You have to hand it to the SRRT folks. They’re certainly an earnest bunch, and despite years of resistance from librarians who don’t want them to use the ALA as their political mouthpiece, they keep on coming back for more.
Here’s the latest example I’m aware of. On the ALA Council listserv, the earnest SRRT Councilor posted the following:
The SRRT Action Council has been discussing Karen Downing posting about the possible boycott of Florida for our 2016 meeting unless they repeal their Stand Your Ground law. I can say that so far there is significant support for moving the meeting.
Whatever awful things one might think about Orlando, Florida as a conference locale – and I can think only awful things about it – this would be a bad reason to boycott Florida.
It doesn’t matter whether the Trayvon Martin shooting was a tragedy or the Zimmerman trial a sham of justice because of the Stand Your Ground law in Florida. The thing is, none of that happened in a library, or is related to libraries, or is likely to happen in libraries, and there are a lot of library issues to discuss.
It’s just not a library issue, and that’s it. Once you open that floodgate, the waters never come back. That’s probably what SRRT wants, but it shouldn’t be what sensible ALA members want.
Even theoretically, it’s a bad idea to try to pass resolutions or boycott anything based on stuff like this, because once you start boycotting states where things happen some ALA members don’t like, then most states would be banned.
Fortunately, the Councilors are fighting back more than they used to. One Councilor responded:
While I see definite value in moving conferences out of venues that do not share the same values as the Association, a member on another list pointed out that ALL the following future ALA meetings are in “stand your ground” states:
[Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Orlando, Atlanta, and Indianapolis within the next 8 years]
Additionally, I would personally favor a boycott of venues in states without same-sex marriage equality, and know quite a number of members who would back this type of action as well. While there may significant support to move our meetings to venues in states that align with our values and mission as an Association, the economics of the situation may dictate otherwise. But it’s an excellent conversation to have.
He’s right. It is an excellent conversation to have, just so people can point out what a bad idea it would be.
The list of upcoming conferences in “stand your ground” states shows that it’s pretty difficult to avoid them. Something like 19 states have laws like that. Are they all off limits?
I mean, I’m happy to avoid New Orleans in June and Philadelphia in January, as well as Orlando and Las Vegas at all times.
And what about same-sex marriage equality, since we’re changing the subject? According to this Wikipedia article, 13 states and the District of Columbia have marriage equality laws. The only three of them to host ALA meetings in living memory are Massachusetts, California, and DC.
There are some lovely places to go in many of these states, but I seriously doubt Vermont, Rhode Island, or New Hampshire have the facilities to host an ALA Annual Conference, and possibly not even a Midwinter Meeting.
We could hold all the ALA conferences in DC, Boston, or NYC, though, and be safe. I’d be fine with that arrangement.
Not everyone would, though. A former Councilor managed to get posted to the listserv. She wasn’t at all happy about the political diversion.
I do not want to spend my personal dollars in states that recognize or have laws that recognize same-sex marriage. In my opinion, the institution of marriage is being eroded. I never saw a problem with civil unions if two people want to commit their lives to each other — but marriage? — you will never convince me this is what God wants a marriage to be.
A man with a male spouse responded that his marriage was exactly what God wanted it to be.
Yep, before they could even begin discussing Florida and Stand Your Ground, it became an argument about what God wants. That’s a pretty good way to derail anything, and a completely pointless conversation unless you actually involve God directly in the talks. I didn’t see that happen, although perhaps God just doesn’t have permission to post to the Council listserv.
The chaos happens before we even get to the practicality. These conferences are planned years in advance, and the cost of changing venues two years out is almost certainly unaffordable for an organization like the ALA. We already have to endure Orlando in the summer and Philadelphia in the winter because the organization and the librarians can’t afford nicer locations.
And then, among the hysteria about Florida and the pointless discussion of same-sex marriage, we get some much needed good sense:
both public and school libraries are facing challenges to their very existence in my state and around the country. I would urge councilors to focus energies on policies and resolutions addressing grassroots issues affecting libraries and librarians. I believe our national conferences may be more deeply affected by the rising tide of unfunded libraries and the removal of librarians than by state laws that do not align with our beliefs.
My sentiments exactly.
On the other hand, if ALA wants a good reason to boycott Florida, just keep in mind how brutally hot and humid Orlando is in late June. I may be boycotting it myself for that very reason.