Offense vs. Free Speech

Midwinter Meeting/Annual Conference

Conable Scholarship recipient Aubrey Madler has been blogging her thoughts about the ALA Annual Conference throughout the week.  This is the final installment.

I absolutely loved Monday afternoon’s session, Blasphemy!: When Religious Values Clash with Intellectual Freedom. Both speakers (Irshad Manji and Paul Sturges) were excellent–they entertained me–they captured my undivided attention with their topics of thought. Part of what they spoke about was our right to offend and that by not acting upon that right, we destroy our own intellectual freedom–our freedom of speech. As Irshad said, offense is not bad. It creates the opportunity for deeper thought.

Similar to my comment in a previous post about the difficulty to read and access challenging/different things, it is difficult to start the conversations, and therefore all the more important. It takes brave people to exercise their right of free speech and ask the arduous questions (not only write about them) with the utmost of respect and clarity.

I closed out the day with the 40th Anniversary Merritt Fund dinner at the Folger Shakespeare Library. I heard an emotional story from a librarian who was under scrutiny for hindering an investigation because she would not relinquish computer use records. It is unfortunate that we need this fund in place, but it is a wonderful form of support for those standing for intellectual freedom and privacy.

I have to say thanks again to all those that welcomed me into their circles. I continue to make excellent contacts, discuss IF issues and explore ways in which to ensure our democratic freedoms.