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Nat Hentoff is really not happy with the ALA. I don't know enough about the situation to have an opinion and certainly not one as curiously strong as his.
UCLA law professor and freedom of speech scholar Eugene Volokh recently posted at his legal group blog, the Volokh Conspiracy, a post about a school libraries matter. The post, What May a School Board Do When It Concludes an Elementary School Library Book Omits Important Information?, takes a look at a recent case in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. An opinion has been released in the matter.
Jose Manuel Vigoa Perez, one of thousands of refugees who fled Cuba on the Mariel boatlift, arrived in Las Vegas on a blistering hot afternoon in July 1980. The bright lights and the hectic atmosphere came as a shock. “I felt like I had walked through a time tunnel and was in another world and dimension,” he later recalled.
The feeling passed. In time Mr. Vigoa was terrorizing the Strip, leading his own commando team in a series of brazen attacks on armored cars and, in his final caper, robbing the main cashier’s desk at the Bellagio. His reign of terror in 1999 and 2000 is the subject of “Storming Las Vegas,” John Huddy’s lurid, foot-to-the-floor account of the life and career of the master criminal the Las Vegas police code-named Tony Montana, after the character played by Al Pacino in “Scarface.”
Now anyone can hear just what famed-author, Anthony Lewis, said at his speech for a Freedom to Read fundraiser at the ALA Convention in Philly. His remarks begin at minute 34:40 on this podcast http://feeds.feedburner.com/%7Er/NCCPrograms/%7E3/221187849/anthony_lewis_01_14_08%2864%29.mp3 from the National Constitution Center.
"I'm going to do something which I'm not entitled to do, but I'm going to raise it because I promised I would. There is an issue that has engaged some people. I don't know if they are in this room or not, maybe a few are, and that is the fate of some private librarians in Cuba who have been imprisoned by the Cuban government.
I just urge you not to take that lightly. I think there can't be anything worse than putting librarians in prison because of their being librarians and giving people books to read. So please don't ignore the issue.
That's from my point of view, even if you don't like the librarians or you don't like Cuba or whatever it is you don't like, its "freedom for the thought that we hate." Please think about it."
Moderator: "How could we not like librarians?"
I'm sure I don't need to tell you who sent in this Princeton Packet article. The Princeton Public Library has inadvertently set off a firestorm of criticism involving Cuba, health care and human rights.
According to some critics, two of the 15 films shown during the library's annual Human Rights Film Festival last weekend are "propaganda" and do not accurately reflect life in Cuba.
"I think it's outrageous to have a film festival at a public library that leaves out all the realities of Cuba, especially when you have thousands of witnesses to the human rights violations," said Maria C. Werlau, executive director of Cuba Archive, an organization that collects information about the country.
Steve Fesenmaier writes "Although the American Library Association proclaims its commitment to the "Freedom to Read" everywhere, its leadership abandons Cuba's independent librarians whom Fidel Castro had locked into his gulags, under brutal conditions, because of their courageous insistence that the people of Cuba should also have the freedom to read books the dictatorship has banned. A majority of the ALA's rank-and-file members disagree with their leadership.
To read the complete story — http://www.washtimes.com/op-ed/20070304-093224-913 9r.htm"
Author and cultural commentator Nat Hentoff writes about FREADOM's Read a Burned Book campaign in this week's Jewish World Review. Writing about Cuba's persecuted independent librarians, Hentoff says:
From kangaroo-court records I have seen, when independent librarians are sent to the gulags, certain confiscated books--and sometimes all books in their libraries--are ordered incinerated by the presiding judge. A biography of Martin Luther King was sent to the flames because, said the judge, it "is based on ideas that could be used to promote social disorder and civil disobedience." And the nonviolent King's own books have been burned.
Steve Fesenmaier writes "Spurred by events in South Florida, a national group is urging students to read books that have been burned in Cuba.
The organization, FREADOM, launched the project last month to bring attention to documents and books, such as the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights and George Orwell's Animal Farm, that the Cuban government has banned and set afire. The project is a takeoff on campaigns encouraging people to read banned books.
"Banning a book is the intent to kill," said Walter Skold, co-chairman of FREADOM, a group of librarians, authors and human rights activists. "Burning it is the crime of murder."
In Cuba, all print and broadcast media are under state control. Also, access to the internet is severely limited outside governmental offices and educational institutions....
During 2006, there was a rise in the harassment and intimidation of independent journalists and librarians....
Prisoner of conscience, Julio Cesar Lopez Rodriguez, Vice President of the Frente Linea Dura and Director of an independent library, was arrested on 22 July 2005, whilst he tried to participate in a peaceful demonstration in front of the French Embassy. He has been campaigning for many years for political reform and the defence of human rights, and kept anti-totalitarian books in his library. He has been held without charge or trial...."