Friday, October 5, 2012

Librarians Discuss Banned Books Week on Twitter #Libchat; ALA Councilor Attacks Me

#libchat moderator
This week is the American Library Association's 30th edition of its Banned Books Week hoax.  As a volunteer librarian, I partake in the weekly #libchat on Twitter, 8 - 9:30 pm EST Wednesdays, moderated by @NatalieBinder.

So I sent the following messages to the moderator about Banned Books Week as she seeks such input:

@nataliebinder for #libchat: "Why the @OIF Can’t be Taken Seriously" #BannedBooksWeek #censorship
10/3/12 7:55 PM-Wednesday, 3October2012

@nataliebinder, why doesn't@OIF oppose banning of ex-gay books on #BannedBooksWeek
10/3/12 8:09 PM-Wednesday, 3October2012

This apparently precipitated the following discussion, with some people saying the ALA should be more radical and others saying less, essentially agreeing with me in principle that the ALA has gone too far in some areas and not enough in others:

Q3 This week is Banned Books Week. Do libraries (or the ALA) sometimes take the definition of censorship too far? (1/2) #libchat
10/3/12 8:30 PM-Wednesday, 3October2012

Q3 continued: Is it appropriate to focus on challenged books during Banned Books week? (2/2) #libchat
10/3/12 8:31 PM-Wednesday, 3October2012

Q3 I do. A better name would be Intellectual Freedom Week, as that's what it's really about, reminding folks [cont.] #libchat
10/3/12 8:34 PM-Wednesday, 3October2012

Q3 cont.'s not illegal to think unpopular thoughts. But Banned Books Week is more soundbite-able to the general public. #libchat
10/3/12 8:35 PM-Wednesday, 3October2012

q3 I think ALA doesn't take the censorship debate far enough- they don't disallow internet filtering. [cont] #libchat
10/3/12 8:35 PM-Wednesday, 3October2012

@LibraryPadawan Agreed. Freedom to not have others judge what is appropriate for each individual to read/learn. #libchat
10/3/12 8:35 PM-Wednesday, 3October2012

q3 Banned Books Week is a good media/pr/awareness raising event, but it needs to go further-raise more issues around censorship #libchat
10/3/12 8:36 PM-Wednesday, 3October2012

Q3 I like the name "Banned Books Week". It's a very jarring & attention grabbing name for an issue people often forget still exists #libchat
10/3/12 8:36 PM-Wednesday, 3October2012

@cathy_library I agree. I think many libraries get a good conversation started that gets dropped until the next Banned Books Week #libchat
10/3/12 8:37 PM-Wednesday, 3October2012

@LibraryPadawan I like that. It better reflects what we're actually trying to accomplish. #libchat
10/3/12 8:37 PM-Wednesday, 3October2012

Q3 #libchat At times it seems that if a book is thrown out of something that is not a library, it's not a banned book..
10/3/12 8:38 PM-Wednesday, 3October2012

Q3 #libchat ...and even if the book is retained in the collection, it's still banned
10/3/12 8:38 PM-Wednesday, 3October2012

Q3 My favorite is when people get confused and think the library is trying to ban books. Let's call it a teachable moment. #libchat
10/3/12 8:39 PM-Wednesday, 3October2012

Q3 #libchat (unless a librarian decides to take it out of the collection himself cf. @awfullibbooks)
10/3/12 8:40 PM-Wednesday, 3October2012

Q3 #libchat Books that get you arrested, killed, or deported, are missing from the list because Americans do have the freedom to read them
10/3/12 8:43 PM-Wednesday, 3October2012

The above discussion is not necessarily news, but I thought it was interesting enough to publish here to show that not all librarians march to the ALA's tune.

ALA Councilor Patrick Sweeney Attacks Me

As an aside, here's a supposed free speech advocate calling me "that one typical crazy guy," even as they speak on the issue I raised.  I know he's talking about me because he has made similar comments about me in other fora in the past, and in a similar manner.

Notice in his first #libchat comment ever, he uses the opportunity to make an ad hominem remark about me.  He's one of my few personal trolls:

Checking out #libchat for the first time. I'm wondering about how many non-libs participate? Besides that one typical crazy guy.
10/3/12 8:36 PM-Wednesday, 3October2012

And what a coincidence this free speech troll blocks me on Twitter.  Oh my, he is "the Branch Manager of the East Palo Alto Library in California" identified as an "ALA Emerging Leader."

He is now an ALA Councilor!  "The Council is the governing body of ALA."  Model behavior for an ALA Councilor to behave in such a fashion, no?  Attack someone on Twitter but be sure he's blocked first so he can't respond.

To whom may I appeal if someone on the governing body of the ALA is attacking me in various settings?  He's on the ALA Ethics Committee, so the answer is nowhere.  But he does help to illustrate the ALA's commitment to free speech goes only one way.

The Banned Books Week Acolytes Block Free Speech

Notice other supposed free speech advocates who support Banned Books Week in the conversation above have also blocked me:
  • @jessf600 - Jessica - public librarian in Ventura County, CA.
  • @BibliosaurusRex - Lauren Bradley, MLIS, Judaica Systems Librarian and ALA Committee Intern, New York City, NY, ALA's Public and Cultural Programs Advisory Committee.
  • @lochwouters - Marge Loch-Wouters - Youth Services Coordinator, La Crosse Public Library, immediate past Wisconsin's Chapter Councilor on the ALA Council - she joined the conversation too late to comment on the issue, but she's another ALA Councilor who has blocked me.
And most seem to be ALA acolytes.  And they block free speech.  Free speech advocates blocking free speech.  Remarkable.  No big deal as this is just Twitter, but I thought it interesting nevertheless.

It sheds a little bit of light on why, for example, certain free speech advocates do not mind the censorship of books with which they disagree, such as those about ex-gays:

Conclusion on Banned Books Week, Free Speech, and Twitter Behavior

So the librarians who seek to move Banned Books Week away from being a hoax such as by calling it "Intellectual Freedom Week" do not block me, and the librarians who are happy to see Banned Books Week continue to be "very jarring" block my free speech on Twitter.  Very interesting.  It's no coincidence.


Contrast the behavior of the ALA Councilor with that of teacher/writer Trudy J. Morgan-Cole.  She addresses the issues, not the people raising the issues (though she swoons over John Green and not me!!!), and she does so in a truly thoughtful manner:

She references the following tweets:

During #bannedbooksweek I loaned a student Looking for Alaska by @realjohngreen . Was that ever banned anywhere?
10/4/12 8:40 PM-Thursday, 4October2012

@trudymorgancole many times.
10/4/12 8:46 PM-Thursday, 4October2012

No: MT @trudymorgancole: "#bannedbooksweek Was Looking for Alaska by @realjohngreen ever banned anywhere?”
10/4/12 10:58 PM-Thursday, 4October2012

I recommend following @TrudyMorganCole.


ALA Councilor Sweeney commented below to attack me further, even saying, "I also have heard from a number of New Jersey librarians (where you live) that you used to put playboys and penthouses in the stacks and then try to get the libraries in trouble to drum up some press. Is that true? Yet another reason why you’re blocked."  I respond to this unprofessionalism and more also in comments below.  Please read them.