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Meddlesome Busybodies Attack Again

Are there any busybodies more meddlesome than religious meddlesome busybodies? Okay, maybe political busybodies like those college students last year, but they’re both insufferable for the rest of us who just want to go about our business without fanatics trying to run our world.

Kind Reader sent this article about a group of “concerned Christians” in Texas who are petitioning the library and city to stop displaying any books they deem immoral, in this case LGBT themed books that the library displayed last June, a month that apparently “was recognized by the American Library Association as LGBT book month,” because why not.

It’s always been my suspicion that declaring months to celebrate marginalized groups creates a excuse for everyone to ignore them the rest of the year, but I’m cynical like that.

The inevitable response: “Concerned Christian Citizens has a petition that calls for library and city officials to ‘refrain in both policy and practice from further advocacy regarding sexual and moral issues and practices.’”

In response to this petition from meddlesome busybodies, the Interim City Manager claims the city is actually “working on developing a library display policy and hopes to have the policy in place early this year,” because who better to decide what books to display in the library than people who don’t work in the library, and what better public policy than to let a few fanatics run things for everyone else.

The “president” of this busybody group, which as far as I know consists of just him, undermines the goal of the petition a bit with this argument:

“If you’re going to put up a display that suggests to our kids that they need to support this lifestyle that goes against what we’re trying to teach them, why don’t you put up a display that gives the counter position of how to get out of this disruptive, confusing and immoral lifestyle?”

So putting up displays about LGBT issues is fine as long as the library also put out some books for people who want to “pray away the gay,” and other dubious activities that resemble the anti-vaxxing movement but for Christian reactionaries.

A local LGBT activist argues for the displays: “When they have displays for religious holidays, they don’t have displays for the non-religious folks. If they’re going to allow one side, they have to allow all sides on every display, not just picking and choosing…. Since the government is representing all the citizens and we are all taxpayers, we should all be represented.”

Based on the logic that “both sides” should be represented, no matter how silly one of the sides is, the library could adopt that policy for everything.

Putting out books for Christmas? Throw in some Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens books on how stupid it is to be religious or believe in God. Problem solved!

That’s probably exactly the sort of thing the meddlesome busybodies would like,right? If you put out books showing Christians enjoying Christmas, you have to put out other books showing people how to get out of that disruptive, confusing, and immoral lifestyle, especially if it involves Christmas dinner with cranky relatives who want you to pray away the gay.

The “concerned citizen” claims that it’s just the display, not the books in the library that bothers him. “There are enough books in the library to offend anybody. We were not objecting to that.”

Anybody who’s paid attention to these sorts of situations knows that they’re not objecting to that…for now.

How could anyone who’s already proven himself to be a meddlesome busybody trying to impose his religion on everyone else NOT object to the library containing books about a “disruptive, confusing and immoral lifestyle”?


If you’re not offended by the books in the library, why be offended by the books in a display? There’s no significant difference.

Caving in to meddlesome busybodies on one issue is the thin end of the wedge.

First, a small minority stops librarians from putting up displays they want. Then they protest the existence in the library of books they disagree with. If they win that battle, the next thing you know they impose their own religious law on the entire city and everyone who disagrees with them is put in a concentration camp and forced to read anti-gay books.

Okay, that last one is probably extreme, but meddlesome busybodies are stopped from being extreme only by the good sense of the people who stand up to them.

The simple answer is, if you don’t like book displays, ignore them. 

As for trying to make your religious beliefs into public policy, that’s the sort of thing meddlesome busybodies like the Taliban like to do. They wouldn’t like LGBT books in libraries either. The only difference is the violence, and the willingness of most Americans to separate church and state. 



  1. Peter Ward says:

    What standing does a protest based on a religious conviction have on the practices of a governmental and secular agency such as a public library? None. We are a politically secular nation. The display is relevant to an important segment of our country. In cases like this the Constitution trumps the Bible.

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