- Are we really upset over a word? And scrotum of all things? Yet the people pissed off about this probably have no problems with their child playing Grand Theft Auto or watching horror movies. I love Americans. We're fine with violence and death, but mention a body part or sex and suddenly we're all Puritans. Times like this I wish the Mayflower would have sunk somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic.
- Yet another black-eye for librarians everywhere. We're misguided. We're clueless. We're raked over the coals no matter what we do. We don't censor and it pisses people off. We do censor and it pisses people off. We filter computers, it pisses people off. We don't filter and all of the sudden we're a bunch of sick perverts who want to expose children to porn.
So it was rather timely when I read this quote this morning:
Tennessee Williams saved my life. As a 12-year-old boy in suburban Baltimore, I would look up his name in the card catalog at the library and it would read “see Librarian.” I wanted these “see Librarian” books — and I wanted them now — but in the late 1950s (and sadly even today), there was no way a warped adolescent like myself could get his hands on one. But I soon figured out that the “see Librarian” books were on a special shelf behind the counter. So when the kindly librarian was helping the “normal” kids with their book reports, I sneaked behind the checkout desk and stole the first book I ever wanted to possess on my own.The great (and sometimes frustrating) thing about libraries is they belong to the People. And that means, all of the people - even the assholes we don't like. It's the only place on Earth where you can check your e-mail, get the latest Nora Roberts, find an auto repair manual for your 1988 Honda Civic, study for the GED/SAT/ACT, pick up tax forms, find out how to do your own divorce, learn how to cook like Martha Stewart, and maybe learn a little something about yourself.
-John Waters from revised edition of Memoirs by Tennessee Williams. Full article here.
Name me a young adult who didn't feel like an outsider at least once in their lives and I'll eat my shoe. Public libraries can be (and should be) a refuge. I'm sure growing up as John Waters wasn't easy, but finding Tennessee Williams had to be a revelation. Suddenly, there was someone out there who "understood." And even in the myopic 1950s, and even factoring in the restricted shelving, Waters found him at the public library. I'm sure this horrifies some parents out there, but think about it - Waters found comfort when he found Williams. Did Tennessee Williams really save his life? Hard to say. But one thing for certain, Waters as a young boy found out he wasn't alone - and who are we to take that away from him? If anything we should be rejoicing in it.
I'm not saying children shouldn't be sheltered to a certain extent. However, completely shutting out the world only hurts them in the long run. We seem content to want to raise a generation unable to think for themselves. Will reading a book that has the word "scrotum" in it teach them critical thinking? Probably not. But at the very least, they'll learn how to use a dictionary.