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ABFE Free Speech Report, vol. 1, no. 7, December 2015
Louisiana Booksellers, ABA File First Amendment Challenge to New Law
On November 4, the American Booksellers Association joined two New Orleans bookstores, Garden District Book Shop and Octavia Books, in filing a federal lawsuit challenging a new Louisiana law that requires websites to age-verify every Internet user before providing access to non-obscene material that could be deemed harmful to any minor. The other plaintiffs are the Louisiana magazine publisher Future Crawfish Paper, LLC and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
Campus Protests Create Free Speech Controversy
The free speech controversy that has erupted as a result of recent protests on college campuses may seem remote from the First Amendment rights that protect booksellers and their customers. But in recent years people have used free speech to urge booksellers to cancel appearances by controversial authors. Protesters regularly demonstrate outside the Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver because it refuses to take a position on a city regulation that affects the homeless. All of these cases involve a clash between people asserting their First Amendment rights. In the campus controversies, should we side with a minority that is trying to make itself heard or condemn those who violate the very rights that make protest possible? ABFE Director Chris Finan discusses the crisis on campus in his latest “Free Speech” column.
Colorado Voters Fire School Board Censors
Last October, ABFE joined other free speech groups in protesting a proposed review of the Advanced Placement history curriculum in the public schools of Jefferson County, Colorado. Three conservative reformers who had been elected to the school board in 2014 wanted to determine whether the instructional materials “promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free enterprise system, respect for authority, and respect for individual rights,” and whether they “encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife, or disregard of the law.”
Kids’ Right to Read Project Update: Latest Book Challenges
The Kids’ Right to Read Project (KRRP), which is co-sponsored by ABFE and the National Coalition Against Censorship, sent close to a letter a week protesting various book bans during late October and November:
Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was removed from a high school honors course in Matton, Illinois, following complaints by parents about what they described as “vulgar” passages and “pornographic content.”
In Athens, Tennessee, a parent who wanted her ninth-grader to read Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff without the “swear” words was permitted to expurgate copies of the book. (The principal later ordered the censored copies removed and authorized the purchase of new books.)
In Rosemount, Minnesota, a review committee is considering a request to remove Gayle Foreman’s YA novel Just One Day from four middle-school libraries because of “adult” themes and “inappropriate” language.
A parent in Cary, North Carolina, is calling for the removal of John Perritano’s Amityville: Jr. Graphic Ghost Stories from elementary school libraries. The graphic novel is intended for second and third graders.
|The American Booksellers for Free Expression, a program of the American Booksellers Association, is the bookseller's voice in the fight against censorship. Please visit our resources page for information about how booksellers can prepare for a variety of free speech emergencies or email email@example.com. In a crisis, call me, ABFE Director Chris Finan, at (917) 509-0340.|
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