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Subject: Protest of AIC meeting in Denver

Protest of AIC meeting in Denver

From: Christopher Coleman <ecz5cdc>
Date: Friday, December 11, 1992
I have read with interest the recent comments on whether conservators
and librarians should boycott conferences in Denver or attend them and
take some kind of protest action when there.  Altogether a difficult
problem to solve.  Going to Denver might encourage those who will try to
overturn the recent amendment to the state constitution.  On the other
hand, it will also encourage the prejudiced to believe we support their
position. Some of your correspondents have expressed themselves in
measured and reasonable tones: our professional associations are
non-profit bodies whose main concern is education, and we should not get
involved in matters political.  In other words: What have we to do with
social intolerance?

My preferred approach to any kind of argument is to take it to extremes.
Only then can one see where it truly tends.  The difference between the
attitude expressed by the Colorado vote and that of the Nazis is one of
degree, not of kind.  If the discrimination (which is now lawful) were
to become more aggressive, would we still be content to say it has
nothing to do with us, that we are meeting in Denver to go about our
unprovocative business as archivists, conservators and librarians?

Our daily work -- collecting and organizing the whole of human
expression and making it freely available to all, in the full knowledge
that we are exposing our users and ourselves to ideas that will change
us all, sometimes radically -- is a political action.   It follows that
we should be prepared to take political action not only against those
who would prevent us from carrying out our mission, but also against
those whose mission is opposed to ours.  If it is acceptable to
discriminate against a group of citizens, who pay their taxes and live
peaceably within the law like everyone else, then discrimination against
books and documents by them and about them also becomes acceptable.
Librarians and archivists have fought, and continue to fight, against
censorship.  That, too, is a political action.   Now, can we rise to the
defence of the books and documents, but not to the human beings they are

On balance, keeping away from Colorado would seem the correct choice.
While doing so, we should also require our professional associations to
let our colleagues in that state know that our cancellation of
conferences, vacations, etc. should be seen as positive support for
those who are trying to right the recently perpetrated wrong.  They
should be encouraged to cite the cancellations (and loss of revenue) as
support for their cause.  We should be suggesting to friends in other
professions that they, as individuals, and their professional
associations, should also boycott Colorado until the situation changes.
And while we are about it, I see no reason why we should not take a hard
line against other states threatening to follow in Colorado's footsteps.
We could make sure we do not plan conferences, meetings, workshops, etc.
in those states until further notice, and let them know why we are
choosing to do that.  After all, this is a huge country with many
attractive (and socially just) cities with all the facilities the
conference organizer and attendee could reasonably demand.

Christopher Coleman
Preservation Officer
UCLA Library

                  Conservation DistList Instance 6:32
                Distributed: Saturday, December 12, 1992
                        Message Id: cdl-6-32-005
Received on Friday, 11 December, 1992

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