"Intellectual Freedom is the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction. It provides for free access to all expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of a question, cause or movement may be explored. Intellectual freedom encompasses the freedom to hold, receive and disseminate ideas." - American Library Association
O.J. Simpson is arguably one of the greatest running backs in American football history. He's also a morally reprehensible, ethically bankrupt scumbag. He's also giving librarians one major headache.
By now we all know about O.J.'s latest plan to cash in - writing a book called "If I Did It" detailing how he would have done the crime had he "really" murdered his wife, Nicole, and her friend, Ron Goldman. This has, naturally, prompted outrage among those in the general public who still have values and morals - plus pissed off a lot of booksellers and librarians.
Here's the conundrum: booksellers are merchants. They can sell whatever they damn well please. Heck, they could choose not to carry Stephen King if they wanted to. But librarians? Oh that pesky Intellectual Freedom ideal. Damn, and double damn.
I got in a spirited debate with The Boyfriend over the weekend about whether or not libraries should stoop to buying O.J.'s "book." I said, that while I found it morally repugnant, that yes - if people want to read it, then public libraries should find a way to obtain a copy for interested parties. That's why it's a public library. It caters to the whole public, even the morons that evolution has neglected to weed out.
The Boyfriend was horrified that I would take this stance, and largely, I agree with him. I'm horrified too. But the problem with being a "public library" is that there should be something on the shelf to offend everybody. And while I think it's safe to say that O.J. is offending nearly everybody across the board - people get their dander up over the wackiest things. Darwin, Judy Blume, John Steinbeck, Stephen King, Harry Potter, Captain Underpants - all authors/titles that have seriously "offended" people over the years.
The thing with free speech and Intellectual Freedom is that we can't just pick the ideals we agree with. Yes, it's great that as Americans we can say "The President is full of shit," but it also means that the Ku Klux Klan has the "right" to have a parade in Washington D.C. Women have the right to obtain information about birth control and Larry Flint can publish a porn magazine.
Which makes my job very hard. Hell, it's easy to defend Judy Blume and Harry Potter, but O.J.?!?! But as librarians we can't just pay lip service to Intellectual Freedom, we have to truly believe it. If we don't, we have failed. Yeah, as much as it sickens me, that means O.J. too. Truly though, I hope the Goldmans and the Browns squeeze every last penny out of that mf-er. I also pray for his and Nicole's children. It's not the fact that O.J. is doing what he is doing that gets to me - it's that he's doing it when he has two children with Nicole. The fact that he has no regard for his own flesh and blood is what turns my stomach. I hope those children can find some peace, but with O.J. for a daddy it's certainly not going to be easy for them.
UPDATE: Oh thank the Lord, good sense has prevailed!