The culture war inside America’s libraries is playing out yet again. This time, it has hit Alabama where conservative activists are demanding the removal of LGBTQ+ inclusive books and other ‘controversial’ materials, and falsely accusing librarians of pushing porn.
There’s the twin errosion of freedom of speech and access to information.
It also pushes for libraries to withdraw as members of the American Library Association (ALA), which it believes uses its “influence to push leftist progressive values” on “traditional communities”.
The ability to freely associate with others is a core civil liberty. This kind of pressure to pull out of associating with other libraries is as dangerous as eroding free speech.
> To accomplish these goals, Clean Up Alabama wants to ensure that libraries are no longer exempt from the state's Anti-Obscenity Enforcement Act, according to an email sent to the group's newsletter subscribers, the Alabama Political Reporter reported.
This eliminates safe places in which we can learn.
> Clean Up Alabama is keen to add LGBTQ+ content to the state's legal definition of “sexual content”, according to the Alabama Political Reporter. The outlet reported this would have a trickle-down effect as it would bring queer books under the definition of content “harmful to minors” in Alabama.
So the idea that this alone makes for sexual content is wrong. But then what else could packaged under this? Reproductive health, certainly. How about intimate partner violence? Sexual assault.
Whether it was Gap Khakis, Patagonia vests, or Allbirds, the counter-cultural ethos that applauded individuality has been replaced by herd thinking. In Silicon Valley, we use a better marketing term for herd: team. One of the biggest trends of the past twenty years has been the rise of corporate swag. Wearing a Google t-shirt, an AirBnB backpack, or a logo-festooned Hydra bottle are all symbols of belonging to a herd called “work.” These logos advertised where you worked and thus gave you a place in Silicon Valley’s social hierarchy.
As the technology industry became the cultural zeitgeist, it became necessary to advertise to the world that you were part of the tech set. And the easiest way to do so is through uniforms. And I don’t mean uniform in the strictest sense, just as pinstripes and bold red suspenders were the look for traders and bankers in the heyday of Wall Street. By embracing a uniform, we are echoing being part of the tribe. Uniform is a great leveler, and it shows what team you are on. It is a symbol of power, affiliation, and hierarchy. Its underlying ethos: us versus them.
The simple fact is that the Republican Party, and the conservative movement that gave it life for the past 50-odd years, has mutated into something alien and dangerous. Whatever that chimeric creature is, there doesn’t seem to be any way to stop its growth. But one way to ensure that it gets larger and more dangerous is to deliberately ignore the reality of it when it’s right in front of your face. Half of our political ecosystem has gone irreducibly renegade, and to pretend it hasn’t is to fail journalism’s constitutional powers worse than Richard Nixon failed his.
Too often, we fail to be wounded by the stories we tell. Or, worse, we feel the wound but hide the pain. We hide it with cynicism. We hide it with cleverness. We hide it with easy repetition of nostrums and conjuring words that keep us from facing the overwhelming reality of the threat. We choose to operate on the same level of unreality that’s created for us. Perception is reality? That’s bunk. Reality is reality, and the job of journalism is not to pretend that perception is reality, but to hammer the reality home until the perception conforms to it.
In some circles, the kind of attitude shown by SaeedDiCaprio is being labelled as “right-clicker mentality,” Vice reported this week. It’s a term first coined by NFT collector and creator Midwit Milhouse, who complained at the time that somebody was cheaply recreating gold-coated steaks online.
According to Milhouse, it was a homebrewed version of a steak popularized by internet sensation Salt Bae, who was selling the creation for $2,000 at his restaurant in London
“Sure, you can make your own gold-coated steak for 65GBP, but then you don’t have the satisfaction, flex, clout that comes from having eaten at Salt Bae’s restaurant,” Milhouse wrote in a tweet last month.
“The value is not in the cost of the steak,” Milhouse argued. “It’s all about the flex.”