Friday, October 16, 2009

Banned and Censored?

Censorship proponents often claim that removing or re-shelving a handful of books here or there isn't serious enough to be called "banning" or "censorship." I've argued against that view in a number of posts on this blog.  I want to make it clear, however, that this is NOT just a difference of opinions about the proper use of terms like "ban" and "censorship."  The fact is that judges have established the usage of those terms in formal decisions, and have applied those terms to very small infringements upon Free Speech. The censors are trying to deny the court-established definitions of these terms. Consider the following two examples.

The issue in Right to Read Defense Committee of Chelsea v. School Committee of the City of Chelsea was the removal of a single title, Male and Female Under 18, from one school library. The US District Court in Massachusetts repeatedly referred to this as a "ban," including this example:
The most effective antidote to the poison of mindless orthodoxy is ready access to a broad sweep of ideas and philosophies. There is no danger in such exposure. The danger is in mind control. The Committee's ban of the anthology Male & Female is enjoined. [Emphasis added.]

In Sund v. City of Wichita Falls, Texas, Heather Has Two Mommies and Daddy's Roommate weren't even removed from the library, but just re-shelved out of the children's section into the adult section.  The US District Court for the Northern District of Texas referred to this a "censorship" over and over, including this:
. . .the Library Administrator of the excellent Library in Wichita Falls. . . . is the real heroine of this unfortunate story of the censorship of two children's Books-and the unconstitutional interference with her ability to perform her duties in running the Library as a trained, skilled, and very competent professional. [Emphasis added.]

No comments:

Post a Comment