BY EMILY BIONDICH
The New York Times best-selling novel, “Fifty Shades of Grey”, sparks controversy in some public libraries because of its erotic content. Libraries in Florida, Wisconsin and Georgia have taken this book off the shelf; due to poorly written material they are not willing to purchase or because of the sexually explicit content between two of the main characters, Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele. Many critics have addressed this new infatuation as “mommy porn,” even causing the topic to make its way to a “Saturday Night Live” skit.
The author, E.L. James, has dedicated her time to writing three books in this series: “Fifty Shades of Grey,” “Fifty Shades Darker” and “Fifty Shades Freed”. Public libraries recalling the book from their shelves have disappointed many eager readers on the waiting list. This poses the question: should “Fifty Shades of Grey” be banned from public libraries?
The Martin County Library System has not had a problem with this racy novel.
“Yes, the book is in our library. It is not in a restricted section,” said Philip Hackman, a librarian at the Blake Library. “We have never had any problem with it being here. In fact, it is usually in the front of the library with the other best-sellers.”
The final result of libraries purchasing the novel is based on customer demand as well as strong beliefs of library branch members.
Brevard county public libraries own copies of the graphic “Complete Kama Sutra” and other erotic novels, but had a recall on “Fifty Shades of Grey” after concluding it was too pornographic. American Civil Liberties Union advocates would agree that this topic is protected by the First Amendment.
“I care about the First Amendment and I know censorship when I see it,” said Maria Kayanan, Associate Legal Director, ACLU of Florida. Kayanan addresses the removal of “Fifty Shades Of Grey” in the Brevard County library.
“On May 24, the ACLU of Florida and the National Coalition Against Censorship sent a letter to the Brevard County Commissioners, reminding them that the county’s removal of “Fifty Shades of Grey” from circulation violated the First Amendment,” said Kayanan. “It also violated Section 4 of the Florida Constitution and exposed the County Commission to potential liability.”
On the other hand, protesters have gone to great lengths to show their disapproval and disgust of the erotic novel. On July 18 in Westlake, Ohio, both men and women gathered at the Panini’s restaurant to take part in a book burning ceremony.
A college student who has read the book agrees that there should be a restriction on the book in public libraries.
“As long as it is clearly marked as an adult novel and discretion is given when checked out, meaning ages 17 and up, then I think it’s fine,” said Alexandra Mamangakis, 20, student attending Florida State University. Mamangakis stresses the fact that it is a fictional book that it is strictly adult material, not to be read by an immature audience.
Housewives and college students alike are intrigued by this trilogy that has sold more than 31 million copies.
“I don’t think they should ban it in public libraries,” said Kimberly Eltis, housewife and reader of “Fifty Shades”. “There are other adult books with equivalent sexual content that many libraries allow on their shelf. How is the purchase of Fifty Shades any different than the library owning a Kama-sutra book?”