Censorship

Censorship

Proposed New York State Ban On Anonymous Posts

Residents speak up about 'Fifty Shades of Grey' at Library Board meeting

Residents speak up about 'Fifty Shades of Grey' at Library Board meeting
The furor and debate over the removal of the erotic novel “Fifty Shades of Grey” from Brevard County Public Libraries’ shelves continue to be a page-turner.

While board members and the library services director said they appreciated input from four people who spoke in favor of the book’s return and one who supported its removal, they did not talk about giving “Fifty Shades of Grey” space again at the 17 Brevard County Public Libraries branches.

Salman Rushdie On Censorship

Salman Rushdie On Censorship

Even more serious is the growing acceptance of the don’t-rock-the-boat response to those artists who do rock it, the growing agreement that censorship can be justified when certain interest groups, or genders, or faiths declare themselves affronted by a piece of work. Great art, or, let’s just say, more modestly, original art is never created in the safe middle ground, but always at the edge. Originality is dangerous. It challenges, questions, overturns assumptions, unsettles moral codes, disrespects sacred cows or other such entities. It can be shocking, or ugly, or, to use the catch-all term so beloved of the tabloid press, controversial. And if we believe in liberty, if we want the air we breathe to remain plentiful and breathable, this is the art whose right to exist we must not only defend, but celebrate. Art is not entertainment. At its very best, it’s a revolution.

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Must schools ban 'gateway' books, too?

Must schools ban 'gateway' books, too?
"There have been few challenges in Tennessee school districts recently. Apparently, our schools have been doing yeoman’s work in pre-screening their assigned reading, weeding out any book that might challenge the narrow definitions of good taste, and avoiding the expensive and unseemly task of removing a title from class.

But the Sumner County action does raise an interesting question in light of Tennessee’s new mandate on sex conversation in schools. The legislature has said the only approved approach to sex is that only married men and women should have it; so, what to do about these books in school libraries?"

Two heroes who stood their ground

Two heroes who stood their ground

I have an "education hero," a person who's little known outside the profession. To me, he showed heroism in a time of crisis. Most of you have never heard of him - superintendent of schools, Island Trees Schools, Long Island in the 1970s. Story began in 1976 when four Island Trees (Long Island) School board members attended an upstate New York conference sponsored by the Parents of New York, United (PONYU). Considered an ultra-conservative organization, PONYU advocated censoring books that did not "meet their standards." PONYU published a list of 33 books that "should not be on the shelves of school libraries."

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Olympics wanted to censor the Sex Pistols

Olympics wanted to censor the Sex Pistols
"Censorship mattered more than the content of the Pistols," Lydon told Billboard. "If you're going to be celebrating what is great about Britain, the honesty of the Sex Pistols is one of those things. If you censor the words of any one song, you're killing the honesty and I couldn't tolerate that. We didn't want nothing to do with them."

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Research censorship 'problematic'

Research censorship 'problematic'
The editor of the world-leading scientific journal Nature says current procedures to assess and censor medical research potentially of use to terrorists need to be improved.

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Tehran Book Fair versus the literature of Iran's Streets

From LA Times Jacket Copy: Readers walking into the Tehran Book Fair will not find "Memories of My Melancholy Whores"; the Gabriel Garcia Marquez book has long been banned. Yet if they can find a street stall, called nayab foreshi (Farsi for "forbidden items"), that book, and others, will be for sale.

The 10-day Tehran Book Fair, which attracts an average of 550,000 visitors per day, calls itself "the most important publishing event in Asia and the Middle East." It features publishers from the Islamic world, which are, like those in the West, struggling. Their troubles include the trafficking in pirated, banned books, reports our blog World Now.

“I can show you hundred titles of the books Xeroxed or on CDs sold in massive numbers right here in the sidewalks opposite Tehran University,” lamented Majid Taleghini, a publisher in Tehran. “We publishers are bankrupt and book smugglers are making a fortune. So what is the use of censorship?”

Frustrated writers say getting books past the government gantlet can take years, making it hard to eke out a living, even as the black market flourishes. Books must be submitted to the Cultural and Islamic Guidance Ministry, which picks out any offensive words, phrases or even whole paragraphs and insists on changes before texts can be printed.

The 25th annual Tehran Book Fair, which takes place at the Grand Mosque Mosalla, began today and continues through May 12.

Are Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr Leading the Way in a Content Censorship Wave

Are Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr Leading the Way in a Content Censorship Wave?

Do image oriented and visual curation sites have unique responsibilities since photos can be used as very specific maps for how to achieve certain negative activities, such as self-mutilation? Does the discussion expand to other social sites such as Twitter and Facebook, where I can link to such a picture? What about the role of general content arbiter aka search engines? Should our ability to look for and connect with potentially objectionable content at all be controlled?

Inside Washington's high risk mission to beat web censors

Inside Washington's high risk mission to beat web censors
For more than a year, the intelligence services of various authoritarian regimes have shown an intense desire to know more about what goes on in an office building on L Street in Washington DC, six blocks away from the White House.

The office is the HQ of a US government-funded technology project aimed at undermining internet censorship in countries such as Iran and Syria. And so every week – sometimes every day – email inquiries arrive there that purport to be from pro-democracy activists in those places, but which, the recipients are confident, actually come from spies.

LISTen: An LISNews.org Program -- Episode #196

Houstonians set up underground libraries in response to book ban

Houstonians set up underground libraries in response to book ban
After learning about a law in Arizona that has gotten books about Mexican-American history banned from classrooms, a group of Houstonians responded by collecting over 1,000 of the banned books, packing them in cars and taking them in a caravan across Texas and New Mexico to Tucson, Arizona.

Known as “librotraficantes,” or book traffickers, a group led by Houston Community College professor and author Tony Diaz has taken it upon itself to help the students in Arizona to have access to the books that have been part of their school district’s curriculum for years.

LISTen: An LISNews.org Program -- Episode #193

A Letter From Vonnegut To Someone Who Burned Slaughterhouse-Five

You have insulted me, and I am a good citizen, and I am very real.

In October of 1973, Bruce Severy — a 26-year-old English teacher at Drake High School, North Dakota — decided to use Kurt Vonnegut's novel, Slaughterhouse-Five, as a teaching aid in his classroom. The next month, on November 7th, the head of the school board, Charles McCarthy, demanded that all 32 copies be burned in the school's furnace as a result of its "obscene language." Other books soon met with the same fate. On the 16th of November, Kurt Vonnegut sent McCarthy the following letter. He didn't receive a reply.

[Via]

Bombing Bridges

CNET's Greg Sandoval reported last year that top Internet Service Providers came to an agreement with the RIAA and MPAA to engage in copyright enforcement. Ryan Whitwam noted at ExtremeTech that the agreement is set to kick in during Summer 2012 and would entail a graduated response system. The Electronic Frontier Foundation reported that this was not founded by governmental action but instead a Memorandum of Understanding among multiple companies that remains open for other companies to sign on.

By this summer we will see a graduated response system for copyright enforcement arise in the United States. There won't be a firm procedure in place but the general structure calls for six strikes. During later strikes there is the possibility to utilize captive landing pages that would effectively terminate a user's Internet access until they carry out whatever mitigation measure the Internet Service Provider deems appropriate. While there is the possibility of arbitration, there is not generally recourse to governmental involvement in the matter. Contractual obligations and the use of Terms of Service as private legislation come into play.

As seen at Harbor-Topky Memorial Library in the Ashtabula harbor today, signs are posted warning users of library WiFi that using file-sharing applications and peer-to-peer applications on their network may result in the termination of access privileges. That perhaps highlights the danger shared Internet connections present in light of the Memorandum of Understanding entering into force in Summer 2012. If a copyright violation is found, all that can be seen is the account's access point to the ISP's network. There is not necessarily a way to differentiate which particular user committed the infringement, though.

It is regrettably possible that six infringements by six separate users on a shared network access point could result in the termination of service. In an unprotected wireless network it is possible to have parties unknown usurp a connection and cause infringement without the knowledge of the actual account holder. Unless WPA2 and other security measures are employed, an innocent account holder could be blamed for the foul action of a third party. This has already happened which is why normal advice in establishing a wireless network is to engage WPA2 encryption as soon as possible and to keep your network passphrase secret.

A degree of sophistication is required to avoid the very possible nightmare scenarios above. This unfortunately means, though, that networking hardware marketed to consumers needs to be treated as more than "set and forget" devices. With the greater push to frictionless sharing online and reducing burdens in accessing the Internet the possibility of the digital divide widening grows.

In light of an online environment that continues to deteriorate, fallback options are always necessary. For content producers it is very difficult when potential readers/listeners/viewers cannot access the producer's goods. While it can be said by users that the Internet treats censorship and is built to route around it, that notion assumes that routing can continue without interference or disruption. As we now see, the routing of traffic is now going to be subject to intentional interference and accepting that interference will be a condition of access. By private agreement of a group of companies, the trade in information can be restrained at least with regards to information fixed in electronic form.

When it comes to LISNews let alone the rest of the LISHost galaxy this is not an insignificant concern. When the actual means of routing traffic are effectively compromised, relying on a compromised network can result in the effective disappearance of sites. Who needs to burn books when you can just put the functional equivalent of a minefield around content repositories?

Depending upon how this sort of change impacts the Internet at-large, we have looked at workarounds. Since 2009 there have been two proof-of-concept exercises to continue LISNews and other parts of the LISHost galaxy through alternative means. A print edition of LISNews was piloted after being created using tools provided by FedEx Office. Since then we have seen the creation of HP MagCloud which would more easily do what we attempted. On New Year's Eve 2011 we heard LISTen make its debut on shortwave radio through the broadcast resources of WBCQ in Maine.

In both exercises, the general content remained the same while the manifestation differed. This has been a concept seen often in modern librarianship where books have large print editions and unabridged books-on-tape. As an adaptation tactic in terms of content creation, it may soon become quite critical.

It is not necessarily time to begin fundraising to incarnate alternative manifestations of content online perhaps. A few months remain before the private enforcement regime begins. Keeping the thought in the back of one's mind is prduent, though.

Creative Commons License
Bombing Bridges by Stephen Michael Kellat is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

Teacher Suspended For Reading Ender's Game To Students

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"Forbes reports that a middle school teacher in South Carolina has been <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2012/03/19/south-carolina-teacher-suspended-for-reading-enders-game-to-middle-school-students/">placed on administrative leave for reading sci-fi classic Ender's Game to his students</a>.

Racial Lens Used to Cull Curriculum in Arizona

Matt de la Peña’s novel has been banned at Tucson High for containing “critical race theory.”

Article in the NYT

I am a book trafficker

I am a book trafficker

The Librotraficante Caravan will travel from Houston, Texas on March 12th to Tucson, Arizona, carrying a payload of contraband books, creating networks of underground libraries and leaving community resources in its wake. One of many responses to Arizona’s unconstitutional laws prohibiting Mexican-American Studies, the Librotraficante Caravan has captured the imagination and hearts of activists, writers, educators, and students from all walks of life who want to preserve freedom of speech.

Revealed: How China censors its social networks

Revealed: How China censors its social networks
The way the Chinese government censors and deletes politically-sensitive terms online has been revealed for the first time.

As expected, the communists are hypersensitive to criticism of the state - but also to people slating the so-called 'Great Firewall', the network blocking technology that prevents Chinese people browsing the internet freely.

PayPal gets religion on obscene e-books tells sellers to ban content

PayPal gets religion on ‘obscene’ e-books, tells sellers to ban content
PayPal has sparked a furor in the publishing world by asking some e-book distributors to ban books that contain “obscene” themes including rape, bestiality or incest.

PayPal sent an email on Feb 18 to Mark Coker, founder of e-book publisher and distributor Smashwords, saying it would “limit” the company’s PayPal account unless Smashwords removed from its website e-books “containing themes of rape, incest, beastiality and underage subjects.”

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