Washburn's World

My take on the world. My wife often refers to this as the WWW (Weird World of Washburn)

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Location: Germantown, Wisconsin, United States

I am a simple country boy transplanted from the Piehl Township in northern Wisconsin to the Milwaukee metropolitan area who came down "sout" in 1980 for college and have stayed in the area since.
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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Gossip Girls at West Bend High

The West Bend High School Library has used tax funds to add the whole Gossip Girl series to the library collection. Some parents are tentatively scheduled to meet with the school administration about this acquisition at 3:00 pm on Monday, October 15, 2007. If you would like to participate, please contact 262-335-5570 (WBHS West) (262) 335-5530 (WBHS East)

Some West Bend parents are objecting to the use of tax money for such questionable additions to the library. It is good parents should know, review, and approve what is being purchased with their money. The argument by the American Librarian Association for including the Gossip Girls series in a library collection is that reading anything is better than reading nothing. (I disagree with this false dichotomy). The Librarians contend that only by reading trash will young readers be able to recognize good literature should they happen to trip over something such as Wuthering Heights. Source: Pam Spencer Holley of the American Library Association [ALA]

So, I am clear, I believe the Gossip Girls to be trash. The endless parade of casual sex, drugs, and betrayal is titillating, but not redeeming literature. The money of parents should not be stolen in order to purchase these books. It is good for the owners of the school (the taxpaying parents) to tell the hired help (the librarian) what are and are not acceptable library books. Withholding one's patronage is not censorship.

But, the main problem in the West Bend High Schools has less to do with the trash which is the Gossip Girls than with the confiscation of money at gun point in order to buy the books. Even Thomas Jefferson disagrees with the librarians on this one: To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is both sinful and tyrannical.

The problem here is the funding for the West Bend youth propaganda camps. It is coerced and attendance at the camps is mandatory for 12 years. The problem is the tax-funded school which Horace Mann transplanted from Prussia to Boston and which then infected the rest of the country. There must be a separation of State and School.

The article, "The Problem is the School" expounds on the educational problems Jefferson identifies above. The salient quote is:
    With a private school, Newdow can avoid entanglement with beliefs he does not share simply by abstaining from patronizing it. He can’t do that with a government school.
To have the State involved in education is both sinful and tyrannical. Education must always be about ideas. The contents of our thoughts and the formation of those ideas is never a matter for the State.

Would anyone care if Living Word Lutheran High School carried Gossip Girls in the library? No. Because unless you are paying the tuition, you will rightly rule that the content of the library at the private school is a private matter.

But, the library contents of a tax-funded school can never be a private matter. Public money means the public as unwilling owners get to dictate the spending of their stolen money.

To the parents of West Bend students:
    If these are not the books you would choose for your young girls, then you should withdraw you support of the school by any means necessary. You pay the bills. You name the tune the band will play.
To the librarians of the West Bend High Schools:
    You claim you have no power to remove this book from the collection. That removal is censorship. This is a lie. You had the power to remove something from the library shelf to make room for the Gossip Girls. You have the power to remove the Gossip Girls in favor of worthwhile literature. You censored some book(s) to make room for the Gossip Girls. Removing or not selecting new books in order to create room for the Gossip Girls was censorship, because you used the coercive power of the State to inflict your notion of literature on students and parents. If you do not like that the owners of the library (taxpayers) can control the content of the collection they own, then work for a private library, a book store, or open your own library.
To the Administration of the West Bend High Schools:
    Whom do you serve? The taxpayers? The parents of the students? The students themselves? Your anointed and utopian vision to mold children in spite of how parents would raise up their children?


Blogger Patrick O'Hara said...

John, I have no issue with you railing against those who purportrated evil in our land. There is much to be alarmed at Federally, at the state and locally. Idiocy is unfortunately a common handmaiden to government. Evil is naturally attracted to Law. Where Evil can do more harm with less effort.
Still this appears to be an attack on your local school for a) stealing our money, and b) corrupting our youth. Let us keep the aim where it may do some good.
If you find the books objectionable (which I assume you do as I do), then take it up with the school, rally parents to attend meetings, etc. Do not attempt to make of this a stump speech for government reform. Yes I agree that the school librarian should be more careful in choosing books, but do not blame them for the origin of the money they are handed. They did not enact the laws that brought that money to them.

Pat O

Mon Oct 15, 06:51:00 AM CDT  
Blogger SafeLibraries.org said...

To the West Bend community:

John Washburn said, "So, I am clear, I believe the Gossip Girls to be trash. The endless parade of casual sex, drugs, and betrayal is titillating, but not redeeming literature."

Now if anything is hard evidence that the West Bend community should reconsider its purchase of the Gossip Girls series it is this: Pam Spencer Holley and therefore the ALA agrees with John Washburn!

Pam Spencer Holley, when she was the President of YALSA, the Youth section of the ALA, said she is aware Gossip Girls is substandard literature! But unless girls read substandard literature, they won't know what good literature is!! Besides, adult women read Harlequin romance novels!!! Worse, the ALA went on to produce a list of Gossip Girl-like books for girls who wanted more trash!!!

To see this in Pam Spencer Holley's and the ALA's words, go here: The ALA Encourages a Further "Drastic Fall From Grace" By Recommending "Books For Young Adults Who Enjoy 'Gossip Girl' Series"! and specifically "Racy Reading; Gossip Girl Series is Latest Installment in Provocative Teen Fiction, and It's As Popular As It Is Controversial," by Linda Shrieves, The Orlando Sentinel, 6 Aug 2005.

Lest anyone think this is a conservative issue, a common excuse used to confuse people to allow the children continued access to inappropriate material, it is not. Even "liberals" are against the Gossip Girls. One of the most well recognized liberals, Naomi Wolf, wrote in the New York Times about how poor the Gossip Girls books are, and she appeared on Oprah to discuss it too. Read exactly what Naomi Wolf said here: Feminists Are "In For a Surprise", or skip right to her article: "Young Adult Fiction: Wild Things," by Naomi Wolf, The New York Times, 12 Mar. 2006.

I strongly urge your community to rethink not only this purchase, but whether the any recommendation of the American Library Association (as implemented locally) should be taken seriously. Your community runs your schools, not the ALA. Your US Supreme Court in makes getting rid of those books perfectly legal, despite the usual misinformation campaign the ALA and its acolytes are about to launch against your community like they do against others.

Mon Oct 15, 07:21:00 AM CDT  
Blogger SafeLibraries.org said...

Oops, I messed up that link. It's . ( http://laws.findlaw.com/us/457/853.html )

Mon Oct 15, 07:38:00 AM CDT  
Blogger SafeLibraries.org said...

Hmm. The link has some problems.

Try cutting and pasting this:


Mon Oct 15, 07:44:00 AM CDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Parents don't own schools- the community does. Parents pay no more and no less than the rest of the community to have a studnet enrolled in school. Why should you make decisions for the whole community? What authority do you have? Librarian hirings are approved the the school board- an elected body.

And, just for the record- have you read any of these novels that you have called trash? You mention a Bronte book in your post- surely you know it was considered trash in its day.

Wed Oct 24, 11:21:00 PM CDT  
Anonymous Vlad said...

Please study argument fallacies so you can argue more rationally. Your use of emotionally charged vocabulary actually takes away from the points you are trying to make. Support your points by tying trashy books to actual studies that show a connection to something undesired. The money for the books comes from the Wisconsin Common School Fund. Google will assist you in finding how that fund is funded. The combined high school libraries contain 42,000 books. Gossip Girls amounted to about 14 of those books. Based on your thinking, West Bend School District should pull the murder mysteries because that teach kids how to kill, pull the tobacco informational books because that teaches vice, pull the Koran because that will create terrorists, pull the books on racism because that leads to lynchings and zenophobia, pull the human anatomy because that inspires lust versus what sex is for: procreation.

I don't think high school students are that stupid, yet maybe they are and that why they are waved in adult courts at 17 and in some states put on death row.

I reccommend you read Les Miserables. Victor Hugo's protagonist cares for a prostitute's child in the spirit of Jesus caring for a prostitute named Mary.

Mon Dec 03, 05:01:00 PM CST  

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