Authoritarian the Librarian

The onset of Autumn is a good time to recall summer stories that failed to get the attention they deserved. Consider, for example, what happened in Davis, California, back on August 20.

The Stephens Davis Branch Library hosted an event by Moms for Liberty (MFL) of Yolo County, featuring speakers formerly with the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) and NCAA, as well as legal experts in Title IX and women’s rights policy. The subject was “fair and safe” sports for girls and the first speaker was college soccer player Sophia Lorey, an outreach coordinator for the California Family Council.

Lorey lamented that 10-year-old girls could not live out the same dream that she had “as long as men are allowed to compete in women’s sports.” Lorey addressed “the physiological advantage of male athletes and the emotional and psychological impact on girls when men play on their sports teams.”

An audience member interrupted the speaker, asking, “Are you going to misgender people throughout the entire thing?” Lorey then requested that the audience save questions for the end of her presentation. Scott Love, the library’s regional manager, wasn’t willing to wait.

“This is a library,” Love said. “I don’t want any transgender females being called males in sporting events with females. If that happens, it’s not following our code of conduct and we will ask the person to leave immediately.” When Lorey continued to speak about biological males in women’s sports, Love asked her to leave “or we’ll shut the entire program down.”  And he did. With apologies to Marian the Librarian (Shirley Jones), this guy is Authoritarian the Librarian.

The library’s code of conduct apparently does not include respect for free speech, or even the simple courtesy of listening to a speaker without interruption. No word whether countless books such as Women in Love, by D.H. Lawrence, or Boys and Girls Together, by William Goldman, violate the library’s code.

The Davis shutdown recalls the appearance in April of NCAA swimmer Riley Gaines at San Francisco State University. The five-foot-seven Gaines sought to discuss the fairness of the 6’ 3’’ Will Thomas, formerly of the University of Pennsylvania men’s team, now calling himself “Lia Thomas” and competing against women.

A trans mob assaulted Gaines and forced her to take refuge in a barricaded room.  SFSU officials took the side of the mob. SFSU president Lynn Mahoney said Gaines’s message was “deeply traumatic for many in our trans and LGBTQ+ communities.” In reality, Gaines had been prevented from delivering her message in the first place.

Public universities and libraries are supposed to be forums for learning and debate. If SFSU and the Davis library are any indication, California’s public spaces are being trans-formed into hothouses of intolerance.

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