Friday, October 23, 2009

Simmer Down

There's a story hitting the internet (among other media, of course) about a librarian in Cheshire, CT defending the inclusion of a book in their collection. This particular book is drawing fire from the area because of its subject matter - it's a true crime book about a triple murder that occurred in Cheshire. The librarian added two copies of the book to the collection because patrons were requesting it, but that lit a fire under some community members who think that book should never have been printed, let alone have a place in the library.

I'm not going to comment one way or another about this story - about whether or not the librarian should have added this book to the collection or whether or not the book should be removed - primarily because there was a gag order on the case, so I don't know about the legality involved in printing the book in the first place. But what struck me more than anything about this article were the comments added after the article ended. A large number of the commenters are downright nasty in their words. They don't counter their arguments with rational reasoning; instead, many use name calling and threatening language to get their point across. One person wrote, "To all the jerks defending their rights to read this book, I hope something as horrific as this ever[sic] happens to you or someone you know!" Another warned readers to be careful that they don't spill on the book or drop it in the toilet before returning it to the library, in a tone that blatantly meant the contrary. A person on the side of the library wrote, "If you want to live in a society where the government limits your freedom by denying you choices, then I suggest you move to Iran or North Korea. Otherwise, stay away from the library and mind your own business."

I read things like this and it makes me twitchy. It's the same reason why I try to stay away from political debates. People fight dirty. They let their emotions, their anger, their determination to make their side be heard override their ability to state their opinion in a calm and reasoned matter. The people who want the book off the shelves are allowed to be upset. And the people who agree with the library's decision to put the book on the shelves have the right to want to keep it there. But name calling and nastiness aren't going to convince someone to join your side. Rather, you should just simmer down and discuss this like grownups.

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