Saturday, September 27, 2008

Read...while you still can!

Sound like something out of Orwell's "1984"? It's not. If some folks have their way, a huge range of books – covering everything from health (including our reproductive systems) to fiction (including Phillip Pullman, Mark Twain, and that great, terrifying Orwell novel) – will not be available in our public libraries or schools.

Does this matter? Of course it does! Especially as the economy worsens, more and more of us will be looking to read, and to educate our children, using public resources – resources our tax dollars have paid for.

Today marks the beginning of the Banned Book Week, a time when we should celebrate our freedom to read – while we still have it! Read one of the most frequently challenged books of last year. Support your local library. And make sure you know which candidates support our continued intellectual freedom.

And what radicals are behind this? Well, the American Library Association is one co-sponsor. Their literature points out the importance, saying:

“Intellectual freedom can exist only where two essential conditions are met: first, that all individuals have the right to hold any belief on any subject and to convey their ideas in any form they deem appropriate; and second, that society makes an equal commitment to the right of unrestricted access to information and ideas regardless of the communication medium used, the content of the work, and the viewpoints of both the author and receiver of information. Freedom to express oneself through a chosen mode of communication, including the Internet, becomes virtually meaningless if access to that information is not protected. Intellectual freedom implies a circle, and that circle is broken if either freedom of expression or access to ideas is stifled.”

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