Censorship

Washington Supreme Court hears case on Internet filters

The state Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether it's constitutional for public libraries to refuse to disable their Internet filters for adults who want access to sites that have been blocked.

Full story here.

Filtering in Washington State

From The Seattle Weekly:

Tomorrow, the State Supreme Court will hear Bradburn v. North Central Library Region (NCLR). The North Central Library Region is a system spanning Chelan, Douglas, Ferry, Grant, and Okanogan (WA) counties. Like other library systems that receive federal funds for Internet access, the NCLR is required to have the ability to block minors from seeing materials deemed "harmful" to them. Typically, libraries disable those filters at the request of adults.

Nevertheless, the NCLR has instead decided that it will judge the merits of each adult's request to disable the filter. This, says the ACLU, "hampers adults in researching academic assignments, locating businesses and organizations, and engaging in personal reading on lawful subjects." ACLU spokesperson Doug Honig says that the majority of requests to lift the filter has been denied.

The organization sent out a partial list of sites that have been blocked by the filter:

* The website of an organization encouraging individuals to commit random acts of kindness
* The Seattle Women's Jazz Orchestra website
* The website of an organization encouraging women to carry to term by creating "a supportive environment for women in crisis situations to be introduced to the love of Christ"
* YouTube

A teen book burns at the stake

Francesca Lia Block, an award-winning author of young-adult books (the "Weetzie Bat" series among them), has known for a while now that one of her novels, "Baby Be-Bop" is at the center of a controversy in West Bend, Wis.

A few days ago, she found out that it might be burned at the stake. "Baby Be-Bop" is on a list of titles that a local group calling itself the West Bend Citizens for Safe Libraries objects to seeing in the public library. In February, the group asked the library's board to remove a page of recommended titles about gay and lesbian issues for young people (including "Baby Be-Bop") from the library's Web site. Then they demanded that the books be moved from the youth section of the library and placed with the adult collection, "to protect children from accessing them without their parents' knowledge and supervision."

Full story at Salon.com

Google and Tiananmen Square

Google's introduction of Google.cn, a censored search engine for Chinese users, caused an uproar in the U.S. Just how different are the results for controversial keywords using Google.cn?

See answer on FrontLine website.

Ontario Proposal For Library Filters

A private member's bill has put forward at Queen's Park, home to the provincial legislature for the Canadian province of Ontario. The bill by Gerry Martiniuk is said to propose requiring Internet filtering at libraries in the province. The summary note prepared by staff at the provincial legislature discusses in simplified terms what the bill proposes. According to the status report on the bill, it has only had its first reading in the legislative process. Martiniuk's statement upon introducing the bill is available online.

(h/t Connie Crosby)

Toni Morrison defends 'sacredness' of books against censorship

'A writer's life and work are not a gift to mankind; they are its necessity', Nobel laureate tells launch of the Free Speech Leadership Council.

"Certain kinds of trauma visited on peoples are so deep, so cruel, that unlike money, unlike vengeance, even unlike justice, or rights, or the goodwill of others, only writers can translate such trauma and turn sorrow into meaning, sharpening the moral imagination."

Egypt's Unesco hopeful in book burning row

Egypt's candidate to head the UN cultural organisation, Farouk Hosny, apologises for anti-Israeli remarks in May 2008.

Farouk Hosny, who is Egypt's culture minister, expressed "solemn regret" over a May 2008 pledge to burn Israeli books in Egyptian libraries.

Israel withdrew its protest about Mr Hosny's candidature following a request from Egypt's President, Hosni Mubarak.

But Jewish European cultural groups continued to object to the candidacy.

Opponents of Mr Hosny's candidature have cited his response to a question in parliament in May 2008 from an opposition MP about whether Israeli books were held by the new library in Alexandria.

He said: "Burn these books; if there are any there, I will myself burn them in front of you."

Read more about it at The Beeb.

Burn This Book

Published in conjunction with the PEN American Center, Burn This Book is a powerful collection of essays that explore the meaning of censorship and the power of literature to inform the way we see the world, and ourselves.

More info here.

Kid Running "Banned Books" Library Out of School Locker

On a question posted to Yahoo! Answers, a high school student asks, Is it OK to run an illegal library from my locker at school?, then continues:

"Let me explain.

I go to a private school that is rather strict. Recently, the principal and school teacher council released a (very long) list of books we're not allowed to read. I was absolutely appalled, because a large number of the books were classics and others that are my favorites. One of my personal favorites, The Catcher in the Rye, was on the list, so I decided to bring it to school to see if I would really get in trouble. Well... I did but not too much. Then (surprise!) a boy in my English class asked if he could borrow the book, because he heard it was very good AND it was banned! This happened a lot and my locker got to overflowing with the banned books, so I decided to put the unoccupied locker next to me to a good use. I now have 62 books in that locker, about half of what was on the list. I took care only to bring the books with literary quality. Some of these books are:

>The Perks of Being a Wallflower
>His Dark Materials trilogy
>Sabriel
>The Canterbury Tales
>Candide
>The Divine Comedy
>Paradise Lost
>The Godfather
>Mort
>Interview with the Vampire
>The Hunger Games
>The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
>A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
>Animal Farm
>The Witches
>Shade's Children
>The Evolution of Man
> the Holy Qu'ran
... and lots more. -- Read More

Tennessee Schools Sued for Blocking GLBT Sites

A media specialist and several high school students are suing two school districts in Tennessee for unconstitutionally blocking access to online information about gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) issues.

Librarian Karyn Stort-Brinks, students Keila Franks and Emily Logan, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee have filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee against the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools and Knox County Schools. Franks and Logan attend Hume-Fogg High School in Nashville. Knox News reports.

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