Saturday, October 10, 2009

Nudist, Cover Thyself?

I don't often disagree with my friend, The Academic Naturist, but I have an issue with his post today "Free Book? Rejected!"

After donating a copy of the TNS book "The World's Best Nude Beaches and Resorts" to his local library, someone told him that they would put it in the adult section. After a time he received a call telling him that the library decided not to accept the book after all.
As we picked it up, we were told that "it's a really good informative book, but we don't have a place for it." In other words, they don't want to put it in the travel section and don't want to make an adult section.
Since 1948, the Library Bill of Rights has "guided the philosophy of the freedom and professionalism of libraries in democratic societies." [source]

Number one on the list is "Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation. In other words, libraries should not act as censors. Number three on the list decrees that libraries should challenge censorship, not impose it.

From someone who wrote the call to arms "Guerrilla Naturism" post of a couple of weeks ago, it comes as a surprise to me that The Academic Naturist is willing to take a copy of the TNS book and actually block out all the nudity in order to appease some prudish librarian.
The answer is that we need to bite the bullet and censor ourselves to get past the firewall of society. It's fine to have uncensored books and DVD's for naturist consumers, but it's also a good idea to have censored versions as well just in case they are required by non-naturist consumers.
Sorry, but this is completely wrongheaded. The answer is to work with organizations like the Naturist Action Committee and the ACLU to get this book placed in the library, not to roll over and cave in to censorship. The book is from a reputable publisher, it's informative, and it's 100% legal, so it belongs in a public library where people have the right to choose their reading materials.

Yes, in some instances, nudists need to cover up. TAN suggests that TNS produce a brochure which contains no nudity for public tourist information centers, and I see no harm in that, although these centers might toss them away simply due to the nudist text content. And aside from some instances of protest and civil disobedience, nobody is suggesting that people break any anti-nudity laws.

I have two versions of this blog, one with nudity, and one without, but this is because my blogs are hosted on Google, a company which has its own standards and terms, and can basically shut down any blog for whatever reason it deems necessary. Facebook recently banned images of mothers breastfeeding their children, and although protest was widespread and very vocal against such action, the censorship remains. When dealing within the bureaucracy of private enterprise, nudists and naturists need to adapt.

But libraries were created to serve the public under the First Amendment. Americans have the freedom to read or view whatever they want within the law. The ACLU has a web page here to protect free speech in films, books, music, and online.
Each year, the American Library Association's (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom receives hundreds of reports on books and other materials that were "challenged" (their removal from school or library shelves was requested). The ALA estimates the number represents only about a quarter of the actual challenges. "Most Challenged" titles include the popular Harry Potter series of fantasy books for children by J.K. Rowling. The series drew complaints from parents and others who believe the books promote witchcraft to children. [source]
On the library issue, nudists and naturists need to stand up and fight, and not succumb to censorship. I hope The Academic Naturist can get the NAC or the ACLU to help him fight for his right to read naturist materials at his public library.

UPDATE: The Academic Naturist has updated his post to say that he is going to fight the library's censorship with the help of the Naturist Action Committee. Way to go!

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Paul Rapoport said...

The most encouraging part of The Academic Naturist's engaging report on this is the last paragraph, where, he explains, with NAC's support, he intends to fight the library's censorship.

Of course it's necessary to do some things you don't want to do to get other things done. Wearing clothes in general society is an example. Stephen Gough is a good (bad) example of how to stay naked all the time, win a battle or two, and lose the war.

Each type of case needs its own evaluation. Sometimes I agree that information with no nudity is a good idea. In other situations it falsifies naturism.

If censorship isn't needed, it's a bad idea, and the more of it there is in one place, the worse it gets. Lee Baxandall used to refer to faux nudity in the matter of hiding body parts, which the media are rather good at. If it happens rarely, it may not matter. When it becomes policy, it matters a great deal.

I agree that a library is no place for censorship, only managing its materials properly. I hope Academic Naturist and others continue to take TNS's book to libraries.

Physical censorship with black bars, pixellation, etc. provides the ironic result of often drawing more attention to body parts than there would be without it. It also often ruins an image, violates the original intent, and in a paternalistically moralistic fashion is supremely presumptuous and condescending to viewers.

Nudiarist said...

There is something obvious which has eluded the conversation up to this point - people who are offended by photos of nude people in a nudist publication are not the intended readership anyway. Censoring or deleting such images only undermines the foundation of nudist and naturist philosophies. If you cannot stand by your principles, you have none.

Brian said...

On that wavelength, can we get a copy of this great book on anal sex I saw at a porn shop? Libraries don't have to carry every book under the sun. There wouldn't be space if they did.

Has anyone thought, for even a second, "maybe they really don't have a use for it."? Academic Naturist blames it on nudity, but without quotations, we don't know if nudity is the actual issue or his assumptions (note that quotes are used immediately preceding).

Did Academic Naturist peruse the aisles in search of art, anthropology, or sexual books featuring nudity? How about a racy copy of National Geographic? He makes no mention, even though that action is the only way to confirm or deny censorship of the library.

What I see here is a group of people willing to blindly attack anyone who doesn't accept their mentalities as being correct. I've seen it in other comments recently and I'm seeing it now.

Nudiarist said...

Brian, you are wrong, it's the librarian who is opposing the book based upon his or her "mentalities" deeming it to be incorrect. Of course, libraries cannot carry every book in existence, but a public library exists to serve the community, and when a book is donated, or when someone requests a book, it's the librarian's mission to accept it, or make an attempt to find it.

The mere fact that someone in the community donated the book is reason enough to conclude that the book is of interest to the community.

There must be a compelling reason for any library to refuse to carry a specific book, and the reverse is also true. If someone complains about a book, there has to be a substantial reason for removing it from the shelves, or placing it in adults only section.

At the Ohio State University, you can go into any branch and request any book, and if it exists in any of their locations, they will get it for you.

And we are not talking about "pornography" here - we're talking naturism, which is a legal and accepted lifestyle. Nude recreation is booming worldwide, and there are officially sanctioned public areas for the practice of nude sunbathing, such as Haulover Beach in Miami.

I simply do not understand why anyone would argue FOR censorship, except perhaps in the most extreme cases, and a book on nude beaches, which is carried in libraries all over the country, including the Library of Congress, should not be excluded. It's informative, it's from a reputable publisher, and it's perfectly legal.

Academic Naturist said...

@Brian -- There is NO book on naturism in the Southwest Wisconsin Library System ( Yes, there are other art books with nudity, but not many. I have yet to find one in my hometown library.

This could be why they denied the book, but it's a very lame reason. They have shelves beyond the reach of children, and other libraries with adult books that they could send it to.

I pointed out the fact that there are no books on naturism in their system, and am dealing with the lady in charge this time.

Lastly, Brian, I've seen books on anal sex at Borders, and not in any private room or anything.