Wednesday, July 11, 2007

What’s Appropriate for a Library?

Commentary in Response to Opposition to Stonewall Library’s Gay & Lesbian Collection & Archives Relocation to “ArtSpace” Library in Fort Lauderdale

What would you think of literature that described a man and a woman unashamedly walking around outdoors in the nude? What would you think of a short story about a man who claims that his wife is really his sister and then “gives” her to a king to marry in exchange for a major dowry? How about a tale of two sisters who seduce their own father? Or a horrible account of a young woman who was stalked and attacked by someone who claimed to love her? What of a story about a young widow who disguises herself as a prostitute and seduces her father-in-law?

You may find these stories offensive and you might take exception to them being available in a library that benefits from public funds, but that means that you will not want the Holy Bible to be housed in the hypothetical library in question.

You see, the stories mentioned above all come from the biblical book of Genesis. They are the stories of the primordial couple in Eden (Genesis 2.25), Abraham and Sarah traveling through Egypt (12.10-20), Lot and his daughters after the destruction of Sodom (19.30-36), the attack of Dinah (34.1-8), and Tamar setting a trap for Judah (38.13-18). There are other stories in the bible that could cause eyebrows to rise, including an eight chapter erotic love poem (the Song of Songs), and a story we celebrate every Christmas about a virgin who somehow conceived a child!

When religious people call for censorship of materials that are “sexually explicit,” one must wonder what bible they are reading. People are free to support censorship if they so choose, but I do wish they wouldn’t blame their views on that earthy, saucy book we call the bible.

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