Today, I attended a meeting at the Carbondale library regarding pornographic manga books that are stocked on the lower shelves at the Silt Library and are available to anyone of any age, even though they have red labels indicating their sexual content and “Parental Advisory WARNING Explicit Content” on the book covers.
While some people were emotional about the easy access to books that show sexual abuse of minors, other people were very emotional about limits to First Amendment rights. Many people in the audience have never seen these books, and, apparently, some people think the First Amendment allows anyone to say whatever they want wherever they want.
According to U.S. laws, however, “A few narrow categories of speech are not protected from government restrictions. The main such categories are incitement, defamation, fraud, obscenity, CHILD PORNOGRAPHY, threats and fighting words.” (Brandenburg v. Ohio 1969)
For example, speech urging a mob to attack a building is against the law. Defamatory lies (libel if written and slander if spoken) may be punished. Material depicting children engaging in sex or being naked in a sexually suggestive context is called child pornography.
I have seen these books, and they do include sado-masochistic treatment of adolescents, gang rape with objects, graphic crotch shots, and violent abusive dialogue.
What I want to know is who requested these books, who bought these books, who approved these books being stocked at these libraries, and why? Who wants to promote this in our society? The First Amendment does not protect child pornography. Apparently some educated adults don’t know this.
Roxanne Bank, Carbondale
After seeing Ms. O’Grady’s letter to the editor in The Sopris Sun a few weeks ago, I wanted to learn more about the issue of restricting access to the “Prison School” series, so I read the first two of the six books. This was my first experience with the manga style. Although rather risque, there is, in fact, a legitimate storyline about a private high school with underlying references to aspects of Japanese culture.
It is a story about teen peer pressure, bullying, tolerance of individual differences, conflict management and team collaboration efforts toward a common goal. Most of the characters are totally believable, with the glaring exception of one brazen student. Her appearance and behavior are so outrageous, so exaggerated, that she is clearly a caricature, a satire of female sexuality — not to be taken seriously. To me, she is merely a distraction from the story that has been categorized as “adult fare.”
The issue of discussing restricted access to this series (and potentially other books deemed unsuitable by a few folks in the extended community) has come to the forefront because we all care about the development of our children into responsible, resilient, perceptive and considerate adults. Many of us do differ on the strategies we support to raise such children, however. The question at hand is, should any public library or governance body have the authority to restrict who has access to which reading material?
One of the purposes of a public library is to collect literature that reflects the vast variation of human existence, and to share that literature with those who wish to better understand the people who live in situations that may be unfamiliar. Those people have faces, emotions, needs and experiences that are worthy of sharing. Local libraries are supposed to be a safe haven for the free exchange of ideas and materials that facilitate intellectual freedom, creativity and critical thinking.
I certainly support a parent’s right to decide what their own children read. The freedom of choice to avoid certain materials that one does not approve of is just as important as the freedom of choice to have access to such materials. I cannot support parents who try to control the decisions that other parents make for their own children.
When parents give permission for their children to get a library card, the preferred strategy to address concerns is for parents to take responsibility and establish guidance for their own children’s library choices. It is NOT the role of a librarian to evaluate a child’s emotional maturity, or to know each child’s family restrictions.
Most importantly, restricting access to public library materials in any way is a slippery slope to further restriction and even book banning.
I am looking forward to open-minded discourse and level-headed consideration that the ethical/moral standards of the few should not — indeed, CANNOT — dictate the personal choices of the entire community.
Sue Zislis, Carbondale
On behalf of the Town of Basalt, we would like to thank everyone for making our inaugural year of Wednesday night free concerts at the new Basalt River Park a glowing success. We saw not only hometown crowds, but our friends and neighbors from around the Valley coming to enjoy our gorgeous setting, vibrant downtown, and incredible entertainment. Plus, you all helped raise significant funds for local nonprofits at each show.
We are grateful for the kindness and support you showed our team as we faced a learning curve on how to best host these events. You supported many local nonprofit organizations at each concert who were able to gain meaningful contributions from concession sales including: Educational Pathway Innovation Center, Bristlecone Arts, Andy Zanca Youth Empowerment Program, the Jack Raife Memorial Fund at AspenOut, Roaring Fork Pony Club, Blue Lake Preschool, Basalt Education Foundation, Roaring Fork United Soccer, Smiling Goat Ranch, the PreCollegiate program, The Art Base, Roaring Fork Conservancy, ABOR Stark King and Bill Heldman Scholarship Fund, and Challenge America.
The joy and excitement of seeing our friends and neighbors gather and truly enjoy Basalt was palpable, and it was incredible to see our town transform into a beloved destination for people across the Valley to visit weekly.
We were fortunate to have business sponsors ensuring these events came to fruition, including Woody Creek Distillers, Slifer Smith & Frampton, Myers & Company Metals, Bay Equity, Paragon, FirstBank, Z Group Architects, Free Range, Heather’s, Bull & Buck, Jalisco, Jimbo’s Liquors, Alpine Bank, Guayaki Yerba Mate, El Korita, Derron Cloud State Farm, Basalt Chamber of Commerce, and The Aspen Times.
We look forward to a future of great festivities and can’t wait to see you dancing to the great music at the bandshell!
Basalt Planning Director
The Schubert Mini Fest on Sept. 9 and 10 was very special. Violinist MinTze Wu, originally from Taiwan but now a resident of Carbondale, gathered other Aspen Music Festival-caliber classical musicians from the Roaring Fork Valley and beyond. Listening to them perform Schubert in the Old Thompson Barn at RVR while looking at Mt. Sopris was as good as it gets. Thank you, MinTze. We are fortunate to have you in our community.
Greg and Kathy Feinsinger
A gift to Carbondale
MinTze Wu is to classical music in Carbondale what Leonard Bernstein was to the nation with his Young People’s Concerts on television in the late 1950s and ‘60s. As she showed in her Garden Music Series Schubert Mini Fest, sponsored by VOICES and Carbondale Arts, last weekend at the Old Thompson Barn, classical music can be fun and interesting.
MinTze, who immigrated from Taiwan and moved to Carbondale in 2018 (having been exposed to the Roaring Fork Valley at the Aspen Music Festival in the ‘90s), is not only an accomplished violinist, but an enthusiastic storyteller. This was evidenced by her involvement in Death of the Pugilist at the Orchard and Wetlands at Thunder River Theatre.
At the Schubert Mini Fest, the music of 19th century Austrian composer Franz Schubert was interspersed with dialogue from narrator Michael Schoepe and his proper Teutonic accent. And Schoepe sang a few Schubert tunes as well.
Each day’s show was four hours long, with an hour and fifteen-minute break for a picnic, but the time flew by. At the end of a Schubert piano quintet, MinTze let out with a whoop, just like a rock star after an inspiring electric guitar riff. Adding to the family atmosphere was a visit from MinTze’s charming family from Taiwan.
Fred Malo Jr., Carbondale
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