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Michael, Michael… Less Caffeine, Please

It’s good to hear (other) library administrators blogging, particularly Michael Golrick. But he’s overwrought about the resolution Council just passed on free expression.

The resolution doesn’t tell chapters what to do. It reaffirms ALA’s policy within light of recent threats to free expression. It couldn’t be any milder in terms of direction without “dumbing it down,” in the words of one person who helped craft the resolution. As for inciting legislators, they are doing just fine attacking gay rights without any help from ALA. ALA’s members need to be affirmed, supported, and reminded of ALA policy within the context of new events, and that’s what this resolution accomplished.

Some state chapter councilors do take offense over ALA’s statements. That happened forty years ago, some Councilors reminded us, when some state associations had to be shamed into desegregating. The mirror of shame is powerful.

Years ago, Michael and I sparred over ALA’s position on the Boy Scouts, which had reaffirmed its right to be strangely homophobic for an all-guys organization. The situation was painted as ALA “telling” the Boy Scouts what to do (and stirring the pot, and all kinds of wicked things) when as the record shows ALA was affirming what ALA believes, as an organization.

I wonder what Michael would say to a resolution that asked state chapters to encourage their libraries to offer equal benefits for same-sex partners. Note the language: ask… to require. Not demand.

Michael, I’d like to make a broader point. I may have to coin another ugly neologism. I think you’re Tribbling yourself by taking this discussion to your blog. Among other issues (and one reason I do not drag MPOW into my posts beyond some techno-discussion), imagine your own employees created blogs that disputed your point of view on this issue. What would you think then? Would they be wrong, and you be right?

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