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Niagara Falls
Thursday, April 18, 2024
Letter: Board was wrong to fire librarian
Letter to the editor. File

Dear editor:

Having read about the firing of library CEO Cathy Simpson in the March 21 edition of your paper I was struck by the following.

Daryl Novak, chair of the library board, says, “The staff were not behind her. She basically lost the confidence of the staff.”

Sounds like a case of the inmates running the asylum.

Novak says that as part of their due diligence, board members also researched FAIR “and we all came to the same conclusion.”

The conclusion was unstated, however, I am wondering whether their research went beyond accepting the distorted representations of Matthew French contained in his Feb. 29 letter to the editor.

He stated that in a podcast FAIR boasted, “For more than a year, FAIR has been at the forefront of efforts to eliminate diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.”

French left out the rest of the sentence in the podcast that made it clear the initiatives FAIR opposed were only those that tried to silence people of any colour who challenge the stereotyping of people sharing the same immutable characteristics, such as colour of skin.

Far from campaigning against diversity and inclusion programs, and fighting against anti-racism initiatives, FAIR promotes the concept that we are all human beings and should all be treated equally no matter what our immutable characteristics may be.

Monica Harris, executive director of FAIR, said in a National Post opinion piece: “Simpson witnessed increasing censorship in library curation and was understandably disturbed by these threats to intellectual freedom and free speech” and she advocated for “library neutrality and pluralism.”

In the big picture, it seems there is a divide between those who judge people by their immutable characteristics, which is the worst form of stereotyping, and those who believe you should treat people as individuals regardless of their immutable characteristics.

It seems to me that FAIR comes down on the right side of this argument.

Novak says: “Cathy has a right to free speech. Her right to free speech needs to be protected. That’s not the issue.”

Actions speak louder than words and one can only draw the conclusion that if you speak out on controversial issues that he disagrees with, as Simpson did, you are “cancelled.” Her “right to free speech” is illusory.

It is telling that no steps were taken to suspend Simpson (which led to her firing) until after French, expressed his distorted and misleading views, a week after her opinion piece appeared.

I believe Niagara-on-the-Lake deserves to have a library board made up of members who do not allow their own biases to accept the false narrative put forward by French as a basis for “cancelling” (firing) Simpson.

I believe NOTL would be better served if the current members of the board were obliged to resign and Simpson reinstated as CEO.

This would also save our community the exorbitant expense of dealing with the fallout from this wrongful firing.

Anthony Powell

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