Friday, May 22, 2009

A Response

So I thought that I would add this exchange to the blog.  I think that it sums up the argument pretty well in West Bend.  This comes from the "I Support Intellectual Freedom and the West Bend (WI) Public Library facebook page.  Thus far it is my best response to the comment.  I have erased the commenters name because I did not ask permission to use their words, but they can be found at the facebook page.  What follows are his remarks-
"Do most of you supporters even live in West Bend? Probably not. Well me & my wife do & we do not want our 10 year old child to be able to read a book that describes explicit sexual acts. This is not a gay issue. This is not a book banning issue. It is a moral issue. We do not want the books banned. We just want them moved from the young adult scetion to the adult section. Why is that such a problem? A person under 18 would not be able to buy a playboy from the corner gas station. Why should they be able to check out a book that describes in explicit detail oral sexual acts? Who has even read any of these books? I can tell you some of them are bad because i have read one just to see for myself. Reality check here - What parent out there thinks it is morally right for a child to be able to see or read pornography? Would you want your child too? These are not books just discussing gay feelings. These are books describing pornographic material. Wake up!!!!!"

This is my response.  While it is a response to the commenter is a greater response to the whole of West Bend.  It reads as follows.-  Ya there are a few spelling errors but I was pretty tired writing it, no excuse but I'm a history major, I read a lot more books then I write.

Thanks for writing in. You bring up some valid points. You are right this is not a gay issue or a book banning. Moral issue though, interesting point. Is this a moral issue and if so who morals. You seem like a level headed parent trying your best for your child. This is commendable especially during times like we live were the divorce rates are skyrocketing and more children then ever grow up fatherless. What we need right now are parents who care for their children's well being and are engaging with their children, this is a good thing. The one issue in your argument that I would disagree with is the pornography. Comparing these books in question to playboys is quite right. A playboy or other pornographic material is use to create artificial arousal. Now I'm sure which book in particular you read but after viewing most of them I found nothing I would call pornographic. Yes there was one book that showed the male and female genatilia however that was a book dealing with puberty. I believe when teaching children about puberty it is helpful to show pictures in order for them to see how their bodies are changing. This is a natural occurrence that happens to everyone between the ages of 10 to 14. I believe this is why the books were placed in the young adult section, because it directly deals with issues that young adults are going through. They are going through some scary changes and sometimes it can be awkward for young adults to speak to even a trusted adult about these issues. Sometimes at least knowing other people have gone through these issues can help them. Reading a book with a character that deals with this issues at school can help them relate and not feel like they are "bad" because they are thinking about the opposite sex more. Now does reading about sex mean they are going to act on those thoughts? No of coarse not. West Bend raises some smart kids and they listen to their parents. I think the Daily News just came outwith an article stating less children are experimenting with drugs and alcohol. Schools should take some credit for that but a lot of that must go to parents as well. Keep talking parents, your kids will listen, but remember to give the whole story. Abstinence is a great option and one I think should be encouraged, but safe sex is important to teach about too. Tell your children about condoms, where babies come from, and homosexuality. You will be surprised how much they can handle and understand, and how it really is not a big deal. You are right to be concerned for your child's safety and I think that it is great that you went out and did your own research on these books. I may disagree with you that the book is pornographic but I can see we have common ground. What this group is about is about parents stepping up. If you don't want your child checking out books, go with them to the library. Engage them in discussion about what they are reading and what they think about it.Question why would an author who was writing a book geared towards young adults write about a sexual encounter or fantasy. Is it moving the story line along, does it add to a life experience, is it something the character wonders about, does it present a moral dilemma for the character? Author don't put anything into their stories that don't do one of these things. The act must lead to something, look for the deeper meaning. I believe that we do not give the children of West Bend enough credit at times. They are good kids who know right from wrong. They have strong moral backgrounds and stand up for what they believe in. They have strong parents who teach them moral behavior. I can say these things for certain because I am a product of West Bend. I was born and raised here in her elementary, middle and high schools I was taught great life lessons. From my parents and my Church I have learned right from wrong. But most importantly I have learn to stand up for what I believe.I believe in West Bend. I believe in her people. I believe in her library and that it is a proud institution striving to present all sides of an argument tastefully and gracefully. Homosexually issues, First Amendment Rights, Morals issues these are important things, but this group is not only about them, it is about all of them and more. The people in this group do not support porn they support the freedom for parents to do their jobs. They support the freedom for the library to give access to books of all ideas to all people. And so I want to thank you for taking time to read these books and care for your child. Because it is the parents of West Bend who raise the children of West Bend. And I believe in the children of West Bend. They continue to become smarter then the previous generation and continue to strive for excellence. They are the future and deserve to know what happens in this world because they are the ones who will change it for the well being of all.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

More Event Information

Hello everyone, so after a few discussions we have decided to keep the Regner portion of the Read-In.  On Friday the library closes at 6pm.  Afterwards I encourage everyone who was able to participate to join us in marching to Regner Park for a group picknic.  It will be bring your own food.  If you would like to bring something to share that would be great.  Also I would like to encourage everyone who lives close enough to the library to ride their bike.  I think that would help save parking spaces and would be a fun way to get to the library, remember to wear a helmet if you do.  I have sent a letter into the Washington County Newspaper so look for that news to come.  Can not wait to see you all May 29th.  

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

To Whom It May Concern:


            My name is Jacob Jurss.  Over the past few months I have been following the events occurring at the West Bend Community Memorial Library over several controversial books.  The debate thus far has appeared to be very civil and while I disagree with the complaint made I can understand their reasoning to an extent.  However, in the past few weeks I feel that this has escalated with the addition of a lawsuit and the threat “destroying the book,” as one group has stated. 

            In pursuit of gaining more understand of the situation I came across a website on the social networking group called facebook.  Here I found friends of the library trying to sign petitions and show their unending support for the library.  I posted a suggestion of a community library sit-in to show support for the library, support for those who were rejected from the library council and for banned books in general.

The support that I have received has been amazing.  People have really warmed up to this idea and are willing to come and show their support.  So far the facebook group has generated great interests among many citizens of West Bend.  I also wanted to alert the county newspaper to our plans and give those who do not have a facebook a chance to come and join us.

            We believe that books should be open and accessible to all people regardless of what is contained between the pages.  We believe that personal and parent guidance is preferred method of choosing reading material for minors.  We believe that regardless of personal beliefs on homosexual, or political leanings that all books should be available to everyone in the public protected under the first amendment of free speech and under the ideal that all have the freedom to pursue knowledge.  In short we believe that responsibility for what children read falls on the parents, knowledge should be available to all that seek it, and that “banned books” allow people to start important discussions about life and who we are.

            As a proud resident of West Bend, a student of its elementary, middle and high school and now a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I can say that I am proud that my library gave me the chance to read and expand my mind.  In order to protect future generation’s rights to do so I propose the following:

            I. I call for the people and students of West Bend to join me in supporting our right to read controversial books on May 29th, 2009.  We plan to march from the corner of Oak and 5th ave to the library around 3 o’clock.

            II. Once at the library we hope for those who have not yet checked out a book to do so and to join us in sitting and reading books, especially those that the controversy has been fought over and any book that has been challenged in the last 100 years in the United States. 

            III. While those reading in the library will be silent, as this is a library, we have reserved a room in the library large enough for approximately 30 people to listen to a discussion on the books being challenged and the history of banned books in general. 

            IV. For more information regarding this event community members are encouraged to check the facebook site at and at and the new blog page Opening Books Opening Minds found at

            I encourage everyone to come and join us for book fun on May 29th.  Again this is meant to be a peaceful way for community members to express they support for our community library.  While this may have started in response to certain events in our small town I believe it is important to realize that this is not the first time that books have been banned.  This is a celebration of those books as well.  I encourage people to explore banned book websites such as  This is by no means the only website.  The easiest way to find these books is a search on the Internet for banned or challenged books. 

            I thank all of you already for your support and I look forward to seeing and discussing these books with you on the 29th.  Yours in peace,

                                                            Jake Jurss