Don’t tell me what I can’t read
In the past 10 years, I have come to loathe American politics. All of it. I am a member of no party. I avoid political discussions. I no longer watch cable news. I sincerely attempt to entertain no opinions on any issue of the day.
I vote. I obey the law. I pay my taxes. I read three newspapers. I help when I can.
I think I’ve met my civic obligations.
I try to refrain from writing about politics, because even the most objective analysis is essentially pointless – I rouse people who agree with my argument and enrage those who refuse to consider it.
Every now and then, though, something pulls me back into the muck.
Several months ago, Suffield First Selectman Colin Moll had a book on gender-inclusive pronouns pulled from a library display (not the library itself) in response to an e-mailed complaint. There were discussions at a Board of Selectmen and Kent Memorial Library Commission meetings, and now Suffield has a policy that sets the ground rules when a patron finds a library display objectionable.
We’re not alone. There has been a growing amount of efforts to ban or hide what some deem objectionable from public libraries. According to the American Library Association, there were 1,269 demands to censor library books and resources in 2022. There have been so many disturbing episodes of censorship in America that I don’t have the heart to list them all.
Granted, what went down in Suffield doesn’t constitute an all-out ban, but the government telling a library what it can or can’t display comes uncomfortably close.
I am not going to waste space providing all the points and counterpoints of this particular episode of censorship or any of the other thousand. I’m not going to tell you what to think.
What I am going to suggest is to do your own research.
And, you know who’s great at helping objectively research a difficult subject? A librarian! Not the Internet, not television, not talk radio, not a cable news host, not the big mouth at a bar and certainly NEVER a politician.
Librarians help inquisitive minds discover the information they seek. That is their job. They have no agenda beyond making more information more available to more people.
And, here is what all the politicians, self-proclaimed advocates and assorted big mouths don’t seem to understand: I, and a lot of people, trust a librarian more than we trust you. So, don’t tell libraries what they can or can’t do, and keep the noise down. We’re trying to read.