Supporters of Banned 'Mommy Porn' Book Fight Back

May 9, 2012 7:30 AM PST

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — Supporters of the runaway BDSM erotic bestseller, “Fifty Shades of Grey,” recently banned from Brevard County public libraries, want their “mommy porn” back.

Last week, library officials pulled all 19 copies of the book deeming it pornographic and maintaining that the book did not meet their “selection criteria.”

"Nobody asked us to take it off the shelves, but we bought some copies before we realized what it was. We looked at it because it’s been called ‘mommy porn’ and ‘soft porn.’ We don’t collect porn,” library services director Cathy Schweinsberg told FloridaToday.com.

But the self-directed banning by library administrators raised the ire of some local residents, prompting them to start an online petition at Change.org to get British author E.L. James’ book back on the shelves.

The campaign was started by local Linda Tyndall who told WTSP News, "As a reader myself and mother of an avid reader it's horrifying because you wonder what's next?"

Tyndall maintained that regardless of what’s in the book, it’s up to the community to decide if it’s something they want to read.

“This is not just a Brevard County issue,” Tyndall said. “People from New Zealand, Canada, all over have read about this and said, ‘This isn’t right.’ And if censorship can happen here, it can happen somewhere else.”

The online campaign has secured more than 285 supporters so far, and from all indications appears as though the pressure on the library may be paying off.

Support for the cause has also come from The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) that has written a letter to the library urging it to honor its constitutional obligations and return the books to the shelves immediately.

NCAC executive director Joan Bertin claimed that the book's sexually explicit content doesn't "meet [the library's]  selection criteria" unpersuasive. "Simply calling the action  ‘selection’ does not shield it from criticism," Bertin added, citing an article by Professor Lester Asheim, former director of the American Library Association's  International Relations Office, which discusses the differences between book selection and censorship.

The group said the library carries many contemporary "romance" and "erotica" books in addition to many "classic" holdings that were once considered  "pornographic" and even "obscene," including “Fanny Hill,” “Lady Chatterly's Lover,” and “Lolita.”

"Removal of the book is an affront to library patrons, who have a  First Amendment right to make their own decisions about what to read," Bertin wrote.

The letter noted that as public officials, library administrators are barred from removing materials merely because they dislike them or find them offensive. It also cited a landmark 1943 Supreme  Court case where Justice Jackson stated, "If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion."

Although Schweinsberg believes the book is “salacious,” and the “question of putting it back is premature at this point,” the library is revisiting the ban.

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