Editorial

Shredding books with Lynne Cheney

An opinion piece from University of Southern California History Dept. chair Steven J. Ross:

In 1933, Nazi sympathizers in Berlin burned 20,000 "degenerate" books, many of them written by Jews and anti-fascists such as Albert Einstein, Bertolt Brecht and Franz Kafka. Here at home, slaveholders were so frightened by the power of the word that throughout the antebellum South legislatures made it a crime to teach slaves to read and write.

Now, Lynne Cheney, Vice President Dick Cheney's wife and the former head of the National Endowment for the Humanities, has placed herself in the company of dictators and slaveholders. At her urging, the Education Department destroyed more than 300,000 copies of a booklet designed to help parents and children learn more about America's past

Cheney objected to the booklet's reference to the National Standards for History, guidelines for teaching history in secondary schools that were developed at UCLA in the 1990s and that suggest that American history should be taught with an eye not only to America's successes but to its struggles and dark moments as well ...

Complete article (registration required). A bit histrionic, obviously, but the whole episode is more evidence of Cheney's distaste for academic freedom.

The Internet as a Dark Alley: Privacy, Patriot Act and Posterity

This commentary from Daniel Greenwood, Professor of Law at University of Utah discusses the University's attempt to institutionalize

countervailing pressure to support the countervailing value: preserving liberty by preserving a space free of easy monitoring. Specifically, it seeks to reduce the number of records that could be used for improper or repressive witch hunts.

Greenwood discusses the need to back up computer data without the data being widely available for harvesting and scrutiny. The rest here at the Salt Lake Tribune.

Phoenix Rising...

Turner writes "Jay Currie writes an auricle titled “Phoenix Rising�....-a dose of reality for the “nutty� Mayor of Phoenix“With Congress and the federal judiciary at a standstill over how best to protect children from Internet pornography at public libraries, the city of Phoenix, Ariz., has jumped out front on the issue. The city's new ban on web smut is also already the target of a challenge by civil libertarians�....http://www.libraryfilter.blogspot.com/"

Those who'd 'shut up' Fox News ignore press freedom

Fang-Face writes "Nat Hentoff, a champion for Cuban independent librarians in the U.S., had a commentary posted on The Washington Times Web site on 13 Sep, and which was reprinted at the First Amendment Center. In it, he defends Fox "News" and criticizes various movements against the channel as being free press violations. An interesting piece of work for any real student of civil liberties."

This Headline Is Not for Sale

Anonymous Patron writes "Here's A Slashdot Thread that has some Good Comments on a Wired article, This Headline Is Not for Sale. The author, Adam L. Penenberg, writes about the blurring of the lines between advertising and news content.

Nowadays the wall between editorial and marketing must extend to the content itself. Marketers can have the sides, top and bottom of a page to peddle products and services, but the body must remain pure.

"

As Our Privacy Fades, We May Need to Redefine Family Values

Laura Berman writes...
"Add it all up, the credit card records, the retail databases, the explicit data maintained by financial institutions, and you realize that privacy has become largely a state of mind: It hangs by a few keystrokes.

The discomfort is nagging, more hang nail than trauma, but the American Civil Liberties Union makes a powerful case for caring in a report issued this week that neatly ties a few obvious trends together: Technological sophistication, “anemic� privacy laws, and heightened profit motive combine to give the government unprecedented snooping powers.

These issues are particularly worrisome in Michigan, though, where international events and a large Arab population have helped make this state a veritable laboratory for experimenting with privacy rights." Read the rest.

Summer Reading List Blues

Here's an op-ed piece about the difference between what kids are "expected" to read over the summer now and what "suggested" reading was all about in decades past. It used to be all about leisure and enjoyment. Now, the idea is more equated with "work." Children's books are no longer just for fun.

"We seem to have lost sight of what children can actually process, and more important, of their own innate capacities. Instead of our children being free to roam and dream and invent on their own timetable, and to read about children doing such things, we increasingly ask our children to be sober and hard-working at every turn, to take detailed notes on their required texts with Talmudic attention, to endure computer-generated tests. And the texts we require them to pore over have become all too often about guarded, world-weary, overburdened children, who are spending their childhoods trying to cope with the mess their parents left them." Read More.

Freedom takes strong stomachs . . .

Fang-Face writes "There is
a Charles Haynes commentary on the recent SOFA report at First Amendment Center. There's isn't really anything new in it, but he does examine some amusing dichotomies. For instance:

Despite this readiness to rein in the press, many Americans still want to know more about what the government is doing. Half of those surveyed, for example, say they have "too little access" to information about the federal government’s war on terrorism.

Talk about a disconnect. Without a free press, where would Americans get information about government actions?

Whence such confusion of thought? Perhaps it's contagious?"

Civility as a choice

An Anonymous Patron writes sent along A Column that presents a a refreshing idea: Choose civility.The author, Steve Blow says he can't get used to is that so many people don't want to offer a conflicting opinion; they want to inflict a wound. Snide, sarcastic, belittling, profane – you name it. The intent is to sting, not discuss.
He says We do have a choice in how we will live. With strength, we can choose civility.

Solitude and the Fortresses of Youth

In relation to an earlier story on LISNews, the New York Times (free reg required) has an interesting op-ed piece by Michael Chabon on the college girl who was expelled for writing a particularly violent short story. Chabon discusses the problems with denying young adults the right to express themselves (in writing!) with violent images due to a desire to protect youngsters from these ideas.

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