Here is a story about a guy in Ottawa, IL, attempting to get his library’s “no bare feet” rule changed.
Matthew McNatt’s request may have caught the Reddick Library Board flat-footed.
Monday, McNatt, the owner of the McNatt Learning Center in Ottawa, asked the board to allow library patrons to be barefoot.
“Prohibiting bare feet is historically ignorant, culturally insensitive, medically uninformed, legally irrelevant, unnecessarily restrictive and contrary to the spirit of personal freedom that the library is asked to maintain,” said McNatt, who wore a pair of black shoes.
I have also given a presentation to a library board to try to get them to remove a shoe requirement. McNatt’s points are spot on.
The board heard his presentation but postponed action on the request until its September meeting.
Library Trustee Jameson Campaigne suggested McNatt show there was more support for his position.
“A petition with a couple thousand signatures might be a little more persuasive,” Campaigne said.
I can predict what will happen. First, the board will say they need to retain their rule for reasons of “decorum”. And then, if McNatt presses further, the board will suddenly switch to an excuse about how dangerous bare feet are (while ignoring the dangers of, say, high-heels).
Also, of course, why should the exercise of liberty require a petition with a couple thousand signatures? In a city of about 20,000, that’s about 10% of the total population.
McNatt also draws on Abraham Lincoln’s barefoot youth (as did I):
McNatt said as a youth Abraham Lincoln often went barefoot.
“Legend even has it that Lincoln delivered the first speech of his political career barefoot at age 21, as commemorated by the Barefoot Lincoln statue in the town square in Decatur,” he said.
I also pulled in a famous Ohio barefooter: Johnny Appleseed.
I wish McNatt the best of luck. But experience has taught me not to be optimistic.
(H/T to Chris of the Barefoot Hikers of PA.)