Yikes! Sounds the same dilemma as the school libraries asked to take _Tom
Sawyer_ off the shelves because it contains the "N" word, despite its
anti-bigotry and anti-slavery content.

My first, armchair reaction would be to refuse to censor for this reason
alone - but then, I'm not faced with a Diversity Coordinator who thinks in
such narrow terms. If the name used for a syndrome is the only reason to
object to a book then please, hold your ground! Besides the absurdity of the
complaint, it's also a slippery slope - shall we throw out the collected
works of Sigmund Freud because his theories are flawed by the sexist and
racist assumptions of his culture? (I'd be more inclined to do that,
actually ...)

It might be more productive to take a position that says "I'm not going to
reject good clinical information just because it contains offensive language
- but I will work with you to:
 1) make sure my library also has books on appropriate non-racist,
non-sexist language,
 2) write to the editor of this book to protest its terminology, and
 3) look for alternatives that are just as clinically valid but that don't
contain bigoted terminology.

-- Lise M. Dyckman
   Solomon Medical Library
   St. Mary's Medical Center, San Francisco
   (415) 750-5795
   [log in to unmask]

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Shannon Clever [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
> Sent: Thursday, July 20, 2000 7:29 AM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Diversity meets Censorship
> HELP!!!!! In my many years (and I won't say how many) as a
> medical librarian,
> this is my first censorship test.  Recently our hospital
> hired a Diversity
> Coordinator to promote diversity and multiculturalism.  We
> have been working
> with her to obtain a lot of information and my librarian
> purchased a book
> concerning geriatric minorities.  While the Coordinator
> admits there is a lot
> of great material in the book, in the mental health section there is a
> description of a syndrome prefaced with a racial slur (i.e.
> _______ syndrome)
> which discribes how the majority globally atribute attitudes,
> ethics, etc to
> the minority. Because of this, she wants the book removed
> from the shelf. My
> first reaction is as a librarian.  Does this mean we have to
> go through each
> book in the collection and assess it based on multicultural
> criteria?  Do we
> removed articles from journals that someone may deem to be
> offensive?  On the
> other hand, I totally support diversity and multiculturalism and I can
> understand how she feels about seeing derogatory terms in
> print even if linked
> to a negative syndrome.
> I am certainly open to suggestions.
> Shannon Clever
> Parkview Hospital
> Ft. Wayne, IN