Recently, a library patron challenged (urged a reconsideration of the ownership or placement of) a book called "Uncle Bobby's Wedding." Honestly, I hadn't even heard of it until that complaint. But I did read the book, and responded to the patron, who challenged the item through email and requested that I respond online (not via snail-mail) about her concerns.
I suspect the book will get a lot of challenges in 2008-2009. So I offer my response, purging the patron's name, for other librarians.
Uncle Bobby's wedding
June 27, 2008
Dear Ms. Patron:
Thank you for working with my assistant to allow me to fit your concerns about “Uncle Bobby's Wedding,” by Sarah S. Brannen, into our “reconsideration” process. I have been assured that you have received and viewed our relevant policies: the Library Bill of Rights, the Freedom to Read, Free Access to Libraries for Minors, the Freedom to View, and our Reconsideration Policy.
Years ago, I came up with this phrase to describe why libraries matter: they are institutions dedicated to the recognition and support of the fundamental dignity of human inquiry.
Curiosity is responsible for all the real gains in the quality of human life. What causes disease, and how can we prevent it? How can we build comprehensive and sustainable systems to deliver clean water and energy, to move goods and services to markets, or to educate the young? Human beings ask questions, and in the fearless pursuit of answers, they can find their way to the things that make human life enduring and worthwhile.
That end - a life in which people are free to explore the universe around them, to stand unafraid, to build rather than blunder and destroy their way through their days, to live with dignity and purpose - requires at least three things.
First, we must have the freedom to express what we know or think we know. This is what we mean by “free speech” -- the right to think, say, and write …
The older I get, the more I think there are basically two kinds of people: builders and destroyers. Between these two, maybe, are those who appreciate things, and those who mostly ignore things. But over the years I've come to group the former with builders, and the latter with destroyers.
"I'm a Leninist," said Steven Bannon in 2013. "Lenin wanted to destroy the state. And that's my goal, too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today's establishment."
I wish I could say that I thought this was hyperbole or posturing. I don't. I believe him. For Baby Boomers, destroying institutions is what we do. Is there conflict between personal and institutional values? Well, one of us must change! Guess who?
It doesn't take much work to trace Bannon's predilections at Breitbart, and in his still early days as chief strategist for Trump. And there's Trump himself, in a bizarre bro-mance with Putin.