Last week, Florida’s Brevard County Public Library made the decision to yank the controversial mommy porn book Fifty Shades Of Grey off its shelves. Nineteen copies were ordered, but after a perusal of online reviews, all were placed in a permanent holding pattern, denying scores of women and even a few men the right to take in its racy content. Some local citizens have objected, while others have praised the censoring. A spokesman for the library itself released a statement saying the organization isn’t in the business of collecting porn.
Now, in almost all ways I can think of, this decision has no implication on my life. I’m not a mommy. I’ll never be a mommy, and I know plenty of better places to get porn. I don’t live in Brevard County. I don’t know anyone who lives in Brevard County, and I can’t even envision a scenario in which I’d find myself a) in that part of Florida and b) frequenting the local library. Malaysia could ban Almond Joys, a candy bar I despise, and it would probably affect my day-to-day activities more, but that doesn’t mean I’m not madder than hell.
When I first heard about this story, reported in a Jacksonville Paper, I assumed almost everyone would share my sentiment. After all, most of us saw Field Of Dreams and smiled as Amy Madigan tore that book burner a new one, but as it turns out, people only seem to get hot-and-bothered when so-called high art is banned. Whenever The Catcher In The Rye gets axed by a school board, a strong contingent of people jump up and down and cry foul, but if it’s mommy porn, it’s apparently funny or not worth taking seriously. Well, that’s hypocritical, wrong and ultimately counterintuitive to our collective best interest.
50 Shades Of Grey has every right to exist on public library shelves because it’s a book people want to read. It doesn’t matter if those people tend to be fifty-year-old women with kids. Their rights are worth protecting just as much as anyone else’s. It’s because we willingly look the other way and allow censorship like this that library systems have the balls to ban other, more critically acclaimed books.
Allow me to quote from the American Library Assocation’s “Freedom To Read Statement”…
There is no place in our society for efforts to coerce the taste of others, to confine adults to the reading matter deemed suitable for adolescents, or to inhibit the efforts of writers to achieve artistic expression.
That wisdom should apply to everything, no matter who the intended audience is, and there’s no excuse for forgetting that. I will never read Fifty Shades Of Grey, but if you want to, be my guest. Go for it. Walk into your local library and check out a copy. If they tell you it’s been pulled for your own good, write a letter to your local paper and cry foul. I’ll gladly stand behind you, and any other sensible person should too.