Evangelist: If Alan Moore isn’t porno, what is?

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Even as our previous story on the Jessamine County Library LoEG controversy was getting Boing Boinged — on Alan Moore’s birthday no less — and stirring up a whole new round of observations, events were heating up at a library board meeting, as reported by Amy Wilson. And this time, we even got the money shot of an evangelist angrily holding up a comic and yelling “If this is not pornography, what is?”

The library board heard speakers — limited to two minutes each — on both sides of the case, which involves two library workers who felt that LOEG: BLACK DOSSIER should not fall into the hands of an 11-year-old girl and took it upon themselves to remove the book from circulation, thereby violating library policy and getting themselves fired. Although the traveling evangelist, a homeschooling mother and over 200 kids who signed a petition begging for books to be censored all seemed to think that others should decide what they can read, the other half of the speakers felt, as Bobbi Stout, herself the daughter of a preacher, that “It’s dangerous to democracy when an interest group imposes its views on another,” she said. “Stand up for the Constitution.”

A petition was also introduced calling for four works to be removed from the library

on the grounds that they “offended me in that they depict sexual acts and/or describe such acts in a way that in my opinion are contrary to the Jessamine County public opinion” of what should be in a public, taxpayer-supported collection. The petition concluded the works constituted a public safety issue in that they encourage sexual predators.

You may be surprised by the list of four works:
• The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier, by Alan Moore, graphic novel
• Snuff, by Chuck Palahniuk, adult fiction
• Choke (based on a novel by Chuck Palahniuk), DVD
• Ron White: You Can’t Fix Stupid, DVD

It’s fairly obvious that Alan Moore, Kevin O’Neill and Chuck Palahniuk are trying to subvert public morals and ennoble kiddie fiddlers everywhere, but what about stand-up comic Ron White? According to the IMDb page for the DVD this is a typical joke:

I think because of the unrest in the Middle East, we’re all becoming more aware of the globe. I found out the other day there really is a place called Bumfuk, Egypt. And the only way to get there is to go up Shit Creek.

White is known to hang out with popular “blue collar” comedians like Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy, so his ascent into the same pantheon of perverts as Alan Moore is deeply troubling for this country.

The upshot, as in past library uproars over controversial works, is that the Jessamine County library board will consider whether to change their policy — which is similar to library policies nationwide:

For those under age 18 to get a library card, parents must sign the application. The library considers parents responsible for what children and teens check out; librarians do not have discretion to refuse to loan items.

Although fist-shaking Earl Lee Watts resembles many bad dreams of “A New Wertham” come to life, a grassroots teabag-style protest against naughty graphic novels has never gotten much traction. Perhaps it because folks just don’t know what’s in those graphic novels: according to the story, at the meeting, Pastor DeWayne Brewer “warned that if the Bible ever went into graphic novel form, the banning committee would have something to really fret about” a statement which must have made W. W. Norton’s publicists very, very sad.

Bonus: WKYT has two news videos. one covering the original story and a second with footage from the library hearing.



  1. Jesse Post says:

    What’s most interesting to me in this case is not that some people believe moral censorship is a good thing (not much of a shocker — it happens every day), but that this is getting as much traction and news hype as it is.

    The work in question passes the “literary merit” test established by the Howl case with flying colors, despite that being a ridiculously subjective test. By any measure anywhere, this particular book has educational, cultural, and critical intent that makes its sexual content not pornographic by definition.

    Mind you, I would be on the side of the art no matter what the content, but this particular case is a no-contest for even conservative pro-censorship types. So what the heck are they yelling about?

  2. Sex /= pornography.

  3. “…two library workers who felt that LOEG: BLACK DOSSIER should not fall into the hands of an 11-year-old girl and took it upon themselves to remove the book from circulation…”

    Sorry to nitpick the reportage here, but I really wish folks would characterize this more accurately–something like:

    “…two library workers who felt that LOEG: BLACK DOSSIER should not be read by anyone of any age, and used their positions in the library to permanently remove it from circulation. Their actions were found out when an 11-year-old girl placed a hold on the book.”

    The “won’t someone think of the children!?” thing comes waaaay after the fact here and is only becoming the central issue because these two women have made it such in order to paint themselves in a more favorable light. It’s a total red herring.

  4. I wish someone, at the time, told me not to read Black Dossier.

  5. Kate Fitzsimons says:

    I’m all for free speech, but on a frivolous level, I have to say that I can’t imagine why anyone would *want* to read Black Dossier. And I say this as someone who loves all the other volumes of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

  6. Synsidar says:

    At the ALA’s 2009 annual conference, there was a program devoted to graphic novels and censorship. Speakers included Charles Brownstein of the CBLDF, Neil Gaiman, BLANKETS creator Craig Thompson, and Terry Moore. Gaiman on the power of images:

    Gaiman agreed about the primacy of the visuals. “You’re dealing with raw images,” he said, “and images have power.” He maintained that he couldn’t have created his celebrated Sandman series in prose; “it wouldn’t have had that power.” Remarking on the collaborative nature of the medium, Gaiman said, “A comics script is a letter to the artist; it’s a blueprint to the artist. That’s why I still love comics. I cannot read my prose with pleasure, but I can read my comics with pleasure.” [. . .]

    Gaiman cautoned, “As a bookseller or a librarian, you have to be aware of what’s on your shelves” and be careful not to put the adult material with the kids’ comics. It’s at the point where people cross barriers and put things into peoples’ hands that shouldn’t be there “that explosions happen,” he warned.

    In a separate post, there’s a video of The Perks of Being a Wallflower author Stephen Chbosky making a “visceral” argument about the dangers of censorship. Greg Landgraf wrote:

    It’s one of the most powerful arguments I’ve seen for keeping a book available—an utterly visceral approach to intellectual freedom, rather than a, well, intellectual one.

  7. Terry says:

    Gotta agree with Ben Towle. These two bulletheads removed the book entirely from circulation. It wasn’t about them protecting the children.

  8. Fun Gnome says:

    If we leave it up to old ladies to tell us what’s what, we’ll all be forced into knitting concentration camps and have chips put in all of our cars to prevent us from driving faster than 20mph below the speed limit. Then we’ll be forced to sit on Obama’s Life Panels which would require us to do everything possible to keep our geriatric overlords (overladies?) alive no matter what the cost.

    I must now put a Hitler mustache on a picture of my grandmother and march on washington.

    (the above was brought to you today by the makers of Jokes(TM) and the fine people at Humour, Inc.)

  9. Alan Coil says:

    Redneck humor is now porn.

  10. Alan Coil says:

    “…a grassroots teabag-style protest against naughty graphic novels has never gotten much traction. Perhaps it because folks just don’t know what’s in those graphic novels…”

    Perhaps it’s because those folks can’t read.

    Yeah, cheap shot, but I’m fed up with stupid people.

  11. Who in the hell cares.

  12. aMeta4 says:

    They had me at “Censor Ron White”.

  13. Lokes says:

    Pastor DeWayne Brewer “warned that if the Bible ever went into graphic novel form, the banning committee would have something to really fret about”

    Sorry Pastor, Bob Crumb already did that. And man, I’m so tempted to get a copy of his graphic novel of the Book of Genesis and donate it to the Jessamine County Library.

  14. ~chris says:

    > “It’s dangerous to democracy when an interest group imposes its views on another,”

    Actually, in a democracy, an interest group of 50% + 1 of the voters (or the representatives they elect) can impose its views on everyone else. Which is why I’d prefer to live in a constitutional republic, where the government is blocked by the Constitution from taking away the rights of a minority. Ah, if only there were such a government….

    “Stand up for the Constitution.”

    That’s better.

    “a grassroots teabag-style protest”

    What do these protestors, who want to take others’ rights away, have to do with the Boston Tea Party protestors, who wanted the right to be free from “taxation without representation.” *scratches head*

  15. Jesse Post says:

    Totally off topic but I’m surprised to see I’m in the minority of people who LOVED the Black Dossier! I guess I just forgot to talk to people about it but I assumed everyone felt the same. Far and away my favorite of the series, kind of like a coda or epilogue in the middle of things that sums up what the meaning is behind all the action in the other volumes.

    But maybe I only think that because there were more boobies and dirty rhyming couplets.

  16. See, these people know whats what. Jesus hated books. He spent all his time hating books. He was not a person interested in healing the sick or in feeding the hungry. These were not priorities. The utter eradication of arbitrary squiggles of ink on a otherwise useful roll of papyrus, now THAT was a priority for the son of god.

    He also hated language. It’s all there in the bible, people, you just have to read it, or don’t, wait, because, which it is a sin for you, to read, devil, because it was written. The lord works in mysterious ways.

  17. jim b. says:

    Phil, you cracked me up! I love Alan Moore, but Black Dossier, what a let down!

  18. Ajillo says:

    I believe those people might have a heart attack if they ever see R. Crumbs Graphic Novel of the bible…

  19. Torsten Adair says:

    Ah… those angry teabaggers!

    The teabag protest is a modern version of the Boston Tea Party. Protestors angry at taxation policy mail a tea bag to a specific elected official.

    There’s some … not in polite company… material in the Bible. One can watch the Passion of the Christ if one is sadomasochistic and gets their jollies from such fare.

    Personally, I’ve been worried about this sort of thing ever since the Jack the Ripper storyline in Hellblazer (c.1996).

    As the public’s perception of the media matures, I hope we will see less of this sort of thing. Nobody raises a ruckus over R-rated DVDs in libraries, so maybe the same thing will happen with comics.

  20. Note to self:

    1) Donate a few dozen copies of LA MUSE to libraries in Middle America.

    2) Find some fruit-bat worker at one of these places and point out to her that LA MUSE contains a naked orgy scene involving the heroine and over a dozen neo-NAZIs.

    3) When Fruit-Bat pulls the book from circulation, get someone else to complain, create a fuss building to a media controversy.

    4) Sell 10,000 more copies of LA MUSE.

    Hey, this funny-book business is easy!

  21. ~chris says:

    That razz icon isn’t as razzy as I’d like it to be.

  22. Fun Gnome- Overladies? Thanks, I’ll be swiping that one!

  23. Alan Moore doesn’t make pornography, he makes magic. I love this video clip of him claiming to be a magician:

  24. Phil and Jim (and others who didn’t like Black Dossier); I believe that people who didn’t like Black Dossier didn’t like it because it wasn’t the straight narrative that the previous two LOEG were, nor did most people get all of the nudge, nudge, wink, wink things Moore and O’Neil were doing. I didn’t get everything they were doing either, but I enjoyed it for its ambitions and Alan Moore’s wordplay. In an interview when Moore first talked about Black Dossier he said it would be a source book, but also said that most source books were crap so Black Dossier would have a narrative, albeit a nonconventional narrative.

    However one feels about Black Dossier, like Moore’s Promethea, it was not crafted on the quick and does reward readers who are willing to spend some quality time with it.

  25. Bibliotecario says:

    As a librarian, this is a pretty cut and dry case. The ALA (American Library Association) has a very clearly defined standard of rights and practices. It is exactly these articles that define why I believe in my job so very much. It is not our job to decide for you what to think. We merely give you the tools, and let you (i.e. ANYBODY) decide for themselves. You must present photo ID in Massachusetts to get a library card. Parents are responsible for their children. It’s as simple as that.
    There are books I hate, (Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin) but I circulate them happily. The First Amendment, the most important thing about this country, is a serious matter, and libraries embody the greatest expression of that conceit. I guarantee that the library in question has “Mein Kampf”, the autobiography of arguably the most evil person to have walked the planet. Make your own damn mind up.

  26. Tommy Raiko says:

    “As the public’s perception of the media matures, I hope we will see less of this sort of thing. Nobody raises a ruckus over R-rated DVDs in libraries, so maybe the same thing will happen with comics.”


    Kids free to check out R-rated movies at library (Albuquerque, NM)
    Kids Get R-Rated Movies at the Library (North Liberty, IA)
    Library investigation (Boston, MA)

    Maybe there are fewer publicized incidents of library brouhahas related to R-rated movies vs. comics, but it’s not as if they never happen, and it’s surely not beyond imagination to think similar incidents will happen again in some library related to any kind of item–be it prose books, graphic novels, music recordings, movies, web access, or anything else within the scope of a public library.

  27. “Who in the hell cares.”

    should read

    “Who in the hell cares?”

    It’s funny, but I just saw an outstanding student production of Fahrenheit 451. It’s amazing how much of it has come true, and it all started with statements like the above. If you haven’t read that book, do so. If you have, read it again, then give your copy to someone who hasn’t, then bay more copies, and give them out for Christmas. I only pray we are not to late.

  28. Alan Coil says:

    I would suggest people “buy” more copies, not “bay” more copies. And it may be “too” late.

  29. …but at least you care, typos and all.

  30. Kate Fitzsimons says:

    Alternately, Ralph, maybe some of us understood the references, but still didn’t particularly enjoy the book.

  31. Someone needs to hep this guy to LOST GIRLS

  32. R.Crumb did a graphic novel Bible..maybe this same line of thinking could be applied to try to remove all of the Bibles from public circulation..honestly this story is sad..


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