A Guarded Thanks to Seattle Public Library

Feminists in Struggle previously wrote the Seattle Public Library on behalf of the WoLF event, “Fighting the New Misogyny,” scheduled for February 1, urging the library to honor the First Amendment of the U. S. Constitution and allow the event to go on despite attempts to shut it down by the trans community.  We have now written the library to thank them for going ahead with the event, but in view of the inordinate amount of time that it took for them to reach this decision, and their having had multiple hearings and events for this population, we thought we should remind them of the fact that women, adult human females, are still a marginalized group who need future events focused on the multiple ways in which we experience discrimination based on our sex.  See below for full text of our statement.

To:  Seattle Public Library

From:  Feminists in Struggle

 

While we’re gratified to learn that the Seattle Public Library has decided to honor free speech and allow women to speak in the “Fighting the New Misogyny” event put on by the Women’s Liberation Front scheduled for February 1, we wish to remind the library and its board that this is a right guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U. S. Constitution.  As such, there should have been no question whatsoever as to what the correct decision should have been, nor any delay in reaching it, particularly on behalf of a public institution such as yours.

We hope that future such events will not only be scheduled unimpeded, but that any opposition by those who think it is acceptable to deny women the right to speak will be firmly resisted by your board, your decision reached in a much more expeditious manner, and said events be allowed to go on with your unswerving public support.  Women, adult human females, are a marginalized group as well, are still second class citizens in 2020 with no standing in the federal Constitution, even though we are 52% of the population!  We deserve many more opportunities to speak not only on this topic, but many others such as #MeToo, ratification of the ERA, FGM, and male violence towards women to name a few. It is our sincere hope that you will readily give women the respect we deserve in the future.

A Message to the New York City Public Library

To:  The New York City Public Library

From:  Feminists in Struggle

 

We are a national group that fights for women’s rights, with members from across the United States.  We are appalled by your recent decision to cancel a planned event by the group Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF). By denying one group access to the Library, you have not only violated the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, but have, in effect, become censors, in direct contradiction to the core principles of the history of your own institution!

 

The American Library Association, the oldest U.S library professional organization, has stated in its Library Bill of Rights: “VI. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.”

 

Even during the “communist witch-hunt period” of the 1950’s the Library Service stood its ground and refused to bow to enormous and intimidating pressure from Senator Joseph McCarthy, et al, by refusing to remove library books deemed “subversive” by his committee. Your recent decision flies in the face of this proud tradition of defending the rights of public library users to be exposed to a diversity of opinion.

 

Recently, the Seattle Public Library, when faced with a similar decision, regarding this same group (WoLF), made a decision opposite your own. Their statement reads as follows:

 

These values are easy to stand by when we agree with the viewpoints being shared, but when viewpoints challenge us in uncomfortable ways, it certainly becomes more difficult. It is in these difficult moments we must stand particularly firm in supporting the right to free speech in order to preserve that right for everyone.

 

We strongly urge you to follow their lead and look forward to your rescinding this terrible decision and replacing it with one that is more in line with both the proud history of the U.S. Library Service and the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution!

Statement to SPL re Fighting the New Misogyny Event

To:  Seattle Public Library Board of Directors and Chief Librarian

From:  Feminists in Struggle (FIST)

Feminists in Struggle (FIST) https://feministstruggle.org/ urges the Seattle Public library to resist the pressure to cancel the talk entitled “Fighting the New Misogyny: A Feminist Critique of Gender Identity” scheduled for February 1st at your library.  Free speech is a bedrock principle of our Constitution. Public Libraries in particular should be beacons of intellectual freedom, and the free exchange of ideas. To censor opinions on controversial issues such as whether policies related to gender identity may infringe on the rights of women and girls, violates your own library’s intellectual freedom policies and your obligation as a public entity to preserve our First Amendment rights. Please stand firm in defense of free speech and refuse to cancel this event.