This is not your father’s “World Kissing Day”
I spend a lot of time in Koelbel Library, a very nice facility in a suburb south of Denver. While I could blog at home, I prefer the library because it lacks two very tempting distractions: the refrigerator and television. True, there’s usually a lively background hubbub of little voices who don’t have a clue about traditional library courtesies. But at this point, that’s white noise I easily tune out.
Each day as I walk in, joining swarms of little kids and their moms, we pass displays that highlight books and themes that are featured for the week or the month. This July’s? “World Kissing Month”. Or was it “World Kissing Day”? No matter; it’s the books on display that count.
And “Soft Place To Fall” was enough to push me over the edge. Front and center, it was right where hordes of little kids walked by; I think I’m finally pissed off enough to do something. More, that is, than complain to the low level library functionaries I’ve spoken to before. Who patronizingly pat me on the head and say, in effect, “How could you be so prudish? We have to appeal to all audiences. Move on; nothing to see here.”
OK. I can buy that. But let’s quit kidding around and start appealing to all audiences. Why not Larry Flint’s Hustler up there next to “Soft Place”? Or, if that’s a bit on the rough side for the little tykes, at least Playboy?
An attractive nuisance
Once the kids have navigated the gauntlet of “World Kissing Month”, most of them veer left to the children’s section of the library. It’s the kind of place that draws kids to it like a magnet; a full size sculpture of Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat beckons them through a child size door that, obviously, is made just for them. And they love it; whenever I’ve come with my little granddaughters for “Story Time”, they invariably make two or three passes through their “own door”.
And most of what goes on in that special space that’s been reserved for little children is just fine. But why not keep it that way?
But no. In one shelf, literally right down at floor level, in reach of even the smallest hands, is Lesléa Newman’s Heather Has Two Mommies. It’s no wonder that the book, published in 1989, is described as “groundbreaking”; it was the first LBGQT novel aimed at the children’s market. The American Library Association ranked it the 9th most frequently challenged book in the United States in the 1990s.
But by comparison with another “children’s” book, It’s Perfectly Normal, Heather is child’s play. In the stacks, but at eye level for our four year old grand daughter, Normal‘s only a hop, skip and a jump from Heather. And, indeed, it is an eye full. Full frontal “cartoons” of male and female genitalia, many images of people performing intercourse, and an introduction to anal and oral sex and masturbation. Take it from me, this is one book where words are completely incapable of capturing its “charms”. Particularly for little kids.
“I READ BANNED BOOKS”
Koelbel is part of the Arapahoe Library District. Every day as I walk into the building, I pass one of their “Bookmobiles.” The folks that run the District seem to have a “thing” for bumper stickers. “I BRAKE FOR LITERACY” is one. But the one that grabs me when I’m in this kind of mood is, “I READ BANNED BOOKS.”
Now, bear in mind that neither Heather Has Two Mommies or It’s Perfectly Normal are banned. The Library District has, obviously, given them their seal of approval. In fact, they’re right out where little kids can freely pick them up and page through them.
Which makes me wonder. Just what kind of books are sufficiently lewd for Library District employees and their bosses to ban them? And therefore read them?