Recent book challenges in the news have involved permission slips sent home by classroom teachers when students would be reading a potentially controversial book, and I’d like to take some time to review the bigger picture surrounding classroom text selection, parent communication, and the sticky question of “permission.”
We owe it to kids to talk to them about their rights and what support looks like—be it for challenged books, authors, or marginalized people—and how all of it ties into the power dynamics of their country.
The American Library Association defines Intellectual freedom as “the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction. It provides for free access to all expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of a question cause or movement may be explored.”
The former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy considers loneliness to be an epidemic in America. Dr. Murthy called it a pathology which can lead to greater risk of “dementia, anxiety, and depression” which in turn negatively “impacts creativity, reasoning, and decision-making.”
The First Amendment has been front and center in the press under President Donald Trump’s administration. That’s what makes Steven Spielberg’s new movie so incredibly timely. The director’s latest drama, The Post, chronicles The Washington Post’s 1971 effort to publish the legendary Pentagon Papers.
To fully understand intellectual freedom, it seems crucial to consider what kinds of barriers to these activities might exist in our local communities and broader American society. The ones I initially think of include self-imposed determinations — I can’t question that! — to outside restrictions — library users in this district can’t access this book! — but perhaps there are others.
Alexandra Alter muses on whether or not the common practice of sensitivity editing sanitizes the work of authors writing outside their experience to the detriment of freedom of expression. Alter interviews authors and other book professionals about their experiences with sensitivity reading and internet backlash against books that readers feel have not gone through rigorous vetting before being published.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has banned a list of seven terms. Among them: “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.” The terms are not to be included by employees in any official documents supporting the CDC’s 2019 budget.
On Monday, we flip the calendars to 2018; we resolve to change our lifestyles for the better; and we welcome a new slate of intellectual freedom advocates to share opinions and knowledge about a core value of the librarian profession.
Green’s new novel ponders the many metaphors we use to describe pain, mental illness, and the narratives of our lives…but I left the book with my own new metaphor.