Some books about the Treaty of Waitangi on the shelves of Tasman District libraries are “very right-wing extremist”, says Tasman District councillor Dana Wensley.
Some material “that I know we’ve got in our library … is by a publisher that is not academically robust,” Wensley last week told a meeting of the council operations committee.
Oh God. Politicians should not be deciding what books people can and can’t access in libraries.
The irony is that Dana Wensley is the PEN (NZ) representative for freedom of speech!!!
“There’s a number of these books in our library that are actually very worrying to me because they’re free of charge,” she said. “The academic presses are more expensive for those books to buy but I think there’s something to us having a mind to making sure that material in our library that has gone through that academic rigour of peer review is readily accessible.”
Libraries are not just for peer reviewed books. They are for books that members of the public want to read.
Wensley said she was concerned people were “picking up these books on our shelves that are very right-wing extremist … and I think we should have zero tolerance for that”.
“I’m not talking about censorship, I’m just talking about making sure that the books that are free are also academically robust because at the moment there’s a bit of an imbalance and I think that people might be getting the wrong view of our obligations to our treaty partners because of the material they could be accessing from our library, and that concerns me.”
I suspect the definition of “Very right-wing extremist” is takes a different view on what the Treaty means. And it is censorship when politicians demand books are removed because they disagree with the views in them.
Karl Marx’s views have led to tens of millions of avoidable deaths. But do right wingers sit around demanding his books be banned?