State Chapter Intellectual Freedom Report: Texas

Censorship, General Interest, State Intellectual Freedom Committees

Periodically, the OIF Blog features profiles of the intellectual freedom activities from ALA’s state chapters. Our fourth featured state is TexasThe entire series can be found here.

by Victoria Kemp, Chair, Texas Library Association Intellectual Freedom Committee

In 2012, the Texas Library Association will celebrate their 110th year! Congratulations to all our members. TLA’s Intellectual Freedom Committee is hard at work updating the state’s Intellectual Freedom Handbook. The Texas Intellectual Freedom Handbook is dedicated to John Henry Faulk (1913-1999):

‘Freedom, the joys of a democratic society, had to extend to all people or it was a myth.’ John Henry Faulk was an eloquent speaker for civil liberties, and these words reflect his intense belief in the rights of the individual. Texans will always revere Faulk as one of their greatest storytellers, an Austin native whose folksy, salty humor perfectly embodied the character of their land. He will also be remembered as one of America’s most outspoken defenders of the First Amendment and freedom of speech. In the late fifties, Faulk fought back against McCarthyism by winning a libel suit against AWARE, Inc., a major contributor to the blacklist tyranny that had brought his successful career in radio and television to a halt. In one of the most dramatic trials of modern times, he exposed the activities of AWARE and other vigilante organizations and broke the back of television blacklisting. The story of this struggle, Fear On Trial, became a best-seller and an award-winning television movie.

Last year, Channelview TX was a censorship center. The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby, by “George Beard,” “Harold Hutchins” and Dav Pilkey, was removed from grade schools after parents complained when their 6-year-old was suspended for calling a classmate “poo-poo head.” TLA and its Intellectual Freedom Committee, along with ALA and others, have provided guidance and support to the librarian facing this challenge.

During TLA’s Annual Conference in April, the IFC is sponsoring two programs:

  1.  Nathan Wright from Lava Row will be appearing to discuss why schools should permit access to social media sites such as Facebook. Children need to learn how to manage their online lives in a responsible manner. Schools have historically been the place where children learn the rules of society. It seems natural that schools should also be teaching children how to be prudent and careful online. How can this be accomplished when social media sites are banned? Thanks to the Texas Association of School Librarians (TASL) and the Young Adult Round Table (YART) for their co-sponsorship of this program.
  2. Micah Sifry from the Personal Democracy Forum will appear to discuss his recent book, WikiLeaks and the Age of Transparency. Political blogger Micah Sifry argues that WikiLeaks is not a villain. He sees the current debate as a generational and philosophical struggle between those who see the Internet as an open, transparent culture and those who wish to retain older, closed and secret systems.

The incoming Intellectual Freedom Committee for 2012-2013 is:

Carrye Syma, Texas Tech University, Chair

Mary Christmas, Corpus Christi ISD, Vice Chair

Bonnie Case, Highland Park Public Library

Paula Griffith, University of Houston — Clear Lake

Virginia Harrell, Fort Bend County Libraries

Fred Jahns, Fort Worth ISD

Linda Kay, Round Rock ISD

Terese Morgan, Austin Community College

Sara Naper, Texas State University

Anne Taylor, Irving ISD

Craig Wheeler, Texas A&M University — Commerce

Andrea Yang, Montgomery County Memorial Library


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