Get LISNews via email! Enter Your Email Address:
Super Helpful R Hadden Writes :
Today during all the hype about Internet filters, we forget that not
to long ago people were paid by the state with tax money to censor and
filter for us. These people had the right to determine what other people
could or couldn\'t see. Their censorship decisions were backed up by force
of law and police powers of arrest and imprisonment for opposing those
Mary Avara was for 21 years one of the official and state-paid movie
censors in Maryland. Her job was to review domestic and foreign movies
before they could be shown in the state, and to determine what could and
couldn\'t be seen by other citizens. Although she only had a seventh grade
education, she was confident that she could determine from her own good
moral judgement what was right and what was wrong for other people of
Maryland to see. The Maryland censorship board was only abolished in 1980.
As we honor those librarians and library supporters who defend First
Amendment rights today, often at the risk of job and career, occasionally
at the risk of violence and anger, it is also right that we take a few
moments and remember what it was like when all states had an official
censorship board supported by taxes. It is so easy to slip back to the days
when other people made decisions for us in what we can know and not know.
It is easy to think that these all-to-human censors can be cheaply
replaced by un-thinking mechanical and electronic filters on the Internet.
Or that we can go back to the days when the information faucet could be
turned off by official censorship boards. In both cases, they are simple
solutions to complex problems.
Let us remember the censors as they pass away.