08 September 2008

Wedding Crashers in Colorado

Last week I received snapshots of one of my college roommates getting married to his boyfriend of several years in a small ceremony in in San Francisco. They had to travel to California from Illinois because only some states protect any couple's access to marriage. (Congratulations, Charles and Eric!)

On the same day, I received a press release about a challenge to one library's copy of Uncle Bobby's Wedding, by Sarah S. Brannen. I learned about this book last year when I introduced Sarah at the first Belmont Children's Picture Book Festival. It's about a little girl (guinea pig) worried that she'll lose the company of her favorite uncle (guinea pig) when he gets married (to another guinea pig).

Because both the guinea pigs getting married wear tuxedos, it's obvious that they're both male. (It's also obvious that tuxedos don't flatter an adult guinea pig's figure. Going in another direction, Charles and Eric appear to have been the most casually dressed people at their own wedding.) And the sight of two males getting married has been enough to produce...two challenges to the Douglas County Libraries, centered in Castle Rock, Colorado.

Librarian Jamie LaRue addressed his patrons' concerns in two thoughtful letters, which he also posted on his blog. The first attracted many comments, most of them complimentary and some not--which LaRue again answered politely and thoughtfully.

LaRue is also author of The New Inquisition, a book for librarians on how to consider and respond to patron challenges like this. Deb Price's column, printed in the Madison, Wisconsin, Capital Times, characterizes LaRue's attitude this way:

Through his decades as a librarian, LaRue has come to believe that censorship attempts are usually rooted in parental grief at the prospect of losing control over their children's world.
Or control over their children an autonomous thinkers.

One of the most vituperative commenters, I see, has been blocked from Wikipedia for incivility, inability to compromise, and creating a "sock puppet" pseudonym. Not surprisingly, his issue then was the same as his issue now: objections to any sign that American society is becoming more open to gay couples.

On LaRue's blog that commenter offered imaginary children's books on marijuana smoking and prostitution as false analogies to Uncle Bobby's Wedding. LaRue's replies were impressive in how well he understood how kids might see those issues if their parents or other beloved relatives were involved. The commenter clearly didn't care about young readers thinking.

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