Last time I discussed the moves and motives of the library in the Sicko Conflagration, but it wasn’t the library that raised the ruckus. Only political busybodies raise ruckuses, and most of the political busybody librarians are too busy drafting SRRT resolutions on non-library topics for ALA Council to care about library video showings.
There’s also the question of whether for their own sake the town council and anti-Moore residents should have just kept their mouths shut, because none of them came off very well. They seemed to think they were making some bold stand, when really they just sounded like whiners.
The resident who complained about promoting “Sicko” “on his dime” must be very a naive busybody indeed. Only naive people would believe that libraries don’t contain all sorts of material someone is going to find offensive, and it’s also naive for him to think he’s the only one funding the library. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t his dime funding that video showing. It was his liberal neighbor’s dime. That book by Glenn Beck was funded on his dime.
Besides, since when is showing a video necessarily promoting its ideas? That’s the big fallacy here. Videos like “Sicko” prompt debate and discussion. If he’s so sure “Sicko” is mistaken, he should go watch it at the library and start a discussion afterward. Likely enough, he hasn’t seen “Sicko,” and if he has can’t argue against it, so it’s easier just to keep other people from seeing it.
My favorite quote, after the one about “militant fascism” I mentioned last time, is from one of the councilmen, who “said he didn’t think the effort to cancel the screening amounted to censorship, saying the library should be age-appropriate for young children. ‘We want it to be a place for relaxation and fun for the kids.’” Sort of like Disneyland, but with stained carpet and uncomfortable furniture. He seemed to think there were going to be gaggles of kids streaming into a room at 1pm on a Friday to watch “Sicko,” because that’s exactly the sort of thing kids do.
There’s some sense and nonsense mixed in there. Pressuring the library was stupid, but it wasn’t censorship. However, what would it possibly mean for the entire library to be age-appropriate for young children? Should the library buy only children’s books and videos? Surely there must be some adults in Enfield who want to read adult fare or watch documentaries. This isn’t exactly like streaming Internet porn on the public computers. It’s not even like streaming “Sicko” on the public computers.
Another couldn’t refrain from expressing his blinkered opinion. “I don’t even know why people make these decisions to go down those paths. It’s stupid. It’s like, it just blows my mind that people try to push the envelope with the public dime. Do nice stuff. Do uncontroversial, or if you want to step in the mode of being controversial, make sure it’s fair on both sides and it becomes a discussion.”
Because of course believing that everyone thinks exactly like you and finds the same things nice or controversial isn’t stupid or mind-blowing at all. There are plenty of tolerant people who think exploring and discussing different points of view isn’t controversial. It’s just what you do. Those people obviously don’t control the Enfield town council, though.
The article saved the juiciest quote for last. According to one resident,“‘This is not a place for kids to watch this kind of stuff when you have somebody who thinks Fidel Castro is a great guy, he thinks all these other people who are suppressive in other countries — this is what this guy is all about,’ Alaimo said of Moore.” Well put! It completely evades the subject, though. Fidel Castro is bad, and so is complexity!
Oh, where to start with this one. “Sicko” isn’t a children’s movie and wasn’t being shown to children, was essentially the director’s response. The most striking thing to me is the utter lack of critical thinking implied by this statement. It’s also terrifically ironic. It implies that only media which represents your own views should be shown in public, which is exactly the sort of thing that goes on in “suppressive” countries. No one is supposed to think or discuss, only listen and obey! It’s like some of my critics. People who can’t refute ideas they disagree with would prefer nobody express those ideas.
It reminded me of another politician’s quote last week about a kerfuffle at Brooklyn College, where a graduate student was removed from teaching a graduate class after a Democratic assemblyman from Brooklyn publicly protested that he was anti-Israel. (He has since been reinstated.) There are several accounts, but the stupidest of many stupid quotes is in this interview, where the assemblyman said he considered the grad student an “overt supporter of terrorism.”
“He reached these conclusions after spending ‘countless hours’ reading the newly hired adjunct’s work. This included, chiefly, his unpublished paper, ‘Inventing the Martyr: Struggle, Sacrifice and the Signification of Palestinian National Identity,’ in which he examines martyrdom as it ‘embodies ideals of struggle and sacrifice’ in the context of national identity. Hikind said such works reflect an effort to ‘understand’ suicide bombers. ‘There’s nothing to understand about someone who murders women and children,’ he said. ‘You condemn.’”
That paper is only 28 pages long, so the assemblyman, despite having a bachelor’s and master’s degree in political science from Brooklyn College, must be a slow reader to have spent countless hours on it, but that’s beside the point. The bizarre thing is the assumption that there’s nothing to understand about suicide bombers. It’s eerie how similar the views are to some in Enfield. There’s nothing to “understand” about suicide bombers or “Sicko” or conservatives or anything else you don’t like.
Militant fascism isn’t on the loose in Enfield, or in Brooklyn, but ignorance and anti-intellectualism are a rife as ever. Someone in this debate told us that libraries were important to have an informed citizenry. They forgot that most citizens don’t want to be informed, just affirmed. They don’t want to understand, just condemn.