- August 2023
I've lived in the state of Washington for over 20 years, but I'd never heard of a town called Dayton. Now I can't forget it.
The Seattle Times reports the "one-stoplight farming community" in Washington's southeastern corner is home to the only library in Columbia County. Voters this November might shut that library down.
I'm sure I don't have to tell you why. But I'm going to.
About a year ago, parent Jessica Ruffcorn spotted a book called "What's the T?" on display in the young adult section. Ruffcorn and a few others objected to this teen guide on all things trans as being "not age appropriate." Then more offerings for children and young adults drew their ire, books on consent and race. They wanted them moved; the library director, then the library board, declined.
So Ruffcorn and friends started going to the monthly board meetings, which suddenly became better attended than the county fair. Ruffcorn accused the library director of being "a groomer," writing on Facebook that he "invites vulnerable children to the library as a safe space."
Ruffcorn changed her Facebook cover photo to these words: "Let men be masculine again. Let women be feminine again. Let kids be innocent again."
That's what they're dealing with in Dayton, a bully hot to inflict her gingham-and-ruffles worldview.
The library director resigned. His interim replacement moved all young adult nonfiction books to the adult section, but that didn't pacify Ruffcorn, whose hit list swelled to 165 books, all dealing with gender, sexuality or race.
Ruffcorn went full scorched earth, asking for the resignation of the library board chair and for the library to withdraw from the Washington and American Library associations. And she secured enough signatures to put the survival of the library on the ballot.
If voters side with her, the library in Dayton would be the first in the nation to close because of a brouhaha over which books are on the shelves. Not exactly a bragging point for the state of Washington.
Ruffcorn has opposition, and the Times story presents the women leading it. Deb Fortner is a fourth-generation wheat farmer who prefers to "live under a rock." But when even she heard about the library battle, she decided to download "What's the T?" and listened to it over two days as she drove her John Deere combine, reaping and threshing and winnowing.
"It was a lovely book," said Fortner. "There is nothing offensive in that book."
People like Ruffcorn make it easy to dismiss rural Washingtonians as rubes. I know better, but I needed Fortner to remind me. May Fortner and her allies reap what they sow in November.
And may Ruffcorn get plowed under.
As usual during June, the Rancho Peñasquitos branch of the San Diego Public Library created a special Pride display of its LGBTQ offerings.
But then criminal elements staged—cue the dramatic music—a booknapping. Two locals emailed the branch manager to say they had checked out nearly all the books and wouldn't return them unless the library removed this "inappropriate content."
Okay, it's hardly the Lindbergh kidnapping, but it does underscore how emboldened and obnoxious the conservative book-banners have become.
However, they didn't win the day. Following a newspaper account of the hostage-taking, the library began receiving new copies of the purloined publications, and people donated $15,000 to San Diego's public library system. The city plans to match these funds, which will go toward LGBTQ materials and programming, including—cue the Cher tune—drag queen story hours.
As if this ending to the story wasn't ignominious enough, the book burglars returned the tomes they took. They were willing to anger the queer community, but clearly pissing off a bunch of librarians was just too scary.
- June 2023
I'm on vacation! First time in years. So you won't hear from me this week.
If you find yourself missing my voice, you can always snag a copy of my humorous memoir, "Fun With Fred: Life With OCD and Hoarding," at Amazon, B&N or Bookshop.org. I sincerely appreciate all purchases, and general spreading of the word.
See ya soon.
Something occurred to me concerning the folks who are so riled up over Drag Queen Story Hour: Why haven't they offered to read to children themselves?
Many an embittered queer would answer, Because they can't read. But I know that isn't true, and I think these stalwarts of family values are ignoring a great opportunity.
Just think how kids would react as red-blooded American males manfully read aloud from such classics as "Harold and the Non-Gay Purple Crayon," "Uncurious George," "Where the Wild Things Better Not Be" and "Horton Hears a Howitzer!"
- May 2023
- November 2022
Let's talk about Facebook. Briefly. I can't take much, either.
I don't pretend to understand why the social-media behemoth chooses to place some of the posts on my General Gayety page before thousands of people, while others receive an audience of two. All I know is very few folks saw a recent post about my new book, and I can't have that.
My memoir is called "Fun With Fred: Life With OCD and Hoarding." It's available at Amazon and IngramSpark, and if you like General Gayety, chances are you'll enjoy this honest and funny take on living with wretched mental disorders.
And in the event Facebook will only amplify posts that contain trending words, well, here: Taylor Swift. Donald Trump. Prince Harry. World Cup. Nancy Pelosi. Inflation. Plant-based. Abortion. Philadelphia Eagles. Nothingburger.
- April 2022
- March 2022
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