April 20, 2023
Common Sense: Library Sophistry
By: Brent Regan
Children are born with an amazing capacity for learning. Through observation, exploration and mimicry infants are able to decode human behavior. By age two, most have begun to understand that certain noises relate to certain concepts and that by uttering those sounds in a specific sequence they can begin to control their environment. Mastering the complex mechanics of speech is done completely through iterative trial and error.
Despite their impressive autodidact talents, young children lack the ability to differentiate between reality and fantasy. The belief that there is a monster under the bed is indistinguishable from an actual monster under the bed. If they imagine themselves to be a dinosaur then they are a dinosaur, until they’re not.
This, coupled with a child’s physical vulnerability means that it is imperative for parents to help guide and protect the child through early development. Fortunately most children have an innate apprehension of the unfamiliar. This manifests as shyness and serves to protect the child from dangers. Parents often reinforce this shyness by admonishing the child not to “take candy from strangers” or warn them of “stranger danger.”
As parents, we are faced with the task of educating our children about their own physicality. Families that live on farms are presented with examples of reproductive acts which the parents must rationally explain to the curious child. Fortunately the mechanics of reproduction are fairly simple and easy for even a child to comprehend. But this is a tiny fraction of the vast complexities that compose human emotional and physical relationships.
If a child has mastered counting to ten, that does not mean they are ready to be instructed about differential calculus and attempting to do so would cause great confusion and frustration. Similarly, understanding the mechanics of reproduction is practical at a far younger age then any discussion about the full spectrum of human relations and gender.
At what pace should a child’s knowledge advance? There is no general consensus among “experts” because development rates vary considerably within the group. The best available resource for a particular child is the people who know them best, their parents. It is the parent’s responsibility to shepherd the child through their development period until they have the cognitive skills to deal with such a complex topic.
A child’s psyche is fragile and easily damaged by frightening, violent or explicit sexual images. A friend describes how as a child they went to see “The Wizard of Oz” and was traumatized by the Flying Monkeys to the extent that they had nightmares for months after.
One of the critical indicators that a child has been the victim of sexual abuse is when the child has knowledge of sexual acts beyond their years. It is often the child’s expression of this knowledge, in word or action that alerts parents, guardians, or teachers that the child has been victimized in some way.
For these reasons it is imperative that parents, and only parents, control the rate and degree to which their children are subjected to adult materials. There is no valid reason to introduce children to adult materials before they are sufficiently emotionally developed to process them and it is the parents that should have the best information about their child’s development.
Recent awareness about the influx of materials that deal with adult sexuality in the children’s sections of libraries has sparked concern and debate. Books dealing with LGBTQ+ issues, crossdressing, rape, incest, transgenderism are freely available for browsing without age restriction.
The majority of the current Community Library Network Board defends this policy claiming that not having those books on the shelves would be illegal, or that because 2% of the community identifies as LTGBQ then 2% of the books should deal with LGBTQ issues, or that it is a child’s First Amendment right to be exposed to adult material, or that it is also available on the internet, or that moving them to the adult section would be “Banning Books.”
All these claims are sophistry and identical to the arguments used by pedophiles to justify grooming their victims.
It is absolutely legal for a library to decide which books to purchase. Only the Library of Congress has every book, so not purchasing a book is not “banning” that book.
The claim that the percentage of books about a certain topic should reflect the percentage in the community is idiotic. 100% of people eat so should 100% of the books deal with food? 65% drink alcohol so should 65% of the books be about drinking? Obviously not.
The first job of government, and by extension our public libraries, is to defend and protect the citizens. Traumatizing children violates that prime directive.
As for the argument that it can be found freely on the internet, if true then there is no reason to also pay to have it in our libraries.
Children are humanity’s most precious resource. They literally are the future. For this reason alone it is imperative that we protect their innocence and not expose them to adult materials before they are psychologically equipped to deal with them. Put those books in the adult section where they belong. The children’s section of our libraries should be a safe place and not a mine field of psychological trauma.
It’s just common sense.