This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Wednesday, January 26, 1994

January 26, 1994 - CHILD

My maternal grandfather was a free-thinker. In an overwhelmingly Republican county, he was a Democrat. In a town with a church on almost every corner, he was an agnostic.

It was a puzzlement to him that his youngest son turned out to be both a Republican and an Episcopalian.

My Uncle Bill is about the straightest-laced, most conservative member of my entire family. On the surface, he and I don't seem very much alike. He keeps his hair very short. Uncle Bill is the sort of man that even when he's not working, wears his company badge. His idea of "casual" is "T-shirt with wingtips." No matter: he has always been my favorite uncle.

We had dinner together recently. After the main course, we got to talking about the surprises of raising children. My Uncle Bill said something that should be memorized by everyone who thinks that he or she might one day reproduce.

He said, "You spend all your adult life as a parent trying to teach your children to think for themselves, and the minute they do, you wonder where you failed."

See why he's my favorite uncle?

Uncle Bill understands something many people -- conservative and liberal alike -- do not. There comes a time when your child is no longer a child. And at that point, the wise parent ... lets go. As painful as it is. Knowing that there WILL be mistakes.

This insight is something some people just never get. Here's an example: the "Coalition Helping to Insure Laws for Dignity," or "CHILD."

CHILD is a "conservative" group that is sponsoring a proposal for yet another Colorado constitutional amendment. They hope it will be on the ballot in the fall of 1994. If the Colorado Legislature votes it down, we'll probably see a petition drive. In brief, they want to toughen up Colorado's "obscenity" law.

Why? Well, that's a good question. The only literature I've seen from the group to date is a flier that claims Colorado is one of only two states that cannot "protect" its citizens against "the distribution of illegal obscenity." They also claim that "... most scientists who have performed research in the area have concluded that hardcore pornography leads to violence against both women and children, as well as sexual harassment in the workplace and the continuing treatment of women as second class citizens in our society."

The trouble is, both of those claims are lies. As we've seen in Douglas County, citizens are more than able to "protect" themselves from pornography collectively through zoning laws. Individually, they have another popular option: they can choose not to buy it.

I thought conservatives believed in LESS governmental interference in our private lives. Why do we need a new constitutional amendment?

But it's the second claim that worries me, and many other librarians. It happens that I've looked at some of the research on pornography myself. Guess what? "Most scientists" haven't been able to establish any link between pornography and sexual crimes at all, much less "the continuing treatment of women as second class citizens." (Just how many men are supposed to be reading this stuff, anyway?)

The insulting premise of this proposed constitutional amendment is that "the book made me do it." Let's think about that for a minute. If you enjoy reading about football, will you become a quarterback? If you like to read mysteries, are you destined to kill someone?

But suppose someone believed that reading mysteries was "harmful," and you just weren't mature enough to decide for yourself which books you could handle? Suppose that the law determined that even though you considered yourself a grown-up, in fact you were a CHILD, and that you needed to be "protected" from your own poor judgment?

As always, the question isn't "What IS hardcore pornography?" or even "What's offensive?" The real question is, "Who decides?" The proposed "obscenity amendment" isn't about "dignity" -- it's about control.

If you believe that we should put to popular vote the notion that the adult citizens of Colorado need additional protection against books no one is making them read in the first place, then I urge you to support the CHILD constitutional amendment.

Or perhaps you agree with my Uncle Bill that at some point you're old enough to make up your own mind -- even if other adults may not like your choices. And if so, I urge you instead to tell your state representative or senator that you do not wish to be treated like a CHILD.

In either case, do it soon. The CHILD proposal should be surfacing in the Colorado legislature in the next few weeks.

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