Tuesday, July 12, 2005

"Stink-In" planned for Houston Library

The Reverend G. Todd Williams of the New Covenant Church in Houston is looking for a few good men. And women. And by "good," he means men and women with enough stanky body odor to choke a rhino.

Williams says he'll be holding a "Stink-In" July 9 at the Montrose Public Library to protest a new city ordinance that says library patrons can be forced to leave if they have "offensive bodily hygiene."

The law clearly discriminates against the homeless, he says. And so, as an announcement of the protest puts it, "We are encouraging folks to mow their lawns, play tennis, play hard and get all sweaty…don't SHOWER, then plan to head to the public library."

At 3 p.m., all the fragrant revolutionaries -- including the many homeless members of Williams's congregation, who probably won't need to play tennis beforehand -- will descend on the library. Hilarity will ensue, no doubt, along with a heartwarming message that the stench-ridden need love, too.

"This is an ordinance about hate," Williams says. "And it's got the seal of approval by the city on it."

In honor of the protest, the Storytime Book that day will be the children's classic The Stinky Cheese Man. Or it should be.


Paloma Cruz said...

This "protest" was planned for last Saturday and was, for the most part, a bust. A handful of people showed up with "Poverty is not a Crime" signs and stood in front of the library for an hour. (Yes, I did go by to gawk... I was curious to see what would actually happen.)

What isn't covered in the Houston Press story that announced this protest is that the rule was passed in April, amid a lot of media coverage (local, state and national). It's not something that was sneaked in. And it isn't a law, though some people may be confused because in Houston when the Library updates its rules, it needs to have them blessed by City Council.

The other fact that isn't covered in the story is the current movement in Houston's Montrose area to restrict activities of the homeless. Something which has nothing to do with the Library. This group is obviously taking aim at other's initiatives by using the Library as an example.

I guess the question is: why have they waited three months to take issue with the rule? It's not like the librarians in that particular branch (one of 36 or 37 in Houston's library system) are throwing people out on a daily basis. In fact, if they've used the rule once since it was passed I'd be very surprised.

I am not a librarian, but I do work with libraries. I am a library supporter and a frequent library customer. And, while I believe that everyone should have access to the services of a public library, I think this rule is necessary.

Just my opinion.

David Booker said...

Hi, Paloma. It played out pretty much as I expected it would. The subject can pose a dilemma for librarians who certainly want free access to the facility, but who also recognize the practical problems some “patrons” can cause. I, and I suspect most of us, support the rule.

Thanks for the comment!