sex drugs and intellectual freedom

Some Thoughts on Intellectual Freedom, Plurality and the West Bend Library Book challenge

Wisconsin readers of SDIF may already be aware of the ongoing books challenge in West Bend, WI. Local Fox6 News has a video clip on the matter here (though you may cringe at its rhetorical pandering to this absurd construct collectively known as “the culture wars.” At least I did.)

While the situation has blown up into a call for the removal of certain GLBTQ books by the local religious community, that was not originally the case. Initially, (as I have come to understand it) the challenge centered around the book lists on the West Bend library’s website for Young Adults. A mother was concerned that the GLBTQ book list contained, in her mind, only pro-gay literature (whatever that means). Her request was that some sort of alternative viewpoint (specifically, a Christian-based homophobic one) be represented there as well. Presumably, this would come in the form of Christian “conversion” literature. That is, literature claiming that through Christian faith, one can overcome (or, in some iterations, “cure”) their homosexuality.

Now, this post is not intended to address the ideological battle over whether or not homosexuality is some sort of “sin.” I will state that I am certain it is not a sin, and that to believe otherwise is to engage in bigotry, plain and simple. I further believe that “conversion” literature has no place in a public library’s Young Adult section (or, in most cases, any section). But, again, while I am more than happy to argue why elsewhere, I do not look to do so here.

Rather, I would like to address some of the discussions among library and information science students and professionals that I have been privy to as of late. Specifically, I would like to address what seems to be a common consensus that, in the name of Intellectual Freedom, the GLBTQ books should not be removed and that some sort of “conversion” literature should be necessarily added to the collection.

In short: I find this quick consensus to be alarming and, frankly, dangerous.


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Wikipedia, Truth, and the University

Posted in education, internets by A on 23 October 08

Technology Review currently has an article up about Wikipedia that basically amounts to a roundabout discussion of the subjective nature of truth. [via]

However, the piece brings up an interesting problem many of us haven’t considered: the often vicious circle of citation and verification.



Posted in access, education, reading by A on 20 October 08

NYT profile of Luis Soriano’s Biblioburro project in northern Colombia.

Every weekend, Mr. Soriano packs up as many books from his collection of more than 4,800 as his two donkeys – Alfa and Beto – can handle. He then embarks on short journeys to nearby villages as a make-shift bookmobile, distributing books and news to disconnected rural populations. He undertook the project hoping to inspire change in the violent landscape that surrounded him, and has continued after the violence has subsided.

From the article:

“This began as a necessity; then it became an obligation; and after that a custom,” he explained, squinting at the hills undulating into the horizon. “Now,” he said, “it is an institution.”

How awesome is this guy? Mr. Soriano’s Biblioburro project is what we at SDIF would like to call “totally heroic.”

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