Never underestimate the power of small groups of crazy people. All it takes is motivation, small-mindedness, and persistence, and any group can promote ignorance and limit people’s choices.
A South Carolina library system has closed down its summer programs for young adults after receiving threats and allegations that it was trying to promote “witchcraft” and “drug use.”
The Pickens County Library System’s half-hour summer programs for middle and high school students were supposed to take a light-hearted look at the topics “Secrets and Spies: How to Keep a Secret by Writing in Code or Making Invisible Ink” and “What’s Your Sign?” Another program was to examine astrology, palmistry, and numerology; and others were to feature tarot cards, tie-dying t-shirts, how to make a Zen garden, and yoga.
Now the programs are cancelled in the wake of phone and e-mail threats from the community, believed to emanate from a single local Baptist church. The astrology program was labeled as “witchcraft” by callers, while the Zen garden and yoga programs were objected to as “promoting other religions.” The t-shirts workshop? “Promotes the hippie culture and drug use,” callers said.
This kind of stuff goes on all the time—we’ve had plays shut out in Morris because a few religious kooks demand it—and the problem is allowed to fester because usually the offending activity is being run by an organization that wants to promote smart, healthy activities for community youth, and did not sign on to battle with Jesus zombies. Libraries should not be centers for fighting local cults. Unfortunately, it means that the local cults usually get a free ride, and can say what they will because no one will organize and fight back.