Minimal power corrupts absolutely

Minimal power corrupts absolutely

Power is like being a lady, if you have to tell people you are, you aren’t. – Margaret Thatcher

Sorry Dear Readers, but Lord Acton was wrong! While absolute power can certainly corrupt absolutely, and it often does, it pales in comparison to what a modicum of power can do to folks who’s never “enjoyed” any form of authority before.

And this phenomenon is frequently true of:

  • Teenage lifeguards
  • Security guards
  • Teachers
  • Rookie police officers
  • Newly elected city councilmen
  • School board members
  • Library board members
  • Homeowners’ association boards
  • Judges
  • And librarians

Because this culture persists in its pernicious efforts to teach young girls to be perpetually deferential, this dynamic disproportionately affects women who tend to go truly overboard at their first sniff of even the mildest power.

Though I’ve witnessed this process repeatedly unfold over the course of my semi-charmed kinda life, the failure to foresee the potential consequences of these abuses of authority always makes it a terrifying proposition. Case in point; the recent St. Charles Library kerfuffle.

With a plethora of news outlets having beaten the story to death, I’m not gonna to go into great detail here. Suffice it to say that a mother brought her young children to the facility and two were masked while two others (twins) were armed with a no-mask medical note and face shields. But when the library staff demanded they add masks to their arsenal regardless of the doctor’s declaration, all hell broke loose.

With the mother in tears, the family was escorted out of the building, which led to her returning without a mask, which led to the police being called, which led to a maskless sit-in protest, which led to the police being called, which led to library staff receiving death threats, which led to the library banning the mother for 90 days and closing their doors to the public.

Please tell me I’m not nearly the only one who sees the absurd lunacy in this library’s fascinating capacity to court the worst kind of self-inflicted wounds. It’s not as if this mother was determined to make some sort of anti-mask statement. Two of her children were masked, and considering the documented medical advice, having the other two wear face shields clearly demonstrated a willingness to honor the spirit of the mandate.

But no! The staff just couldn’t let it go! Having savored a taste of mask mandate power while applying no common sense whatsoever, those librarians and administrators adamantly refused to be satisfied with an eminently reasonable masking alternative.

It’s not as if face guards are any less effective than the utterly useless cloth masks 95 percent of the general sweaty public wears. As Dr. Leana S. Wen of the Milliken Institute School of Public Health recently declared, “Cloth masks are little more than facial decorations. There’s no place for them in light of Omicron.”

And whenever you choose to enforce a pointless mandate to the extreme letter of the law just because you can, it essentially boils down to just another form of fascism. Not to mention ignoring the inevitable consequences as correctly predicted by Newton’s third law.

That equal and opposite reaction consisted of the maskless protesters descending upon the library which required SCPD intervention. Then that heavy handed response to a silly protest solicited threats against library staff and the library board petulantly closed the facility to the public.

As if that’s gonna stop anyone determined to wreak havoc from doing so.

And all of this needless stupidity is the result of a power-drunk library that made the worst possible decisions because they don’t know how to appropriately wield authority.

I’d really like to ask the staffers involved if all of this insanity was really worth it, but the question would be utterly immaterial. Regardless of the immense backlash, were the situation to re-present itself those doomed-to-repeat history librarians would respond in exactly the same way.

The vast irony, of course, is that suburban libraries are already obsolete. They’re nothing more than an anachronism in the face of inexpensive e-books and the vast resources available at our keyboard fingertips. And this patently pointless battle has only served to hasten that obsolescence.

Since they’re not accepting any visitors, I certainly hope the library board is laying off the now unnecessary staff in an effort to lighten that St. Charles tax burden. If not, I would encourage St. Charles residents to deduct the prorated portion of the library’s levy from their next property tax payment for every day it remains closed.

And isn’t it truly terrifying that librarians, of all people, really need to learn what the phrase “cause and effect” means.

The fact that Abraham Lincoln didn’t actually utter these words makes them no less powerful,

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

The St. Charles library and library board just proved that very point.

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