Friday, February 18, 2011

Dennis Taylor Book Banner Responds to a Writer Who Criticizes Banning Books

From Dennis Taylor, book banner, Beford NH, after receiving the 1st Quarter Dick Cheney Award for Corporate Malevolence:
Thank you for your spineless analysis of my fight to prevent my children from reading pornography in Bedford, NH. Not only do I know that such reading is wrong for my son, I know that it is fundamentally morally wrong to give graphic descriptions of oral sex to fifteen year olds. Do you have a moral compass with regards to the age at which your child may read or see pornography? If you do not, you are nearly the equivalent of a child molester--someone who would sex up a child at any age. If you do have such a compass, you and I aare on the same page, but we may disagree as the age. As far as the award, I would like to speak to your group at the award ceremony and am willing to debate any of you at such an event.

Dennis Taylor
Bedford, NH
* * *
You're welcome, Dennis.

In answer to your questions:

I do, indeed, have a moral compass. The difference between mine and yours, Dennis, is that I don't seek to impose my beliefs or worldview on others. I believe in freedom to choose.

If you don't want your children reading certain books -- or any books -- that's your choice. Be the Savonarola of your household.

Also, I absolutely do not believe in "sexing up" children. For instance, I find child beauty pageants, and the like, abhorrent. Be that as it may, I don't seek to ban them.

Regarding your work, Dennis, getting Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich banned from your school's library because the author referred to Jesus Christ as "a wine-guzzling vagrant and socialist," you tip your hand on your wrongheadedness.

A description of Jesus Christ as "a wine-guzzling vagrant and socialist" is not obscene, it's merely an opinion that differs from your own.

Like my opinion, that Jesus Christ, as you believe you know him, never existed, probably diverges from your opinion on the matter.

Differences of opinion are springboards to debate, discussion.

The mind that believes a differing opinion is obscene and should be banned is a mind that probably believes in "purity balls", in the Promise Keepers, that the doctrine of pre-emptive war is sound, that waterboarding is not torture and that poverty is a crime.

You opened yourself to justified criticism, Dennis, because you're attempting to take away freedom from others. It's particularly hilarious that you're so irony-impaired that you'd perpetrate this affront in a state where the motto is "Live free or die."

And so you object to passages in Sara Gruen's novel Water for Elephants.

I don't dispute your right to object. Object loudly, heartily and vociferously.

But you have no right to ban books merely because you don't like them.

Parenthood is not a sheriff's badge.

Now, following your twisted logic to its crooked end, and arguing for a moment that books should be banned, I say to you: If you have any integrity or intellectual honesty, you would next crusade to have the bible banned from your local school, as it contains more violence, racism, sex and degenerate ideas than any ten books by Sara Gruen or Barbara Ehrenreich.

It's true.

The bible promotes slavery, racism, violence, murder, incest and voodoo (what else do you call a re-animated corpse?).

For instance, in the first book of the bible, you have Adam and Eve. They procreate and Cain and Abel are born. There is only one way for the human race to progress from there . . . Cain and Abel, or Cain or Abel, had sexual congress with their mother.

I think that's absolutely obscene. Yet, I have never moved to have that execrable text banned. Hell, let people read it and see how twisted and sick it is. Let people read about incest and murder and slavery and a God that would unleash the Great Flood because he, himself, was such a lousy parent.

Let people read about Job and how God doesn't mind a little side-gambling with Satan, making merry by visiting plagues upon a supposedly righteous man.

A mind small enough to ban books is a mind small enough to miss this next point, so I'll spell it out for you:

Human beings have a weird tendency to seek that which is forbidden.

Tell somebody, "Don't do this!" and I'll bet you, they'll want to do it, whatever it is.

Hold up a book and say, "Nobody should read this!" and all you're really doing is making people curious about the book. Which is a good thing.

For instance, I plan to purchase a copy of Sara Gruen's book. I'd never heard of it until you sought to ban it. It sounds like a good read.

Rather than rehash my thoughts on this matter, here, I'll give you this link to a letter I wrote to another ignorant zealot who sought to ban books -- books he'd never even read!

History-impaired Missouri zealot bans books unaware that suppression of arts often bolsters interest in them.

You're wrong about banning books, Dennis. Be the Savonarola of your household all you like, but you don't have the right to take away other people's freedom. If some other parent thinks it's OK for his kid to read Sara Gruen's book, he has that right.

As a closing note, I'd like you to know that I offer a book-burner's discount on my books. And Dennis, trust me, you'd despise my books! They have all the violence, sex, murder and incest of the bible, but I juggle events and circumstances in ways I'm sure you'd object to.

So, if you're having a book-burning, my only stipulations are that you hold up my book for a photographer to capture the covert and that you spell my name correctly in your press release.

If you agree to these, I'll happily extend to you my 40% book-burner's discount.

Because I believe you have the freedom to do such a thing even though I think it's obscene.


Anonymous said...

Well said.

Anonymous said...

I invite you to crusade against the Bible being used in Bedford. I think that God's word can stand your scrutiny.

Dennis Taylor

Whetam Gnauckweirst said...

Cain and Abel fucking their mother is OK with you, Dennis?

Slavery is OK?

Mass murder is acceptable?

You're one sick individual, Dennis!

As for the bible being God's word, it's only your belief, Dennis, that it is. It's not. It's just a book -- a poorly written, much-revised history book that contradicts itself every other chapter.

Your belief differs from my belief. In your universe, the bible would be banned, based upon your own wretched attempt at logic.

Thanks for reading my blog!

Anonymous said...

I also invite you to explain your moral compass with regards to whether you agree with me that you would not give your own fifteen year old child the book because of the pornographic passages. The second question involves whether you believe that censorship is justified at ANY time by the school.

Dennis Taylor

Anonymous said...

As far as Cain and Abel go, I disagree with your starting premise that Eve was the only woman on the Earth at that time. The Bible is silent about whether God had created others at that time. Cain and Abel married unrelated women.

Dennis Taylor

Whetam Gnauckweirst said...

What? Hold myself up to your scrutiny, Dennis? Who the hell do you think you are?

You believer yourself judge, jury and executioner.

Tend to the log in your own eye before you try and remove the speck from your neighbors.

Rather than thumping your bible, read the blasted thing -- at least the Jesus bits. It's fiction, but there's also some wisdom in his small section.

Anonymous said...

I would appreciate it if you could manage communicating your ideas without profanity. Do you find your ideas so weak that you must add such artificial punch?

Dennis Taylor

Whetam Gnauckweirst said...

Dennis Taylor is not a follow of Jesus Christ, after all. He is, in fact, a follower of Jesse of Nazareth, Jesus' younger brother.

Whetam Gnauckweirst said...

Profanity? Ah, more objections and offense! Sorry to break it you, Dennis, but the world's filled with it. The fact that you cannot deal with it is your problem, not mine.

"Censorship is telling a man he can't have a steak just because a baby can't chew it." (Unknown, but often attributed to Mark Twain)

Anonymous said...

I wish you well and I hope that you will reconsider Jesus Christ as the Son of God. Try reading Mere Christianity. The author, CS Lewis, set out to disprove Christianity and ended up realizing the truth.

Dennis Taylor

Whetam Gnauckweirst said...

C.S. Lewis was an old confused man. Christianity was right down his alley.

As for fictional characters, I find Jesus Christ too bland and inconsistent.

I prefer Heller's Yossarian, Toole's Ignatius Reilly, McHale's Principato, Joyce's Bloom, Pynchon's Vinnie Profane, Twain's Satan.

From Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade:

Colonel Vogel: What does the diary tell you that it doesn't tell us?

Professor Henry Jones: It tells me that goose-stepping morons like yourself should try reading books instead of [banning] them.

Anonymous said...

At age 15, have these students not already had sex education classes? Is Beford lost in time, or are these banners clueless?

Whetam Gnauckweirst said...

That's a good question. Honestly, I don't know what happens in Bedford, other than reading in the national news that some moral-crusading-zealot is banning books.

I can imagine their version of sex education involving stick figures drawn in books and awkward puppet shows.

Anonymous said...

I guess this guy hasn't read much of the Song of Solomon. So, let's ban the Bible.

Maybe we should ban history books too since they're full of torture and violence, murder and genocide.

While we're at it, let's ban the Constitution. It's the representative document of a government that committed attempted genocide on native americans.

D.C. Whyte said...

I like how Dennis has nothing to say now. Perhaps he's realized that this is a debate he can't win, and fled with his tail between his legs before he was made to look even more foolish than he already has.

Anonymous said...

Since we are no longer discussing the appropriateness of the scenes in Water for Elephants and you have changed the topic, I see no point in further discussion. If, for example, I were to point out that you, the author of this blog, hide behind a psuedonym, that, I suppose would be out of bounds. You may believe that you have the right to call me names, but you bravely hide your own identity. I realize that you may not be used to be spoken to with any respect, but I have attempted to offer you curtesy.

Anonymous said...

I bid you gentlemen good day and I hope that you will, someday, find the courage to speak as violently in public as you dare to do so from behind a computer screne. Come to a school board meeting and denounce the Bible and the US Constitution. It is your right as an American. I can only wonder why you should not be willing to speak your views with a live audience. I am prepared to do so, and even to attempt civil communication with individuals with whom I do not agree.

Dennis Taylor

Whetam Gnauckweirst said...

The topic of this blog post is book banning -- that hasn't changed.

I haven't read Water for Elephants, so I cannot comment on it.

Regardless, banning books is an arrogant, ignorant, selfish, small-minded endeavor.

Dennis, you have the right to pick and choose what your kids read, but you do not have the right to make that choice for other parents.

You do not have the right.

That's the issue and it hasn't changed.

Whetam Gnauckweirst said...

Dennis, you will hear no louder voice than mine if a book banning zealot dares to perpetrate your crimes in my community.

That said, I appreciate you commenting here and reading the blog. Hopefully some of what was said will sink in.

You don't have the right to decide what other parents allow their kids to read.

End of story.

Anonymous said...

That was a great blog. It saddens me to see the comments and look at more proof of just how deranged this parent is.

If I were a 15 year old in said school district, I'd be appalled that I wasn't given enough respect to be able to read a sex scene. It's not like it doesn't happen in teen literature. Or, you know, life. Ridiculous that someone thinks their morals are objective enough to wave them about on other people like this.

What a shame Mr. Taylor thinks that removing ideas and censoring libraries is the path to enlightenment. And what a shame that the district itself is putting up with this nonsense instead of standing up for the kids who, despite popular opinion, have the ability to think for themselves and won't get brain damaged or brain washed by seeing a few passages about fornication.

Whetam Gnauckweirst said...

What mystifies me is how one zealot can wield so much power with school officials.

Where the hell is the backbone of the people running the school?

They don't arbitrarily choose the books they put in their library. They have tight budgets and much deliberation goes into the book-buying decision.

Why then do they completely fold when challenged by a parent who needs a lesson in boundaries?

Far from appeasing this zealot, it seems only to have encouraged him to find more books to demand be taken off the shelves.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Whetham,

By the words in your own blog about my condoning murder and incest between Eve and her sons, you have, in my mind at least, established that, for you, there is a line that one cannot cross without being, as you put it nicely, "one sick individual."

Therefore, since you have established for the world that you have some sort of rule against incest, would you do any of the following:

1. Give a book with a graphic scene of incest to your own child to read? Please indicate at what age you would offer this to your child.

2. Would you, as a public school teacher, give such a book to your students as a reading assignment? If so, at what grade level?

3. Would you do as above if you allowed parents to opt out of that book so that their child could read something else?

4. As a school board member, would you allow some "sicko" teacher to do any of the above and if so, at what grade level?

Dennis Taylor

Dennis Taylor

Whetam Gnauckweirst said...

Again, Dennis, who do you think you are to ask another person to subject himself to your scrutiny and judgment?

What I would or would not give to my child to read is absolutely none of your business.

That said, I'm very pleased that you are displaying the arrogant, damaged aspects of your personality for me and others to examine, so we can better understand just what sort of twisted soul would ban a book.

You're an authoritarian who operates in the best tradition of Joseph Stalin.

I'd imagine you believe in thought crimes.

I am not the Bedford School Board. I don't answer to you. I have the courage of my convictions and pronounce you a religious zealot with delusions of grandeur.

You are not the catcher in the rye, Dennis.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for so eloquently refusing to answer such basic questions. On the one hand, you feel free to call me a "sick individual" for violating your code of morality, but you lack the courage to lay it out your code with regards to this book. Rather than deal with my questions, you prefer to attack me personally. A personal attack is perhaps the weakest of all arguments. It is pathetic that you cannot do better.

Dennis Taylor

Whetam Gnauckweirst said...

The fact that you demand others submit to you and hold themselves up to your scrutiny puts the sick, arrogant, authoritarian hunchback of your personality on full display.

You do not control the discourse here. I do.

Anonymous said...

What discourse? You have behaved like a thug and now you tell me that you control your blog? If you want discourse with people of a different opinion, try being civil. I attempted to have a conversation with you--to actually explore the issues in the book or with regards to censorship of sexual matter in schools. However,despite my best efforts, I must now leave you to dwell in this little sandbox. When you grow up, start a new thread and invite adults to participate. I would be willing to debate, but I do not need or deserve any abuse from you.

Good Bye.

Dennis Taylor

Macphisto said...

The question begs to be asked: What would Jesus do? I know what so-called "Christians" would say. They would say ban the book. I say Jesus would laugh at what was written about him. But "Christians" would say nay, He would not.

Consider then:

“Take then this Book, look into it, and show me when Jesus was not forgiving. Read this diving tragedy and tell me where He speaks without mercy and compassion. You visit not the sick and the imprisoned; nor do you feed the hungry or give refuge to the stranger or comfort to the mourner.” - Kahlil Gibran.

The most accurate account of the life of Jesus that I have come across? Nikos Kazantzakis, The Last Temptation of Christ. If it weren't for people trying to ban this book, I would never have come across it. So thank you book banners!

“For is it not strange that in opposing a man you give him courage? And in staying his feet you give him wings?”

Whetam Gnauckweirst said...

All right, I'll answer one question:

Say Leopold Vurman writes a novel about a character named Donny Tailer who's fucking his mother.

It's not the sort of subject matter I'd run out and buy, but I certainly wouldn't stand up and seek to have the book banned.

If my school library had the book on the shelf, I'd say to myself, "Interesting choice."

If the book was assigned to my child, I'd hold my nose and read it, myself, first.

If it was completely outlandish, I might pop by the school to ask the teacher about the book and maybe visit the librarian to inquire how the book was procured. I'd ask them what merits they felt the book had.

If their answers to my questions were unsatisfactory, and if I really, really felt the book had no merit, I'd ask them to assign another book.

But I would not seek to ban it.

If my child felt left out and expressed an interest in reading the book all his classmates were reading, then I'd let him read it.

After which, I'd sit down and talk with him about the book; see how it hit him.

Would I seek the ban the book? No.

Because I do not impose my will on others.

Now, I realize that, based upon your comments on my blog, you are likely to impugn my parenting decisions.

I don't care.

The point of this blog has been -- and has not changed -- that you, Dennis Taylor, do not have the right to impinge on others' freedom and deny them access to books that you don't like.

You don't have that right.

As for whatever opinion you have of my parenting, well, we have a saying in the Hotdog Factory:

You can take your sanctimony and self-righteousness and shove them up your ass.

Anonymous said...

"When you grow up, start a new thread and invite adults to participate."

Grow up = believe in my imaginary friend.

You fundie types have a weird definition of "grow up". Adults don't have imaginary friends. Adults don't throw tantrums and moralize to other people. Children, sure.

Just say what you mean instead of this obvious nonsense: "believe what I believe or I'll call you names"

Adult, lol. That's hilarious.

"I do not need or deserve any abuse from you."

No, you totally deserve it. You and all the other "easily offended" moralizers should be offended each and every day, and it should be the mission of balanced people to offend you at each and every opportunity.

Here's mine: Your God is a malicious piece of shit and I will piss in his face. Since there is no such thing as God, I'll take the next best step and piss on this Bible.

Turns out that "offended sensibilities" and "not believing in a sky pixie" don't define adulthood or maturity.

Anonymous said...

You again demonstrated having a moral compass. We disagree about where to draw the line in school and how to do it.

Jesus loves you, and I hope that someday you will understand that, no matter what you may think of me. Don't take my words, read the Bible and give God a chance. Have you ever considered the fact that if you are right and there is no God, we both get the same outcome at death--nothingness? However, if Jesus was right and He is the only way to the Father, the Bible tells me that you will end up in Hell. I do not wish that for you.
Call me all the names you want, but that is the truth. My suggesting that you consider following Jesus, by the way, is not my way of insulting you or your parenting. I am trying to share the hope that I have of salvations.

That's my final word and I hope that you will consider it. If you start a thread that openly considers issues from the Bible and you will do so with a civil approach, I would be happy to debate and discuss what I understand to be true.

Dennis Taylor

Whetam Gnauckweirst said...

Dennis, I have read the bible all the way through several times. That's why when I call it a book filled with murder, incest, sex, voodoo and really bad writing, I say so with first hand knowledge.

I've written more than 650 articles in this blog. I know what I'm about.

Remember: you don't have the right to ban books.

You don't have the right to impose what you call your "moral compass" on others.

TruthSeeker9 said...

Wow, remind me to never visit Bedford. Like David Bowie once sang "I'm afraid of Americans", can't say I blame him after reading this thread. Jesus is Latin for fictitious character. Stick with Papa Smurf and the truth will find ye.

Anonymous said...

Both of you should get over it. Neither of you seem able to contribute anything meaningful to this topic. Remember the saying about arguing on the Internet?

Parents have always disagreed about what their kids ought to be exposed to and always will... by age 15 most teenagers tend to have their own opinions on the matter and nobody can ban everything.

Whetam Gnauckweirst said...

Ah, now the weak-kneed stop it! stop it! crowd chimes in.

Honestly -- fuck off.

Lester Peterson said...


What if Jesus isn't the God? What of Buddha or Allah?

What of the Egyptians Gods? They swore that there was a God of the sun, the moon and the sea. Were they incorrect? Were they being foolish?

What of the Greek Gods? Were they fools for believing in their Gods?

What the argument comes down to is that in your own home you have the right to do and push whatever you believe in but you do not have that right in other peoples homes or in public places like a school.

If you think that you can push your God on someone else and tell them their God is wrong and they won't go to their respective heavens because of who they believe in, then you are more foolish than I feared.

Anonymous said...

Heh. It's either whining or insulting, about all you can manage, eh?

Whetam Gnauckweirst said...

You're not worth the effort.

Anonymous said...

So you do cliches too, how nice.

Whetam Gnauckweirst said...

Clearly you're a Taylor cheerleader; a pithy knee-biting . . .

What exactly are you contributing?

Macphisto said...

Now's probably not a good time to mention that I know the Snake in Genesis to actually be the hero of the story?

Poor Bedford. I wonder if that old Building and Loan building is still there?

Whetam Gnauckweirst said...

Wrong again, MacPhisto!

The hero of the bible is the Little Drummer Boy who played his drum for Baby Jesus in the manger.

Biblical scholars have since determined the Little Drummer Boy wasn't so altruistic -- that he was, in fact, hoping for a mouthful of milk from the lactating Virgin Mary.

Anonymous said...

I am a Bedford resident and parent of two children in the Bedford school system, including one in high school, and I was very disappointed when I heard these books were banned. I don't mind in the least if Mr. Taylor does not want his children reading certain books, after all, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. All parents differ to some degree on when and how their children should be exposed to the more serious aspects of life. I am not sure if Mr. Taylor tried simply to ask his son's teacher if his son could possibly substitute another book for the one he could not bear to read, but I imagine (and hope) he or she would be quite understanding. Typically with topics that could be considered more controversial we, as parents of Bedford students, are given the opportunity to decline allowing our children exposure to the particular subject. In the case of an elective course that includes something offensive, simply not signing up for it seems easiest. However, I do not want the Taylors' beliefs and opinions in any way dictating and limiting what my children read and hear. I am actually quite pleased the teachers at Bedford High School have such confidence in their students' abilities to judge and interpret that they are willing to expose them to many different ideas and facets of life. I would not expect a true education to be any other way. As I am sure we are all quite aware, in the real world we are constantly bombarded with ideas which may or may not conflict with our own and what better time for us to prepare our children for this then when they are on the verge of adulthood? Besides, how can one form a true opinion on a matter until one hears all sides?

I am so sorry it seems our school board was pushed into withdrawing these books from the curriculum and those of us who disagree with Mr. Taylor were not there to show our support. It seems this is now quickly changing with a petition in the works to be sent to various officials in our school system to let them know there are many of us in Bedford that wish to support their ideas of a well-rounded education and do NOT wish to see books banned.

Whetam Gnauckweirst said...

Thank you very much for this very thoughtful comment!

You hit upon something I've been wondering about:

Why did the school board cave in so readily to the Taylor's demands? I mean, they're just two citizens. If society hit the breaks every time a person had a complaint, we'd have utter chaos.

Yet, the Bedford school board capitulated, which I find very curious.

It's not as though the Taylor's are elected officials of any kind, who represent some identifiable pool of constituents. They represent one household.

What if the people next door to them argued to keep the books in question on the school library shelves?

Utter, unbreakable gridlock.

You can't run a popcicle stand that way, much less a school system.

Macphisto said...

Whetham, I'm going to have to research your claim about the LIttle Drummer Boy. Mmm, actually no, I'm not used to thinking for myself.

Whetam Gnauckweirst said...

Whatever you do, don't read a book!

It might be the wrong one!

Then where would you be at?

Macphisto said...

Inside the Hot Dog Factory, you have just been awarded our annual Internet Awesomeness Award. Please follow the link to claim your prize.

Anonymous said...

The book Water for Elephants was part of an elective vacation class that students had to sign up for. Additionally the teacher sent home a permission slip for the course requesting that the parents give permission for their child to read this book. Mr. Taylor signed the permission slip and returned it to the teacher.

Anonymous said...

Only after returning the permission slip to the teacher did Mr. Taylor read the book. He could have simply withdrawn his child from the course.

Mistercrum said...

Regarding the book originally banned by the Super-Patriot Dennis Taylor: "The book has won a Christopher Award, given by a Catholic group to recognize books that "affirm the highest values of the human spirit."

anonymous said...

I just want you to understand that not every "evangelical" Christian is out to impose a system of belief on "unbelievers." I am one such individual, and while my faith defines MY life, I do not expect it to define YOURS by force. By God's own design, belief in him has always been a choice. Only a weak God would be threatened by those who would seek to slander Him. According to the Bible itself, Jesus was relentless in his criticism of religious leaders of the day. On the contrary, he rarely mentions government leaders except in his advice to "render to Caeser what is Caeser's, and give to God what is God's." Book banners and bar-shutters and alcohol prohibitors are all, in my opinion, in the category of those religious leaders Jesus loved to "torture." At the very heart of Christianity is the idea of change from WITHIN, not pressure from WITHOUT. It saddens me to hear people like Dennis Taylor with such misguided views of the faith they supposedly stand for. They would do better to develop a faith that SHOWS the world the power of true grace and mercy. A god who cannot stand up for himself is simply not worth believing in. And that's my two cents.

Unknown said...

I would like to elevate my vernacular to a higher standard but I can say is, "Wow!" I find the position of this gentleman to be quite interesting. A parent has an obligation to be their children's moral compass and I applaude Dennis' commitment to stand on his principles where his children are concerned (respect each individuals beliefs as long as they hurt no one)but I also abhor any militant extremist of any kind.

I would also be curious to know what leads a person to procure certain beliefs. What changes come about to bend a belief system to this extreme?

Katrina Vacchelli