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"It's a tiny little book, but they want to burn it like a witch"

June 17, 2009

A teen book burns at the stake

Christian rights group joins library fray


The Christian Civil Liberties Union is suing the West Bend Community Library for refusing to remove Francesca Lia Block's young-adult novel Baby Be-Bop from its shelves. The plaintiffs claim that the book is "explicitly vulgar, racial (sic?), and anti-Christian." The lawsuit comes fresh on the heels of the library board's unanimous vote to oppose a plan to move all young adult novels that address gay and lesbian issues to the adult section. 

The School Library Journal describes Baby Be-Bop as: 

 

A prequel to the popular books about Weetzie Bat and her circle of quirky friends and relatives. This novel is about her best pal, Dirk, in his pre-Weetzie days. He's in high school, living with Grandma Fifi and struggling with how to come out to his best friend and soulmate. Although Dirk never does tell Pup he's gay, Pup feels the sexual tension between them: 'I love you, Dirk,' Pup said. 'But I can't handle it.' In reaction, Dirk takes to slam dancing in punk joints. When a gang of gay bashers beats him up, he drags himself home and passes out. While he's unconscious, long-dead relatives he's never known come to him in what seem to be dreams; when he wakes in the hospital, he realizes that his grandmother has been telling him stories. Out of her comforting words about how others in his family have insisted on being themselves, his battered brain fashions hopeful hallucinations, including one of his future lover. His visions assure him that 'There was love waiting; love would come,'... Gay teens in particular need this book.


The plaintiffs (none of whom are teenagers) claimed that the book's presence on the library's shelves caused damage to their mental and emotional well-being. According to their complaint: 

“The average person, applying community standards, would find appeals to the prurient interest if taken as a whole.”

“Under contemporary community standards, describes or shows sexual conduct in a patently offensive way.”

“Lacks serious literary, artistic, political, educational or scientific value, if taken as a whole.” 

Sign up for Francesca Lia Block's women's writing workshops or just buy a book or three.

Also, maybe drop the folks at the West Bend Community Memorial Library a little thank-you e-mail. 

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