Intimidation of Librarians Must Stop

The current effort gaining steam which would seek to use the tactics
of intimidation and propaganda in order to squelch free speech and
force a uniformity of thought at the Council and organizational level
must be stopped.

The underhanded effort is a clear violation of several core principles
as outlined in The Library Bill of Rights and the stated Policies of
the ALA regarding intellectual freedom. The current Chair of the
Intellectual Freedom Committee, Kenton Oliver, has written about this
"practice of gagging and deriding members who dissent" in Ohio
Libraries, and Councilors are encouraged to read excerpts of that
article added just below.

This authoritarian course of action being promoted by a relatively small
number of librarians seeks to criminalize efforts to engage in open
dialogue with ALA Council candidates about their positions. Serious
but unsubstantiated charges of fraud and ethical violations
have been publicly leveled at librarians, who are then provided no
opportunity to respond. What is worse, those using these tactics
refuse to respond to repeated public challenges to debate
these issues in open library forums, and some are now even seeking
to use the implied threat of legal action in an unprofessional attempt
to shut down the free exchange of ideas.

I invite all the ALA Council and ALA membership to resist these
censorious reactions to the exercise of prima facie democratic rights.
Resist the "rehearsed responses" to unpopular ideas that W. H. Auden
warned against. It is a very troubling trend when elected leaders who
represent the ideals of American librarianship resort to character
assassination, yellow journalism, and repeated verbal attacks in order
to silence the opinions of dissident librarians.

Mr. Oliver's important observations on intellectual freedom within the
ALA follow.

Those who think it is wise to seek second opinions about issues like book burning
and censorship, are invited to read the documentation assembled at:

http://groups.google.com/group/Cuba451Letters.

Or, don't elected ALA Councilors believe in promoting the alternative
media anymore?

Walter Skold, MLIS
(Un-government-funded and solely on behalf of himself)

Excerpts from Kenton Oliver article in Ohio Libraries. Fall 2004.
The full article can be accessed at:
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3978/is_200410/ai_n9471664

"ALA members who claim to hold freedom of speech and intellectual
freedom values dear are resorting to tactics at Council and membership
meetings aimed at silencing opposition and discourse. This troubling
cultural atmosphere is unfortunate. It cheats the association of our
focus; it plays out in violation of the association's adopted policy...

...For whatever reason, the issues and subjects of these discussions
do not seem to allow for collégial and reasoned debate. We are moving
toward intolerance, disrespect, and labeling of association members.
It is good theatre but boorish behavior. And it is ironic. As an
association that professes to support diversity and dissent in its
members and institutions, we shut each other down at our membership
meetings…

... I felt the atmosphere of contempt for anyone who would speak
against the resolution was as clear as it had been at the
non-membership meeting discussion earlier in the conference. Just as
Ms. Davison-Turley described in her membership meeting experience,
councilors rising to oppose the resolution risked being labeled right
wing government lackeys..."

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