Controversial DVD to Remain in Lafayette Library
After an hour-and-a-half of debate and public comments, the Lafayette Public Library Board of Control voted to keep a challenged documentary as part of the library's collection.
The board voted 6-0 with two members absent to allow Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood to remain in the library system's stacks. However, the board voted to place a restriction on who can borrow the DVD. As part of its vote, the board prohibited patrons younger than 17 from checking out the video. Any patron wishing to borrow the DVD must provide photo identification proving he or she is 17-years-old or older before a librarian will allow them to check out the documentary.
The Vermilion Parish resident who challenged the book did not appear to speak before the board.
Board member James Thomas introduced the motion to keep the DVD in the stacks while restricting it to an older audience.
"I was concerned by certain things in the DVD," Thomas said, adding that he and the two librarians on the reconsideration committee had to watch the movie before their initial meeting to discuss keeping the movie or removing the movie from the stacks. "I didn't enjoy the DVD, but somebody else may."
Fellow board member Dr. David Pitre echoed Thomas's sentiments.
"I also wanted to watch this DVD in its entirety, and I appreciate what Mr. Thomas said. I have no whatsoever issue being able to separate out my personal taste and opinion for that DVD or books or other materials," Dr. Pitre said. "My insistence--and I'm only one voice, one vote--will be on age appropriateness. That insistence is absolutely consistent with what the LPL policy states but also what the state policies talk about. There are already existing policies on who may check out certain kinds of materials."
"I did not watch the video in its entirety because it's not appropriate, and I'm not going to expose myself to that," board member Stephanie Armbruster said, adding that she watched parts of it. She further added that she received information about the video from the person who challenged it, from the report filed by the board's reconsideration committee, and from someone who had watched it in full.
Board member Stephanie Armbruster still had a problem with keeping the video in the stacks despite voting for the resolution.
"What I'm struggling with is a couple of things," Armbruster continued. "The pornography in the video. If we have filters on our computers to block pornography, there's a reason for that. We were also told a couple of meetings ago that we don't subscribe to or have pornographic magazines. So if we don't have pornography on our computers--or if we have filters to block that--and if we aren't purchasing pornographic magazines for our racks, I'm just struggling with why it would be okay for a DVD, even if it's labeled a documentary? The label doesn't change the content."
Armbruster said she had another problem with the video.
"This movie normalizes and sensationalizes pedophilia," Armbruster said. "I don't know how anyone can be okay with that. If any child watches this video, they can easily walk away from it--and they have access to it here in our library--they can easily walk away with it's okay when my neighbor wants me to sit in his lap to perform sexual acts on me. Also, if an adult watches this video, he or she, too, can easily walk away with the idea that a child is not going to mind."
Armbruster's comments were met with jeers from the audience assembled in the meeting room. Some shouted, "You didn't watch it," while another shouted, "That's not true." Others in the audience applauded Armbruster's comments when she completed her comments.
Board member Joan Wingate said she watched the movie. Wingate said the movie isn't anything she would check out, but she saw an important plot point that she feels is relatable to modern times.
"I was interested in seeing as the movie developed the hypocrisy of society and just how it was all about what created Scotty's ability to operate in this manner, and that was society's hypocrisy. From that time to now, I think we've made great progress and have more acceptance because if that happened today, Scotty wouldn't exist because people accept people more. They were doing these things for the personas in the movies because they could not be different. They couldn't be homosexual and be on the screen."
Wingate closed her statement with a First Amendment argument.
"It's not something I would check out," Wingate said. "I watched it because I had to, but be it far from me to say, 'Ban this from our library.' This is America and free speech. Anybody can check out what they want."