Monday, June 20, 2011

My email to the County Supervisors in objection to a new book soon to be on the county library's shelves.

from  Tom Armstrong
toPhil Serna, Jimmie Yee, Roberta MacGlashan,
Don NottoliSusan Peters
ccRivkah Sass
dateFri, Jun 17, 2011 at 1:26 PM
subjectA new book on the library shelves

Dear County of Sacramento Supervisors,

For the past week, with the help of a member of city councilperson Angelique Ashby's staff, I have endeavored to make the Director of the Sacramento Public Library aware of problems with a book that the library was intending to acquire for its shelves.

While I believe the staff person spoke with Ms. Sass or library personnel, I have gotten no response to missives I have passed to Ms. Sass regarding the book.

The book can be found here in the SPL catalog: .  The book's title is Go the Fuck to Sleep.  It looks like a small-child's bedtime picture book, but is ostensibly for adults. Yesterday, the library ordered ten copies of the book.

My objection is not with the f-word in the title and sprinkled throughout the text.  My great concern is the welfare of young children, many of whom are raised by parents with tempers they cannot fully, easily control.

Homicide is the third leading cause of death in children under the age of five. Sixty percent of the time it is a parent that committed the crime. The murder of a small girl named Caylee is in the news currently since her mother is on trial for the crime.  Not too long ago in our metropolis, a mother's boyfriend was convicted for murder in the incredibly horrendous torture of a small boy that led to his death.  The mother was was also convicted of a crime and given a sentence of a long period in prison.

I ask you:  Do we want quick-tempered parents or parents who are poor and highly stressed and frustrated stoking resident anger by bringing a book home from the library that unsubtly encourages them to be angry at a small child?

Here, the whole of the terrible book read aloud on a YouTube video: .  Please view this video; it is only 4 1/2 minutes in length.

This is from the Juvenile Justice Bulletin, Oct 2001:  "Most homicides of young children are committed by family members through beatings or suffocation. Although victims include approximately equal numbers of boys and girls, offenders include a disproportionate number of women. Homicides of young children may be seriously undercounted."

This from the Merck Online Medical Manual: "In the United States, more than 896,000 children are neglected or abused every year, and about 1,400 of them die. Neglect is about 3 times more common than physical abuse. Neglect and abuse result from a complex combination of individual, family, and social factors. Being a single parent, being poor, having problems with drug or alcohol abuse, or having a mental health problem (such as a personality disorder or low self-esteem) can make a parent more likely to neglect or abuse a child. Neglect is 12 times more common among children living in poverty.

"Physical Abuse: Physically mistreating or harming a child, including inflicting excessive physical punishment, is physical abuse. Children of any age may be physically abused, but infants and toddlers are particularly vulnerable. Physical abuse is the most common cause of serious head injury in infants. In toddlers, physical abuse is more likely to result in abdominal injuries, which may be fatal. Physical abuse (including homicide) is among the 10 leading causes of death in children. Generally, a child's risk of physical abuse decreases during the early school years and increases during adolescence.

"More than three fourths of perpetrators of abuse are the child's parents. Children who are born in poverty to a young, single parent are at highest risk. Family stress contributes to physical abuse. Stress may result from unemployment, frequent moves to another home, social isolation from friends or family members, or ongoing family violence. Children who are difficult (irritable, demanding, or hyperactive) or who have special needs (developmental or physical disabilities) may be more likely to be physically abused. Physical abuse is often triggered by a crisis in the midst of other stresses. A crisis may be a loss of a job, a death in the family, or a discipline problem."
Yesterday, the Sacramento Public library ordered 10 copies of the book.  I think that would be a mistake at any time for this book to be on Sacramento Public Library shelves.  But during this economically-troubled time, couldn't we have the library NOT buy this horrible book?  It would not be an act of disallowing the freedom of people who want the book.  The book is available through the library's LINK system; anyone can still request it.
We don't put books that tell people how to commit suicide on public library shelves.  We don't put books that tell people how to build bombs on library shelves.  We shouldn't put a book on the shelves that might cause harm to a toddler.
Tom Armstrong
Citizen of Sacramento
YouTube - Videos from this email

Post script. This from the blog PhD in Parenting in an entry titled "Go The F**k To Sleep: Funny or Offensive?":
Through the eyes of parents alone, “Go the F**k to Sleep” may be funny, just as “Get the F**k Out of My Way” would be funny if you were considering only my view point and not the viewpoint or limitations of those I was directing it at. In most cases, I don’t think our children are staying awake at night specifically to annoy us. Perhaps there may be the odd occasion where an older child is purposely trying to disrupt the parents’ plans, but for the most part, I don’t think that a non-sleeping child realizes that they are ruining your evening or keeping you from sleeping. They are thinking that they want to cuddle with you, that they are not tired, that they are thirsty, that they are scared, that they are lonely, or that they just don’t want to sleep.

Some of those are needs, others are wants, but none of them are maliciously intended actions that deserve a response such as “Go The F**k To Sleep,” even if we are sometimes thinking that on the inside.

So yes, I giggled a bit, but I didn’t feel great about it and I wouldn’t say that I endorse the book’s message any more than I would endorse a comedian who made inappropriate jokes.

Also, I should tell you, I have not gotten any response to this email or to two earlier missives delivered, by hand, to the Central Library office, to the attention of Library Director Ms. Rivkah Sass. The County Supervisors haven't really had time to respond; I may yet hear from one or more of them.

Possibly, I won't get a response. Most people, from what I've read online, have had small children and are humored by the book because they identify with the frustration expressed in the book's text in getting a young child to go to sleep.  Frankly, I'm disappoint in the public.  The safety of babies and toddlers should be of preeminent concern.


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