Fear and loathing

There was an interesting post and ensuing conversation on Will Manley’s blog, asking why librarians hate conservatives. It’s a good read, and the comments are very interesting.  I must admit that I didn’t read all of the discussion, as it made me uncomfortable, and a little depressed.

You see, I am a conservative librarian.  And there’s part of me that feels I shouldn’t even say that, for fear of being reviled by colleagues.

I agree with Will: in a profession that holds intellectual freedom up as one of its highest standards, espousing an opinion other than that of the majority is considered unacceptable.

I’ve attended meeting after meeting where speakers assume that the entire audience is liberal, and quips about how idiotic the various and sundry political conservatives are.  And the audience laughs and applauds……and never considers how it would feel if the shoe were on the other foot.  How would you feel, liberal bretheren, if you were talked about as if you were an ignorant rube at virtually every conference?

I tend not to speak up about these things, because, well, it’s not tolerated.  And it’s even worse, since I’m an academic librarian.  Academics are as intolerant as librarians about these things…..and both groups hold themselves up to be the defenders of freedom of speech, academic freedom, intellectual freedom…..as long as you agree with us.  Interestingly, colleague after colleague has come to my office, shut the door, and “come out of the closet” as a conservative.  In academia, too, you need to hide.

I’m writing this in part to stand up with Will in saying that we don’t all espouse liberal politics.  And I, for one, am tired of feeling bullied.

I have to tell you, my stomach is churning at just putting this out there.  And that’s just wrong.  No one should be made to feel afraid to state their beliefs.

OK….have at it, folks.



Filed under Libraries and Librarianship, Me and mine

9 responses to “Fear and loathing

  1. Thank you for taking stand. As another conservative librarian, I know the uncomfortable feeling in meetings and casual conversations.

  2. Thanks, Mary. There are no doubt a few of us out there. Now if we are just brave enough …..

  3. R.A. Stewart

    I was one of the commenters on Will’s post. The gist of what I said was that I am a liberal-leaning librarian, that I disagree with but am far from hating conservatives, and that I thought the behavior reflected in the account that gave rise to the post (a conservative commenter reported that his librarian wife’s professional situation became difficult because of his conservative blog) was appalling and completely unprofessional.

    I would encourage you to speak up. Any idea is the stronger for being intelligently challenged, if it is an idea that has merit to begin with; that is partly why the First Amendment exists. You may find that your colleagues are less intolerant than you suppose. Or you may find that their intolerance ebbs as they are confronted with the fact that a real human being, whom they like and respect, has opinions different from theirs. That’s good for the soul, whatever side of the fence you’re on.

  4. Thanks for the encouragement, R.A. I agree that speaking up is the right thing to do, and perhaps if more did so (on either side of the political fence) this prejudice might abate. We can only hope.

  5. DBF

    R.A. Stewart’s comments are nice and well-meant, I’m sure, but they are proof that he/she really is a liberal. Until you have faced the contempt and disdain that conservatives have to deal with on a regular basis, you probably have no idea of the McCarthyism of the left. It’s out there, it’s virulent, and if you don’t think the intent to chill speech is there, you just aren’t paying attention.

  6. DBF

    P.S. But some of us speak up anyway.

  7. Carla Johnson

    Well said, Mary Beth! I’m afraid to say anything else.

  8. Hugs to you Mary Beth. I truly have no idea what it’s like to go to work in a liberal environment. My forays are out to conferences or meetings that I prepare myself to meet those who may not appreciate my conservative stance. Usually I listen, agree with what I can, and leave the rest. Perhaps we can see a change where others show respect for us as we do for them. I’m sure there is plenty of room for growth at each end of the spectrum. Keep up the good work.

  9. Mary Beth, thanks for having the courage to join us on this issue. The post that I ran on why librarians hate conservatives got a ton of attention and I had a record number of readers and commenters on it. My hope is that it will become a major issue in the profession in the coming year. What I am finding as a result of that blog post is that there are many more conservatives in the profession than I ever imagined. They have been silent too long. I am not finished with this issue and will continue to peck away at it for as long as I can peck. A related issue is “why do librarians hate Christians”. I’ll be broaching that issue very soon in my blog. Thanks again, Mary Beth.

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