The Annoyed Librarian takes apart the ALA's latest escapade phrase by phrase. In doing so she points out the "slippery slope" the ALA uses to claim any social engineering whatsoever can be justified by claiming potential involvement of "library workers or library users." That means everybody.
"WHEREAS, same-sex couples, including those who are library workers or library users, who live in states where only heterosexual couples may wed legally do not receive the same rights, including library privileges for partners, family and medical leave, tax equity, inheritance rights, hospital visitation, insurance and retirement benefits, family health care coverage, housing benefits, tuition remission benefits, adoption or birth leave;"
My goodness, they're reaching here. Since there are librarians in every state, then any laws affecting librarians in any way (and not just as librarians) is relevant for the ALA to comment upon. That's the typical argument of the radicals, the slippery slope that makes everything relevant. Very convenient.
Source: "ALA 2009: The ALA Council and Same Sex Marriage," by Annoyed Librarian, Library Journal, 8 July 2009.
This got me thinking. What is a "slippery slope"? Wikipedia defines it this way: "In debate or rhetoric, a slippery slope (also the thin edge of the wedge or the camel's nose) is a classical informal fallacy."
A fallacy! Does the ALA employ this fallacy by warning against slippery slopes?
The ALA decries slippery slopes any time it opposes something that impinges on its social engineering efforts. Here's a peek into the ALA's mind:
- Keeping inappropriate material from children? Bad. Slippery slope. US Supreme Court cases irrelevant. US v. ALA rarely applies. Board of Education v. Pico never applies. The Library Bill of Rights opposing age discrimination trumps them anyway. Besides, protecting children is a bad idea.
- Allowing the government to get information needed to prevent terrorism? Bad. Slippery slope. Don't report terrorists to police. So what if child porn traffickers go free. We'll just cover up the child porn incidents, or maybe kick out the complainers. Heck, we'll even help the pedophiles by destroying physical evidence.
- The ALA promoting gay marriage despite it having nothing to do with libraries? Good. Slippery slope good in such a case, as the Annoyed Librarian explained.
Peek for yourself:
"Officially Speaking," by Kathleen T. Horning, ALSConnect, December 2005, v.3, no.4:
As I compose this column, the twenty-third annual Banned (and Challenged, in some jurisdictions) Books Week, the last full week in September, is in full swing. My theory is that we are beginning to see the result of descending the slippery slope we have so long feared: would-be censors in cities and counties that have enacted filtering provisions are emboldened to continue their quest to restrict the choices of young readers.
"FBI Seeks to Search Journalist's Archives for Classified Documents," by ALA, American Libraries, 21 April 2006:
Once you begin taking records out of library archives that researchers rely on for free inquiry and research purposes, it would be very difficult not to see it as a slippery slope toward government controlling research in higher education and our collective understanding of American history....
"Judith Krug: Tribute and Thoughts," by Michael Golrick, Thoughts From a Library Administrator, 17 April 2009:
The next head of the OIF *must* continue to express unqualified support for all that the First Ammendment [sic] stands for. To do anything less will allow us to slide down a slippery slope.
Is there another view?
The Annoyed Librarian and I are not the only ones criticizing the ALA for its fallacious slippery slope arguments. Here are others:
"James Taranto Mocks ALA Ethics And Rightly So; ALA Leadership 'Blatantly Violates Ethics,'" by SafeLibraries, SafeLibraries, 6 February 2009:
Now, we know what you're thinking: Surely in this case an exception is in order. Revealing the story didn't do Sullenberger any harm, and it was an inspiration to us all. But this is a slippery slope. Today it's Sullenberger, tomorrow no one's privacy will be safe. Maybe the next victim will be some innocent terrorist checking out books on how to make bombs, or a poor pervert who just wants to look at porn. Once you start cutting ethical corners, you're on the way to total moral breakdown.
"Culture of Fear," by Gregory McClay, The Notebook (SHUSH), 12 May 2007, Comment 25:
And spare me the slippery slope. It slides both ways. There have been cases where library staff have filed sexual harassment charges because the porn viewing got so bad and management wouldn’t do anything. That’s a little more severe then a book challenge.
Teen Maintains Stance Against Disputed Books; High-Schooler Says Decision to Have Titles on Shelves is 'Against the Values of Carroll County,'" by Gina Davis, The Baltimore Sun, 25 January 2006.
[Westminster High School junior Joel] Ready said he hopes people will not be deterred by charges of censorship and will continue to object to books they believe are inappropriate for schools.
"I'm not convinced there is an ultimate slippery slope," he said. "Just because we're not sure where this could end doesn't mean we should do nothing. We're never going to stop drug use or end violence, but that doesn't stop us from trying."
"Laurie's Noble Crusade," by Mike Masterson, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 4 April 2005:
Yes, I am well aware of the "slippery slope" arguments that are raised when humans try to restrict free expression. But there also have to be logical boundaries in our society. And I’m one who dearly values common sense as well as decency and taste when it comes to drawing reasonable lines for our children’s sake.
What do you think? Another double standard?