Today, we have a guest post by my friend Doug Anderson. I am not a Christian. However, I was raised a Methodist. As Christians prepare for their holiest of days, celebrating the resurrection of the man whom they believe died for their sins, it’s time to take another look at all those WWJD? bracelets. Somehow, I don’t think bigotry and discrimination in the name of “religious freedom” is the answer. It certainly wasn’t in my Sunday School days.
The Librarian Is a Monster
“Hi, can I help you?”
The patron smiles back at me and says, “Yes, I need to find a yoga place. I want to learn yoga.”
“Of course. There’s [local yoga studio], let me get you a phone num–”
“Oh no,” says the patron. “I couldn’t go there.” Her voice drops to a whisper. “He’s a homosexual.”
I could have said, “Then you don’t want me to help you, either.” But I didn’t. I helped the patron find contact information for several other area businesses that might better suit her.
As a librarian, I have an ethical responsibility to serve all citizens equally. That includes those with whom I strenuously disagree, and those who are actively working against my rights.
I couldn’t count the hundreds of times over the past quarter of a century that I helped someone find arguments opposing gay rights, or secured for them an interlibrary loan of a book arguing that I should be placed in a concentration camp, or ordered a DVD of a movie filled with vile homophobic stereotypes, or put them in touch with organizations working to take my existing legal rights away.
Hundreds of times. No exaggeration. Hundreds.
Let that sink in.
Even more often, I have sat and listened patiently as they explained (unwitting that the person they’re addressing is the monster they’re describing) how disgusting I am, how society needs to eradicate people like me, and how I am causing natural disasters and the very downfall of human civilization on this planet by my mere existence. I have listened quietly while they told one fag joke after another, clearly assuming that everyone finds such jokes as funny as they do.
I keep my face pleasant, my tone noncommittal (thank God for all that training and practice as an actor), but inside I am hurting, and seething with anger.
These people’s actions are morally repugnant to me. By helping them, I am helping them act in ways directly counter to my own sincerely held religious beliefs.
But here’s the thing: I recognize that I have no right to use my position at the library as my personal religious soapbox, and no right to shirk the ethical responsibilities of my profession to assuage my conscience.
So I help them, without commentary, without stinting, without reservation, and with a smile.
If I ever find that my conscience cannot bear fulfilling my professional responsibilities, I will leave my profession.
What I will not do is expect that the law should enable me to continue in my position if I ever use my sincerely held religious beliefs as a veto power over the ethical responsibilities I agreed to undertake in accepting my position as a public servant.