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Read at your own risk: Psychic Academy

Read at your own risk: Psychic Academy

Margaret Barbaree of Crestview, Florida, has asked that city’s City Council to remove all manga from the library, claiming that it is “graphic” and “shocking.” And she gave some rather startling testimony.

“My son lost his mind when he found this,” Barbaree said of the manga book from which her examples were taken. She said her son had removed the book unsupervised from the library’s general stacks last summer and put it in his backpack. “Now he’s in a home for extensive therapy.”

Let me tread carefully here: I do not mean to minimize anyone’s illness or the pain it can cause. I’m a parent myself, and I would fight anything that I felt threatened my children. That said, it’s hard to believe that a book alone could cause someone to become mentally ill.

While the newspaper did not mention the title of the book in question, the meeting is a public record and a call to the Crestview City Clerk’s office revealed that Barbaree mentioned two comics, “The Naked Suicide Girl,” which seems to be a chapter of Gantz, and Psychic Academy. While Gantz is rated 18+ and should never be shown to a child, Psychic Academy is rated 13+, the same as Fruits Basket. The article does not give Barbaree’s son’s age but describes him as a teenager.

Barbaree, who has founded a citizens group called “Protect Our Children,” had a petition with 226 signatures that called for “anime” to be removed from the library (she seems to have been a bit confused on the manga vs. anime thing, but that’s not unusual). What’s less forgiveable is that some of the signers say they were misled:

“They told us she (Barbaree) approached them at the Christmas parade and asked them to sign a petition protesting pornography in the library,” said Resource Librarian Sandra Dreaden.

Manga were not on the agenda for the City Council, but like most such bodies, they allot time during each meeting for members of the public to speak. The council took no action afterward, according to Assistant City Clerk Loretta Scardina.

City Council President Charles Baugh Jr. actually visited the library, looked over the young adult manga, and deemed it “perfectly innocuous,” which should keep the kids away from it. He also verified that the adult manga was in a different part of the library. While it is refreshing to see an elected official take such a sensible approach, it should also be noted that the City Council probably has no power over the library other than to set the budget; in most places the library director and board are responsible for matters like this.

As for the library, they seem to have done their due diligence; library director Jean Lewis told Barbaree that they stock manga because their patrons want it.

Lewis said the manga available in the young adult section of the library is oriented toward young teen readers and does not contain the adult themes of the book Barbaree’s son took. That book had been in the general stacks, on a top shelf in a section with other graphic novels and comic books not geared toward young readers.

Which suggests that the troubling manga was indeed Gantz.



I’ve not seen or read any manga (or book for that matter) that could send you to a mental institute. I’ve seen some that would certainly make you want to puke, but that’s about it.

Seems to me this is just another mother refusing to accept that something is wrong at home and that her family is perfect, thus it has to be a book that’s caused her oh so perfect son to need hospitalizing.

In a way it’s just history repeating itself, similar things happened with TV and rock music. Rather than look at themselves for the problems people blame it on external things. They also forget that there’s way worse stuff on TV these days aimed at kids in general. Itchy and Scratchy anyone?

Tom and Jerry wasn’t enough anymore so they took it to the next level where they frequently cut each other into bits and stuff. They also seem to forget that as kids we read a hell of a lot worse in magazines of the day. Anyone remember Eagle, Dan Dare, or any of those countless pulp horror magazines?

It’s easy to take pot shots at a delusional soccer mom wanting to rid the local public library of filth–I’ve done it myself in the past, and I’ll certainly do it again in the future–but this is just sad. If she has a teenage son in a serious mental healthcare facility, and the first thing she noticed that was wrong was just a year and a half ago, then she was missing something important. Mental deterioration, sexual abuse… something.

Of course kids can kid ideas from books or movies. Anybody can take inspiration from anything. That’s what makes us human. But the idea that her son was unable to deviate from some sort of destiny because of one single book? That’s just sad.

My local library contains books with pictures of mutilated corpses in it. Piles of tens, possibly hundreds, of deformed, violated and emaciated human bodies.

These books aren’t Manga (Or Anime, as this woman calls them). They are books about the holocaust, then rape of Nanking, and other terrible atrocities that man has wrought upon man.

Maybe she’d like to ban those, too? They are highly disturbing. And rightly so.

Or maybe she’d like to ban the photography and art books that have nudes in them. As I recall most books featuring Michelangelo’s David have full frontal male nudity in them.

This woman needs to get a grip. At the very worst she wasn’t supervising her child properly and he walked out of the children’s section and into the main section, where he took it upon himself to read a book that his mother (whom was not supervising him) didn’t approve of while he was not under her direct supervision.

It might come as a surprise to her, but libraries contain books for adults, too. But I guess that’s the first amendment for you. Free access to knowledge.

I’m also at a loss as to what he could possibly have read to disturb him that much. I’m not aware of any Manga being legally published in the US that could disturb a child as she described.

She’s either over reacting, or her child is so mentally fragile that he’d probably have been disturbed by a children’s book, too.

Or maybe it was her over reaction that disturbed him? Who knows, his supposed mental health problems might have been caused by her screaming and yelling at him, or her punishing him in some terrible way? Maybe she shut him in the basement in the dark for a while. Parents have been know to do things like that when they overreact.

In a coincidence, I once lived in a town next door to Crestview (De Funiak Springs) and I am sorry to say, this type of behaviour is par for the course for there. I should tell you sometime about my trip to Wal-mart to go shopping and getting prayed at by a customer because of my goth loli street wear. Yup. NOT unusual….


July 5, 2010 at 11:17 pm

It’s easy to take pot shots at a delusional soccer mom wanting to rid the local public library of filth–I’ve done it myself in the past, and I’ll certainly do it again in the future–but this is just sad. If she has a teenage son in a serious mental healthcare facility, and the first thing she noticed that was wrong was just a year and a half ago, then she was missing something important. Mental deterioration, sexual abuse… something.

Maybe something really dangerous, like playing that Dungeons And Dragons!

Brigid Alverson

July 6, 2010 at 2:53 am

@Kimi-Chan: To be fair, all the professionals in this story seem to have responded properly. The library is keeping their manga, and they explained why. The city council reps resisted the temptation to score cheap political points by denouncing the books. Overall, this scenario played out much better and more rationally than it has in other places.

When I called the city clerk about this, at 3 p.m. on the Friday before a three-day weekend, she was pleasant and professional and provided all the information I requested. As a former newspaper reporter (and current City Hall employee) I know that not everyone lives up to this standard—a lot of people don’t care to talk to the press, especialy about something that could make the city look bad. I gained a lot of respect for Crestview in the course of researching this post.

The original article implies that the kid stole the book from the adult section. I get the feeling that there were problems already in place before he read the stories, but the woman is in denial and so needs to blame it on something. Sad, really.

I’m the journalist who wrote the original story for the Crestview News Bulletin. I popped by our library after Mrs. Barbaree addressed the city council to see that dreadful manga that’s corrupting young minds. As suspected, perfectly innocuous stuff. I’ve glanced through manga before and couldn’t imagine what had the lady’s knickers in such a twist. The distance from the young adult materials to the section back in the general stacks where the son found the book is sufficient that someone has to definitely be on the prowl for specific material to find it up on the top shelf. It’s impossible for the kid to have just stumbled from the young adult and childrens’ books and come across graphic novels. I believe he was 14 or 15 at the time he “liberated” the book from the library. You can see my original story here:

Manga: causing mental illness since 1798.

I totally want that on a shirt.

Dennis Schamp

July 9, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Maybe I’m missing something, but I haven’t read in any of the articles where the son was arrested for stealing books from the library. Why isn’t that part of his behavior even being addressed?

margaret barbaree

July 10, 2010 at 7:53 am

please go to crestview comunity telavision to see and understand more of what im protesting .also feel free to email me at

Ms. Barbaree, while I can understand objecting to the more mature materials any library has in its stacks, I must point several things out to you. First of all, it is a library’s duty to service its patrons. If the books are there, it is because there are adults that enjoy and request such materials. Secondly, these adult books are a sufficient distance away from the young readers section, and can only be located by those intentionally seeking them out. Thirdly, these adult comics and manga have no relation whatsoever with the majority of other manga on the market, especially the majority of manga in Bob Sikes Library in particular. While they may or may not disagree with your religious affiliation, the books themselves are completely innocuous, containing in many cases less violence and other graphic material than one might see in Saturday morning cartoons. Also, do you believe the library should be closed because it contains several romance novels, equally as pornographic as the manga you’re referencing? Finally, there comes a point where one must own up to their own responsibilities, and stop casting blame on others. While I am saddened that your son is currently institutionalized, the issues he is working through now were not caused by his reading of these books. While it is hard to admit, your son had these issues long before encountering these books. Not only that, but he had to steal the materials from the adult section of the shelves in order to read them. This shows that, despite what you want for him, he made the decision to read these books of his own volition. He used his free will and made a choice: the library, and manga in general, cannot be blamed for this. Please understand, I am not making this an attack on you or your family, and I will keep you all in my thoughts and prayers as you work through this. However, what you are protesting is freedom of information access, and, at the core of it, human free will itself. I have no problem with you using your First Amendment rights, but please don’t fight to take people’s free will from them; such a fight is unnecessary and, ultimately, will prove unfruitful.

All you need to know about Ms. Barbaree’s cause.

the kid lost his mind because gantz is mindblowingly awesome (and it’s the only manga i’ve read). but also because it seems like he has the kind of parents that shelter him so i’m sure anything outside the boundaries his parents have set for him would shock him. too bad. parents are doing him a disservice.

… I question if the teen “acsedentalaly”(srry keyboard)picked it up…. I think he knew exactly what he was looking for but the mother did not approve and when she found out she overkilled it.

Again someone calls for mature books to be banned from public presence just because they can’t keep track of their kids. Yes. Gantz should be in an adult section. It’d be like putting Scarface in with The Brave Little Toaster. is it a something that should be in a library for public consumption? Yes, it shouldn’t be in a kids section or mixed among books for kids. Guess what? It wasn’t.

The kid stole the damn book out of the library! Had the kid properly checked out the book, the kid most certainly would have been stopped. So the library is not to blame. The kid could just had easily had snuck out some Oscar Wilde or a photo book of Edward Weston nudes or something else mature..

Geez. Mrs Barbaree sounds almost like one or two steps from declaring all books as unclean and tossing them on the fire. Well. Save for the ‘Good Book’. Though personally there are plenty of parts of the Holy Bible that are not appropriate for kids. Even parts of Christ’s life as revealed in the Holy Gospels are not proper for kids. There are proper kids books about the Bible for kids, yet the Bible itself has mature content not appropriate for kids. By Barbaree’s logic the Holy Bible itself should be pulled entirely from the library. Really, with that line of thinking the library should only house kids books, which is utterly ridiculous.

Overreactions such as these give the industry a foul repuation. I am sad to hear that my favorite hobby has traumatized a child, however. The library deserves much praise for sticking to its’ guns and keeping the manga stocked instead of buckling under the whinning of a careless parent.

Moral of the story; cover your tracks, close the shutters, and hide your porn properly.

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