a conversation as if we met face to face, other than the online environment leads many people to act differently/aggressively.  So how about setting aside all negative assumptions and just have a polite conversation.


Also, don't assume one short answer in the comments of an OC Weekly story represents the entirely of the matters being discussed.


Hearsay, allegations, one site?  I presented the author of CIPA, a filtering case library director, and an ALA top 10 listed author.  There are no better sources available.  Yes, I simply linked one single page from my site, but that was to save me the trouble of adding a ton of links here which could be rude to do anyway.


As you are in a university, you should be particularly interested in the case of Scott Savage.  No, you haven't heard of him in part because the library media suppresses such stories about how he was ignored by the ALA.  He is a former Ohio State University librarian who was asked to contribute to a list of books for incoming freshman.  Seeing the list had all left-leaning books, we decided to be a good librarian and add a little balance.  He added "The Marketing of Evil: How Radicals, Elitists, and Pseudo-Experts Sell Us Corruption Disguised As Freedom," by David Kupelian.  For this he was accused of homophobia.  He sought assistance from the ALA.  Not only would the ALA not help, but it would not allow him free speech to discuss the issue.  There's that "Office for Intellectual Freedom" being one sided again.  He eventually left the job as a result.


And as to librarians generally fearing the ALA, well another reliable source reveals that:


By the way, as you are the president and grievance steward of the union local at UC Irvine which represents librarians, you may be interested to know that the ALA has never, ever assisted librarians directly harmed as a result of local library adherence to ALA policy.  Like the dozen librarians who won big money as a result of a suit for sexual harassment in the library that insisted on following the ALA/ACLU's anything-goes policy (per Wikipedia):


Adamson v. Minneapolis Public Library was a civil complaint of 23 March 2003 by a dozen librarians against the library's management for a claimed failure to prevent sexual harassment over many years by library patrons having unlimited use of library computers for accessing pornography. The case followed an EEOC determination on 23 May 2001 that "the Respondent did subject the Charging Party to sexually hostile work environment. This is in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended."[28] The case settled when the library agreed to pay the plainiffs $435,000 and to take corrective action to prevent further harassment.


Or the librarians in Birmingham who again got no help from the ALA:


As to the writer at Library Juice, a self-proclaimed progressive librarian, he too opposes certain aspects of the ALA's OIF's actions.  If you were confused by his article, that's because he spent his time attempting to get me to admit to some deep, dark secret he felt sure I must have to be motivated to persistently take on the ALA for so many years.  I'm not responsible for his writing.  It's simple fundamental fairness and justice that motivates me, combined with the majority of victims being children and having no voice to stand against the ALA misleading their elders into leaving them exposed to harm.


So, the question is, when the librarians in your union are being sexually harassed due to ALA policies implemented locally that keep the libraries awash in porn it would otherwise be legal to stop, will you speak out to assist those librarians, or will you instead keep still or defend "intellectual freedom"?


 @safelibraries I did not make any claim about your motives or your methods.  Where do you see that in my response?   Please answer my question. Also, it seems that most if not all of your claims are based on hearsay, allegations and fairly clumsy (and undocumented) posting from one site.  I did some admittedly limited research on Dan Kleinman, including reading his interview at Library Juice.  I find his argument confusing.  Perhaps you can explain it to me.  He doesn't like that the OIF even exists?  Is this the problem?  Does he advocate some kind of change in its governance or operation?  Finally, I challenge anybody to locate any documented cases of anybody being or even legitimately feeling some kind of pressure from the ALA.  As president and grievance steward of the union local at UC Irvine which represents librarians, I feel confident that librarians at my institution - an outspoken group, indeed - would immediately file a grievance if they experienced political intimidation.  Thanks. 


 @atonkovi Well, if you are truly sincerely, then maybe you will have an open mind and might even agree with me.  


First, the issue is not my attempt to censor or otherwise force people to decide what I want.  That is a claim about me to be intellectually dishonest and avoid addressing the real issues.  


In reality, the American Library Association, and particularly its "Office for Intellectual Freedom," actively seeks to force its views on people by intentionally misleading them, using such tactics as plagiarism, lying, astroturfing, etc.  I think this is fundamentally unfair and wrong.  


I could care less what people decide for themselves if they are fully informed first.  The ALA is intentionally misinforming them to bend them to choose the ALA's selected option.  


Some of the evidence for this comes from, for example, an author of an ALA listed book who admitted the ALA faked its top 10 most challenged book list to push her book up the list due to its lgbt content, and I made the tape recording of her saying that.  


Other evidence comes from the author of the Children's Internet Protection Act that the ALA sought to quash in the US Supreme Court and lost.  The author said the ALA is intentionally misleading a third of American communities to leave their children exposed to harm it would otherwise be legal to restrain.  


Still more evidence comes from a library director who just won state and federal library filtering cases and who revealed that the ALA uses "dogma" to mislead people.  His arguments even caused the ALA OIF's leader to admit for the first time that library filters work and the "breast cancer" excuse not to use them is far outdated.  Here, read for yourself:  


So the point is the ALA is intentionally misleading people in a way that leaves them exposed to harm, and I am countering that with legitimate and even compelling sources showing the ALA's deception and the positive effects of seeing through the ALA propaganda and restoring local control.  Okay?  Not my control--local control.  Not ALA control--local control.  Based on the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.


By the way, the "Office of Intellectual Freedom" is a fancy name for a small group of people created by an ACLU Illinois state leader decades ago and using the ALA's great reputation to claim the shield of protecting intellectual freedom when in reality it practices the exact opposite and librarians fear for their jobs if they do not toe the OIF line, even to this day.  Which is partly why you hear little about what goes on.  Kind of like the recent shocker when a Chinese athlete revealed something negative about the Chinese Olympic program.


 @safelibraries Maybe you didn't read the responses to this particular blogger?  They save me the need to make some pretty obvious, cogent points.  Intentionally, yes indeed.  Minority views?  Hmm.  I wonder which organized citizen groups, professional or not, you would like to usurp the "promotion" campaign by, yes, professional defenders of access, intellectual freedom, literacy.  Sincerely, I would like to know what it is exactly you are objecting to or perhaps advocating.  Thanks.

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