02 September 2008

“She’s an Intrusion. She’s an Embarrassment to Us.”

As sex education becomes a presidential-campaign issue, we might be seeing the end of an individual's attempt at public censorship of that subject in Lewiston, Maine.

A year ago, a woman name JoAn Karkos got upset about Robie H. Harris and Michael Emberly's It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex & Sexual Health being in public libraries where adolescents might actually benefit from it. She explained her choice to "take action against this book" in a letter to the Sun Journal--without actually explaining what action she'd chosen.

It was up to the Portland Press Herald to report what Karkos had done. She'd borrowed copies of It's Perfectly Normal from two libraries and refused to return them. Instead, she sent each library a check for $20.95, enough to buy a new copy of the book, though not enough to cover the cost of processing it for library circulation.

For a while, Karkos discovered, librarians can stand on principle as firmly as library patrons--especially if the law is on their side. They took her into court. Last week the Sun Journal also noted:

After Karkos' actions were picked up by the media, the library received eight copies of the sexual education book from people around the country, including parents and concerned educators, Speer said.

The book has circulated 48 times over the past 13 years, Speer said. Karkos is the only Lewiston resident to formally complain about the book, he said.
And she did so only after receiving an alert from the American Life League, a Catholic-based group which crusades against abortion, birth control, euthenasia, and imaginary subliminal references to sex in Disney movies.

But on Friday Karkos proved that she can be more irrationally stubborn than civic government. Again from the Sun Journal:
Karkos will not be ordered to jail for violating a judge's orders. The city will not continue trying to wrest from her a copy of "It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex and Sexual Health."

There will be no national debate drawn to Lewiston based on the arrest of a 64-year-old grandmother.

City leaders believe they made the right choice by choosing to drop the matter. Karkos, they say, still has to pay a $100 fine and cannot return to the library until she does so. . . .

Some critics felt Karkos should be ordered to jail after refusing to turn the book over upon instruction from a judge at a court hearing Wednesday.

Bennett, however, said that proceeding with that kind of legal action would have accomplished nothing. Putting the matter to rest, he said, is in the best interest of the city. It saves money that would need to be spent to pursue the case in court, he said, and will keep Lewiston from becoming the epicenter of the debate over decency in publications. . . .

"They just said, 'Get that lady away from us. She is an intrusion. She is an embarrassment to us,'" Karkos said.
Yes, she is.

1 comment:

Jay said...

I bet that book isn't as graphic at showing nude human bodies and describing sex as "Boys Are Boys And Girls Are Girls..."

I could see my mom doing that...