6/3/09

15 Minutes of Stupid: Is It Over At Last?

Maziarka Rampage Stalls With Library Board's Unanimous Decision to Protect Free Speech

Ginny Maziarka has made it her one-woman mission to rid the West Bend, Wisconsin public library of materials she finds offensive. Unfortunately, those materials, placed in the Young Adult (YA) section of the library, the intended audience for which are ages 12-18, are sometimes going to be the only lifeline for GLBT youth questioning their identities and seeking out information or a way to connect with others like themselves have in suburban settings and out-of-the-gay-Mecca backwaters.

Maziarka, a married mother who lives West Bend, a town of about 30,000 people located 40 miles northwest of Milwaukee, has stretched her dubious fifteen minutes of fame well beyond its moment in time. Her website touts her adoration of both Donald Wildmon and the Wisconsin Family Council.

She has divided her community and come to them a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Pretending the issue is not GLBT-related as she stated in an early television interview, but somehow a matter of pornography filling the YA section of the library like so much H1N1 Virus, which sent parents into unnecessary panic. Unfortunately, a number of people bought her story hook, line, and sinker. After going on a personal witch hunt against the library board which included publishing their home addresses online, several were replaced.

After initially filing complaints and being told by the board that her complaints did not meet the level of requiring any decision-making outside of the local library staff itself, Maziarka went on a rampage – collecting names on petitions, holding community meetings, and dividing the town into free speech or censorship-supporting camps. Her modified stance was the books should be placed out of sight of the YA section (rendering them effectively censored and banned – I don’t know many queer-questioning youth who would out themselves to go up to the librarian and ask for the books in question). Oh, and her little petition also wanted tradition-based counterpoints available to any GLBT materials written by ex-gays or others of their ilk.

Well, good people of West Bend, your library board has spoken – unanimously. The books will not be removed or relocated. Their stance was clear – parents need to monitor their children’s reading and the public will have full and fair access to information. I believe that is what a library is for. Right on. And thanks to concerned citizens like Maria Hanrahan, who formed West Bend Parents for Free Speech, and saw through Maziarka’s subterfuge. She and others like her had the courage to stand up to Maziarka’s insidious ruse and fought the good fight for the GLBT youth of West Bend and for the community itself by ensuring books and information remain accessible to everyone who wants or needs them.

Maziarka appears to me to be so caught up in the ego-gratification and attention this issue has brought to her that she has lost sight of the fact the case law has repeatedly made clear the issues surrounding the protections afforded libraries and more specifically those afforded to us all in the form of free speech. Those protections are needed because of people like Maziarka. Those who insist on having a hand in doing the job I should do as a parent. And those who insist that they have some kind of right to tell me what information should be available to me as a citizen and to my children.

1Co 10:12  So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!


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