Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Some Pro and Con

Censorship, edited by Julia Bauder. Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press (2007).

This is a collection of essays by different writers, some experts, some merely opinionated, on different aspects of modern censorship, including offensive speech, schools, public libraries, internet filters, national security, etc. The editor has paired the various essays into pro and con sides of distinct issues.

Four of these essays are particularly relevant to the West Bend library censorship debate, beginning with a discussion of internet filters in libraries. Daniel Bromberg's Libraries Should Not Use Internet Filters to Block Pornography is an abridged version of the Online Policy Group's Amici Curiae brief in the Supreme Court US v. ALA decision. Click here to see a copy of the entire brief from the OPG website. Bromberg's main point is that internet filters are produced by private corporations and are designed to please their primary customers, who are parents of young children. As such, filters are not designed to meet the constitutional distinctions between protected and unprotected speech. The result is a "prior restraint" of speech, possibly acceptable in a private home, but not in a public library.

The opposing position is provided by ultra-con Phyllis Schlafly in an essay titled Internet Pornography Should Be Restricted. Click here to see a copy of this article, originally titled Supreme Court Sides with Pornographers Again, on the Eagle Forum website. Schlafly's essay doesn't address the theory or practicalities of censorship, but rails against the Supreme Court for twice overturning the attempts by Congress to restrict internet pornography, the Communications Decency Act(CDA) and the Child Online Protection Act (COPA). She calls on congress to "remove jurisdiction from federal courts over pornography," by means of some unspecified constitutional authority known only to her.

Turning to school libraries, Chris Crutcher, an author of sometimes challenged young adult novels, makes a moving argument that young people need to have a window on the real-life issues they must face. Titled School Libraries Should Not Restrict Access to Any Books within this volume, the original To the Students of the Limestone School District can be found on Crutcher's website (scroll down to the title).

The opposing view, School Libraries Should Restrict Students' Access to Controversial Books, is written by journalist Mike Masterson. He makes an emotional claim that parents should have an absolute right to control what their children read, and that library policies enforcing that parental authority are not censorship. This piece was originally published in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, but registration and a fee are needed to access their archives. A free copy can be found by clicking here (the original title was Laurie's Noble Crusade).

1 comment:

  1. I like your thoughts. Can you send me a link to your other posts?

    Justin Davis
    Disclaimer: Author does not represent any legal position of
    Lightspeed Systems Inc. and is the author's opinion only, and
    Lightspeed only provides an internet filter to K-12 schools and institutions