Shame on Toronto Public Library

Well, despite the thousands of names on the petition and the hundreds of gathered protesters, the anti-trans talk was given last night at the Toronto Public Library, damaging their reputation with the community and solidifying the perception that they are a safe and legitimizing space for hate. Nice work, TPL! The speaker and audience members were jeered soundly by the gathered as police escorted them out. My favourite part is how Meghan Murphy, who appears to be the human equivalent of a lump of shit knotted in a tangle of ass hair, tries to do damage control, saying she’s been maligned and clarifying her position: which actually bolsters everything being said about her.

More on TPL controversy

Beattie has the rundown at Quill. PEN has sure had some dumbass moves the last few years, siding with predators and hate-mongers in the name of free speech, doubling down on the idea that anything flying out a mouth, with or without a brain behind it, is somehow sacred. We need to get some young people in there on their board to counteract the somnambulance that has to be going on in order to make some of these decisions.

The library argues that by allowing the third-party booking to go ahead, they are acting in defence of free speech. TPL’s room-rental policies stipulate that the library reserves the right to cancel a booking if it “reasonably believes” that “use by any individual or group will be for a purpose that is likely to promote, or would have the effect of promoting discrimination, contempt, or hatred for any group or person on the basis of … gender identity [or] gender expression.” However, city librarian Vickery Bowles states that since Murphy has never been found guilty of violating Canada’s hate speech laws, there are no grounds to prevent her from speaking.

Today, PEN Canada issued a statement of support for Bowles and TPL. “Ms. Meghan Murphy’s opinions do not meet a legal threshold for exclusion under the library’s rental policy, though they are clearly at odds with the inclusive spirit which should inform its enforcement,” the statement reads. “Recognizing that some views held by Ms. Murphy are repugnant to many, PEN nevertheless believes, as a matter of principle, that the Library cannot be forced to adjudicate which opinions – short of those which violate the Criminal Code – can be aired by a third party on its premises.”

And you know, I agree that they should be allowed to speak. Just not in a publicly funded venue, especially one that is revered by kids and adults as a place of great learning. To those not familiar with the stakes and issues at hand, not to mention the legal mechanisms at play, it appears to loan state approval/legitimacy to the speaker. Let them rent a private room across town.

tl;dr If it’s not hate speech, they can speak. Just not in a place I pay taxes to.

GGs announced

Joan Thomas and Gwen Benaway win fiction and poetry GGs. Sad to see Michael Crummey not take one, but glad to see Gwen there. English language winners list below.

Fiction: Five Wives by Joan Thomas
Nonfiction: To the River by Don Gillmor
Poetry: Holy Wild by Gwen Benaway
Kidlit, text: Stand on the Sky by Erin Bow
Kidlit, illustration: Small in the City by Sydney Smith
Translation: Birds of a Kind by Wajdi Mouawad, translated by Linda Gaboriau
Drama: Other Side of the Game by Amanda Parris

Library palate cleanser

Strange questions are afoot at the NYPL.

Since The New York Public Library opened its doors in 1895, its librarians have been greeted with an unending stream of questions. The people of New York City—and beyond—have a voracious appetite for knowledge and, for more than 100 years, the Library is where they have come for answers. In the 1920s, staff provided instructions on how to shear camels and directed patrons to prints illustrating 14th-century corsets. In 1956, a schoolteacher phoned to learn the signatories to the 1888 Suez Treaty. The Library’s highly trained staff has even sought an answer to what makes mud stick together.

Can I get on the guest list?

Should we be charging people to browse at bookstores? Wooh, child. Lemme get my popcorn and settle in on this one.

The Strand was selling the book at a modest discount off of its suggested retail price, but I suspected that it would be less expensive on a certain ubiquitous Web site. Sure enough, the same book was listed there, brand new, for ten dollars less than the Strand’s price. If I ordered it from this Web site, it would be delivered to my door, the next day, for free.

The moral high ground is to buy the book from the Strand. The store afforded me the pleasure of browsing the shelves on a weeknight in New York. The store’s owners permitted me to pick up the book and read a few pages, for as long as I wished. They should have my money. But, for the sake of argument, let’s just say that I chose three additional books and that each of those books was also ten dollars less online. I could save forty bucks, which isn’t chump change. So the question then becomes, where do we draw the line? Are we expected to underwrite David’s battle with Goliath, no matter what the cost? I want to give my money to the Strand. I’m willing to pay more in exchange for the intangibles that I’m offered by a store’s physical existence. But I fear that this business model, whereby physical retailers are basically relying on a code of honor from their customers, is just not sustainable.

So why not monetize the intangibles? The Strand, and stores like it, could charge an admission fee.

Two old ladies meet in a castle…

Presumably while wearing fabulous hats. Wait, isn’t that what we’re supposed to comment on? It’s an article about ladies, so shouldn’t we spent some inches on describing their dress as a tonic to their boring accomplishments? Don’t let us down, publicly-funded-news-outlet-that’s-supposed-to-be-better-than-Fox. Maybe you should just run a wire story without looking at it.

Dressed in a dark dress, brightly multicoloured scarf and a wide-brimmed red hat, she told British media that she felt “a bit emotional” in the presence of the queen.

Ah, that’s the patriarchy right there. Safe and sound. (Margaret Atwood made a sort of knight type, will presumably get armour at later date.)