i want to be the frank zappa of librarians.

This list is interesting, if flawed, but what I really enjoyed reading was Tony Buchsbaum’s hijacking of the thread to talk about rating books, censorship, and everyone’s favorite topic,  thinking of the children.

I’m going to shoot my mouth off here and say that I don’t believe that people use ratings. I think they either ignore them completely, or obey them without question. I don’t believe that anyone stops to consider the nuances of TV 14 LV, or R, or any of those well-meaning Tipper Gorey ratings labels. I can’t imagine the discussions of whether ’tis more damaging for a child to see a breast or to see an act of violence.

I have a theory that kids can more easily process sex, violence, and other heavy issues when they are reading. When you are reading, the sex is only as sexy as your imagination can make it; the gore is only as gory as your personal frame of reference. If you keep your ten year old from watching Saw XXVIIV and other films like it, and you lock down the soft-core on the cable, you have a fairly good chance of managing the scope of your child’s frame of reference for quite a while. Yes, your kid will still hear lots and lots of violent and sexy talk from the world at large, and perhaps even hear some sung, but if he doesn’t have a catalog of Tarantino images to draw from in his mind, the worst he can imagine is the worst he can imagine.

Words on a page and words set to a beat are just that–words. Until you give them power, they are powerless. Until you flesh them out, they are only as much or as little as your mind chooses to make of them.

If I were a parent, I’d let my kids read whatever they wanted, and imagine what they could. And what they couldn’t? Well, I can only hope they’d come talk to me about it.

2 responses to “i want to be the frank zappa of librarians.”

  1. It’s interesting, because I think most people believe the opposite–that books are more dangerous than movies/TV. Maybe they wouldn’t say so, but that’s what their actions say. People will FREAK OUT over mild descriptions of sex in a YA book when the equivalent scene in a PG-13 movie aimed at teens doesn’t even raise eyebrows. Maybe it’s the idea that those books are in schools and libraries, and people think those ought to be “safe” zones–unlike our homes, which are real life, so it doesn’t matter so much that a zillion women are raped on TV every year.


    1. That’s a good point about how people see libraries and schools as “safe” zones. I think it ties in to the idea of in loco parentis to a certain extent. Librarians aren’t supposed to act as parents, and yet many people want librarians and teachers to do just that.


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