by Scott Schaefer 
Travis De Nevers, a longtime local resident, is upset with the King County Library System after discovering that his 10-year old niece was allowed to check-out a sexually-explicit anime book from the White Center Library.
De Nevers told The B-Town Blog that his niece, a “huge anime fan,” checked out several of those Japanese books earlier this week, like she usually does.
“We were having dinner when I just started looking through her books,” he said. “The first thing I noticed on one was a ‘Parental Advisory’ sticker. I then opened the book and couldn’t believe what I saw inside.”
What he saw was explicit anime drawings of two men having what he describes as “rather violent” sex in a book called “Hero-Heel 2 ” by Makoto Tateno , a Japanese author, images from which are below (EDITOR’S NOTE: we have censored some of the images and language from scanned pages below; click images to see larger versions):
“What is a book like that doing in a public library anyways?” De Nevers said. “If you want that kind of content go to Google or the Internet. Kids shouldn’t be able to check out explicit, adult content like this at public facility.”
De Nevers adds that he’s not just upset that his niece was able to check the book out, but that the King County Library System is actually carrying explicit books like this that may appeal to kids – with no apparent filter to keep children from finding and checking them out.
“What also sickens me is that people are going to the library to read this kind of content?” he said. “An anime comic book section is where people go to read porn? Around kids? There is no good coming from this being in our library.”
De Nevers wants to point out that he isn’t advocating censorship – he merely wants the library to not allow children access to “adult content.”
“I am asking that you review your check-out practices and make the changes necessary to prevent it,” he wrote in a letter (see below).
Sex, profanity, and racism remain the primary categories of objections, and most occur in schools and school libraries.
Frequently, challenges are motivated by the desire to protect children. While the intent is commendable, this method of protection contains hazards far greater than exposure to the “evil” against which it is leveled.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, in Texas v. Johnson, said, “If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the Government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.”
Individuals may restrict what they themselves or their children read, but they must not call on governmental or public agencies to prevent others from reading or seeing that material.
We tried to contact KCLS Director Bill Ptacek, as well as KCLS Board Member and Burien councilmember Lucy Krakowiak, but neither has yet responded (if and when they do, we’ll update this post).
“Parents and guardians are responsible for their children’s behavior, safety and welfare while their children are in the library or on library grounds, which includes their children’s access to library materials and electronic resources.” (emphasis ours)
De Nevers wrote the following letter to KCLS Director Bill Ptacek, which he also cc’d to Dow Constantine and KCLS Board President Jim Wigfall:
Dear Mr. Bill Ptacek:
I want you to know about a very disturbing experience. On October 9th, my mother drove my niece to the White Center library. She is 10 years old and an avid reader of anime books. She went into the library as my mother waited outside in the car. My niece returned with an armload of anime books.
Several evenings later, I was reading with my niece and picked up one of the books, The cover looked similar to the other books she had except this one had a restriction for content. The message on the outside cover says, “For Mature Audiences 18+” and “Parental Advisory Explicit Content”. Believe me those labels are accurate. There is violent and explicit sexual material; see the attached copies of pages.
How can it be that a young girl can check-out this book? Why would it even be located in a place where children would have easy access to it? It was by chance that I happened to pick up the book from a pile of her library books and noticed the label.
I do not want this to happen again to my niece or other children. I am asking that you review your check-out practices and make the changes necessary to prevent it. Please send me a response detailing your steps to correct this serious situation.
Travis R. De Nevers
- We searched to find any specific policy that addresses children’s ability to access “adult content” on the KCLS website, but could find none. All we discovered was language in their “Internet Filtering Policy” (download it here , PDF file) that appears to block adult/mature content from those under 17-years old – but for Internet use only:
“UNDER 17 PLUS” FILTER
Library cards for all patrons under the age of 17 are set to the default filtering level of “UNDER 17 PLUS.” The following filter categories of information are blocked for patrons with the “UNDER 17 PLUS” filter: adult/mature content, child pornography, malicious outbound data/botnets, malicious sources, nudity, pornography, phishing, potentially unwanted software, proxy avoidance and violence/hate/racism.
- De Nevers told us that the “Parental Advisory” sticker on this book’s cover appeared to be placed there by the publisher – not the King County Library System.
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