provocative librarian

Learning the economic consequences of policies is always of interest to me. Like when I read Freakonomics, the bit correlating the decreased crime rate to the increased rate of abortions was illuminating. If criminals aren’t born because that population was aborted, then crime levels off, twenty years later, right?

Somebody stepped in something this time, and that somebody is a librarian. Have you read about the uproar at Purdue University over one of their librarians writing a blog denouncing homosexual lifestyles and their economic outcomes? He says that the homosexual lifestyle has extremely high financial costs. First he talks about the amount spent on combating HIV and AIDS. But we all know that neither of those diseases are specific to homosexuals, right?

And what else? He doesn’t think that gays should marry, nor should any entity provide healthcare benefits for domestic partners because that reduces available resources for providing

additional coverage to those of us adhering to traditional sexual moral standards.

Whew.

I don’t agree with his perspective, his beliefs. Yet I find his economic approach provocative. Never mind that he fails to present valid statistics to back his argument, I simply appreciate the economic model approach and think this could be a useful strategy to be used for good, not evil.

Likewise, I believe that he is within his rights to state his personal beliefs on a blog that is not connected to Purdue University. Intellectual freedom and free speech protect people who spout off all sorts of random beliefs, really. But nobody should be silenced. Everyone should contribute to the conversation and share her opinion. It is the only way we can begin to work together to provide solutions to the many issues, both library and non-library-related, in society.

Bert Chapman started a conversation. And others are commenting. It sparked dialogue, and that is the most important takeaway from the brouhaha.

One of the cutest things I saw was a response to Chapman’s post. Scary cute, actually. Kevin Casimer blogs at Boilercrat Junction. Casimer substituted the word librarian for homosexual and came up with an argument to do away with librarians because they were a drain on the economy, too.

Here’s a little taste, but you can read the entire thing here:

Getting rid of librarians makes economic sense. Wal-mart trusts people to check out their groceries so surely we could implement self-checkout at our libraries. Replacing librarians with minimum wage workers to put books back on the shelf and assist people with self-checkout would save billions. This process could even generate new income if we allowed police to access these systems and fine those who don’t return books. Of course, a degree of service would be lost without librarians. However, I think we’ll manage locally as long as someone teaches the new workers to be as helpful as the last Purdue librarian I spoke to who offered to “help [me] do a search on ‘the google'”.

Mondays are such a blast.


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