...People need to accept and be prepared for forceful argument because children's texts are at the center of significant cultural debate about weighty matters, such as how we relate to our culture and how we define ourselves as human beings.So why are these particular arguments bothering me so much? Maybe because they're defined by contempt. I feel like a child forced to dine with parents who despise each other and are doing their best to triangle me into their destructive relationship. It takes a lot of energy to sit still and say nothing, and leaping into the fray feels like a no-win solution.
In the children's literature world, we need clear guidelines for appropriate online practices when it comes to forums, listservs, blogs, social networks, and comments. Some venues are suitable for fiery freedom of expression (child_lit, for example); others aren't (yalsa-bk clarified a "no-politics rule," creating a new forum for librarians eager to discuss this election with each other):
Over the last several weeks, there has been considerable discussion and many questions raised about the constraints imposed by federal law on ALA as a nonprofit charitable organization. On the other hand, there has also been considerable interest in having a forum available where ALA members could freely discuss political topics and the current election in relation to library issues.Now that's clarity. So out here on the Fire Escape, let me make the rules clear: anything goes, but with respect. By all means express yourself, but leave your contempt inside.
ALA, because of its 501(c)(3) tax exempt status, is expressly and absolutely prohibited by the U.S. Internal Revenue Code from engaging in "political speech." This means that ALA resources, including electronic discussion lists, blogs and wikis, cannot be used for "the support of, or opposition to, a candidate for public office". Political speech is different from "lobbying," which seeks to influence legislation or regulation (ALA continues to lobby aggressively for libraries within federal guidelines).
For more information about the IRS prohibition on political speech by 501(c)(3) tax exempt organizations, as well as links to additional information, please see the Marginalia blog posting.
To this end, the ALA-APA Board has authorized the creation of an ALA-APA Forum discussion list to discuss mutual issues of interest to librarians and other library workers, including political issues and candidates. This list is open to ALA members and others. Subscribe to the APA Forum here.