• The Hub

    News, Notes, Talk

    Library minds own business as anti-gay pedophile self-destructs—some thoughts.

    Janet Manley

    March 14, 2023, 11:13am

    A man so upset by the Pride programming at his local libraries that he felt moved to graffiti “GROOMERS” onto the windows has been charged with possession of child pornography, the Washington Post reports.

    Article continues below

    The man, Charles M. Sutherland, vandalized two branches in Maryland’s Prince George’s County, after “expressing his disdain for the LGBTQ Community and the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System.”

    This is a sad crime, and it’s hard to really enjoy the fine irony of an alleged pedophile accusing his local library—the place that lends you cake pans and snow shoes—of somehow “grooming” children via copies of In The Night Kitchen and shelves of Jodi Picoult novels. But here we are: Libraries and children’s books have been targets of right-wingers recently, and throughout history, for reasons both obvious and ridiculous.

    Fascistic regimes do like to censor Ideas, to better control the population’s thought process, but the notion that books discussing the infinite universe of human experience (from witchcraft to being a given place on the gender spectrum) are somehow part of a liberal agenda to radicalize and/or abuse children is… strange? It seems that those with the most to fear from books are those who haven’t quite got the skills to read them critically. I like to imagine that when I leaf through a book I don’t automatically internalize its secret messages without considering them (how I survived A Little Life).

    Many years ago, while I was on the slush pile, I got to read some truly unhinged letters to the publisher from the populace, including one accusing John Steinbeck of being a pervert and The Grapes of Wrath of being too fixated on testicles. You can’t make it up! People are angry you forgot to list the pear in the recipe for the upside-down cake, they’re angry you got the name of the plant wrong, they want you to know that there is a typo on page 389 of that novel, and they didn’t like The Potato Factory. This is fine! The thing about libraries is that your tiny peanut brain must acknowledge, upon entering, that you do not know everything. There are gaps in your knowledge system! Books don’t even read the same way on multiple reads, so important is the role of you, the reader, in interpreting the text.

    Article continues below

    A bit pathetic, but is there a book that might have held something for this messed up dude? In the entire canon, I have to think yes. Alas.

    [via Washington Post]

  • Become a Lit Hub Supporting Member: Because Books Matter

    For the past decade, Literary Hub has brought you the best of the book world for free—no paywall. But our future relies on you. In return for a donation, you’ll get an ad-free reading experience, exclusive editors’ picks, book giveaways, and our coveted Joan Didion Lit Hub tote bag. Most importantly, you’ll keep independent book coverage alive and thriving on the internet.

    x