A couple of librarians who are better skilled when it comes to writing thoughtfully have provided a couple of replies that I think summarize how to respond to people like Mr. Chapman.
- The Free Government Information (FGI) blog has "In Response to the Economic Case Against Homosexuality." Their guest blogger, Amy West, goes over the specific inaccuracies in Chapman's post. This is the kind of work I expect a good librarian to do. To look at the claims and then do some common fact checking, something that Mr. Chapman clearly did not do, or more likely chose not to do because it would not advance his religiously influenced agenda.
- Wayne Bivens-Tatum, the Academic Librarian, looks at the rhetoric of Mr. Chapman's claims. This is well worth reading as well, and Mr. Bivens Tatum concludes that this is not about economics but about justice. Don't take my word for it. Go read it.
At the end of the day, these are the thoughts roaming my mind:
- Mr. Chapman's beliefs and writing are reprehensible. They are just a screed for bigotry and discrimination disguised as "an economic case" that is anything but economic.
- However, the beauty of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is that he has the right to express his reprehensible bigotry. That beauty also means that the rest of us have the right to ignore or condemn him. Therefore, he should not be acting indignant if he finds that reasonable, decent people object to what he's peddling.
- Sure, academic librarians (and librarians in general) do have the right of expression like anybody else in this nation. We do not abdicate that just because we work in a library. Again, we should be ready to face the consequences of what we express. Though Mr. Chapman makes the usual disclaimer most of librarian bloggers make on their personal blogs, including me, that "views presented on this blog are the authors personal opinions and do not represent the opinions of my employer," he does mention his employer (Purdue University) in his biography at the blog. Directly or not, that reference will give him some weight, so to speak. There is a difference between some random guy making the "case," and an academic librarian affiliated to a very respectable midwestern university. He may not "represent" the university, but he does mention his association to it. Whether he likes it or not, people will look at his writing and say, "that librarian from Purdue" has it out for gay people (or something similar). This will probably not look good on the university, and I wonder if he even considered that.
- Having said all that, I don't think the guy should be fired. Not for this, as bad as it may seem to those of us who disagree with his less than accurate views. Now, if he starts proselytizing at work, that would be reason to fire him. But it was written on his personal blog. This does not mean the students cannot protest and ask for his resignation or firing. Again, he wrote it, so he should have to deal with any consequences when it becomes clear that his bigotry is not going to be tolerated by society at large. He should not be shocked, surprised, or seeking sympathy when others denounce his wrong, inaccurate, and prejudiced views. As I pointed above, this will probably not look good on the university, and if he were fired or asked to resign, I would not be surprised. It is common knowledge that large institutions, like a reputable research university, would want to avoid any bad publicity or anything that could tarnish its image. Mr. Chapman is a tarnish on the image of Purdue University.
And that's my two cents.