There is an elephant in the room and his name is Ian Wishart.
I have watched the furore over Ian Wishart’s latest book Breaking Silence with a small amount of trepidation. I don’t think it is the death of free speech, seeing as no one is actually banning Wishart from publishing the book. As a free speech advocate I support his right to write the book (even though I have no desire to read it, and find the whole concept distasteful). I also support the right of those against it to advocate boycotting the work. I also support the bookstores in their decision to not stock the work. And yet I still have a sense of unease. I think Craig Ranapia’s post over at Public Address on this sums up some of what I think, if in language I couldn’t bring myself to use.
What I dread is the potential outcry when the book hits the library shelves. I am of course assuming that libraries will buy it, seeing as with all of Wishart’s books there is likely to be a demand. There is the other fear though, that libraries won’t stock it using the justification of collection development policies. For a while now I have held the view that despite many librarians justified promotion of the free speech/anti-censorship causes, we practice a form of censorship. We just call it Collection Development. This could be the lightening rod that exposes that.
Those are the elephants stomping around in my library, which keeps knocking over shelves. I hope I am wrong on both counts, but could too easily be right.