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Summary of 8/25/08 Meeting with Commentary


Meeting of Aug. 25th – Library Board Meeting

Paul Cohen was the first speaker at this meeting. When he got up, he covered a number of the points in his handout. He was not able to get into the same amount of detail as given in his handout copy, as he only had 3 minutes to talk.

He says:

I would like to point out, not to complain, but to give an indication of the bias of the moderator, Carole Byrnes, that those speaking against the book, like Mark Colton and me, were curtly told that our 3 minutes were up and were pressured to stop speaking, whereas those in favor were never notified of the time limit, which some of them surpassed.

Here is a summary of what the respondents had to say. If any of you feel that we have misrepresented your speeches (taken from a recording of the meeting), or if you would simply like to answer or add something to this conversation, we welcome your e-mails and will correct or post whatever applicable remarks we receive. Please let us know if we misspelled your name as well; we will correct that.

My comments on the testimonies are interspersed throughout and italicized in colored font. Any of my comments made at the meeting are in regular print.

Cody Howell

Cody red the book as a gay teenager, and attributes it to helping him “come out.” After reading my letter to the editor, he felt he had to come to testify in favor of the book. He also said:

This is a book that can help you and open your eyes to something new, even if shocking.

There is nothing intrinsically good about something new or shocking. This book speaks approvingly of things that would shock many people, like sons having sexual fantasies about their fathers, or men cheating on their wives by having sex with other men. What is the value in being shocked by something so repulsive and destructive that most would not even wish such things on their enemies?

The road to hell is paved with shocking things that one becomes acclimated to doing, like the proverbial frog boiled in water.

There are hundreds of books that people have said these ideas are too radical or too crazy or too intense to be in public places, and one of them is the Bible.

We are not talking about the “hundreds of books,” which implies “they” were wrong to preclude those books from the public. We are talking about this one book in particular that teaches unlawful activities that no person in a free society with rule of law has any right to force others to accept in their publicly-funded and shared information resources.

It is a matter of censorship…You don’t need to be out there saying what people can and can’t read.

I did not say you could not read it, and therefore it is not censorship. If you want to go out and buy the book, that is your prerogative. What I have said and done is contest the public library carrying the book because of its indecent and unlawful content.

It’s the freedom to read what you want when you want. If you don’t want to read it, don’t look at it, and don’t have your kids read it.

Your freedom to read does not mean it is my obligation, or anyone else’s (including the Helena Library or the Federal Government), to provide you with whatever you want to read. Obviously I am not obligated to read anything in the library. But if you do not have enough sense to know what is toxic poison, why should you chafe at me if I would spare someone from being exposed to it?

The book was intended for positive use, not negative; it wasn’t written to destroy a certain group of people.

That may not be what the authors meant, but God says the human heart is deceitful above all other things. The intention may not be there, but the promotion of sin, which is whatever goes against the Laws of God (as defined by the Ten Commandments and the Bible), will surely destroy the sinner. This book brings destruction to all those who believe and follow it. You are a victim of this book. You are a victim of all those who sympathize with you in your sin. They are your destroyers, and you have chosen to have it so. Those who you think love you hate you, and those who you think hate you love you. If you are against yourself, and I am for you, we cannot but be in opposition.

Mark Colton:

Mark thanked Paul Cohen for bringing this matter to the public’s attention. He said:

Librarians should not be babysitters, but the library should be a safe reading environment and a place that nurtures learning. Just as there are laws that prevent minors from shopping at adult bookstores, I also would not allow minors in my care to view material that is not age appropriate. Libraries are not adult book stores (or they shouldn’t be) and adult material should not be made available for anyone with a library card.

How can anyone argue?

I did not ask the library to remove the book. The IR editorial staff titled my letter with those words (“Remove the Book”). It is not about censorship but selection. Surely the library can find material of literary value that is not peppered with 4-letter words and sexually-explicit illustrations.

Would any library staff present be willing to stand and read the first sentence in the first three paragraphs of Ch. 1 (titled “Anus”)?

[Mark specifically asked Carole Byrnes, the board member who was moderating, and she declined.

After reading those three sentences (available on the net if you Google the book title), Mark continued:]

This book has no literary value. It’s filled with explicitives, and should not be available for shock and awe on impressionable young minds, especially younger children.

Let me ask this: Why do those insisting on having this book in the public library not care about others’ concerns for their children? Who can argue that there is legitimate concern? It is another reflection of the morality of this book and those who defend it. “Don’t you tell me what to do! If it bothers or hurts you, or anyone else, too bad! You can go to hell!”

Tom Dickson

Tom said:

This book is not an easy one for the library board to discuss. The issue is about children and them reading the book. I haven’t had children.

The real issue is that this book is vile and no librarian or combination of library professionals and their lawyers from the ALA and ACLU have the right to force the public that chartered and funded the library to accept whatever they choose as reasonable fare for the greater community.

If I were a six year old who stumbled across this book, I would have said, “Look at the funny people,” and gone on to look at comic books. I can’t believe it would have corrupted me or destroyed my morals in any way.

How does Tom know what he would have done so many years ago, or how it would have affected him? This is speculation without substance. Furthermore, his hypothetical experience is not necessarily representative of what would and does happen at the library. Just having the book sends a message that such behaviors are acceptable, causing confusion and sexual promiscuity that leads to all kinds of heartaches and troubles.

When I was a 15 year old I saw a heterosexual sex book and I was very grateful I saw it. (“Oh, that’s how they do it!”) It didn’t make me rush out to have sex.

Tom’s reaction to sex is not typical. All the fifteen year old boys I have ever known have known “how they do it.” Most were interested in sex and found sexual pictures stimulating. It doesn’t sound like Tom can relate to most guys.

The pictures in the book in question, however, would not at all be sexually titillating to most males. Most would find them, and the teachings of the book, revolting.

This book would take some of the mystery and fear out of being gay. It is of great value. It would validate being a gay man; it would make being gay not an aberration. Worth keeping.

Adultery, sexual promiscuity, lying, and bigotry against those who believe the Bible, all things promoted in this book, are not things that our community should want to validate. Therein lie the seeds of destruction.

Kim Abbott

Kim is from the MT Human Rights Network. She said:

The content or subject matter of the book is not the issue.

It certainly is. Kim may not mind drinking hemlock, but that doesn’t mean that it must be served up in our public library.

At issue is the free exchange of information and ideas. Basic democratic value.

Indeed it is. That is why I am protesting the book. It is poisonous garbage. My dictionary says this about “democratic” value: “Representing or appealing to or adapted for the benefit of the people at large.” The people at large, and not some small segment, as Kim represents. The library is not beholden to present the agenda of every special interest group when the activities of that group are deemed to be incompatible with the larger welfare and benefit of the community.

The library’s job is not to censor or decide what would be or not be accepted in society, but to develop a rich catalog of information and ideas.

As I said before, if the library cannot filter out inappropriate material, then that is why we, the community, must do so. The library is here to serve us; we are not here to serve the library.

The MT Human Rights Network fully supports the library’s decision.

Of course they do, since they serve as a homosexual advocacy group that has adopted a euphemistic name, which conceals their purpose. Why is it that heterosexuals will protest an explicit sex manual in the library, but homosexuals do not?

Allison James

Allison said she is a concerned citizen and patron of the library. She said:

This is about intellectual freedom. We have the right to access information from all points of view. The public library is one of the community’s equalizers by allowing all segments of society access to ideas. Limiting that access is the definition of censorship.

It is true all segments of society are given access to the library, but not all segments of society must be represented. For example, we are not obligated to provide materials instructing men that practice group sex. There is nothing that says this information is our obligation to provide, any more than pedophiles, or Islamic jihadists, or any number of unacceptable or patently insane subgroups of society should have their manuals of instruction on our public library bookshelves.

M. Gilliespie or Geskey (not sure)

This person is a librarian by profession. She said:

As a young librarian, I tried to help youngsters. All books about sex were locked up behind the counter. When I was a young person being married at 21, I didn’t have access to the books that I needed as someone who had never had sex. I wasn’t getting that information from my parents.

I question the competence or honesty of a librarian that tells us she could not figure out how to order or obtain a decent book to help instruct her in sexual matters. Is she telling us that she did not have any knowledgeable friends or access to counselors? Is she trying to tell us that because her library did not have a sex manual, she wasn’t able to successfully couple and learn about sex with her husband? There is another motive to what is clear exaggeration here.

Libraries are places for young people to get information they need to make a decision. Librarians should not be expected to police those who want to use the library. This is Montana, where we believe in freedom – freedom of speech. So I support the library board’s decision to keep this book.

Young people, that is, those under the legal adult age, shouldn’t be encouraged to be sexually active. That is a bad idea, often with terrible consequences and always coming with a price. I would say the majority of adults in the city agree with me on this, not because they are against free speech, but because they know better from experience and exercise that judgment in their households. They are not teaching their children to read sex manuals and to have all the sex they want.

Free speech is the right of the individual, not the library. The library is not a person. The library is an organization chartered by, and here to serve, the community. The library is not above the community; it is not exempt from exercising the discretion that every person and household in the community must, because the responsibility falls on them to do it. There is no freedom of speech without the responsibility for what you say and do.

Nicky Whearty

Nicky introduced herself as a long-time user and lover of the library. She worked for the library when it was at Grand Street Theater in 1970. She said:

In 1978 there was some controversy over the book Our Bodies, Ourselves. I was pregnant with my first child at that time, and I was so grateful to the library for providing that, because it helped me to understand things that I would experience in childbirth.

I haven’t red that book, but a manual that helps a woman understand her body and what to do for her health in giving childbirth seems like very helpful information. I see no similar merits in the book in question. Anyone who compares men having group sex and protecting themselves by using prophylactics to women in childbirth is not someone who should be advising us on book selection.

I have been a librarian in this community since 1981, and worked with libraries for young people since 1979. There are things we never would have carried. Young people need that information.

I doubt Nicky has red The Joy of Gay Sex, but if she has, I strongly disagree that young people need the information in this book. Any unbiased and honest reader will come to the same conclusion.

Young people need access to information at the library that is not readily available. They are finding out who they really are, and they may be dealing with a situation at home with those who view their lifestyle as an abomination. I am glad for your decision to keep this book in the library.

The library does not, or should not, have authority to overrule the teachings of parents. God says that homosexuality is an abomination. Who are Nicky Whearty and the Helena Library to overrule His Laws and to tell parents that teach their children about God’s Laws that they demand the right to counteract their teachings and authority?

I’m the mother of a young woman whose marriage [to another woman in California] was celebrated on the front page of the paper. My daughter said that she didn’t have what she needed in high school, so I appreciate the library having the book for other young people who need to use the information in the privacy of their own home.

Nicky is wrong that the library should be held responsible for providing her daughter with information on how to live a perverse lifestyle. If Nicky approves and wants to teach her daughter how to live as a lesbian, then it is her responsibility to give her daughter that information.

Also, the Human Rights Network is there, along with other advocacy groups, to provide these materials, if people want them. People have the right to free assembly and should exercise that, rather than forcing others to accept their deviant “lifestyle.”

[As noted at top, Nicky’s comments ran longer than the time limit, by 40 seconds, with no warning.]

Lois Fitzpatrick

Lois stated that she is the library editor at the current library at Carroll College and of the Montana Library Association Intellectual Freedom Committee. She said:

I just have a few points I want to make here; hopefully they will be very quick.

One is this that this is not a hearing. This is an open time to comment, and if the board feels strongly enough, you may want to have a full hearing. Because it is only by word of mouth, basically; it was not advertised. So what you hear tonight is probably just a smidgen of some of the comments that you would hear.

I’d like to speak to the book. It is said that the book is not good. I want to point out that it is the third edition. I would think after the third edition, after actually after the first and second, many problems would be settled. If it was really a trashy book, it would not be printed in a third edition. It is printed by a very well known and respected publisher, and all the reviews that I have looked at speak to the book being very good, and giving clear, concise information and education.

Many things have been around for much longer and are not good at all. The Koran, for example. How many people revere and respect that? Yet it is a book full of lies. It preaches subjugation of women, Christians, Jews, and whoever does not agree with Muhammad. It is a book preaching murderous hatred toward many. Think of what the fate of those publishing and making available The Joy of Gay Sex would be if they were in a country under Sharia rule. Just because something has been around awhile and is respected or tolerated does not make it good or right.

Part of that, I would say this is censorship. It was commented that the public library didn’t need to have the material, but people could purchase it online or maybe at a bookstore in town. With the economic crisis that we are in, people cannot even afford gas vs. food, I’m not sure that a 15 year old could afford, nor have a credit card, to purchase the book that they need to have.

The arguments Lois is coming up with are sheer idiocy. I do not believe this woman is so stupid as to believe what she is saying, so it must simply be great wickedness to come up with such garbage. What fifteen year old boy, in hard economic times, needs a book that teaches him how to perform oral sex or sodomy, unless he is training to be a child whore?

And we heard from a young testifier; I think that he was magnificent in what he said in his personal, personal story. It is censorship. When we have issues of a child wondering if they are gay or not, or questioning, and there is resistance at home, how can he get the information that he needs safely? Well, they do that at a public library. And they don’t have a deal with, you know, if a parent opens up the book because they want to know what mail is coming in. And so, I agree with him that it is important to have that access here.

I have already said that it is not the library’s or Lois’ right to usurp the authority of the parent in teaching his or her child. The library has stated it is not there to act in the place of the parent (loco parentis), yet here they are doing that very thing. The library has no more right to provide obscene materials to people’s children than your neighbors do.

I also would like to point out that with the Miller test, which is used for obscenity, this is the only test for obscene materials; this book would pass the Miller test with no problem. We cannot take one section, one word, one anything out of the book; we have to take the material as a whole, and weigh it on its medical, scientific, literary if that’s a possibility, but the writing style is clear, so I think that would work well also.

If Lois is right that this book would pass the Miller test for obscenity, then the Miller test is not worth a hoot. However, that is provided Lois is right. Who made her expert in this matter? The same who gave her authority to counsel your children?

[3 MINUTE MARK – not announced – timed by S.S.]

Harm. It is mentioned that children would be harmed. Harm is in the eye of the beholder. I had, I have two young daughters, they are now both in their twenties and college graduates, but my youngest one, she red a book that an animal was hurt. I would spend the entire night up with her, her crying hysterically. Harm is in the eye of the beholder, and we don’t all have the same eye. The library is not forcing this issue down people’s throats … And so I think that is not true.

God has spoken to us and has taught us His Laws so that we would actually know where harm occurs, and would avoid incurring it by following His Ways. Experience confirms His Teachings.

So enough with this gibberish. Just because a little boy is afraid that the boogey man is in his closet, Lois says the library can force the public to accept whatever vile materials it decides are needed by it. This is not a comprehensible argument, much less a valid one.

And also, a public library, and I was a public librarian for many years in New York and I did adult services, children’s services, and young adult services in my time as curator of the public library. A public library must purchase materials for all of the citizens, not just for the vocal citizens, but in particular for the quieter citizens that need that information, and the library needs to understand that … So I hope that when we have a hearing, you guys will do it the way that you did it back when this book was challenged before. You got it right then, I hope you’ll get it right again.

We don’t see what makes Lois or the library experts on establishing the needs of the community, and why that privilege should be given to them, especially when their judgment is so faulty regarding this matter.

Thank you.

[4 minutes plus. Lois stopped on her own volition with no word from Carole.]

Paul Zallek

Paul said he was here in support of Paul Cohen and gave his remaining time to Paul C.

Paul Cohen

This is not just a child issue. Some are offended by the disregard for the Laws of God. I would ask the previous speaker how, as a representative of a Catholic institution, Carroll College, she disagree with her leader, the pope, who does not approve of homosexuality. I see contradiction.

Carole Byrnes: This isn’t the actual public hearing and we will not generate debate here.

Paul Cohen: Well, it’s something to think about. It’s a related issue. What are our established morals? How did our country get formed?

Those who made available the freedoms in our country were not debating whether they could display homosexual erotic art, but about ideals that were being oppressed by religious tyrants and kings who had their own vested interests – that’s why they were censored.

There is no censorship here of anything of great value to society.

CB: Thank you.

[A bit of clapping.]

Chris Thompson

Chris said:

No one can doubt the freedoms we have in this country, personal freedoms. You cannot, however, yell, “Fire!” in a crowded theater, so we don’t have absolute freedom.

I’m concerned about the availability to young children.

As far as representing every viewpoint, does the library have books for those interested in leaving homosexuality?

[He asked for an answer from the library representative. Carole looked around and the board didn’t know.]

Thank you.

Good point, Chris. How about books that prove the damage done to individuals and families by homosexuality? What about the testimony of former homosexuals?

Sara Schmidt

Sara said she supports what Paul Cohen is saying and gives him her time.

Paul Cohen

I would like to hear the answers to my points of contention from those justifying having this book. The offensiveness of the material still stands no matter how many people say they like it or were helped.

It’s a valid point that it is available elsewhere, and the fact that some people haven’t been able to raise their children properly doesn’t mean that other people have to bear the burden of that. [gasp in audience and sniggling] I hear somebody laughing there. I wonder what her problem is.

CB: Please save your comment, if you want to get up for your own comment.

PC: Yes, she may do that, if she wishes.

It’s not the responsibility of the library to provide material where parents have failed. And you have said it’s not your place to make those moral decisions in the place of parents. Yet you are making them.

It goes back to the Word of God that is written in the Bible, which many shed their blood to defend and honor, and they have given us the courage and freedom to do that as well.

Nobody here is saying that somebody is going to persecute someone who wants to be a homosexual. That’s not what’s being said. It’s the attack, but it’s not the reality.

CB: Thank you, Mr. Cohen.

Jason Fleming

Jason said he wants to give his time to Paul Cohen.

CB: Before we go back and forth giving away time, let’s hear other comments….

Amy Hall

I’m a patron of the library, and what I love about the library is that you can find information on so many topics. If you’re interested in something but not interested in something else, you can read without having to make the commitment of actually buying the book. How to build a mosaic, or how to make Indian food (both checked out by her), I just wanted to learn about it, and maybe it would start something. Or maybe not. So it’s important for the library to provide information on all kinds of topics and different kinds of relationships.

I bet if we brought all the books regarding sex and relationships into this room, ¾ of the room would be full of heterosexual related books. One little section on gay relationships. Not faulting the library for that. What is wrong with the library providing more information on homosexual sex practices? It’s part of life, just like heterosexual sex practices. As a community, we should support the provision of that kind of information.

I doubt Amy has red the book. Unless she knows what is in it, her opinion is hearsay.

As a library you’re not promoting gay sex, you’re just making the book available, and that’s what I appreciate as a library patron. Thank you.

I disagree. A book on building a mosiac implies that this would be a worthwhile activity for some to consider. The same is implied by making this book available. Otherwise, why have it? Yet the book approves of self-murder (blames others rather than the murderer), adultery, lying, and bigotry. As a member of this community, I say there is no way we should support or tolerate that attitude in our public space. That is why I am speaking up, and I know full well there are evil consequences coming down the pike, and they are already here, for those who support or are silent in the face of such evils.

Interjection in meeting from Lois Fitzpatrick:

Just a point of order if I could, I know this is an open meeting, and I know there are microphones, and I know you are taking notes, and things like that.

However, I do see Mr. Cohen is taping this entire meeting, and my question is, is this acceptable to the board? Because when you’re doing any kind of audio taping, you’re supposed to receive the permission of the people before you do it.

I have no objections to my secrets being taped. However, this is something that I just wish to bring to your attention.

CB: Thank you. We were unaware of Mr. Cohen recording, but as long as things are available for those who want copies.

PC: Yes.

And here it is, as a service to our community and to all others in the world who may find edification and hope in this proceeding.

Shirley James

I support Paul Cohen and Mark Colton. I want to give my 3 minutes to one of them. I tried to check out the book and it wasn’t available, so I’m not qualified to comment.

Shirley is wiser than many advocates, who don’t know what they are talking about.

I want to make my time available to either one of these gentlemen.

CB: Before we do that, could we hear comments from others, before we get ready to wind down?

Roxanne Cleasby

I’m a bit confused about what the issue is. It’s not about withholding information from people. The question is, should a public library, a public school, any place that is publicly funded – we are funding this – should we fund pornography? Anyone with two eyes can see – is it pornography or not?

Telling young people that sexually promiscuous behavior is wonderful, they’re lying to them! It’s not wonderful! It’s terrible! There are sexually transmitted diseases that go along with that, and whoever was recommending the rubber is really off base. It’s doesn’t protect you from anything. It’s full of lies and deceit and betrayal; there’s nothing wonderful about sexually promiscuous behavior. I don’t think we should have anything like pornography in a tax-funded facility. If someone wants pornography, they should fund it themselves.

We were so thankful to hear Roxanne’s heartfelt and true comments. This is not simply about homosexuality. It is about teaching people falsely that “anything goes,” as though there are no consequences for doing whatever feels good to you at the moment. Nothing could be further from the truth, and those who close their ears to true testimonies from personal experience are fools bent on their own destruction.

Josh Clem

I red the book when I was 18, and it was a great help to me as well. If we’re going to put this book away, what will happen if someone comes and says, “I’m offended by your book on God”?

I am certainly willing to have that discussion, should I be available and included. Many books on God are offensive, because they are full of lies about Him. I am speaking of those particularly that appear to be in favor of Him, and to be presenting His case. They often unknowingly misrepresent Him. The library has many of these kinds of books.

I do not protest those because they are not full of offensive pictures. If we were to throw out books with lies in them, we would not have a library, so people have to find proper teachers that might help them employ their own internal resources to filter truth from error.

I red on the internet that America is now a post-Christian nation; it’s not a Christian nation anymore.

America never was a Christian nation. There were Biblical influences and morality derived from the Bible, all well and good, as evidenced by the outcome of having such guidelines. Now some are telling us that those influences don’t matter. You are “sex-phobic” and “homophobic” if you believe the Bible. We are standing up and saying that is a lie from hell, used to justify immoral behaviors. It is sheer wickedness.

I thought this was a children issue. When I asked Judy about it, I thought the issue was about children having access to the material. I am quite aware now that that is not the issue at all. …

When I thought about it, I wondered why Paul picked up this book in the first place. Of all books in the library, did he seek it out? Why this book? Why now? It makes me wonder if he has questions in his own mind about himself.

No questions, Josh. I simply wanted to know what I was talking about, because I found the title revolting, and I needed to confirm my suspicions, rather than speaking them without proof, as you do here, not knowing what you are talking about. If there is a motive to be questioned, it is not mine, but yours for why you accuse me with something unproven. It is obvious that you do so to make an argument against what I say by impugning my motives.

If he is banning that book, he should be banning lots of other books in the library. There’s lots of fiction and other materials that are very explicit. We should have the right to read and have access to that information for personal choice.

Frankly, I do not want the job of being the library selection committee. I never asked for it, and because I protest against this book it is simply a cop-out for Josh to suggest that I should be protesting many others. Let’s keep our eye on the ball. We are dealing with this one book that has gone way over every line of decency by any measure.

Beatrice Vogel

I heard a number of comments about the book having no literary value and bad words. I read a lot of mysteries; many of them have no literary value. They are violent, have all sorts of language, and they are very, very graphic.

What I would say to Beatrice is that there is junk food, and there is straight-out poison. She can eat all the junk food she likes, but there is good reason to remove poison from the food cupboard.

Bob Fletcher

The question of pornography is open … My wife and I don’t agree on ties…

Tastes differ, but I don’t think anyone looking at The Joy of Gay Sex would disagree that the pictures are very disturbing and absolutely unsuitable for children if not almost all others. This is not at all a matter of which style tie one likes.

Lies: If you apply the standard of lying to books, we would have to start with Ben Franklin’s autobiography; a lot of the books in the library probably contain lies.

Undoubtedly there are lies in everything men write, as it is written, “Let God be true and every man a liar.” Those come with the territory. That is why God’s Word in the Holy Scripture is so precious to those who believe, because it is the Truth. The problem here is not that there is simply a personally-skewed viewpoint, but that the authors’ entire premise is built on total disregard and disrespect for the Laws of God. Ben Franklin may have stretched the truth, but he was not teaching people to go out and commit sin.

Medical value: This is highly questionable. The Atkins Diet is questionable as well. So what standard do we apply?

If this point is questioning the medical value of the book, it is a point well taken. If a man cares for his body, for example, he will not abuse parts of it as taught in this book. That is a reasonable standard to apply.

It is good to stick to the material selection and removal policy set forth by the library. I recommend sticking to your policy.

Is the policy adequate? If it allows this kind of material to be included, but disallows its exclusion once included, there is something wrong with the policy.

CB: Time to wind down.

Comment from audience: We yielded our minutes to these gentlemen, so they should be able to use the minutes that we yielded to them.

CB: OK

Mark Colton

First of all, I appreciate the diversity of opinion expressed here. It took a lot of courage for this young gentleman [Cody Howell] to come and speak before this board.

This isn’t a 1st Amendment issue. The 1st Amendment has nothing to do with pornography. It had to do with protection of freedom of speech during political debate.

I was glancing through the table of contents. I’m a heterosexual male; I have no interest in homosexuality. But think that homosexuals, in a discussion of the book The Joy of Gay Sex, would be offended to know there was a chapter that deals with sex with animals.

This book is pornographic in nature. That is the main issue here. If I were on the street pushing this book, I would be breaking a city ordinance. The library is protected from legal action for the reading material that they submit to viewers. I’m not overly concerned about teenagers as I am concerned about the drawings in there and the shock and awe effect.

Paul Cohen

Josh asked why I saw or how I found that book. I am a patron of the library. I often check the new bookshelf, and I did that one day and saw the The Joy of Gay Sex. Right away from the title, I thought, “What is this? What does the library have here?” There’s not a lot of joy in this lifestyle. Many have died from this lifestyle. I don’t see what is joyful about that kind of death and suffering.

So I looked inside of it to see. It was my civil duty to do that, because obviously others did not do that. So I looked at it.

I agree completely with the woman who came up here speaking about this being a matter of promiscuity. If this was a book The Joy of Heterosexual Sex, with explicit pictures, I would have said the same thing – it has no place on our library shelves. You may not think it is pornography but to the next person it may be. Why should we put at risk other people who have a predisposition?

Pornography is very addictive. I don’t know if anyone has been paying attention, but pornography is a real problem in this country – it is all over the internet, and many people are addicted to it. It’s not a wholesome thing – it can’t be. It leads to all kinds of other problems that affect many others not directly afflicted.

We are not talking about apples here. People are not addicted to apples or what is wholesome. But there are people addicted to pornography; they’re not addicted to macramé. I don’t think that’s a problem. It’s not a common issue in the US or around the world that lots of people are addicted to macramé. But pornography is a problem.

CB: OK. Thank you, Mr. Cohen.

[End of comments.]

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