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Right Protests Ex-Gay Book “Ban”


Virginia-based Christian activists are crying “censorship” after a local library rejected their ex-gay texts.

Backed by the anti-gay Family Research Council, organizers in Fairfax, Virginia sent reviews of “pray-away-the-gay” books to their local library, but the library coordinator Susan Thornley flat out refused to consider the divisive texts, saying, “Donations should not be at the expense of minority populations or make the reader feel inferior… These books were not research based. There were not facts to back it up.”

Gay foes failed to understand Thornley’s argument, of course, and gathered yesterday to protest the library’s allegedly anti-Christian stance. And, of course, they sent out about forty students to do their dirty work.

Seventeen-year old Elizabeth Bognanno explained her stance: “We put ourselves out there…and got rejected. We believe our personal rights have been violated.” That poor, poor girl.

Of the brouhaha, one anti-gay opponent moaned, ”I’m objecting to the fact that librarians who didn’t read our books looked at them on the counter and said, ‘No, thank you. This is Christian. We’re not going to accept it.” Really? You really believe that’s what Thornley and her book worm pals are saying? Could it be the fact that ex-gay books have been proven to be psychologically and socially dangerous?

By:           Andrew Belonksy
On:           Oct 3, 2008
Tagged: , , , ,

  • 18 Comments
    • CitizenGeek
      CitizenGeek

      Not hating gay, and not wanting to demean gay people and not wanting to create a climate whereby gay people are the victims of discrimination does NOT count as “anti-Christian” behaviour. In fact, I’m pretty sure that Jesus never condemned or abused a vulnerable minority. In fact, he was the one standing up for them.

      This kind of crap makes me sick to my stomach. It’s one thing to oppose gay rights, but supporting ‘conversion therapy’ for gays is just utterly and completely disgusting!

      Oct 3, 2008 at 11:04 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • theo
      theo

      Okay… I hate the ex-gay and reparative therapy movement a great deal. Probably as much as anyone who has not been sent for therapy can.

      That said: everyone has a right to their thoughts, opinions, beliefs, and literature. The library is wrong to keep those books out of the collection. They should be filed under in the religion section, but every belief has value, if only in it’s reminder of the danger and hatred that’s around us.

      Oct 3, 2008 at 11:18 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Trenton
      Trenton

      I would usually side with Theo, but I think that the librarian makes a very eloquent argument: “Donations should not be at the expense of minority populations or make the reader feel inferior… These books were not research based. There were not facts to back it up.”

      If these books were written in terms of theory or a strictly political action (like a Mein Kampf, which is hate-filled, but still of literary and hostorical merit as a lesson in how distorted rhetoric can be used, and of what the people who use it are capable), that would be one thing. But these ex-gay books (the ones that I have seen) are poorly written, poorly researched, and eschew the opinions of repected medical and scientific institutions for their own “facts” which are based solely on the trusty ol’ Bible, to which people do have ample access.

      It would be wrong to ban any book from the public, but here they are simply saying they will not give shelf space or credence to monstrous, ill-wrought propaganda. Their argument should be with the ALA, who I’m sure will also tell them to go take a hike. I’d love to see that…

      Oct 3, 2008 at 12:06 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • John
      John

      How many people go to the library to get literature on ex-gay movements anyway? If they’re crackpot Christian fundamentalists, they’re going to get it from their church. I think these folks are trying to stir up trouble for publicity. And to feed thier phony “War on Christians” persecution complex.

      And the best way to respond is to simply ignore them. Don’t give them the attention they crave. Go ahead and accept the donations. Then keep it locked up in some archive. When some historian digs it up in the distant future, they’ll get a good laugh out of the “primitive” thinking of 21st century humans.

      Oct 3, 2008 at 12:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Trenton
      Trenton

      Good call on all counts, John. Most libraries do have a section for religious foofaralla where it would fit in perfectly. I guess it would do no harm to rot in a far corner like that where only the people actively seeking suuch crap can find it (because they will find it elsewhere, too). The greatest irony is that if the fundies actually read a few books in that library, they might not be so compelled to pull stunts like these. But that may be giving them too much credit.

      Oct 3, 2008 at 1:02 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jon B
      Jon B

      I really hate hypocracy when it comes to freedom of speech. If we can attack Sarah Palin for trying to take “Preacher, I’m Gay” off the shelves of the Wasilla Library, we cannot turn around and applaud the banning of a book with a contrary message. That being said, I wish the Relgious Right were capable of understanding this.

      Oct 3, 2008 at 2:05 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • marc
      marc

      How ironic that these students and Family Research Council will all end up burning in hell.

      Funny!

      Oct 3, 2008 at 2:46 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Brian Miller
      Brian Miller

      I really hate hypocracy when it comes to freedom of speech. If we can attack Sarah Palin for trying to take “Preacher, I’m Gay” off the shelves of the Wasilla Library, we cannot turn around and applaud the banning of a book with a contrary message. That being said, I wish the Relgious Right were capable of understanding this.

      Couldn’t have said it better myself.

      The far right and far left are mirror images of each other in this situation.

      Oct 3, 2008 at 3:57 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Smokey Martini
      Smokey Martini

      Good job on the librarian’s part! However, if these dirty children (and the people behind them) keep raising a stink, I say the library should, indeed, put a copy on their shelf – but only under two conditions..

      (1) They should include the ex-gay book amongst the shelves of carefully-researched, scientific, and queer history material that is out there supporting the acceptance of homosexuality (as it rightfully should be).

      AND, (2) the librarians should put a nice sticker on the cover, copyright page, or table of content (or, all three) of the book that states that the content within is against the scientific findings of the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association, and the shitload of other national associations who oppose the ex-gay ministry’s beliefs. You know, kind of like a disclaimer.

      Then we can see how the book fares.

      Oct 3, 2008 at 4:10 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Trenton
      Trenton

      There is a difference, here, #6 and #8. The ALA had reviewed and approved “Preacher, I am gay” but if every amateur writer and crackpot were to donate their own creations to libraries and the libraries were expected to host it, they’d be overflowing with pure bullshit. They say the library is stocked with pro-gay books. I’d like to see their list. If they can prove that the library has books that argue an adequate counterpoint to what their “banned” books and tat these books are needed to represent all views, then I will concede.

      I’ve included links to two of the books that Focus on the Family is trying to have planted:

      http://www.amazon.com/Marriage-Trial-Against-Same-Sex-Parenting/dp/0830832742

      http://www.amazon.com/Someone-Love-Gay-Friends-Respond/dp/0830819827

      As for the latter, the first chapter is titled “Homosexuaity: The shocking discovery” in which one of the authors talks about learning that her own son is gay. At which point she, in her own words, “kidnapped” him to prevent from seeing the man with whom he was in love. I think its a case of what not to do…but seeing as how it advocates ex-gay counseling, I sincerely doubt that it has a sincerely happy ending.

      Oct 3, 2008 at 4:20 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Trenton
      Trenton

      Gah. Correction… “what their ‘banned’ books espouse and that these books are needed to represent all views, then I will concede.”

      Oct 3, 2008 at 4:22 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • a. mcewen
      a. mcewen

      It’s so damned easy to pull at people’s heart strings. Just say the word “censorship” and they either get scared or overprotective.

      In this case, censorship per se isn’t a bad idea:

      “I have a hard time believing that anything put out about the lgbt community by the anti-gay industry or their allies belong in a public library without extreme scrutiny on its credibility.

      The anti-gay industry has a track record of relying bad research (Paul Cameron) or distorting legitimate research (i.e. Elizabeth Saewyc, Robert Spitzer, Patrick Letellier, Robert Garafalo, Carol Gilligan, Lisa Waldner, Joanne Hall, Francis Collins, etc. )

      And this track record of lies should not be ignored simply because the anti-gay industry was able to find enough guillible students and their parents to try and play a game of semantics.”

      Oct 3, 2008 at 5:44 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • AdaHaze
      AdaHaze

      I didn’t think it was possible to love librarians any more than I already do. Wrong!

      Oct 5, 2008 at 2:27 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Joel
      Joel

      Stick it in the “crappy fiction” section of the library that nobody ever visits.

      Choosing not to include a book based on its merits is completely different than refusing a book for ideology. Of course, the right wing never has done well with logic or making fine distinctions.

      Oct 7, 2008 at 5:45 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Anonymous
      Anonymous

      It seems to me that they have a real censorship claim. But at the same time putting literature out there that advocates intolerant behavior is bad.
      I guess the question is: is the library’s mission to educate people about different viewpoints, or to shape people’s beliefs.
      If we liberals and gays (i am both) wanted to deal with this we’d donate pro-gay literature instead of just saying “no” to the ideas of our rivals.

      Oct 8, 2008 at 7:04 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • psy
      psy

      10 wrote:

      “the first chapter is titled “Homosexuaity: The shocking discovery” in which one of the authors talks about learning that her own son is gay. At which point she, in her own words, “kidnapped” him to prevent from seeing the man with whom he was in love.”

      And that’s exactly why the book should be in the library, along with Mein Kampf and every other piece of hate filled spew. It documents the hatred. Censoring speech does not make the problem go away, it merely covers it up so it can happen more effectively in secret. If most people, even out of curiosity read something like that, i’d venture to say they’d be shocked and disgusted enough to fight the ex-gay movement. Let them hang themselves wit their own words. Help them, even.

      Oct 23, 2008 at 4:50 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ashleyrosee
      ashleyrosee

      I am a catholic, but I could be considered loosely so. I believe that at this point the church out steps its bounds. Who gives them any right to judge these people? No one. God is supposed to be loving and merciful and wants us to follow him. Well if we were to TRULY be like him we wouldn’t judge like that. The church is two-faced, saying follow God, but then go and insult and degrade people who are different. If you choose to be against gays, then fine. But you have no right to try and force your views on others. People will believe what they want and people have no right to mess with that.

      Oct 27, 2009 at 6:51 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ashleyrosee
      ashleyrosee

      Oh and this is all a load of bull. “We put ourselves out there…and got rejected. We believe our personal rights have been violated.” YOUR personal rights?? What a joke! What about a gay person’s personal rights? Yea doubt they would have thought about that one.

      Oct 27, 2009 at 7:10 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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