The cuss police


Listen Up! Just because you’ve designated yourself Chief of the Mifflin County Cuss Police, that doesn’t give you the right to take out library books, use your thick tip, permanent, Sharpie marker and cross out all the swear books throughout the ENTIRE book. Oh no, not just a few but EVERY single cuss word. I guess I should be happy that you read the whole book, but I am furious that YOU think you have the right to deface property that belongs to all county residents. Now we are forced to spend money to replace the book you destroyed.

It isn’t as if this were some esoteric title that isn’t likely to circulate often. Oh no, this book was less than six months old and has circulated four times in five months.

Did you not realize that a permanent marker would bleed through the page and black out not only the swear word but also the word on the other side of the page? This just adds insult to injury, buddy.

If you have an objection to a book, come talk to me. We have a formal procedure to address your concern. But no, you couldn’t be bothered to do that and took it upon yourself to police everyone’s reading habits with your self-appointed, sanctimonious judgement.

You could have just stopped reading the book if it offended you. No one can force you to read anything you don’t want to read, or that you disagree with. Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “Do not think you are going to conceal thoughts by concealing evidence that they ever existed.”

Do you really think blacking out words that offended you had any lasting impact? You ruined one book that had a print run in the millions and is available in hardcover, paperback, e-book, e-audio, and on MP3 and CD. We will reorder the book and make it available for circulation again. The downloadable version can be placed on hold right now. If you have Amazon Audible, you can listen to it for free.

I wrote the above before Christmas and decided to reflect about what I’d written. I have been known to change my mind a time or two. Now the holiday is over and I read what I’d written, thinking, “I surely can’t be as angry as when I wrote about the situation in the first place.” OH YES I AM! I’m upset because this incident has more far reaching implications than a ruined book.

Libraries are built on the foundation of ACCESS TO INFORMATION. Not just what I or you believe, but on the wealth, depth, and breadth of knowledge and opinion. We try our very best not to censor our selections, but rather to have a collection of many topics and fiction genres. We don’t tell you what you can and can’t read. If you self-censor your reading, that is your business; but don’t you dare try to be the censor for a whole community.

You don’t like cuss words, fine. Don’t read those types of books. We will help you find material that you deem appropriate for yourself. I will always defend your right to read what you select, but please take your “policing” elsewhere.

Like the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz, you chose to be passive-aggressive when expressing your opinion. Don’t you have the conviction of your beliefs? Why not use the tools available to you to express your objection to the book? We don’t have to agree. In fact, we would probably agree to disagree, respectfully, of course. You, however, do not, by yourself get to set a community standard, based solely on your belief.

Well, now I’ve blown off steam, gotten on my soapbox, and elevated my blood pressure. You, on the other hand, probably shook your head, chuckled and thought, “She’s at it again.” And, guess what? It’s tax season again. No, we cannot give tax advice. Sigh!


Molly S. Kinney is the director at the Mifflin County Library. She is currently reading “After Anna,” by Lisa Scottoline.

“Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.” — P.J. O’Rourke


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