With Friends Like These--Marian the L. in bed with the FBI

The background: Last week, our city's Human Relations Commission passed a resolution speaking against the Patriot Act. Many folks in the community were pleased that this happened.

This morning: On the editorial page of the local paper, The Pantagraph is a political cartoon. Since it is not online, let me describe it in detail, since it's awful on so many levels. There is a librarian seated at a reference desk. You know she's a librarian because she's like a fat, old Marian, complete with bun, pince nez and starched white, high-necked shirt. In front of the reference desk is a little kid with an American flag sticking out of her/his back pocket. S/he is checking out a book. The librarian is on the phone, the "Patriot Act Hotline" no less, whispering "We got a live one." The kicker is that the sign on the front of the desk has our library's name on it. It's partially blocked by the little kid, but there's no mistaking what it says.

Okay...the intent was probably to throw support to the resolution, but man, oh, man is this just plain thoughtless at the very least, and a huge blow to the trust we've built up with our patrons. Never mind what you think about the USA PAT--those who struggle with irony or satire are going to go through the roof with this, and we're anticipating a barrage of questions and concerned patrons. Then there's the whole stereotype thing. Unfortunately, the cartoon is not available online. Hope to have a scanned copy of it later today, though.

The paper has, overall, been very supportive of library issues, but this just boggles the mind.


Based on what you described in the editorial cartoon, you've gotta write (or draw--with a drop dead gorgeous librarian) an op-ed. It's patently unfair of the cartoonist to point the finger at your library.

I did. It was pretty hot-headed, but entirely warranted. The editorial editor responded to me and said he'd send along my comments to the cartoonist, because they need feedback like that. (I think that means that it was not accepted as a letter to the editor--probably because you can only submit one every 30 days, and I had one in 28 or 29 days ago.) I think everyone understands that it was a good idea gone awry. Way awry. My colleagues were really steamed, so it wasn't just me overreacting. I think that there will be an official, more even-tempered official response from the home office.

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