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What are you supporting and why?
I have noted the ongoing controversy regarding materials available for juveniles (0-11 years of age) and young adults (12-17 years of age) at the Macon County Public Library mostly through information provided by friends and occasionally letters to the editor. As I listened and read, I wondered what was being objected to, so I read all or part of some books that were being mentioned and held up at either Library Board meetings or Commissioner meetings. Admittedly, I was shocked at what I read and immediately wondered if those opposing change to whom these books are available, how they are or are not displayed, and why there is no warning that would enable a parent or child to easily realize the content’s focus, were as I was – unaware. I then wondered why none of the people objecting to the content never read from the book in meetings.
I began deciding whether this letter should include a few quotes. As I did so I began to understand why others had not read from the books in the public meetings. I questioned whether I wanted my name associated with quotes I will share. I determined that there were two primary audiences and reasons for quoting material.
First, I know from photos in newspapers and Facebook comments that there are people whom I know and have respected over the years that oppose the efforts for change. I suspect that some have been influenced by a prominent social media / public media personality and by statements misrepresenting the focus of those who advocate for change while using terms such as “censorship” and “book banning.” I suspect many have not personally investigated the objectionable material and are not aware of what they are supporting by their opposition to requested changes.
Second, those who have publicly opposed advocates for change and have supported the library leadership’s (Librarians and Board members) delayed response to requested changes would benefit from exposure to content they are supporting in juvenile and young adult sections.
See now quotes from two pages, written in comic book style, from “Flamer” by Mike Curato:
Speaker 1: “Check it out, it’s that Chinese faggot I was telling you about.”
Speaker 2: “What the fuck? Fuck off.”
Speaker 1: “Why, is your kung fu friend gonna bust some moves on me?”
Speaker 2: “He could take you anytime. And he’s Filipino you ignorant asshat!”
Speaker 1: “Oh, sorry, I didn’t know that you and mister Miyagi were such an item. Have fun suckin’ each other’s dicks, ladies.
Speaker 2: “Fuck you, pencil dick.”
From four of the panels on page 122.
“You’re the faggot!!! You’re the fudge-packing fairy cocksucking queer pansy faggot!!!”
The entirety of the verbiage on page 207.
“Flamer” is the story of a 14-year-old, Aiden, who is at a Boy Scout camp and is struggling with homosexual attraction to another scout, tent mate Elias. In addition to the theme of his homosexual attraction there is the obligatory fantasies of cross dressing, nudity, erotic dreams, sexual arousal, masturbation, and various interpersonal relations, etc.. In addition to the sexual aspects, the book is filled with anger, hate (self and others), abuse, filthy language, and more. It is classified in the library as “YA” – Young Adult; available for check out by a child.
I do not see the “redeeming social value” of such material or understand why such obscene and pornographic (You check the Webster definitions.) material should be openly available to juveniles and young adults without caution to content for parental awareness.
From my research “Flamer” is not one of what would be considered as offensive as the material in numerous other books. In fact, “Flamer” has not made the American Library Association (ALA) list of “Top 10 Most Challenged Books.” “Gender Queer,” also written in comic book style, appeared as #1 on the ALA list in 2022, the most recent year noted at the ALA website, and was recently moved to the “Adult Nonfiction Graphic Novel section” in our library. It is the only objectionable book moved as of April 18th. Is there no “Juvenile/Young Adult Graphic Novel section” where such “literature” could be placed thereby giving an alert to parents?” If not, why not?
The “Request for Reconsideration of Library Resources” demonstrates the disparity in selection and removal of materials. Some quotes “The Fontana Regional Library Board of Trustees has delegated the responsibility for selection and evaluation of library resources to the Regional Director, the County Librarians, and the Branch Librarians …” so apparently a single librarian can select library resources. (I wonder if the ALA recommends selections??) However, when evaluating a complaint about a book, “The Request for Reconsideration of Library Resources” form, together with resource reviews, are discussed with the FRL Director and the County Library Board. No single Library staff member or Library Board member has the authority to remove the resource under reconsideration.” The process to remove is apparently laborious and reportedly often unsuccessful. I will find out soon.
Recently the decision was made to stay in the FRL system and Commissioner Higdon read a statement that included “… improvement is needed in the areas of parental empowerment and governance of the FRL System” which sounds good. However, continuing the statement he read that the counties “will look into provisions which will give parents greater ability to set restrictions on what materials their children may check out while still remaining in compliance with the law, and the structure and authority of the respective local county library boards and the regional board.” Based on history, and what it has taken to arrive at the point we are, every word after “law” is concerning and continued diligence is needed.
“Improvement” does not mean a “business as usual” attitude by the librarians and boards.
Bill McGaha – Franklin, N.C.
Policies reducing our economy, helping other countries
President Biden has been very clear that he wants the U.S. to be the world leader in electric vehicles which would be manufactured here and use U.S. supply chain or those of our allies. He says this is necessary for environmental reasons and to increase American jobs and economy.
A typical electric vehicle battery weighs about 1,000 pounds and contains many different minerals all of which must all be mined from the earth. Estimates are that a typical EV battery requires about 500,000 pounds of dirt and rock to be mined to produce a single battery.
The U.S. probably has the most stringent safety and environmental mining regulations in the world. Mining in this country has been going down and the Biden administration, in recent months, has eliminated all mining in three, roughly 500,000-acre tracts that were being actively mined and contained minerals used for EV batteries. This means that more minerals will be mined elsewhere, with less safety and environmental regulations and using child and/or slave labor
The Biden administration says they want to grow the U.S. economy. However, their actions towards the fossil fuel industry and strong push towards electric vehicles with foreign reliance on raw materials is reducing our economy and helping other countries. In fact, a member of Biden’s cabinet testified before Congress that the U.S. will be helping China’s economy to increase because of our policies. The President wants more jobs in the U.S. and a more stable supply chain. Will getting more raw materials from overseas make the supply chain weaker or stronger? The Biden administration says they want a cleaner environment and increased human rights. However, they reduce mining in the U.S. and so the needed minerals and fuel will be produced with more environmental damage and slave labor. Based on his own words, President Biden is against the production of fossil fuels and minerals, even for electric batteries, in this country for the protection of the environment. However, he apparently has no problem with these materials being produced elsewhere on the globe even though that production will be worse for the global environment than if they were produced in the USA.
This week the Biden administration announced new regulations which will effectively mean that by 2032, Americans will be forced to purchase electric vehicles since 67% of new vehicles will have to be electric to meet the requirements – EVs are about 7% now. These new regulations could result in customers not being able to buy the type of vehicle they want but the government requires. This will also further help China and hurt America since China currently controls about 80% of the global EV battery production. The U.S. hopes to greatly increase its EV battery production but even using those projections, the U.S. would only be able to produce about 10% of the global needs and China would still be, by far, the leading manufacturer.
Ken Stonebraker – Franklin, N.C.