Friday, June 07, 2013

Librarians getting scared off  free speech

When publishers sue librarians over legitimate critiques, we can all agree that's a threat to our academic freedom. It's another thing when the federal government refers to a vague "blueprint" for controlling sex-related speech on campus. Campus information experts may be able to help.

Consequences of a sexual harassment claim are so damaging that any reasonably sensible academic librarian would avoid sexual references, innuendos, humor, or contact in almost any campus interaction. That includes both what happens in the classroom and office. Given the almost infinite number of research examples that a librarian educator could employ, intentionally selecting any sex-related topic, even a legitimate topic such as sex trafficking, presents a questionable choice.

One never knows for sure how any student might respond. Is proving your freedom to choose any topic worth the hassle of being accused of subjecting a student to language or images that made him or her feel harassed?

Unless an instructor specifically asks a librarian to use a topic that is sexual in nature, then it might be wise to avoid it entirely. While that may strike us as extremely unfortunate, and perhaps even cowardly, avoiding sexual topics may simply be smart educating in an environment where the federal government seeks to enforce speech code rules so broad and vague in nature that almost any sexual reference could lead to trouble.



A. Levy said...

What's truly interesting is how so many people don't/won't see how political correctness has not only changed our language, but how we communicate with each other. And, in spite of what comrade Obama promised, change is not always good, nor is it always for the better.

Anonymous said...

Political correctness was specifically designed to squelch all "unapproved" speech, thought, and language. The only fuel it requires to grow and spread is weak people who have surrendered their ability to think for themselves.