Francesca Lia Block Under Fire
By Jessanne Collins
Take Baby Be-Bop, the 1997 installment of Block’s legendary Weetzie Bat young adult series, which chronicles the coming out -- complete with gay-bashing -- of a teenage character. Twelve years after its publication its been named in a claim against the city of West Bend, Wisc., by four members of the Milwaukee-area Christian Civil Liberties Union (CCLU). Calling the book “explicitly vulgar, racial, and anti-Christian,” “the complainants seek the right to publicly burn or destroy by another means the library’s copy of Baby Be-Bop. The claim also demands $120,000 in compensatory damages ($30,000 per plaintiff) for being exposed to the book in a library display, and the resignation of West Bend Mayor Kristine Deiss for ‘allow[ing] this book to be viewed by the public.’”
Let’s break that down. A group of grown-ups want to rally around a burning trash can, remove an elected public official from office, and pocket $30,000 public dollars a piece because they were “exposed” to a decade-old story the American Library Association called “[A] gift to young people who have known since they could remember that they too wanted -- and deserved -- love” as if it were asbestos.
Never mind the time and money the city will have to waste fighting such a juvenile, selfish, and regressive claim. (Last week library trustees unanimously rejected another complaint against certain YA titles deemed “biased, gay-affirming, promotional and romanticized” after more than a thousand local people signed a petition against restricting library materials.) Think for a second of what, in addition to Caribbean cruises and remodeled kitchens, the CCLU members are really demanding -- their comfort, material and otherwise, in exchange for that of the young people that need it most.
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