Wednesday, February 02, 2005

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Free Speech

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation recently funded a study that asked students what they thought of the First Amendment. Horrifyingly (is that a word?), 1 in 3 students responded that the constitution goes too far in the rights that it guarantees. Yikes. Maybe they think they have not been directly affected by challenges to free speech. Maybe they don't understand what free speech means. As the article commented, maybe they don't feel passionate about this issue, and that's a requirement to take a stand on something as crucial as free speech.

It is partially the duty of libraries to educate both students and adults on the importance of free speech. One way that we've woken people up is to participate in Banned Books Week in our YA area. Banned books are covered in brown paper; we put up information about why the books were challenged or banned; and also information on our philosophy of not banning books. It has been an effective way to get students to question why the books were banned. It's especially crucial now, when free speech is being outright assaulted.

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