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Conservatives and Libraries

I think my last post might have caused some political confusion. I was making fun of an ignorant tea partier in North Carolina, and some of the comments seemed to assume that Ol’ JT was some sort of conservative. To some of us, this is just crazy talk. The tea partiers and the libertarians aren’t conservatives, they’re radicals, as radical as the regressive librarians but a lot more numerous. There’s nothing they want to conserve.

True conservatives are against all abuses of government, just like everyone else is, but they’re not against all government services. What they’re especially against is radicalism and sweeping change. Public libraries of a sort have been an American institution for over 150 years. Their predecessors, the various subscription and circulating libraries that often served as de facto public libraries, are older than the USA itself. These are sturdy and longstanding public agencies that have helped generations of Americans improve themselves, and only radicals want to destroy such institutions. Like the provision of roads or water, they do what can’t be done individually.

Conservatives traditionally like libraries, for all sorts of reasons. Libraries conserve the best of human culture and make it available for the masses. I realize a lot of libraries don’t take this mission seriously, and they think that they’re somehow fulfilling their public mission by providing access to Internet porn and videogames, but in theory this is what libraries do, and frequently in practice as well.

Conservatives are a lot smarter than the tea partiers and libertarians. They recognize that society is a relationship between the dead, the living, and the yet unborn that exists to help us do things that we can’t do on our own. Public institutions and agencies are fully justified in many instances. Conservatives just think more carefully about what government agencies are worth funding with public monies and which are not.

One crucial distinction is between government agencies that sap the virtues of individual effort, self-improvement, and personal responsibility and those that foster them.

Cradle-to-grave welfare that makes no allowance for personal initiative or effort destroys those virtues, and should not be funded. Here we also get the common distinction among conservatives of the deserving and the undeserving poor. Communists, socialists, and varieties of liberal think all the poor are deserving.

Conservatives don’t. Those who, despite being given opportunities, make no effort to improve their lot are the undeserving poor. However, to distinguish between the deserving and the undeserving poor, the opportunity to improve oneself must be made available. Hence, institutions such as public schools and public libraries.

Andrew Carnegie is a good example of such a conservative. He funded public libraries so that people could improve themselves if they made the effort. The same opportunities are still necessary today. Conservatives want people to succeed, and they realize this success has to come from self-effort, not government handouts. But absolutely no one, rich or poor, succeeds without being given the tools and support for success. Libraries are one way to provide this support.

Are libraries perfect in meeting their mission? Absolutely not. The utter foolishness of fighting efforts to combat Internet porn in public libraries shows lots of librarians don’t understand what they should be doing. In their zeal to destroy government, tea partying radicals are too stupid to discern between public agencies that serve the public good and those that undermine it. In their zeal to promote access to "information," some librarians are too stupid to discern between information for self-improvement and information for self-abuse.

Librarians can babble on about intellectual freedom all they like, but it’s clear to sane observers that many librarians can’t distinguish between liberty and license. Is this driving the radical forces attempt to destroy our public institutions? I don’t know. Conservative librarians know how liberal the ALA is, but outside of the profession no one really cares what librarians have to say about politics. 

I have noticed one similarity between radicals of all stripes, and that’s their desire for "change." Across the country we have radicals voting out perfectly good conservatives because they want "change." This isn’t much different from the radical librarians like the twopointopians who are always yammering at us about how we need to change because change is good. Things change, they tell us, and we need to keep up!

Radicals inside the profession have been claiming we need to change in all sorts of incompatible ways for a while now. Guess what? Libraries are changing. They’re shrinking. They’re going out of business.

This should make all the radicals happy. Defunct libraries won’t be doing a disservice to the community by picking Ol’ JT’s pockets or failing to create a blog. Radicals in conservative clothing are just as bad as radicals in radical clothing.

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Comments

  1. Zombie says:

    I give Hope a chance.

    Change is in the air.

    I hope it doesn’t change anything for me.

  2. Dan Kleinman of SafeLibraries.org says:

    “The utter foolishness of fighting efforts to combat Internet porn in public libraries shows lots of librarians don’t understand what they should be doing.”

    “In their zeal to promote access to ‘information,’ some librarians are too stupid to discern between information for self-improvement and information for self-abuse.”

    “Librarians can babble on about intellectual freedom all they like, but it’s clear to sane observers that many librarians can’t distinguish between liberty and license.”

    “Conservative librarians know how liberal the ALA is, but outside of the profession no one really cares what librarians have to say about politics.”

    AL, right on.

  3. Talulah says:

    Hmm. Funny. That may be a good basic way to describe a “true” conservative. But I don’t know too many “true” conservatives. The conservatives I know seem more interested in legislating what my library’s computers have to block and what I’m allowed to do with my uterus than with making sure that they provide opportunities for self-betterment to my community.

    Apparently, I’m not capable of using my training and judgment to manage my own life. And my library board is not capable of determining what is appropriate for my patrons. Yes, let’s centralize *all* the decision making.

  4. A. Political Librarian says:

    In an ideal world, librarians should not exhibit ANY political leaning. They should provide what the patrons want without any political filter.

    I don’t want, or need, some librarian biddy clucking and hrumphing about what I want to research. They have know idea about what my stand is and why I want to read some politically charged vitriol. If I am to take a stand against something, I should know what they have to say.

  5. NJ says:

    Possibly but a history of conservatism going back as far as you want to, shows an amazing talent for getting it wrong, and being on the wrong side of history as well.

    Conservatives were burning helicentrists back in the late 16th and early 17th century. They were attacking both the idea of the circulatory system as well as theory that diseases were caused by little invisible life forms, rather than evil spirits and demons.

    Going on into the 20th Century, he opposed the enactment of child labor laws, insisting it was right and proper to utilize the children of the poor in sweatshops and coal mines. He continually opposed expanding the right to vote to women and minorities. In the sixties he opposed any efforts to stop the lynching of minorities and especially blacks.

    Suppose you had a extremely opinionated friend who told you to buy Enron and swore it would keep rising. He bet that the Yankees would sweep the Red Sox in 2004. He said mobile phones were just a fad and eventually people would just go back to sending telegrams. How much would you trust this friends powers of observation and judgement?

    Well historically, the judgement and positions taken by conservatives has pretty much been worse than that fictitious friend.

    In fact the greatest strength the conservative movement has is the fact that it is so wrong, so often, and that ideas it has espoused in the past have ended up coming to grief so often, that the ideas have been abandoned and almost completely forgotten. So they are able to espouse similar crackpot ideas in every new generation.

    The primary argument conservatives give when they support a conservative candidate who gets into office and then starts creating an economic mess is always “they were not REAL conservatives”

    Actually they were. What they discovered once they actually got INTO office is that conservative theories do not in practice work at all. No matter how you try to cut spending, if you do it in the social area, which has a generally positive stimulus effect on the consumer economy, you accelerate the negative damaging effects that the beloved national security and defense spending has on the overall economy.

    Defense spending is a relatively small and focused sector of the economy. Money used for defense purposes has an overall negative effect on GDP. Economists call this “equity”. The effect of a dollar of government spending on overall GDP. Everytime the government spends a dollar on defense, basically it only returns fifty cents to GDP. So if over ten years the government spents seven trillion dollars on defense, it sucks 3.5 trillion out of GDP. The only way to offset this effect is to have the government do spending that at least neutralizes this negative equity effect on GDP.

    This is basically how Reagan destroyed the Soviet Union. He attacked its economy by getting it to spend larger and larger percentages of it’s GDP on defense, leaving virtually NOTHING for it’s consumer economy. This basically led the Soviets into a liquidity negative economy. They had amassed huge amounts of capital in the factories etc that were used to produce military materiel, which is why their economy was able to rapidly recover under Putin when they simply converted their defense capital to consumer markets. But on the whole as defense gets to be a larger and larger percentage of spending relative to GDP, its negative effect on GDP is felt because it provides very little return in the form of revenues back to the government. When Social Security dollars are spent on rent, in supermarkets, in doctors offices, at drug stores, this goes into the consumer economy. The number of jobs created in the defense industry and the salaries earned and the taxes on these salaries is too small to offset the expenses with some form of return.

    Which is why every Republican who has cut social spending and at the same time increased defense spending has managed to create huge deficits as well as add hugely to the national debt.

    Lyndon Johnson, on the other hand, handed in the only balanced budget until Clinton, while starting Medicare, Medicaid, Welfare and running the Vietnam war. The net positive effects on the economy of the Social spending offset the net negative effects of spending on the war. Clinton was able to increase defense spending and run several wars while decreasing the deficit and debt as well.

    Because conservatives do not understand the very simplicity of value averaging that investors do. When one investment loses you money, and your others make money for you, your profit is the average between your losses and your gains. I

    If you are going to do spending that is going to suck money away from the consumer sector of the economy, you have to balance that off with spending that is going to ADD money INTO the consumer sectors.

    Government’s that do ever increasing defense and security spending without ameliorating the negative effects of this spending, end up going the way of the Soviet Union.

  6. NJ says:

    When it comes to porn and libraries, what modern day conservatives are looking to do is relieve themselves of their responsibility to watch their own children. They expect the public libraries to act as baby sitters for their kids. This is absurd. It is also dangerous.

    Because libraries are public buildings. Any pedophile or child kidnapper can walk into a public building and flash your child and simply walk off with them if they wish to. Any parent who merely worries about porn, without recognizing that a library is a public building, as public as the Sears store that Adam Walsh disappeared from is simply too stupid to reason with.

    The fact is that there is no reason for the librarians to CENSOR library materials that other adults who pay taxes and want access to that material have the right to if it is available. It it NOT my responsibility to protect YOUR children. That is YOUR responsibility. At all time, in all places.

    I object to seeing a lot of right wing religious drivel, some which is outright hate speech, such as Franklin Graham and his opinions on Islam. Thats “freedom of information” as well. I do not like it, but some do, so it is there in the libraries. It is as vile and repulsive to me as pornography is to you.

    If everyone was able to pick and choose what they wanted in libraries, the shelves would be pretty empty, because I have seen people object to a lot of stuff. Some legitimate medical materials have been objected to by religious whacko’s because they showed the human breasts and genitals. Things like the Merck Manual.

    Actually libraries are not shrinking and going out of business. As the internet becomes more and more unreliable as a source of reliably correct information, librarians are becoming as important as ever. There are plenty of sites on the internet where students can see the assertions that there are 52 states in the U.S., and that Africa is a country.

    I have seen printouts of these assertions brought to me by students who had to do papers over again because they were given a chance to raise their grades.

  7. anonymous says:

    Spot on. More librarians need to read this column.

  8. NJ says:

    And Andrew Carnegie was far from conservative. he was the primary proponent of raising death taxes so high that the children of the wealthy would have to work their own way to wealth, rather than inherit it. Carnegie had made himself a pariah among the rich in New York because he was a major supporter of the “workingman’s associations”. Or what we now call “Unions” Carnegie had often intervened in strikes like the Connellsville Coke Strike by forcing management to SETTLE with Labor.

    Long before the government made it law. Carnegie had set a pattern of settling labor disputes through arbitration and sliding scales of wages, which he put into operation at all his steel mills.

    In his public analysis of previous strikes, Carnegie broke with his industrialist peers by blaming employer “intransigence and insensitivity” as being the precipitating cause of all previous labor/maqnagement conflicts. He placed virtually all the blame on management.

    Carnegie is misinterpreted as being conservative by those who have read his anti-socialist and anti-anarchist quotes, without proceeding on to read his criticisms of his fellow capitalists.

    Another one of Carnegie’s more liberal wealthy peers was quoted as saying:

    “Inherited wealth is as certain death to ambition as cocaine is to morality.”

    Pretty much Carnegie was the prime mover of Teddy Roosevelt’s ability to pass extremely high federal probate taxes.

    Carnegie’s ideas on this very much mirrored those of America’s founding father’s. His basic statements were that his personal wealth was not actually his. It belonged to the society that allowed him to earn it, and at best, the society allowed some men to keep wealth in trust to use it accordingly to improve that society, and upon death, the wealth goes back to those who entrusted it to him, the nation.

  9. Brent says:

    A smart economic conservative would support libraries because an educated population means better employees, and people with higher earning potential to buy their products. Plus librarians babysit their kids after school.

  10. NJ says:

    What also tends to allow conservative’s maneuvering room is that progressive successes tend to become part of the landscape in the present and it is completely forgotten that conservatives fought those progressive changes tooth and nail in the past.

    For example, today we take it for granted that we can put money into a bank, and it is insured. We can deposit our life savings with relative confidence that it is safe and secure. How long was that situation in coming, how long and hard did conservatives fight it. What a free for all system banking used to be before that. Conservatives rely on the fact that you can only find the evidence of their intransigence in this arena on old fading newsreels. Since today, conservatives themselves LIKE reliably banks, they are no longer calling to restore doing it the good old conservative way, pre FDIC.

    But the disappearance of arguments about the security of banking deposits have made the public forgetful about their being very good reasons for having regulated them in the first place. Which allowed conservatives to chip away at some of the regulations in order to make a few people rich and cause a lot of people to lose out in the Savings and Loan fiasco of the 1980′s. The disappearance from memory of the terrible results of no regulation and deregulations which have made banks relatively safe today have also made the reforms which have caused this relatively invisible. Same thing with wage and hour, child labor laws, workers benefits the fact that the 16 hour workday is no longer the common standard. All these facts have become part of the landscape, and the murderous conservative opposition to the changes that made the landscape what it is today are completely forgotten.

    And of course, the final irony is that in each generation where reforms have finally become the norm,conservatives insist that they have gotten rid of all those wicked, harmful aspects of conservatism, and finally have gotten to a core of values, when in fact, it has never really changed. Before blacks did not have rights to be considered to be “fully human”. Today, it is gays. Or Muslims, but it is always someone.

    The same thing goes for the new assertion of family values. This even went so far as to result in Margaret Thatcher asserting that there was no such thing as society, only the individual and family.
    This allowed the next conservative suggestion. Since society does not REALLY exist, there can be no social problems or problems caused by a social order.

    All problems, economic, justice, etc, can then be asserted to be caused by some personal, moral failing. This justifies not having governments correct harms it has done by favoring one group, businesses or the wealthy, over the rest, because of an assertion that the good these businesses may do by creating jobs, overrides any possible harms they may do.

    This is like saying that one can excuse shooting someone while you are on the way to rob a bank. Both are socially harmful. But since society does not really exist, what need to protect it..

    This gets right back to the argument about libraries. Because I do not use them, I should not pay for them. This argument can be made for many things government does. I do not use the roads in Mississippi. Why should I pay more for them than the people in Mississippi do.

    Virtually everything that government does to benefit one group, can be claimed to not benefit another. If my employer does not give ME health insurance, why should your employer get a tax exemption for providing it to you. This exemption lowers government revenues, which in effect, results in me paying higher taxes. In some cases, the government gives direct grants and subsidies to businesses that provide health insurance to their employees. Out of the tax dollars of some people who do not get those health benefits from THEIR employees.

    Yet most people who get health insurance through their employer do NOT see the contradiction in this at all.

  11. Michael says:

    You’ve done a nice job of decribing conservatives, but I think you are completely wrong about the Tea Party. They aren’t the least bit radical. They are your next door neighbors who have been silent way too long. What they see is a nation hell bent on socialism and ‘re-distributing’ wealth from those who create it to those who do not. They see a liberal left that does not care abouit truth, that will demonize and harrass people just to get their way. The Tea Party would like you to actually read the Constitution and, you know, follow it. And for that they are called radical and stupid.

    I don’t expect my fellow librarians to really understand this. We as a whole have been thoroughly brainwashed by our liberal educations and liberal professions. We carry on about intellectual freedom when what we really mean is the intellectual frfeedom to be liberal. Being conservative in the library world is virtually impossible. You can’t really hold forth with conservatiove views or you will be ostracized. A way will be found to fire you.

    From a Tea Party standpoint, it is the liberal left that is radical, trying to transform this country into a failed European model of great benefits for everyone, with no social responsibility at all.

    Don’t demonize the Tea Party. Take a good look in the mirror and ask yourself what you have become.

  12. lyberry says:

    Liberals should stick to shelving books. Policy decisions should be made by people with conservative values.

  13. Post Postmodern Librarian says:

    Thanks AL its nice to see someone else reading Burke and Hume. Maybe we need another name besides conservatives, same way Jeffersonian liberals need a new name, they both come with to much historical baggage. You believe in a free socialist ride your liberal, you believe in stealing candy from babies your a conservative. That has to change. I have never stolen candy from a baby well there was that one time ;)

    As far as libraries go you remove the librarian as a guide to information you remove the need for the profession. You want someone get a book, or make an attachment for email or do your puppet show then you just need clerks at $10 hr or so

    Can a person do research on their own? Sure they can, but many more cant. Those are the people we should be serving and helping to improve themselves so they function better in society. Thats are job and what I meant when I called us lifeguards.

    I tell people I believe in helping people reach their full potential. I do this because I struggle with Cerebral Palsy, abuse as a child, learning disabilities and poverty and bad luck, but I have came out a head in life because I keep fighting. To many people sell themselves short to many people settle for mediocrity those are the undeserving poor.

  14. Morse says:

    People who want to destroy social institutions that have lasted for generations are radicals. Period.

    “They are your next door neighbors who have been silent way too long.”

    I don’t believe that because I have too much respect for my neighbors. They’ve been silent because they have nothing to say. They speak out to say, “keep your government hands off my Medicare.”

    “What they see is a nation hell bent on socialism and ‘re-distributing’ wealth from those who create it to those who do not.”

    I find it very hard to believe that any of these Tea Party people could even define socialism, much less see it all around them. But get enough ignorant and angry people whipped up by right-wing ideologues and they can probably see anything they want to. Socialism, flying pigs, etc.

    “They see a liberal left that does not care abouit truth, that will demonize and harrass people just to get their way.”

    They ignore a bigoted right that cares nothing about truth and demonizes and harasses people just to get their way. Glenn Beck? Rush Limbaugh? Ann Coulter? Karl Rove? Really? Which is another reason not to take them seriously on politics. They’re purblind. They see what they believe, rather than believe what they see. Typical American populist know-nothings who pop up every generation or so, then melt back into their suburbs when they’ve worked out their self-righteous, incoherent anger, maybe leaving a little destruction in their wake.

  15. Liblarva says:

    AL, I really like a lot of what you have to say. If you would dial back the vitriol a bit you might actually persuade a few people.

    [AL: If I was less vitriolic, nobody would read.]

  16. Liblarva says:

    AL, whether you’re right is all that matters.

    Without the vitriol you might see some of the changes you propose. Or do you just want to slam your fists on the table, talking a good game but that’s all?

    I know I’d like to see libraries focus more on their purpose of education and betterment of society. When the budget cuts come I’d like to see video games cut instead of staff.

    Yours is one of the few voices making similar claims and taking similar stances. With the vitriol you are too easily written off. Without the vitriol you could be taken seriously.

  17. will manley says:

    AL…this is one of your best posts. Thanks for representing a point of view that has been deemed politically incorrect by the library establishment.

  18. MyHeadHurts says:

    What about “conservatives” like William F. Buckley, or Irving Kristol (father of Bill) who supposedly believed firmly in meritocracy? Yet if you’re born to families of wealth and/or influence, you have access to health care, education, contacts . . . . but you think that you have achieved things all on your own. This is NOT a classless society. Yet many “conservatives” (and there are many types/definitions) – not to mention lots of teabaggers – have a big sense of entitlement because of this supposed “meritocracy”.

    As for teabaggers being “our neighbors” who have been “silent way too long”, I would say yes – where have you been when this was all happening (5, 10, 30 years ago)? It took a long time to create these messes. It will take a lot longer to sort them out.

  19. Post Postmodern Librarian says:

    Wow talk about vitriol writing I am amazed that some of the writing here. I am not a tea party member, because like the AL, I am a conservative, not a libertarian, but the attacks here show the biggest problem with todays political spectrum and system. Neither side knows how to behave better then children with name calling. We are suppose to be educated people (ok we have MLIS I know I know) with some idea of critical thought and open mindedness. Until we start giving credit to our opponents and learn to tolerate ideas that are different this country will never change. I am giving you the big group up speech. Learn that both sides have strong political thought supporting their ideas. Do what librarians should do go read a book! Especially one NOT written by a TV gas bag.

  20. noutopianlibrarian says:

    @postmodern – “the attacks here show the biggest problem with todays political spectrum and system. Neither side knows how to behave better then children with name calling” I disagree – the biggest problem with the political system is that WASPs are becoming a minority and their political superiority is fading. Among them, a very strong reactionary movement has emerged that attacks relentlessly, but is quick to respond to any analysis or exposure of their own positions as victims even though their domination and cultural, economic and ideological superiority remains (for now). The situation that has opened to libraries (and public schools) to calls for closure and withdrawal of support (I hear it daily on talk radio) is part of a much larger reentrenchment in the aftermath of the near collapse of the capitalist games in the financial markets. Government interventions saved their a@*&s over the last 2 years while taking a toll on lives of most people and most governmental bodies. While this toll has been mitigated by unemployment insurance and government stimulus programs through state and local governments and business tax credits, it is convenient for this reactionary movement to take with one hand and flip off the federal government with the other. Meanwhile, incredibly well funded multi-millionaire talk show hosts purposefully fuel resentment and anger among the dissaffected overwhelming WASP segment with a combination of anti-government, veiled racist, anti-immigrant, and avowedly Judeo-Christian superiority rhetoric. This propaganda campaign threatens to engulf libraries as a minor byproduct, along with science, public education, news media, school, poor, minorities, immigrants, unions, and many other targets of opportunity at a critical time where 11 trillion dollars (one estimate) has disappeared from the economy and millions are unemployed and relatively easy to incite. The situation is ripe for this reactionary movement to continue growing and library staff, whether conservative, liberal, or the occasional wingnut, will be among their innocent targets if their industry/political handlers ever lose effective control to those who would allow concerns about video gaming and porn in libraries to look the other way as cuts are made and rhetoric ratchets up. So buck up “oh poor victime me because I’m a politically incorrect” conservatives and mis-educated tea-partiers and take ownership of the cultural catastrophe you are creating in the aftermath of the financial catastrophe the strip mining of the Bush years has left us. When this political movement takes power over the next 2 national elections, watch your gubmint jobs go the way of the dodo and glory in your triumph!

  21. Postpartum Librarian says:

    Thank you for the sound advice PPML.

    What books would you recommend?

    Thanks!!!

  22. Spekkio says:

    For the most part, I really enjoyed this post. I may not agree with the tenets of conservatism (particularly the distinction between “deserving and undeserving poor”) but I appreciate its value in keeping our politics in balance. A professor of economics once explained it to me as a pendulum…sometimes it swings to the left, and sometimes it swings to the right.

    My only criticism is the AL’s constant drumbeat of “videogames are bad.” I think that videogames – and entertainment materials in general – have a place in libraries. What I think that libraries fail to do is to try to use those entertainment materials as a springboard to other intellectual pursuits. For example, if your library has a weekly program for teenagers to play “Guitar Hero” or “Rock Band,” that would be the perfect time to work on building an appreciation for music, music history, biographies, etc. If the teens don’t take to it, that’s their problem and their loss. (Horse, water.)

    I also think that the Political Compass website is extremely helpful, and I strongly recommend it to everyone. It’s at political-compass.org. It’s also on (oh, gasp) Facebook. Basically, the idea behind it is that the traditional ideas of “left” and “right” don’t really explain enough – there’s a social left/right and an economic left/right. You can be an economic conservative and a social liberal or vice-versa.

    I also enjoyed many of NJ’s comments, aside from the canonizing of Andrew Carnegie. I’m a native of the Pittsburgh area and a Scotsman by heritage – if anyone would idolize him, it would be me. As a student of history, however, I know better. I’ve written about this in the comments of previous posts here on AL’s blog.

    Last point: calls for civility are wonderful and should be echoed far and wide. If you haven’t already, check out the Coffee Party, a group whose mission is to promote civility in political discourse.

  23. Bill says:

    “I realize a lot of libraries don’t take this mission seriously, and they think that they’re somehow fulfilling their public mission by providing access to Internet porn and videogames…”

    The libraries have to provide access to porn and videogames because they are genres of expression. You may view them as lower forms of art, but there is nothing that objectively differentiates porn and videogames from novels, magazines, plays and DVDs. The library provides access to everything in order to provide

    “the best of human culture and make it available for the masses,”

    because the alternative would be to have librarians (or worse, politicians or priests) selecting what citizens are allowed access to. In short, libraries must provide everything – including, gasp, pornography – because “the best of human culture” is defined by aggregates and averages of opinions from the whole of that culture. Any other system would be elitist, impractical, and irrelevant to the course of history.

    We probably agree on a lot of what I just said, but your word choice – “Internet porn and videogames,” “the masses,” – make you sound prudish, narrowminded and silly, just like the groups you’re criticizing in this post. I doubt they are your views, but there is a danger here of phrasing your arguments in the terms of the far right.

    In short, referring pejoratively to “porn and videogames” is hypocritical, since I’m sure you’ve indulged in both things yourself, as every member of the human race naturally pursues some form of sexual simulation and game-playing, even if these activities are not facilitated by the internet. It also weakens your point that library content should be uncensored, as you’re applying value judgments to the information you provide.

  24. Big Bad Jon says:

    The libraries have to provide access to porn and videogames because they are genres of expression. You may view them as lower forms of art, but there is nothing that objectively differentiates porn and videogames from novels, magazines, plays and DVDs. The library provides access to everything in order to provide

    My form of performance art is to masturbate in public. I am glad that I can find some porn for free in libraries and a place to express my artistic bent.

    Free at last!

  25. Kem says:

    Funny, libraries have existed for centuries and yet failed to provide access to either porn (as distinguished from the Merck Manual or Greek vases) or videogames. It is only in modern times that providing these has even been considered. I’d like to get back to a time when the public in library meant public as in public institution, not public as in toilet.

  26. Spekkio says:

    Yes, please, let’s sarcastically denigrate videogames simply because they are a young medium, and let’s also imply that they are unworthy – “not public as in toilet.” Lovely.

    If you are ever interested in hearing an argument for videogames as a legitimate part of our culture and a medium capable of artistic expression, let me know.

  27. Bill says:

    Kem: Wow, libraries preexist videogames and video pornography, what a fascinating observation from our amateur historian here. Libraries have been around for thousands of years. You know what? Libraries also should not stock books that are newer than themselves. That’s a great point, a really solid point from Kem. Thanks, Kem. Do be sure to fire up that keyboard and let me in on another one of your fascinating little insights.

    And Big Bad Jon, I don’t really know who would need to see pornography in a public library. I’m not crazy about the idea of sitting next to some furiously-masturbating homeless guy or a posse of giggling thirteen year olds at the computer terminal. It could be disruptive, and if you were to masturbate in public I’m sure I’d be very distracted. I would want to ask you all kinds of questions – why have you chosen this as your personal mode of expression? For whom is the performance intended? Does your literal masturbation mirror the masturbatory character of any artistic act, and does it represent a cutting remark you impart to society and your peers, all self-labeled “artists,” or is it more of a self-reproach for the hubris to assume you might possibly create art that’s worthwhile for other people? Etc.

    In all seriousness, pornography could be disruptive as heck, so my defense of pornography is, admittedly, impractical, but philosophically I really do believe that libraries of all places cannot limit freedom of information.

  28. Bill says:

    Also Spekkio does your name come from Chrono Trigger, and if so how does it feel to be awesome?