By editorial board • 

Library’s not safe; but then, what is?

A young man was stabbed at the McMinnville Public Library last week, so clearly it’s not safe to visit the library anymore.

Don’t take any risks. Keep you and your children safe.

Only go places where there is absolutely no chance of encountering violence. Hop on the nearest form of public transportation and visit a movie theater, restaurant, grocery store, shopping mall, retail shop, convenience market, school, church, museum, park, street, office, etc., etc.

Of course, no place is actually “safe.” Shootings, stabbings and other acts of violence have happened at all those places.

The incident at the library could have been much worse.

It appears the victim and attacker knew each other and had a pre-existing conflict, suggesting this was not the work of a knife-wielding lunatic looking to kill everyone in his path.

Compare that with the average school shooting where the attacker arrives fully loaded with a firearm and generalized hatred for all humanity. Yes, what happened at our local library was horrible. But the possibility of further violence shouldn’t discourage anyone from visiting the library, any more than it should discourage them from shopping.

All of us risk danger — violent or otherwise — every day. Yes, modern life seems exponentially more menacing. However, that perception that is partly a reality and partly an illusion resulting from instantaneous global communication.

That’s no excuse to cower under our beds. Reacting out of fear, anger and ignorance will not result in a safer society. We must bravely and intelligently confront the roots of violence, without resorting to pat answers and convenient scapegoats.

If we need role models, we should look to our librarians. They responded heroically to the incident last week. One calmly called 911 while another applied pressure to the victim’s wounds.

Librarians are heroes every day. They are trained to respond to certain actions by specific individuals so the library’s books and resources can be readily available to everyone. If a public library becomes less public — with sweeping rules for who can and cannot pass through its doors — fear wins, and we all lose.

No, it’s not a safe place. There’s no such thing as a safe place where human beings freely gather.

Being less free doesn’t make us more safe. We become safer onlythrough courage, the kind of courage displayed by local librarians who don’t let danger scare them into hiding behind barriers.



Those who give up rights for safety will have either. I forgot who said this famous quote but it is right.


Did you mean “neither”?

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