To the editor:
I am one of several volunteers at the Chicago unit of Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic who is recording the now-famous queer-studies book How Do I Look? by Bad Object-Choices for the use of graduate student Dawn (Caught in the Net, April 19). Thus, Claire Dolinar's stirring defense of my right to refuse to do so (Letters, May 24) is unnecessary. More important, it is misguided.
No volunteer anywhere in the country was even asked to record the book before Dawn's request was refused by headquarters in Princeton. Such refusal is so contrary to RFBD's mission--"[to provide] free on loan recorded books at all academic levels . . . [and] to promote educational and professional success by converting printed materials into accessible forms"--that when the Chicago unit learned of it through Caught in the Net, we E-mailed Dawn and asked her to send us the book at once. We were embarrassed by Princeton's mistake and eager to have the opportunity to correct it.
While it is surely true, as Claire says, that "RFBD volunteers cannot be forced to look at and record material they deem objectionable," it is equally true that RFBD as an organization should not be, and isn't, in the business of deciding which of the nation's textbooks are objectionable. We'd be refusing to read Huckleberry Finn before we knew it.
And to characterize Dawn as an "ingrate" for pointing out that we refused to record one of her textbooks is truly insidious. Does Claire think that blind students should consider themselves lucky to get any of their books, and that it's uppity of them to expect to get them all?
I will add that anyone who really thinks RFBD volunteers are "censorious prudes"--who fears that our sensibilities are insufficiently contemporary or our minds insufficiently open--should feel free to diversify us by volunteering. We can always use the help.