How neutrality backfired on this librarian, and what I learned: The Kadr fiasco

If you don’t live under a rock you obviously have heard of Omar Kadr. He is the Canadian citizen who was awarded 10.5 million dollars by the Canadian Government after being held in Guantanamo bay. There is a huge divide and outrage in Canada over this. People are pissed he’s getting tax payer money and they think he should be in jail for shooting and killing an American Soldier when he was 15.

My opinion is that he did something wrong and he should be in jail for it, but the government didn’t take the legal route and instead sent him to a quasi legal place…and used quasi legal techniques….. to get a questionable confession out of the guy…..i regress.

The point of this article is to discuss neutrality. I decided to weigh into the argument on Facebook when some people on my feed started babbling over the pay out. I took the high road and tried not to get into the argument but to offer some facts and resources to these people; oh boy that was mistake #1.

One side then claimed I was anti military and pro terrorist. They were overly emotional about the situation and I tried to reason with them; that was mistake #2. Don’t try to reason with an emotional person, because they are already so emotionally invested they will see it as an attack.

And so it continued. I tried to reason with the person as to why the courts ruled this and that Khadr was getting the money not for being a terrorist but for being a human being. I got called a snowflake and various other things, then I got emotionally involved and fired back about the persons reasons for their career choice; mistake # 3 don’t get emotionally involved if your going to try this neutrality thing.

So Neutrality blew up in my face. For anyone who has played Dungeons and Dragons and tried to play a true neutral character….it is impossible, much like maintaining neutrality in between two passionate combatants in a online argument. No one wins the online fight and the person trying to mediate, educate, or maintain neutrality ends up being the loser in the battle.

This has not deterred me from being the neutral librarian that I have tried to be, it is just a lesson in what not to do when trying to provide information to a very passionate person. I still strive to maintain neutrality in the information world, but have learned a valuable lesson. #1. give the information and walk away; #2 don’t try to help, as a neutral person….you will only get yourself in trouble and become emotionally invested (see #1); #3 don’t get lit up, getting emotionally involved only makes the situation worse; #4 Online arguments are pointless and no one wins.


1 thought on “How neutrality backfired on this librarian, and what I learned: The Kadr fiasco

  1. Matt Thomas

    I LOVE reasoning with emotional people (at least on facebook or Twitter) but my goal is not really to convince them — I know that’s not ever going to happen — but rather to show to others that it’s ok to disagree, to have a discussion in an open forum like that, that there is support for whichever side I’m arguing for, and that even issues like the Khadr one are not simple. I don’t think librarians need to be or even should be neutral. I think we should be as objective as we can be, as well as informed and reasonable when discussing things, but I think it’s a mistake when librarians think they must be neutral to be a librarian if for no other reason than neutrality can sometimes be effectively siding with the status quo which clearly isn’t neutral.


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