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Opinion: Library trustees set a precedent

Oct 3, 2023

To the editor: The unanimous vote by the Plumb Library Trustees to remove the Little Free Diverse Library, in of itself, is not the most alarming part of this controversy. What is incredibly alarming is that the Trustees accepted hate speech as a valid argument.

Let’s be clear, having an issue with the LFDL because it contains “pornography,” “grooming,” “is anti-family values” and “anti-Christian” (ie. “evil”) are all attempts to vilify and demean the LGBTQ community. And yet this is exactly the opposition that launched a re-examination of what the town and both boards of trustees had already decided.

Furthermore, the Trustees reframing it as “confusion” is gaslighting. There was no “confusion” until the LGBTQ flag was flown on the [Little Free Diverse Library]. The American Library Association says the following about hate speech: “Any form of expression through which speakers intend to vilify, humiliate, or incite hatred against a group or a class of persons.” It doesn’t describe the name calling /character assassinations as “confusing,” it calls it hate speech.

The people calling LGBTQ centered books “pornographic” and for “grooming” purposes, are not “confused.” There is nothing ambiguous about the name calling. Those terms are meant to villainize and humiliate the LGBTQ community — it’s a nationwide strategy — not “confusion.”

It’s not my personal opinion. All one has to do is to read the letters and the social media posts and compare them to the definition of hate speech. It’s a master class. Additionally no one claimed to be confused (at least not publicly). The opposition wasn’t looking for clarification.

The Plumb Library Trustees need to take a hard, honest look at how they handled this. Because what they really accomplished was setting a precedent that hate speech is not only accepted but that’s its valid argument. The reverberations in the community of this cannot be overstated. The Trustees sent every person in Rochester a message that hate is not only acceptable but that it’s valid and actionable.

Isabel Gomes McCann, Rochester


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