if i had any sense, i guess i’d fear this

i guess i’d keep it down
so no one would hear this
i guess i’d shut my mouth
and rethink a minute
but i can’t shut it now
‘cuz there’s something in it

Ani DiFranco. “Shameless.” Dilate.

This is a somewhat blind post, if I understand that concept correctly, although it is rather transparent to some.

Depending on how quickly you attend to your aggregator, and on your click through habits, some of you may have noticed that I removed a post.

One person had commented on it fairly quickly and seeing as they are my friend, I took their comments in the best light I could. Nonetheless, although I disagreed with whether it was unprofessional or not, I did agree that they were correct as to how many others would perceive it. This caused me so much inner turmoil that I literally became sick. I struggled with what to do for the next 30 hours or so, wondering if and what other kind of feedback I might get, where it might get linked from, etc. In the meantime I worked on a reply to my friend. After two nights of not sleeping well and having my stomach and worse torn up, I got up Tuesday AM, made a copy of the post and the reply, and removed them. Of course, I was quite aware that those actions would only make me sicker, and despise myself. I then wrote much of this post [except for this paragraph] and decided I might want to wait and review it before posting. I also decided to see if anyone even noticed before posting. This morning I woke up to find a comment from another friend—in another venue—that said they had wanted to comment on it because it was “a great critique.” At that point—now being actually sick due to a stress-reduced immune system—I just started crying. [Thank you, btw, for the compliment.] I have discussed the behavior of those I was critiquing with several professionals—none of whom has seen my critique—and they all agree that the argumentation in that article is not the slightest bit professional. I have provided a copy of my critique to one of them and they may provide me some feedback; I certainly hope so. This person understands me, I think, and knows that I am only trying to grow. They also understand the dangers of “public” growth. [Now back to my original comments….]

I would appreciate it if you would just let it go. I am not ashamed of it. In fact, I was kind of proud of it. I worked on it on and off for 8 days. Sure, it could have been better in many ways. Almost any piece of writing could be improved. And, yes, I did mean my subtitle. I thought it fit very nicely with theirs.

Nonetheless, I’d appreciate it if you’d just let it go. I guess if you have a copy—in your feed reader or wherever—you are free to do what you want with it under my CC license, as long as you attribute me. But I am asking that you just let it disappear into the great bit bucket in the sky. [I might be up for some back channel discussion at this point. Maybe.]

I’m tired, and I’m sad. I believe the things I said and some days I wish I could really say what I want. But this profession, for all of its vaunted beliefs in freedom of speech, freedom to read and other espoused principles, in no way supports that. They are most certainly not accepted for its own members. And most people in the profession, if they even truly believe in them, would never sacrifice a moment of discomfort to uphold them for someone else, much less themselves. Sure, we have a few heroes each year who do the right thing, but most librarians—and here I mean the “professionals”—wouldn’t think twice before violating almost every one of those principles if it meant keeping themselves out of jail or perhaps keeping their job. Sheep.

Some days I don’t really care. I know what my family and I have sacrificed—and continue to sacrifice, over the last almost 30 years now, and on a daily basis—so that other people can (purportedly) have these rights in our nation.

“Professionalism.” Often, use of that term is simply Orwellian so that it can be used to rein in others.

As long as it is “professional” to label a completely unnamed group as “fervent believers” with all the “elements of a religious argument” with a “plethora of unexamined assumptions” but it is unprofessional to actually name your opponents and point out their unexamined assumptions … well, simply count me out.

I have personally seen what those sorts of arguments lead to! After giving up the best years of my life (and much of my family’s) I had to find a way to cope with the fact that my son was being sent to war for just those sorts of reasons. And I have to continue to cope with that. Every. Day.

I have so much more to say, but I’ve already said too much. I’ll leave you to ponder this:

“Professionalism”, at the moment in my mind, is no better than “United We Stand.”

Can someone please tell me where I can find the magnetic ribbon for my car?

some people wear their smile
like a disguise
those people who smile a lot
watch the eyes

Ani DiFranco. “Outta Me, Onto You.” Dilate.

9 thoughts on “if i had any sense, i guess i’d fear this

  1. Let me add a bit of clarification because I did a bad job of it; again:

    1. My friend *did not* make me sick. I did it to myself. I value her advice to no end and she was only looking out for me.

    2. If I, in fact, did what she thought, or if it even appeared as if I did, then she is correct. It was unprofessional.

    3. I did *not* mean to do what she suggested I might have done. But I think she’s right. It certainly appeared that I may have been suggesting something I didn’t mean to.

    4. I fully realize that my sense of professionalism is vastly different than many in the profession. Trying to push those limits is dangerous enough. And having to censor myself, especially based on what I feel is an extremely bastardized, and morally lacking, sense of professionalism is very painful, and hard.

    5. That is what led me–ME–to make myself ill. It is no one else’s fault.

    6. I fully realize that my subsequent actions make me no less a sheep than anyone else. They were taken on my own “behalf,” and I seriously hope that I would do the right thing on behalf of others. Just as I know I will do so for myself again someday. I know this because I have enough examples of when I have, in this and in other arenas, done so.

    I hope this helps clarify a bit. If not, please ask. I truly am trying to grow.

    I would be OK with discussing what I got right and what I got wrong with those I trust. I could provide you a copy if you no longer have it. But if the critique is (probably accurately) that it is simply stupid or “unprofessional” to criticize “those who cannot be criticized” then I don’t want to. I was *trying* to push some limits. I just pushed too far; even in my own shifted view.

    I appreciate to no end my friends looking out for me. And they should feel free to tell me I’m being stupid (or whatever) when they feel the need. I may disagree in principle, while having to agree in reality. And that was the case this time.

  2. I’m not really responding to either post, just expressing my concern over getting sick over all of this. I got sick two or three times over the occasional blow-ups that occur in the library blogosphere and decided that it just wasn’t worth it to me. Now that I’ve decided to be a detached observer, the blow-ups have all the effect of a soap opera that I watch everyday (haven’t done that in years–but who needs to when there’s a blogosphere). Anyway, I’m not sure that you would want to make the choice that I did for a number of reasons that you stated in this post, but I thought I’d throw it out there, just in case.

  3. I have rarely seen truer things said about “professionalism.” Well said altogether. Don’t fret there are many others who think as you do. Maybe some day there’ll be a critical mass of people and things will change.

  4. Wow, it looks like I somehow missed a heck of a post. Of all the weeks to get so busy! Anyway, Mark, as someone who’s been known to make herself sick over work hoo hahs, I feel okay in saying that when that happens, it’s time to take a step back and depersonalize. Again, since I didn’t read you post, I’m taking a chance in saying that. Please be well.

  5. I read your post. I thought it was very well written and professional. Smart, thinking, well-meaning professionals can disagree — scratch that– *often* disagree. You were respectful and thoughtful. What we need are for people to contribute honestly and thoughtfully so we can move this profession forward and do better for our customers/patrons/users. By stifling your commentary, these people have damaged the biblioblogosphere which will impact the profession. IMHO. I shall continue to rant on my own space!

  6. Thank you all! Those who have commented here and those who have emailed me. Your concern means an awful lot to me.

    Maybe in a couple of days I’ll clean up the parts that weren’t up to what they could have been, try to depersonalize it even more, and re-post it. Maybe.

    It’ll be good practice for me, especially as it is the topic for next week’s Metadata Roundtable discussion.

    Thank you all!

  7. Hmm. One of these days I need to go to Metadata Roundtable.

    I started a private blog just tonight because I’ve been censoring myself too much this past year. Seeking refuge and release in anonymity and all that.

  8. Hey Mark — I understand what you’re talking about. The original post was direct and eviscerating, but far from un-professional by any standard I could imagine. But I understand why it needed to be pulled.

    Hope you’re feeling better!

  9. Pingback: Professionalism, fragmentation, moral minimalism and personal drama

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