Monday, May 23, 2011

Tolerance Has Its Limits.

There are times when you just can't look the other way.

Take this book. Yes, this one right here on the left-hand side. Take a good look at it. Look up its summary, if you have to. Or better yet, let me do the work for you.

Lucy Wickwright, hardworking maidservant to Lord Cant's daughter, does what she's told, never lies, and always takes the blame for the whims of her mistress. But Lucy's eagerness to please leads her to become an unwitting ally of a mysterious rebellion that threatens to shake the foundations of the Barony and forever change her life in Castle Cant. When Lucy discovers a shocking secret at the heart of the revolution, will she choose to foil the forces that would exalt her, or betray the one she loves most in the world?

Sweet. Innocuous. You might be thinking that the author who wrote this must be a kind-hearted man, possibly a parent himself. If you went by the brief blurb on the book jacket, you'd discover a man who enjoys solitude, apparently has a sense of humor and even volunteered at his local library's children's room.

All nice, All-American, yes?


K.P. Bath was recently arrested on charges of holding child pornography. In an interview, he went so far as to freely admit he condones child molesters - like himself - and "[he wants] nine-year-olds. This coming from a man who writes for nine-year-olds."

Do you know what your child is reading?

In my opinion, there is a time when tolerance can only go so far. Despite the fact that the...I can't even call him a currently spending his seven years in jail, this book remains on the shelf of the public library where I recently picked it up and took it home, only to chuck it right back at them when I found out the sordid background. His own publishers rejected his last manuscript after this drama. Why won't the library, an organization that claims the best for the children of our community, remove a book from their shelves written by a man who only wishes to exploit them?

Okay, I fully understand that the library cannot discriminate according to orientation, race, gender, et cetera, et cetera. However, keeping a book by a child molester is another issue entirely. I suggest reading the blog post on Librarified where a librarian touches on this very issue:

My professional values demand that I treat his books as I would have before his arrest and conviction. Normally I feel like my own values and my profession’s values are a good match, but I really struggle with this case. I know that as much as we want it to be or might claim it is, our collection development isn’t objective. I want social justice to be a part of librarianship. But intellectual freedom is at the core of librarianship and is the defense for some controversial things that happen in youth librarianship. If we start making compromises, how can we continue to defend controversial books being on our shelves? If we make exceptions and remove KP Bath’s books from our collections, then how do we retain the works of other felons or of anyone–atheists, gay people–whom someone in our library’s community might think immoral?

Honestly, though, I can't take the idea of this guy getting away with his books staying on the shelves. Yes, I know there are other authors who may have gotten away with the same sort of charges (or worse) - scandals hidden on the shelves that I stay blissfully ignorant of - but if you don't stand for something, where will you get in this world?


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