Local Governments Crack Down On The Monstrous Evil of Tiny Free Lending Libraries | io9
It’s good to know that people are focusing on what’s really important. Local governments in a few different U.S. cities and towns have looked past the problems of homelessness, crumbling city services and displacement, to tackle the real crisis: people are putting up tiny “take a book, leave a book” libraries. This is clearly a major crisis in our culture, and one that can only be addressed by the full busy-bodiness of local busybodies.
One of the most hurtful things you can say to a comic book reader is that comic books are for kids.
It’s a chilling insult that the stuff they read — the stuff they love — never advanced beyond its funny-page beginnings. But it’s also — often unknown to comics fans — a blunt reminder of one of the worst things to ever happen to comic books.
Some 60 years ago, during the era of McCarthyism, comic books became a threat. The panic culminated in a Senate hearing in 1954. This, of course, isn’t to say that McCarthyism and the comic book panic were comparable in their human toll. But they share the same symptoms of American fear and a harsh, reactive response to it.
The reaction to the suspected scourge was the Comics Code — a set of rules that spelled out what comics could and couldn’t do. Good had to triumph over evil. Government had to be respected. Marriages never ended in divorce. And it was in the best interests of publishers to remain compliant.
What adults thought was best for children ended up censoring and dissolving away years of progress and artistry, as well as comics that challenged American views on gender and race. Consequently, that cemented the idea that this was a medium for kids — something that we’ve only recently started disbelieving.
When the Ministry of Information’s director general visited Ye Htet Oo’s library in 2010, it could have been disastrous. Ye Htet Oo, then a recent college graduate, was running his new library in downtown Rangoon on the sly, without approval from the former military regime, and was told he could face three months in jail for every book he lent without permission from the censorship board. Unable to get a library license from the government, which saw libraries as a way to spread subversive ideas, he fronted his operation as a bookshop but kept a collection of unapproved library books hidden in a back room. Then one day, unknown to the young bibliophile, the ministry’s director general—who has since become the deputy minister of information and President Thein Sein’s spokesman—entered the “bookshop” and walked straight into the secret room.