[Published in the Elmira Star-Gazette, Dec. 1, 2019]
To the editor:
Congratulations to Steele Library for its presentation of the “Frozen Themed Drag Queen Story Time.” Dozens of kids and adults had a great time Nov. 14 despite the efforts of Chemung County legislator Joe Brennan to spoil the fun.
The library is where stories are celebrated. Some of these are in books on the shelves, and some are presented through story times and activities. Very often, the best books are ones that challenge you, make you feel uncomfortable and question your worldview.
Books with characters like Harry Potter, Huckleberry Finn, Holden Caufield, Celie, Scout, Jem, Piggy and even Junie B. Jones have been often denounced as inappropriate for children. “George” about a transgendered child and “And Tango Makes Three” about two gay penguins who form a family are available through the Chemung County Library District.
A book on a shelf that one person calls inappropriate or dangerous may also be the book that heals the pain and brings inner peace to someone else. So, who are we to choose for others which books to read, which stories to hear? If anyone does not want to read a book or go to a story time, they don’t have to. If a parent does not want their child to read a book or go to story time, they can control that. But who are we to choose for other parents which programs to take their kids to?
The point is that the library keeps the options open for readers/users to make their choices. Joe Brennan would take the choice away from you.
Without libraries that resist censorship, our freedom of speech and press would be in jeopardy. What good is it to write a book not available to the public? Or what good is a book if it cannot be preserved for future generations? What good is it to tell a story no one will hear?
When Joe Brennan uses his position as an elected official to attack our fellow residents of Horseheads, Big Flats and Chemung County, he defends himself by saying the voters “know where I stand.”
The residents of the Fourth District should remember Joe Brennan’s intolerance.
Ed Bond, of Horseheads, ran against Joe Brennan in the 2018 election