Sunday, October 31, 2004

Does accommodating religious practice violate First Amendment? commentary:

"First, a little background: The Ohio prisoners sued claiming they were denied access to religious literature and the opportunity to conduct worship services. They invoked the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), passed by Congress in 2000."

"Under RLUIPA, prison officials can’t impose a substantial burden on the religious practice of inmates unless there is a compelling reason to do so (such as security or discipline) — and there is no less-restrictive way to protect the state’s interest except by placing the burden ."

“This is a reasonable law,” argues Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, “that requires prisons to meet the religious needs of inmates while still respecting the security concerns of correctional institutions.”

The question is, if the Government is allowing reasonable access to mainstream religions, are they, in effect, taking sides by not allowing reasonable access to non-traditional religions?

This Canadian is puzzled at Americans' laziness toward freedom's responsibilities 29th

Our friend from the North has some pretty good observations. It is a shame that he can't vote ;)

"I know there are millions of Americans who haven't given up on the dream of a nation founded on the power of reason, one that finds strength in diversity, one that welcomes the input of both filmmaker Michael Moore and Vice President Dick Cheney."


"For example, why must any serious candidate for the office of president pledge allegiance, not just to the flag, but to a Christian God?"


"There are no simple solutions, or even simple questions, when it comes to freedom. Sorting through them requires a great deal of effort and patience. Sadly, too many Americans don't even bother. They have chosen a simpler vision of good and evil handed down from the pulpit and talk radio, one in which you're either for us or against us. Half the nation shares this delusion, and the result is a nation divided."

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Censorship by a thousand cuts

- School Library Journal - Censorship Roundup

We can lose our freedoms just as surely drop by drop. A thousand little acts of censorship diminishes are freedoms as much as one huge act.

"Middle school students may have trouble finding copies of One Fat Summer (Harper & Row, 1977) by Robert Lipsyte. The coming-of-age novel was pulled from the local schools' display at the Ansonia Public Library, following a parental complaint about the book's content"

"...a local patron at the central branch of the Davis County Library found all the swear words crossed out in five of the 10 titles of the series, Murder, She Wrote (Signet) by Jessica Fletcher..."

"The Montgomery Memorial Library System (MMLS) recently received at least 20 challenges to young adult gay fiction with positive themes."

In the last instance, the MMLS library Director, Jerilynn A. Williams, "received intimidating phone calls at home and had the air let out of her car tires."

Another one for the law of unintended consequences

Over on Stephen Denney's blog, Liberal Values, he has posted a great article about the banning of a book in the US by an Iranian human rights activist: Ms. Ebadi has been imprisoned for her human rights work in Iran. She could not publish the book she wants to write in Iran, but the OFAC regulations also prevent anyone from publishing it in the United States. As long as the regulations stand, the book will not come into being.

This is precisely what is wrong with censorship. It affects even those who are not the intended targets. I can't imagine that it wouldn't be good to have a book published by a critic of a country that we have identified as part of the "axis of evil."

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Christian Group Sues UC Over First Amendment Rights

News from Agape Press

So where do we go with this one? Is it OK to take fees from all students, and allow those funds to be used to establish a group that would discriminate and bar some of those same students from joining their organization? If this were an off-campus group that wanted to simply advertise on-campus, I don't think I'd be conflicted. What if this group wanted to use a meeting room at the library, and wanted the ability to bar selected members of the public from attending? That, I know, I would be against.

E-voting companies store software in national library, but scientists remain concerned

AP Wire | 10/26/2004 |

As the article said, "There's an old saying that the journey of 1,000 miles begins with a step," Soaries said. "We don't see this as the end-all of electronic voting security."

Hopefully, the companies involved will provide the entire code, and we can have a little more faith in what our voting machines are doing.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Real sex on the big screen sparks new censorship storm

Google Cache

OMG! Not REAL sex on the screen instead of simulated sex. The horror. I can't wait for the comments: "Once you allow real sex on the screen instead of simulated sex, then you'll have to allow real murder on the screen...." Oh wait, we already get that on the nightly news.

Sorry about linking to the Google Cache, but it was the only way I could think of to pull up the article "registration" free.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Jack and misanthropy?

Jack, over on Conservator, has defined Misanthropy, evidently, in the following fashion: Pulled my Crown Vic up behind a small import sedan sporting the bumper stickers "Kerry-Edwards 2004," "Viva Boxer." and "Peace is Patriotic." The license plate holder carried the inscription, "Save Our Planet — Support Family Planning."

I'm not sure how any of those things relate to either a "distrust of human nature" or "hatred of mankind" (my dictionary's definition of Misanthropy). And, since we can't ask him on his blog anymore, I guess we have to ask here and see if anyone has any ideas.

'The Roads to Modernity': Freedom Philosophers

The New York Times - Books

"In recent years, Himmelfarb has moved from studying the Victorian mind in her role as intellectual historian to championing the Victorian moral sensibility as a partisan in the culture wars. Here she shifts the focus of both her research and her polemic back a century, to the Enlightenment -- an era she wants to annex (with certain caveats) for cultural conservatism."

This should make for some very interesting and spirited debates in the future. And, of course, more French bashing.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

The Brownshirting of America

The Brownshirting of America - by Paul Craig Roberts

"James Bovard, the great libertarian champion of our freedom and civil liberties, recently shared with readers his mail from Bush supporters. For starters, here are some of the salutations: "communist bastard," "a**hole," "a piece of trash, scum of the earth." It goes downhill from there."

"I remember when conservatives favored restraint in foreign policy and wished to limit government power in order to protect civil liberties. Today's young conservatives are Jacobins determined to use government power to impose their will at home and abroad."

"For all their defects, however, neocons are thoughtful compared to the world of talk radio, whose inhabitants are trained to shout down everyone else. Whence came the brownshirt movement that slavishly adheres to the neocons' agenda?"

Now, before you go getting your undies in a bunch, read the credits before you go talking about Liberals always comparing Conservatives to Nazis.

First Amendment vs. bias: Films a new test for libraries, colleges

Daily Herald (Chicago)

"It seems no one is immune from the plague of passionate partisan politics these days - not even your local champions of intellectual freedom."

The Real Tort

The Memphis Flyer

"Today, our right to a jury trial is threatened as never before. Insurance companies and powerful corporate interests spend millions every year to undermine the public's confidence in the jury system."

So does allowing the concentration of so much economic power into the hands of a few threaten democracy? If you believe in both small government, and tort reform, what balances the power of the big boys?

Thanks to John Gear.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

First Amendment takes beating

North County Times - North San Diego and Southwest Riverside County News

"Americans aren't listening to one another. Political debate is irrationally sharp and pointed, even rude. When passion dominates the debate, reason evaporates and truth is lost. Like the Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq, there seems to be no middle ground in this political season. Though lip service is given to the idea of freedom of speech, in fact, many Americans attach a silent caveat to the First Amendment: "As long as you believe like me, think like me, and agree with me."

Unfortunately, I think this is true in too many cases.

Free Speech Law Suit

WCJB - TV20 News

"Is it a question of free speech or displaying obscene material in public? A local anti-war demonstrator landed in jail five months ago after he waved a political sign that one police officer considered obscene."

This is just one issue I have with obscenity laws. Evidently one man's obscenity is another's political speech.

Also check out this site: U.S. Labor Against the War

My favorite quote: "As you know, we don't have a problem with people exercising their constitutional rights," GPD Cpl. Art Adkins said. "But if there's offensive material that could be viewed by a child . . . we're going take action on it."

Well, all I can say is that Cpl. Adkins does have a problem with people exercising their constitutional rights. Or maybe he doesn't have a problem with people exercising their rights as long as he's not offending by it? Which is to say, he doesn't have any real understanding of those rights.

First Amendment on Sinclair's Side

Cato Institute

Here is an analysis of the Sinclair Broadcasting dispute from the Cato Institute. I happen to agree with their last line: "The American republic will survive a Kerry or Bush victory this November. It will not survive government control over political speech."

The one thing the Cato Insitute does not seem to take into account, is that the airwaves are owned by the public... and there are some limits and requirements placed upon television and radio media in return for their exclusive use of a particular wavelength. I think that the Sinclair issue also points out the dangers of media conglomeration. The interests of the people are not necessarily best served with the ownership of various media in the hands of a few.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Library won't back censorship decision

Wickenburg Sun: News Column

"If the Wickenburg Town Council votes to support the City of Phoenix's decision to censor computers at Phoenix public libraries, it will do so without the support of the Wickenburg Public Library Board of Trustees."

Every library deserves a Library Board like this - dedicated to the First Amendment, and willing to stand up for those beliefs.

San Anselmo, resident argue over free speech

Marin Independent Journal - Marin

"Should political signs be smaller than commercial signs?

That's what the town of San Anselmo and resident and lawyer Ford Greene are fighting about. Almost a year has passed since police officers took down Greene's political signs without permission, his subsequent lawsuit against the town and a federal judge's ruling that supported both Greene and the town."

Welcome to $an An$elmo.

FBI Shutdown of Indymedia Threatens Free Speech Around the World

Xtvworld | Media Junction

"In a chilling attack on free speech, U.S. authorities on October 7 seized two internet servers in London belonging to the independent media network Indymedia. More than 20 Indymedia websites around the world were taken down as a result of the raid. The servers were returned on October 14, but no formal charges have been announced and no explanation has been given for the raid."

Legislative Shield to Protect Journalists Needed

First Amendment Attorney Bruce Sanford Calls for Legislative Shield to Protect Journalists From Having to Reveal Sources to Courts - Yahoo News

"Americans face the greatest threat to their right to penetrate and comprehend their government since the Watergate/Pentagon Papers crises of the 1970s," Sanford says. "Recent court actions show that relying on the traditional judicial view of the First Amendment is no longer sufficient to protect free access to information by journalists on behalf of the public."

Monday, October 18, 2004

Oh, this one has gotta hurt.

Why We Cannot Endorse President Bush For Re-Election: From The Tampa Tribune

This, from a self-described conservative newspaper* which supported George W. Bush for president in 2000:

"But we are unable to endorse President Bush for re- election because of his mishandling of the war in Iraq, his record deficit spending, his assault on open government and his failed promise to be a ``uniter not a divider'' within the United States and the world."

They don't go as far as supporting Kerry, but this is definitely a very sharp criticism of the Bush presidency.

Thanks to John Gear alerting me to this.

*You know... part of the "Liberal" media which dominates this country.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Newspaper endorsements for President - 2000 - U.S. Politics

In 2000 138 daily newspapers endorsed George W. Bush to Al Gore's 52. You would think that since the Liberals dominate the media, that these numbers would be reversed.

Over on Conservator, Jack is very happy with the endorsement of George W. Bush for president by the Chicago Tribune. Again. Of course, this doesn't seem to put a dent into the argument that perhaps the "Press" is not as liberal as conservatives like to make it out to be.

Thanks to Ed Thibodeau over at Nonplussed : "I point this out in a feeble attempt to preempt an inevitable wave of conservative nonsense in the coming weeks...."

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

YES! The Debate is over.

I think I watched all of maybe 3 minutes and came to the following conclusion. They both wore the same GOD-DAMNED TIE. Well, one was darker than the other. And, as far as I'm concerned, that was the most substantive part of the entire thing. Oh... the most comical moment was the one I just heard: Rudloph Giuliani claimed that GWB was working hard to reduce the deficit. He even said it with a straight face.

McCain rebukes Sinclair 'Nightline' decision Apr 30, 2004

It's interesting to note that the Sinclair Broadcast Group has it's own problems with censorship as well. However, two wrongs do not make a right. Hmmm... there's a pun somewhere in there.

Thanks to James Casey for posting this on the ALAOIF list

Politics from the pulpit: free speech or partisan danger?

The Tullahoma News

"For anyone who cares about the First Amendment, the question of church involvement in partisan politics should be a principled discussion of tax exemption for religious groups, church-state relations, and the meaning of free exercise of religion in America."

For my, non-tax exempt two cents worth, I believe that churches and their religious leaders should have the right to engage in pulpit politics. The more speech, the better. Nor am I worried that allowing pulpit politics will "turn houses of worship into campaign vehicles, dividing congregations along partisan lines" I think each congregation should be allowed to set their own rules.. if they don't want the pastor, priest, or what have you, to politik during church services, they have a right to set that restriction.

Political Cybersquatting Or Free Speech?


"Although plenty of people have purchased politically linked domain names as a form of protest in the past, now they're being used as part of organized campaigns. In Maryland's 8th district Congressional race, Republican candidate Charles R. Floyd purchased three domain names ( that one might think would represent Democrat incumbent Rep. Chris Van Hollen. Instead, these sites carry criticism and a bit of mockery. Floyd says Van Hollen should've registered these domain names himself, and previously used the same tactic in the primary. Is this cybersquatting, or is it a fair expression of political speech?"

Now here is an interesting question. I think that it's actually pretty damn funny. Juvenile. But funny. Even if you think it's inappropriate (does anyone?), any cure in this case would be worse than the disease.

RNC tells TV stations not to run anti-Bush ads. - Mar 7, 2004

"The Republican National Committee is warning television stations across the country not to run ads from the Voter Fund that criticize President Bush, charging that the left-leaning political group is paying for them with money raised in violation of the new campaign-finance law."

Jack, over on Conservatorblog, has posted an article about the DNC attempting to prevent the airing of an anti-Kerry documentary. It would appear that neither side has clean hands. As I've stated on his blog, I hate this time of year. Getting your candidate elected becomes more important than free expression and debate.

Greg's response

Greg, at Shush, very nicely sent me a reply. I've posted the response in it's entirety.


Kerry didn't say if this guy was an American citizen or not so let me first say that if he's not then the Bill of Rights doesn't even apply to him, tough noogies.

Where in the Consititution do you find that due process can't be suspended in a time of war? The Constitution says who can start one and who's in charge when a war is going on but it doesn't much get into the rules of war in general. Do I think due process should be suspended in a time of war? Depends on the severity of the war. I would be fascinated to see you and others living during WWII when lights had to be out at a certain time and German subs were off our coastline. I'm willing to bet there was more than a few violations of due process not counting the Japanese camps. In this case I'm willing to wait and see.

The fact is somebody went a whole 8 months without due process. That means that after 8 months he did get to see a lawyer. The fact that a single individual went 8 months without due process does not carry more weight than the fact that there were terrorists who lived this country and plotted and then succeeded in killing 3,000 of us; and there are still terrorists in this country still plotting to do more of the same.

We have people in this country that hate this President so much they'll fake documents to make him look bad and turn library conventions into DNC pep rallys. If lack of due process gets out of hand I'm sure we'll hear about it. Right now I'm not hearing enough to worry.


On a side note, I don't know if I knew you were Twisted Librarian and forgot or what but I was surprised when I saw your tag. Good luck with it, I'll add you to the liberal end :)

Monday, October 11, 2004

Library Patrons of Texas

Library Patrons of Texas

I am of two minds about this group.

I believe that any library is well served by a dedicated, vocal and active community. I think any information that they wish to provide for others in the community that have their viewpoint is a good thing, and helps them make wise reading choices.

I do, however, disagree with their ultimate intent which is to restrict reading material which they find disagreable. I noticed that the majority of books on their list appear to be Young Adult titles, and that if they had their way, they would be shelved in the Adult section of the library which could only be access, aparently, by adults. Books that they personally find inappropriate for a particular age group, others within their community will find appropriate. Rather than educating members of the community about books that some may find objectionable, they are working to move those books and restrict access by all. Books in a Young Adult section are going to address themes that are of interest to YA's and it is precisely that age group (approximately 15 to 20) that starts exploring very adult themes in their literature classes.

No response

Just a quick update. I never received a response from Ms. Valdez at the Arizona Republic. Pity.

Due Process and War

SHUSH - for the conservative librarian

Greg, at Shush, made the following comment:

"Kerry's talk about the Patriot Act was lame, complaining about someone who had been in jail for 8 months without a lawyer. We're at war, I'm not feeling all that sympathetic."

So, I'm sending him the following email... I'll post any reply I might receive.


I realize you don't feel sympathetic about someone not being able to see a lawyer for eight months, but I'm somewhat curious about something. Where, in the Constitution, do you find that due process can be suspended in a time of war? Do you honestly believe that the Constitution and the Bill of Rights have no relevance in a time of war? Has everything changed so much since September 11th, in your mind, that we can no longer act as a free people, but must, instead, give up rights that men and women have died protecting?


BostonHerald: Checking out your children: Pedophiles log on with libraries' unwitting help

``There's no silver bullet here... What protects children is education and parental involvement. Those are things no piece of software can provide.''
(Deborah Caldwell-Stone - Office of Intellectual Freedom, ALA)

That statement says it all. If parents were relying on CIPA to keep their children safe, their optimism was sadly misplaced. Although I suspect that CIPA was more about keeping out any sexually oriented material than it was about protecting children from pedophiles.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Print shop refuses to release political images

The Mercury News

I have to wonder how many little incidents of supression like this, which we don't hear about, occur on a regular basis. Zazzle has the right, of course, to refuse to do business with which it disagrees. I wonder why they didn't tell him that upfront? I hope people take their business elsewhere.

One of the pictures in question:

Chris Fein also has a website called

Monday, October 04, 2004

Internet Distribution of CDs

I was taking a look at Lawrence Lessig's blog, and came across this discussion of internet distribution of CDs. Which, according to the information provided, could provide great revenues for record companies at potentially cheaper prices for the consumer. As a librarian, I do have a couple of questions as to how that could work for us. If the record companies deliver their CDs primarily by internet, would they still provide "hard" copies of CDs? And, if they did, wouldn't that mean an increased price for CDs (the physical ones). OR... would libraries download the CD and burn their own? That actually might work. One very real question would be, those consumers that can't afford a computer and an internet connection, wouldn't they potentially be the losers under such a scenario? I'm posting a comment on Lessig's blog, and hopefully some concern has been, or will be, considered.

Lawrence Lessig's Blog

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Ms. Valdez at the Arizona Republic

I just sent the following email to Linda Valdez at the Arizona Republic about the commentary that I just posted today. We'll see if we get a response. If I do, I'll be happy to share with ALL of you. LOL... if there is anyone that reads this other than me. Oh.. if you wish to send her your own email, supportive, or critical, it's up to you, I've included her email.

Ms. Valdez;
I was under the assumption that people who worked in the Newspaper field were staunch defenders of Free Speech Rights, and understood the dangers of supressing speech. Of course we all know what happens when we assume. I'm just trying to figure out which one of us is the bigger ass. I know which way I'm leaning.

Terms like "smut" and "pornography" are very descriptive, and, in many cases, virtually useless. A fact I'm sure you know. As a librarian, I can attest to the various definitions of both those words. In fact, I've seen where Brave New World was called pornography. I'm guessing that throwing the baby out with the bathwater is not much of a problem for you?

You have a vision of what sex should be like. I applaud you for that. But instead of trying to convince people that you are right, you are simply willing to argue that yours is the only voice that should be heard in the debate. Doesn't that frighten you just a little bit? Doesn't it make you stop and wonder why your values and beliefs should take precedence over the values and beliefs of others? If it doesn't, that frightens me more than just a little bit.

Were you aware that not all pornography is about degrading sex? I realize that inserting some nuance and consideration into this debate doesn't sell papers. I realize that taking a close look at the issue of "pornography" and "smut" isn't as sexy as railing against it. That would involve sensitivity and and open mind, which, again, probably doesn't sell papers in a society that prefers red meat and Roman circuses. Perhaps you're part of the problem? Just a thought.

Oh.. and finally... as to your comment, "But can't they just go back to shushing people?" Why yes we can, and I'll be happy to, when women stop thinking about having a career of their own and just go back to having babies and staying in the kitchen.

Once upon a time sex was sexy, before it got plain nasty

Arizona Republic:

Well, I can file this in the "Free Speech for Me -- but not for Thee" file. By all means, lets adopt a standard that we supress any speech that we personally find harmful or abhorent. I'm not sure what will be left, but I'm sure it will be very pleasant. And boring.

Federal judge blocks free speech zones at Texas Tech

Forth Worth Star Telegram

Free Speech Zones are an abomination and have no place in a democratic society that values robust speech.