I generally don’t get into my politics here, but that’s something that may change. Lately it’s become increasingly obvious to me that any attempt to separate one’s politics from the rest of one’s life is completely artificial. I try to maintain that artificiality here for a number of reasons, but recently three issues have hit a bit close to home, or at least to this blog’s purview.
First off, this story from the Huffington Post about the FCC Chair’s pathetic and transparent acquiescence to corporate interests on net neutrality. I confess to knowing little about the issues surrounding net neutrality prior to writing an issue brief on the topic for library school, but suffice it to say that the profound effect that net neutrality policies will have on the future of information access and dissemination cannot be overestimated. The fact that promises to set policies that would preserve net neutrality are being disregarded in favor of providing corporations with exactly what they want is reprehensible.
Second, as more and more libraries face budget and staffing cuts, and as more and more people find themselves without work, everyone in America should be calling their representatives in Congress and demanding the extension of unemployment benefits. Seriously, whether it’s out of empathy for your fellow citizens, concern for yourself, or just wanting to see the economy improve, this one is a no-brainer.
Finally, there have been reports that the Library of Congress has cut off access to Wikileaks for its staff and for the wireless network available to its patrons. I’m hoping this is an error, but betting it’s not. My take on Wikileaks’ actions is that they are neither treasonous attacks on the lives of our troops and public servants, nor a lethal blow against American imperial hegemony. Rather, I think they strike at two elements of American political culture desperately in need of change: the pernicious culture of secrecy that pervades far too many government offices and agencies, and the reprehensible culture of servility that saturates our media where the government is concerned. We shouldn’t be shocked that Wikileaks has revealed these things: we should be stunned that our government spends so much effort keeping such things secret, and horrified that our media isn’t trying to reveal them.
As someone who wrote his entrance essay for library school on the dangers of asymmetric information, and who believes strongly that libraries — and governments — need to be investing more in people, these stories just pissed me off. And I decided to share.