Christians strive for clean books in Marshall
MARSHALL – Two books that depict sexually explicit material are at the center of a controversy at Marshall’s Public Library.
The two books in question, “Blankets” and “Fun Home,” are graphic/illustrated novels (think comic books for adults). Both discuss homosexuality and other explicit topics and because they are illustrated, the acts are depicted visually as well.
“These books are to be kept in the youth section and (include) cartoon pictures of teen pre-marital sex, child molestation and lesbian oral sex,” said Marshall science teacher Chris Blakely. “And it’s being paid for with our tax dollars!”
Blakely is one of many Marshall residents demanding the explicit material be kept out of the publicly funded library in the city of 12,000.
In the past, library policy patrons who found a book objectionable filled out a form and the library’s board reviewed the complaint. In this case, they determined they did not have a clear enough policy to judge the books so they are now in the process of adopting a new policy. Blakley said the policy the board is considering would only allow the removal of books by court order.
“The board president has made it clear that they want a policy that allows a diversity of information available to children to form opinions independent of their parents,” Blakely said.
The nine-member board of trustees has been holding hearings throughout the last few weeks and as many as 150 showed up to speak in favor of policies that would exclude the two books.
The board was scheduled to meet Nov. 30. It is unclear when they will reach a decision. In the meantime, concerned citizens like Blakely are asking Missouri Baptists to pray, especially for the library’s board, staff and the individual who made the original complaint. Blakely said one librarian has since quit and another no longer works for the library.
Blakely also encouraged those opposed to e-mail the board. Their addresses can be found at www.marshallpubliclibrary.com/board.html
“Blankets,” written by Craig Thompson, is a semi-autobiographical look at the author’s abusive parents and his “oppressive fundamentalist upbringing,” according to Amazon.com. Illustrations depict his childhood, a sexual awakening at a church camp, and an episode of child molestation. The book’s publisher, Top Shelf, specializes in graphic novels, especially those espousing alternative lifestyles. At least one of the publisher’s series has been banned from import to Canada because of the sexual nature of the illustrations.
The second book in question, “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic,” is written by Alison Bechdel, a powerful force in lesbian literature. She is best known as the author of “Dykes to Watchout For,” a syndicated comic strip about gay and lesbian life. “Fun Home” deals with the author’s troubled childhood growing up around her family’s funeral home. Her father ignores her, preferring to pay attention to the young boys who work in the funeral home as well as the family babysitter. His death brings about the author’s coming of out the closet as a lesbian. Like “Blankets,” the events of “Fun Home” are illustrated just as much as described or told through the book’s narrative or prose. The Pathway was able to confirm that “Fun Home” does indeed graphically depict a variety of sexual situations and acts and nudity.
In the summer of 2005, the library hosted a Pagan Pride Festival in a neighboring town. However, through prayers and the witness of a former pagan, the festival was a bust with less than 100 in attendance.