Conscientious meetings

Jeremy Brett has a post on the Issues & Advocacy blog, “A Case of Conscience,” suggesting that SAA take steps to avoid holding annual meetings in states that pass discriminatory legislation.

I’m in agreement, including with Brett’s anger and idealism and the impulse to be able to pick up balls and go home. I suspect the logistics of picking up balls might be more challenging than a conscience clause; though I haven’t done it, I know hotel negotiations are complicated. But even if an event has to go forward there’s the possibility of pulling future business—and, perhaps, thinking Very Carefully about future business in states that seem likely to introduce discriminatory legislation. Kind of like the Voting Rights Act (1965–2013) for convention planning.

Somewhat queasy-making, from my perspective, is the prospect that chunks of the profession don’t agree with the position that this type of legislation is wrong. (Our reputation might be kind of lefty, but that doesn’t really mean much. I wouldn’t be surprised if some archivists find trans urine as terrifying as North Carolina legislators do. Though really, there are so many more terrifying things in restrooms.) Then there’s also the it’s-political-and-the-organization-isn’t argument, which I associate with folks coming from a place of unexamined privilege and/or hewing to strict process arguments but can also, I suppose, come from other places. But from an organizational policy perspective, I think this is the money quote that answers those arguments and personal bias:

Nor as a professional organization should we be tacitly granting second-class citizenship to our LGBT members, which we would be doing by giving our dollars and our time to a state or municipality that choses to wage war against a minority group.

If you have opinions, there’s an I&A Roundtable Poll open until April 8. Do stop by, whether you’re a member of the organization and profession or not.