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.
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.
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.
The boundary between aesthetics and prurience has ebbed and flowed throughout history. And today’s anti-obscenity legal landscape is evidence of this undying wave cresting in our modern day. But perhaps if we break historical barriers, and view this as a relationship without walls, calmer waters surely lie ahead.
On July 1, 2017, Gov. Rick Scott (R) of Florida signed into law House Bill 989, which revised district school board responsibilities related to reviewing and adopting public K-12 instructional materials.
October 7, 2016: Student’s right to protest. Banning Books in Texas Prisons. Tennessee Parent challenging Islam in the curriculum. And SO MUCH MORE
ALA’s 2016 Annual Conference is in Orlando, FL and the Office for Intellectual Freedom will be there staffing the different committee meetings and programs.
Committee meetings and programs are open to any attendee, and are often a good way to learn about the business of ALA and its intellectual freedom initiatives.