The term intellectual freedom has been recently tossed around by state lawmakers to justify new laws targeting college campuses. The recent laws and policy changes mainly target one of three things: faculty tenure, curriculum, or freedom of speech. This post will provide an update on new laws or incidents happening in various states.
Learn the future of fair use in less time than it takes to watch (an excellent) webinar! Our recap of “Fair Use Gone Viral: Predicting the Future of Copyright“ featuring Kenneth Crews, copyright scholar and librarian.
Many of the bills use very similar language, referencing “unfair trade practices” and “censorship.” Several bills would require social media platforms to warn users of their specific electronic speech transgressions and give violators a grace period to clean up whatever part of their act that would see them banned. Some bills empower the banned to file consumer complaints with state attorneys general or, like Texas’ SB 2373, to file suit.
Faculty should not push their opinions on students – or make students feel denigrated for their opinions – but they should encourage students to question and strongly analyze their opinions. That’s part of the point of college.
The Build America’s Libraries Act seeks to provide more equitable access for all and calls for funding to be prioritized to “underserved and distressed communities, low-income and rural areas, and people with disabilities and vulnerable library users including children and seniors”.
Some see contact tracing as an intrusive privacy concern and some see it as necessary for combating the virus. Like it or not, it would appear that contact tracing is going to be a new reality for American library workers. Let’s start a conversation on the Dos and Do-Nots of conducting contact tracing in our libraries.
Oregon’s new stand-against-hate initiative is, in part, a reaction to the fatal MAX stabbings in Portland three years ago. But asking the government to intervene in our extralegal interactions does more to divide us than it does to unite. Especially when these interventions call for the compiling of data on speech that is of no legal consequence whatsoever.
Overall, going to legislative advocacy day was a really positive experience. I think it is important for librarians to speak up about the importance of libraries and the needs of our patrons. Many of our patrons – especially in school libraries – can’t speak up for themselves about what they need. In today’s fiscal climate, I think we need to speak up to make sure we can continue to serve our patrons’ needs.
Over the past few years, several state legislatures have considered strengthening media literacy skills instruction in schools based on recent research findings. But how can teachers instruct students to become critical consumers of media if politicians falsely label credible sources of information as “fake news?”
Sometimes stories of extreme attempts at censorship like those in Missouri and Florida seem ridiculous, appalling, or impossible, but as someone who reads the news frequently, I can attest that they happen with alarming frequency. If you can take the time to take one small step, we can all work together to take small steps toward increased intellectual freedom.