Thursday, February 14, 2008

We've been here before

The role of the public library, however, is to provide a forum for an open and public exchange of contradictory views and to make materials available that represent a wide range of views, including those that may be considered unconventional, unpopular or unacceptable.

This is how the librarian of Vancouver City Library defended himself against Terry Glavin. Terry's response is magisterial.

I have a more unfashionable view of public libraries. I think they are there to lend books. If there is a subtext, their role would also be to promote the enjoyment of reading, learning and critical thought. I cannot see their mission to be the propagation of lies.

What is staggering about all this is the failure to discriminate. If a public institution thinks that its role is to promote complete bollocks as part of a "range of views" then we are lost. If it cannot discriminate between lies and truth then we sink into a relativist hell.

I do not want to live in a society that bans books, imprisons journalists, persecutes writers and closes down newspapers. In that sense I am a free speech militant. However, we should notice something here. The writers trying to weasel their way to acceptability tell lies and seek to suppress truth. They are the book burners and the censors in the making, using 'intellectual freedom' as a cover. To support free speech is not a neutral act, it is to be a partisan for truth. Above all, it is to be a partisan for humanist values.

Partisans do not meekly surrender to lies. Partisans do not wallow in the fake neutrality of 'balance'. That is cowardice. Partisans contest, challenge and ridicule. They may not ban it, but they treat nonsense with contempt. They refuse to legitimate the vile filth of murderous prejudice, rooted in lies and dripping with irrational hatred. And they most certainly do not allow public institutions to host rabid nonsense in the name of 'free speech'.

Shame on him.


truepeers said...

Thank you, well said. I've quoted you at Covenant Zone.

Why do you think more people today can't grasp such truths?

I think this is what happens in a culture where people think they have reached some height of virtue when they refuse to discriminate against anyone or anything because to do so would be to create a victim and that is now the cardinal sin. The cult of anti-discrimination is a response to the Holocaust.

But it is not really possible not to have an ideology or favor a point of view or not to exclude; all our odes to tolerating different points of view should begin with a responsible accounting of our own, not a faith in some nihilistic neutrality.

The librarians are refusing an accountability without which freedom cannot be sustained in the long run, because as this case shows any formal system of neutrality can be/must be corrupted by one side or another claiming the all-powerful victim role, and the only solution is to hold people accountable when they give in to such claims. As you say, we can only really defend freedom and truth when we commit to it as partisans of competing sides.

It seems that a lot of people who think they are neutral - I don't
have any ideology/ I'm against all acts of victimization, even of the
Feltons of the world - end up hating Israel for being the sign of the exemplary victim at the start of the postmodern age. There is a desire to universalize the Holocaust, to deny Jewish historical firstness in its latest form, to deny that
history inevitably and necessarily entails some going before others in historical significance (however horrific the mass murder event that
creates the significance, in the present scene) and others following, and that a perfect
balancing of all cultures' role and impact on history is not possible,
except maybe in madness. So, the postmodern victimary religion becomes antisemitic and undermines itself, to fair minded thinkers.

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