A federal district court ruling earlier this month which held that there is no clearly established constitutional right to literacy in the United States has reminded me that the various pieces of my background are sometimes in conflict with one another.
Many libraries have meeting rooms or public spaces that can be used for speakers and events, and this case reinforces the importance of making content neutral decisions regarding who can use these spaces and what they can use them for. Decisions that are not content (or viewpoint) neutral risk legal problems for the library. This also highlights the importance of a clearly defined meeting room and events policy, both to guide internal decision making and to allow staff to have clear and specific viewpoint neutral policy-based reasons if they choose to deny a request to use library space.
Stand, is an original, hour-long play about political and intellectual freedom written by Matthew Ivan Bennett. It’s a story of compelled speech, thought, action, and surveillance “by the minute”–a perfect work of art for intellectual freedom proponents to engage with and explore.
Even since 1997, that tradition of free speech has endured. An entire cottage industry of publishing content banned throughout Mainland China emerged to a point of (semi-)national notoriety in Hong Kong, if not actual pride.
Perhaps the most important thing librarians can do is to continue to be a part of the dialogue on how we manage these issues and balance competing interests to ensure intellectual freedom and inclusion, and to be mindful of these issues in program scheduling, meeting space usage, and collection development choices.
By: guest blogger Tara Lane Bowman; Protest placards have come a long way since the days when signs beseeched readers to elect a candidate in an upcoming election. In the past, these signs and slogans were direct. The act of carrying a sign is a First Amendment right that engages any literate bystander. It would be enough to carry a message that states exactly what it is that a protester stands for or against. However, the Women’s Marches show that modern protests require more than physical presence and traditional signs of dissent.
They are saying that politics do not belong in schools; students are there to learn, not make political statements. A Houston-area school went so far as to threaten discipline for students who participated in any walkout or political protesting on campus. And it got me thinking: do these minors have a right to free speech? Are their actions protected by the First Amendment? I decided to find out.
By: guest blogger J. M. Ellison. Intellectual freedom, at first blush, appears to be a matter of the mind. In fact, free thought and its circulation is intimately tied to bodies. We owe a debt to transgender people who have been at the front of the struggle for both intellectual freedom and bodily autonomy. The best way to repay them is to support the ongoing struggle for transgender liberation.
One might think of the covert, sometimes illegal FBI surveillance of the Black Panthers, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. and various other political dissidents as the petri dish where experiments with overreach were conducted years before they were unleashed on the general public. It is only within past decade or so that we are learning just how extensive the surveillance was through the Freedom of Information Act. It is only now that people like artist Sadie Barnette are beginning to come to terms with what it means.
Although Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered the regulation rescinded, a recent proposal and pilot program by New York to severely limit prisoners’ access to reading material raises serious question about prisoners’ right to read.