Thursday, February 24, 2005

Conservatives and Social Change

I ran across this article, and was intrigued. I appreciate the calmness of tone, and the apparent willingness to debate and explore ideas. I know that for many groups on the Left, this may seem like an end run around cherished and strongly held beliefs. I disagree. I think this sort of group actually shows the effectiveness of what we have believed and articulated for so long. That a woman's group could form and traces it's roots to both Conservatism AND Feminism is a testimony to the struggle that so many women engaged in.

That got me thinking about SRRT. It seems to me that SRRT is too inbred. That so many of them have the same viewpoint and aim is actually harmful to them in the long run. An infusion of new blood is good, however unappreciated. This is not to excuse the actions of some that I have seen on there whose intent, as far as I can tell, is NOT to find a Conservative path for Social Responsibilities and libraries, but simply to destroy it using a "heckler's veto". New viewpoints that combine Social Responsibility with Conservatism, however, can only be a good thing. And perhaps, if any of the "old guard" pay attention, they might find themselves intellectually engaged and learn something along the way.

I've been toying with the idea of finally joining ALA and SRRT. Perhaps now is the time. I am not a Conservative, by any means. But, hopefully, I could add a voice that is willing to listen. I also have some ideas on how we can improve conditions and mobility for our un-degreed colleagues.

"N.E.W." does not stand for "No Education for Women," the "Network of Eventual Wives" or "Nuts for the Elimination of Women."

N.E.W. stands for the Network of Enlightened Women.

N.E.W. is a group of young women who quietly gather in the basement of one of Mr. Jefferson's pavilions on Wednesday nights. We sit around a table, eat chocolate chip cookies and carry pink binders with our agendas. We discuss our position as women in society. We acknowledge and appreciate that we have more opportunities than any other generation of American women.

So why all the fear of us?"

The Cavalier Daily (University of Virginia)

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Biting the Creative Hand that Feeds You

Between the Comics Code Authority (see the original code here) and the business practices of the publishers, it is a miracle that comics have survived at all.

"A federal judge has ruled that Marvel Comics owes millions of dollars to its longtime writer, Stan Lee, in unpaid profits from movies based on the characters he created: Spider-Man, the X-Men and the Incredible Hulk.

Lee's lawsuit had sent a modest shock wave through the comics community -- not because a comic-book publisher scammed one of its creators -- that's what those publishers have always done. Lee, of all the creators in the business, seemed to be the one immune to scammery."

The Oregonian

Thursday, February 17, 2005

A Decent Speech Against an Indecent Piece of Legislation

Bernie Sanders made a very decent speech in opposition to the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act 2005. It is a shame that it passed.

"Mr. Speaker, I think we can all agree that we do not want our children exposed to obscenity on the public airwaves. That goes without saying.

As someone who last year voted in favor of similar legislation, I am increasingly alarmed by the culture of censorship that seems to be developing in this country, and I will not be voting for this bill today. This censorship is being conducted by the corporate owners of our increasingly consolidated, less diverse media. And it is being done by the government. This result is an insidious chill on free expression on our airwaves.

There are a lot of people in Congress who talk about freedom, freedom and freedom but, apparently, they do not really believe that the American people should have the "freedom" to make the choice about what they listen to on radio or watch on TV. There are a lot of people in Congress who talk about the intrusive role of "government regulators," but today they want government regulators to tell radio and TV stations what they can air. I disagree with that. A vote for this bill today will make America a less free society."

Follow the link for the rest of the speech

Common Dreams

Monday, February 14, 2005

Ignore the man behind the curtain

I think this is an excellent editorial in the Denver Post. While we are concentrating on the rantings of Ward Churchill, and getting ourselves all in a fuss, everyday people find their First Amendment rights under fire.

While the uproar over Ward Churchill may be stealing the media show, Colorado has had several other worrisome free-speech dust-ups. Take the Norwood superintendent of schools' misguided censorship or the foolish cops in Westminster and Denver who harassed motorists with anti-Bush messages on their cars.

Churchill's idiotic rants touch a painful scar in our country. Nevertheless, we're reminded repeatedly of Churchill's right to free speech. Like the words of mindless skinheads, I'll defend his right to say what he wants, no matter how disgusting. But the other incidents reflect a deeper threat to our liberties and are getting far less attention in the press."

Denver Post

Sunday, February 13, 2005

The upside of Censorship?

If there is an upside to censorship, it would be that it seems to create a demand for the book being censored: "Author Chris Crutcher is banned temporarily from Grand Rapids Public Schools, but at local libraries, his book "Athletic Shorts" is flying off shelves." (Grand Rapids Press)

Meanwhile, here in Oregon, the challenge to Robin Cody's book, Ricochet River, has generated 36 holds for 23 copies. See, 'Ricochet River' in the crosshairs (Clackamas Review).

Obviously, we could increase our circulation of books by encouraging groups to make very public challenges. I'm waiting to see an article in Library Journal on how to do that.

The problem of Community Standards

As librarians, in a public library, we are frequently expected to be conscious of community standards. There is an expectation that our collections will compliment and support our communities, and will not excessively offend (some would say not offend at all) the sensibilities of the community. That is easier said than done. The issue revolving around the Vagina Monologues in a New Jersey town is a good example of how difficult it can be in assessing Community Standards:

"WEST MILFORD - The rumor mill has been churning in recent weeks as volunteers prepare for a benefit performance of "The Vagina Monologues."

Mayor Joseph DiDonato on Thursday ordered an investigation into whether a township community center had asked the play to stop rehearsing there, after residents expressed concerns over possible censorship during a council meeting.

At issue: The play's frank language might be overheard by children who use the complex for sports and other after-school activities.

"We have no policy of censorship," DiDonato said at the meeting. "This is the first I'm hearing of it. ... Nobody has the authority to set that kind of policy."

The rumors aren't true, according to interviews Friday with the parties involved. But the play has attracted some criticism, organizers said.

The West Milford Players, who are helping guide the production, have received anonymous telephone calls lambasting them for "bringing filth into a family-oriented town," said group leader John Richards."

I think Stephen Abram, in a Library Journal article has, at the very least,made a good start at identifying what we mean by community, and how hard of a term it can be to come to grasps with, by identifying at least five different types of community:

Community Exploded (Library Journal 1/15/2005)

Saturday, February 12, 2005

ALA's Most Challenged list

The ALA's most challenged list is out, and Robert Cormier's The Chocolate War is at the top. What is interesting is that of the top ten titles, four are Young Adult; three are Juvenile; two are Adult Non-fiction; and one is Adult Fiction (Of Mice and Men).

American Libraries Online

Getting the Hebe-jeebies in Douglas County

"Wanting to avoid the controversy that has ensnared the city of Roseburg over a proposed statue of the Greek goddess Hebe, Douglas County commissioners have nixed an exhibit at the Douglas County Museum."

My favorite line:

"Kittelman said the action wasn't meant as an act of censorship. She said it was simply to avoid embroiling the county in the controversy."

Have you ever noticed that acts of censorship are rarely intended as such? Or, it's even denied that they are acts of censorship?

News Review (Douglas County, Oregon)

Please note... the title was borrowd, in part, from a 2/12/05 Oregonian editorial entitled: "Roseburg's Hebe-jeebies."

Thursday, February 10, 2005

GoDaddy update

A very nice editorial about the yanking of the 2nd showing of the GoDaddy commercial. This is why we don't want censorship boards. These are precisely the people that would be on them.

Desert Dispatch

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Free Markets vs. Free Speech; case study #1

I've mentioned before, and I'll mention again, that I have heard from various quarters that Capitalism (or Free Markets) is synonomous with Free Speech. That Free Speech, and freedom in general, thrive and would have a hard time existing without Capitalism. I don't think that is necessarily true, and there are often indications that Free Speech can be stifled by the Capitalist impulse. So, I'm going to post, sporadically, examples that contradict that premise. It is totally one-sided, unfair, and is most certainly not a comprehensive study. But, it should be entertaining.

"Censor parody was cut in 2nd airing

NEW YORK - A racy ad for a vendor of Web site names was pulled at the last minute from a second showing during the Super Bowl telecast on Sunday after NFL executives objected that the spot made light of Janet Jackson's ``wardrobe malfunction'' incident in last year's halftime show."

Boston Herald

NO! They MOCKED the Janet Jackson "wardrobe malfunction"? God knows, we don't need THAT.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Burn baby burn

So, lets see, giving the books to a parent to burn isn't censorship, it is "sponsorship". Oh, of course, he didn't read the book either. You wouldn't want to make an informed decision before your burn the book. Right. And those poor German SA Brownshirts were just cold in 1933, and there wasn't any wood handy to burn.

"It's less a matter of censorship than a matter of sponsorship. That's not the kind of garbage I want to sponsor at this high school," Conder said yesterday.

Conder — who hasn't read the entire book — gave more than two dozen copies of Bless Me, Ultima to a parent to destroy. The teacher who ordered the book has apologized in a letter to parents and won't be disciplined, he said."

See... he's not such a bad guy, he won't discipline the teacher.


Superintendent bans novel from Colorado school (First Amendment Center)

A Teacher's Guide to the Holocaust: Nazi Book Burning (Florida Center for Instructional Technology

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

How to Deal with Telemarketers - Andy Rooney Style

I like these suggestions. A lot. Especially where you mail things back to them in their own envelopes.

1) Ask them to hold, and then walk away.

2) Hit the # sign repeatedly when you get those annoying "no one is on the other end" calls.

3) Mail back prepaid envelopes.