Monday, December 28, 2009

Why Labels and/or Restrictions Won't Work

I know I said that we were done with book banning for a while, but I keep getting new blog ideas and they deserve to be let out.

Book banning is really an umbrella term, besides "banning" it can refer to restricting, labeling, reshelving or otherwise censoring books (because it's easier to say "Banned Books Week" than "Banned, Restricted, Labeled, Reshelved or Otherwise Censored Week"). Oftentimes, the censors request that the books be labeled or restricted with some sort of parental permission system in place.

In the case of restrictions, censors often request that the books be placed on a special shelf or be labeled and only be allowed to be taken out with parental supervision or permission by any minor.

A) This means lumping everyone under 18 into the same boat so to speak. If you treat a three-year-old and a 16-year-old the same you have no business doing anything that involves children.

B) Once children are old enough to go to the library by themselves, they can't take out these books with a parent or guardian there. This is a great hindrance to both the child and the parent. The parent has better things to do than supervise a child that doesn't require supervision, but they have to because a book is considered too "dangerous" for minors. And the child probably won't want to go to the library if they have to drag mommy or daddy along to check out a book. That's not what I would call encouraging literacy or a love of reading.

C) I'm making a huge generalization here but there's a lot of truth to it. If a kid is in a library, you've won. Kids who go to libraries and read books are not part of the crowd who does drugs, has casual sex, drinks or smokes underage, or otherwise does things they shouldn't be doing. Kids who are taking out books from a library are not the ones we need to have tantrums over.

D) Don't try to say "this isn't censorship". It's plain to see that saying this isn't censorship is a load of bull.

Labeling isn't too bad in theory, we have advisory labels and ratings on movies, music and other such things. But there are many differences between a movie at the cinema and a book in a library.

First of all, movie ratings are undertaken by private institutions and are not legally binding. The library is a government institution meant to serve everyone. Who would decide what would be worthy of a label? Would it simply mean that someone objected to the material within? Because libraries are meant to serve everyone, all books would require a label because virtually anything can be considered "objectionable".

If we went by sexual content, what would qualify as label-worthy? The mere mention of sex or would an act have to be described? Would LGBTQ material get labeled?

And if the aim is to discourage children from reading these books, won't putting labels on them and making a big fuss just make them all the more desirable?

The point is: You're the only one who can decide what your children can't and can't read. You have no business interfering with another child's reading. It is no different than going up to a child who is eating a bag of chips and taking them away from them because you don't want your child eating them. And chips can do far more harm than a book ever could.

Happy holidays to all.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Beeping Homosexuality

It's hard to say who I'm more disgusted with at the moment, CBS or my radio station.

As I'm sure you've heard, CBS blurred a kiss between Adam Lambert and his male keyboardist at the American Music Awards.

If that's not bad enough, they left a simulation dance move of oral sex between Adam Lambert and a dancer unblurred. If you're going to blurr something, blurr something that's, you know, actually inappropriate under broadcasting standards. As opposed to kissing. Which you can probably find on one channel or another at ANY hour of the day.

What makes this even worse, they had previously showed footage Madonna and Britney Spears tongue kissing. Their excuse is that the Madonna image has been seen frequently, but the Adam Lambert image is of "current controversy". Oh please, a seven year old could come up with a more believable excuse than that.

Political correctness aside, in terms of acceptance, girl-on-girl stuff gets off easier than guy-on-guy stuff. I don't know why this is, perhaps the long-standing unreasonable loathing of sodomy (despite the fact an awful lot of straight couples participate in that as well) or the equally long-standing ridiculous connection of gay men with pedophiles. Maybe it's the double standard that girls are allowed to break gender stereotypes as much as they want, but if guys do, they're "weird". Maybe it's all of them. Can we get a sociologist in here?

The point is that I have little doubt the blurring of the kiss was based in homophobia, and that's wrong. Hopefully CBS will take note of the public reaction.

Now, about my radio station (That's misleading, it's not "mine" it's just the one I listen to).

Just today I was listening to it and Hedley's Cha-Ching was playing. The song is a riff on reality TV and the stupidity of it. One of the shows it references is A Shot At Love with Tile Tequila, the specific lines being "Pretending to be lesbians/and Tila's playin' all of them". The word lesbian was beeped.

Yep, I didn't know it was a swear word either. (End sarcasm)

I do not know if this was a decision by the station itself or higher up, but you can be sure that they will be receiving an angry letter from me very soon. I'll update you with the results of this. Cheers.