A criminal court is the wrong place to try the convictions of JoAn Karkos. The context of her opposition to “It’s Perfectly Normal” is irrelevant to her court case, which centers alone on evaluating her conduct.

Did Karkos remove a book from the Lewiston Public Library and fail to return it? The incontestable answer is yes. Regardless of her rationale, the strict review of the criminal court cannot consider the moral or societal arguments she uses to justify her actions.

Hashing out the merits of “It’s Perfectly Normal,” the controversial children’s sex-education book, inside this restricted arena is therefore pointless. While Karkos enters into confrontations on the courthouse steps, the actual courtroom proceedings will only confirm what’s already known.

Karkos is perfectly guilty.

The arena for this case is a civil court. Instead of acting the victim, Karkos should take the offensive against the library’s possession of “It’s Perfectly Normal” and sue for its removal. She will have to prove that it is obscene and unsuitable for the community standards of Lewiston-Auburn. It’s only fair.

Karkos started this controversy with her act of “civil disobedience,” which places the burden of proof upon her. The criminal justice system, either the police or the courts, should neither state this case for her, nor try.

This is her crusade to fight.

The Lewiston police investigation into Karkos’ obscenity complaint was as thorough as possible, given it is well beyond their purview to regulate morality. “It’s Perfectly Normal” is not obscene material.

The book has been vilified and removed from shelves (and in many cases returned). Opponents have criticized its content and pilloried its pictures, almost from the first day of its publication in 1996. It is a book not for everyone – but in this society, that’s a person-by-person, parent-by-parent decision.

This is our reasoning for declining to publish content from “It’s Perfectly Normal” on our pages, a point upon which some have criticized us.

We could, with copyright permissions, do so if we desired, but decided against it. What we consider appropriate for the newspaper is our prerogative.

Just as what the library board considers appropriate for the library is theirs. And what Karkos considers appropriate for the community hers. This strikes at the core of American intellectual liberty.

A criminal case against Karkos is a fait accompli. But a civil case, brought by Karkos, is less decided, as a civil trial will allow the contextual atmosphere of its morality and suitability to be considered.

It’s the right venue for her convictions, instead of just her conviction.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.