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Board Backs Harten’s Decision

November 19, 2009 by Josh Morgan

A book about the 2007 Petit family killings will be stocked at the Cheshire Public Library as originally planned, despite the efforts of some residents who wanted to keep it off the shelves.
In a 5-1 vote, the Library Board stood by Library Director Ramona Harten’s decision to purchase two copies of “In the Middle of the Night: The Shocking True Story of a Family Killed in Cold Blood” by Brian McDonald. The book is based largely on prison interviews and correspondence the author had with Joshua Komisarjevsky, one of the men accused of killing the Petit women. Board member Marilyn Bartoli cast the lone dissenting vote.
“This was never about censorship or book banning. People are hiding behind the first amendment because they refuse to do the decent and moral thing,” Bartoli said. “To be called a Nazi book burner is ridiculous to me. (Harten) made a deliberate decision to buy this book knowing it was hurtful to the public and the only person who has benefited from this is Ramona Harten.”
After Bartoli raised her hand to oppose the recommendation, a raucous applause broke out in the library’s Mary Baldwin Room. Library Board Chair Carol DiPietro had to bang the gavel for the applause to cease, but it was short lived, as more applause in support of Harten and the Library Board erupted after she announced, for the record, that the motion passed 5-1.
“The selection policy has been followed, “DiPietro said. “This might be difficult for some, but the policy has been followed.”
DiPietro also referenced an online petition signed by many members of the public to have the book removed from the library. With more than 1,200 signatures, DiPietro said only 18 percent were Cheshire residents. She said she has received numerous calls and e-mails, many of which were in favor of Harten’s decision. Some residents believed the issue was about censorship, and a library should not bow to public pressure.
“Censorship, for any reason, no matter how well intentioned, is always wrong, “said Marlena Soble.
“Who would be horrified by having this book in the library?” asked Martin Cobern. “No one would even know it was here without wanting to go out and look for it.”
While some residents were pleased with the outcome, others, like Kimberly Mach, were dismayed with the vote. She said that, at the very least, the library should have waited until after the two men charged with the murders — Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes — were tried in court.
“It should be left out of the library until after the trial is done. If people want to read it, they should do so after the trial,” Mach said. “(Harten) doesn’t live in town. She doesn’t know what we went through. I concede that people may want to read it, but they are not in the majority.”
Resident Sue Trumbo said the library should not have purchased the book, in an effort to “show our support” for Dr. William Petit, who was beaten but survived the July 2007 home invasion.
“The book could have been obtained by interlibrary loan, it’s as simple as that,” Trumbo said. “(Harten) should have taken this opportunity to make a statement to the town; the people who she serves.”
While a gag order has been placed on the police, attorneys, and defendants involved in the case, Town Attorney Dwight Johnson explained that the ruling did not cover the Cheshire Public Library. Johnson added that the Library Board “by charter is advisory only” and could not tell Harten what books she could or could not purchase.
Harten explained the process she followed when she decided to purchase two copies of the book.
Harten said she was first informed of the book’s release by a television reporter who called inquiring about the library’s stance on the book.
After speaking with the deputy director at the library, Harten was informed that there were already a number of requests for the book.
“Based on the materials selection policy, we determined that it met the requirements of evident popularity and relevance to Cheshire,” Harten said.
Peter Chase, with the Connecticut Library Association, said libraries make a promise that they will not censor books. He said it was important to defend books, no matter how unpopular the subject, to allow people free choice.
“We need to let people decide for themselves,” Chase said. “I am not saying that we force people to read what they don’t want, what I am saying is we need to defend people’s right to read.”
The copies of the book have been received by the library and have already been checked out to interested readers.
There are currently more than a dozen residents on a waiting list for them.

Comments

board backs Hartens' decision

November 22, 2009 by jef, 4 years 40 weeks ago
Comment: 94

Wow, you realize that though this may be supported by the law, you are also supporting this shell of a person with a prison no. One must consisder the moral limitations of the law, and examine our your value system. I am also curious if the library has an age requirement upon this book before checking it out? I don't know, maybe I missed that. Would the library allow Pornographic books, or perhaps it already does. Regardless of the law, which may need to be addressed, do you realize you are inadvertently supporting this person with a prison no. You do see he continues to create chaos and manipulate you readers by this law? People without a conscious are very good at calcualion and using the system and to meet their own selfish needs.. I mean, people get real! This isn't a person that has good intentions!. Go by past and present behaviors! It makes them feel important. It's all about them. They never operate without a self-serving motive. Using the library, especially in Cheshire were the hainess murders took place, he is getting the publicity he wants The more publicicity, ultimately the more people to purchase his book, perhaps even to get on the Oprah Winfrey show. Overall you read this book , you are in support of him reaching that goal. This populationare more caculating and know the law better than some lawyers who are in practice, to the demise of society, not the lawyers, the one with a prison no. Hey, if you are curious about reading this book in support of this shell of person without a concious then do it! Realize that someone of this caliber, is manipulating you to do just that. Anything you read in this book is distortion and usually view themselves as the entitled victim. Do healthy people with a good sense of self and respect for life resort such hainess crimes? Have a conscious? Then, above all have the ordasity to write a book about it! Absolutely not! He has writen a book about the most horrendous acts one could only imagine, and actually carries it out. That is someone , something, I would not want to support ,read or otherwise. Such a person doesn't have feelings or empathy for others and views others as objects, otherwise he wouldn't be in this situation. Our prisons are filled with this population. How do they get to this point? There are many good books out there written by Pschiatrist who will give you the facts. Look up Psychopath. You are only enabling this population without a conscoius to expand, despite what the law states. A better question to ypurself is; why would you read this book? Curious? want an inside view ? you won't get an honest, realistic inside view from this book. If you want to feel pain, lack of empathy for all life, distorted views and confusion; then read the book. Then plan to have nightmares, or if you enjoy reading the book about such happenings, then get some HELP! or put to some good use and work in Forensic Research or in the Prison System to help erradicate this syndrome. Do you really want your curiosity to overide your good sense values! If you do, than travel in the same ranks as this shell of a person with a prison no. Please, don't be a coward and hide behind the law and say it's your legal right! Then expect societies prisons to shrink or your taxes not to up! Your not just reading a book, of calculating murderer, it does have a ripple effect. I personally do my best to promote life. Not to spend one breathe on something so low and horrendously evil. I wouldn't want anyone to experience what those three women did, nor would I support it. Law or not, it's on your conscious.

On the Shelf

November 21, 2009 by burban (not verified), 4 years 40 weeks ago
Comment: 92

Having this book available at any CT library will not change the outcome of these two murderer's trial nor the opinions of the readers. Clearly, after reading this book my opinion hasn't changed on keeping it available to the public. I feel sorry for all those people who have suffered from these murders and wish them peace. This book has less description or graphic details on the actual murders then most true story books and 3/4 of it's content is not about the Petits. CHS has us reading books with immoral content of hatred, swearing and violence then this book. The fact that these murders happened in Cheshire is an eye opener to all teenagers who are on the path of criminal minded activities and could actual help in deterring this type mindset of selfishness and want. As unpleasant as the subject matter is, it was national news and can't be covered up. The criminally insane and mentally ill have brains & voices too and must be heard for us to try to understand them, so we can better are laws, public schools, community based help and teen programs. Open discussion on this book and the murders should be part of public education and required reading.

On the shelf

November 22, 2009 by jef, 4 years 40 weeks ago
Comment: 95

Do you have experience with Psychopaths? Don't you dare put this person with a prison no. in the same ranks as the mentally ill, that is exactly what he wants! I work in Forensics, the criminally insane and the mentally ill. He is a Psychopath, you need to get some education and read books that have some credit to them. The criminal mentally ill have delusions, they don't plot , plan and then carry out such hideous crimes. As far as our youth, yes they are headed down a bad path, but it has to do more with a lack of morals and values. This is exactly how the mentally ill get a bad rap! And as far as the person that you are referring to look into the DSM1V or DSMV under psychopath and then decide.

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