THE RIGHT TO READ
Did you know that the Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments of the constitution) doesn't garantee us the right to read anything we choose?
It gives us freedom of speech, and freedom to print speech, but fails to address the reading of it. The right to read is an assumed freedom. So, can anybody read anything published in America? No.
The U. S. Government rarely bans books. However, at lower levels of officialdom book banning is common practice. Despite the advisory service of The Office of Intellectual Freedom, and the work of The Freedom To Read Foundation, we have actual, and potential "intellectual freedom" problems.
All across this country, behind the closed doors of community councils and local school boards, conspiracies flourish against the freedom to read anyting we choose.
In this nation there's little tolerance by local big brother officials for public selection--should the book be something they deem "inappropriate or detestablle." As author Nat Hetoff said "Free speech for me, but not for thee."
Many self appointed guardians of good (with diversified ideas of what good is) dilligently search for reasons supported by particular religious or moral systems, to prevent the public from reading your books--if they don't like your ideas, which must be unconstitutional. Yet ... what has been done to curb it? Supreme court justice Louis D. Brandeis once said, "Allowing insidious encroachments by men of zeal, without understanding, is one of the greatest dangers to liberty."
Echoing this thought, The Office For Intellectual Freedom, The American Library Association, and myriad other literary organizations, together with authors' societies and college university presses, sponsor Banned Book Week. Usually, the last week in September.
During that week book stores and libraries schedule banned book readings, book store managers display and make available to the public, long annotated lists of all the books that have ever been banned anywhere. Others distribute copies of the first mendment. Some sellers (and lenders) set up impressive displays of the better known formerly banned (or destroyed) books that later became holy wisdom, educational authority, or classics.
The two most common subject offenders being religion-- and influence against a prevailing power. THE HOLY BIBLE is the best example. Luther's translation was burned. The Revised Standard Version experienced the wrath of Fundamentalists. Ethiopia once banned all versions.... Ill-fated clasics include The Diary of Ann Frank, The adventures of Hucklberry Finn, and The American Heritage Dictionary!
The Government as a general rule does not ban books, however, each administration sees things differently. Remember the attempt to ban "The CIA and The Cult of Intelligence" while still in manuscript form? It became a national controversy, which turned into a media hey-day. The masses rose up screaming.
And not long after, the noose on this illegally constricted freedom began loosening-- but not much. No matter how much propoganda the people are fed, scattered fires of new and different thinking cannot all be smothered. The radicals will be heard. There is no way to conceal thoughts by repressing evidence that they exist-- which means complete suppression of ideas contrary to the will of the leader is not possible. In a democray, even the wildest uttering of uneducated laymen go in the pot from which "justice for all" is ladled.
Thus, all considered, the battle of minds progresses slowly toward the dreamed ideal of the founders. True freedom in "The Freedom Nation" is still far in the future. But expanding armies of regular citizens are now promoting the struggle of innumerable authors, who have been ostracized by personal opinion.The American public is fighting every day battles against suppression of the freedom to read-- the masses out to prove that we should be free to read (without exception) anything that the first amendment allows to be written.
Toward that end, every September The American Library Association, with full support of the media, leads a national endeavor to curb this behind-the-scenes censorship-- this suppression of freedom in The Land of The Free.
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