Free Expression

31 Jul

The Patriot Act and Free Speech: The Fiction Behind National Security

By Walter Brasch

Between a diner and an empty store that once housed a shoe store, video store, and tanning salon, in a small strip mall in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, is Friends-in-Mind, an independent bookstore.

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29 Jul

Connecticut Residents Seek to Ban Two Newbery Medal Winners from School

In Cromwell, Connecticut, two residents want a pair of Newbery Medal-winning novels removed from the Cromwell middle school's curriculum. The pair allege that the books, The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare and Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson, promote witchcraft and violence and have filed a petition asking school officials to remove them, as reported by the Hartford Courant.

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25 Jul

Arkansas Lawsuit Says Restricting a Book Counts the Same as Banning It

Two Arkansas parents are protesting the recent decision by the Cedarville, Arkansas, school board to restrict access to the Harry Potter series in school libraries. Cedarville parents Billy Ray Counts and Mary Nell Counts have filed a complaint against the Cedarville School District in the U.S. District Court, Western District of Arkansas. If the case does go to trial, it will be the first such case involving the Harry Potter series to do so.

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10 Jul

The Mystery of the Bounced E-mails Solved: The ISP Filtered It

Mary Alice Gorman and Richard Goldman, the husband and wife owners of the Oakmont, Pennsylvania's Mystery Lovers Bookshop, are veteran e-newsletter publishers. They understand that, when mailing out an e-newsletter, bounced e-mails are part of the game. The reasons for undeliverables are numerous: addresses change constantly, Internet Service Providers [ISPs] and the Internet can be unreliable, e-mail addresses are often written down wrong, etcetera. One reason that never occurred to them was an ISP bouncing their e-mails on purpose.

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02 Jul

House of Representatives Passes COPPA -- ABFFE and Others Warn Bill Is Unconstitutional

On Tuesday, June 25, the U.S. House of Representatives voted, by a margin of 413 to 8, to pass the Child Obscenity and Pornography Protection Act of 2002 (COPPA). The bill, HR 4623, amends the federal criminal code to criminalize the production, dissemination, or possession of computer-generated, or computer images that are, or are virtually indistinguishable from, child pornography.

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27 Jun

ABFFE Announces New Board Members

On June 21, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) announced the election of three new Board members. Mitchell Kaplan of Books & Books, Coral Gables, Florida; Matt Miller of The Tattered Cover, Denver; and Wendy Strothman, executive vice president of Houghton Mifflin, have joined the ABFFE Board. Each will serve a three-year term.

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26 Jun

United States Challenges CIPA Decision

On June 20, the United States government filed a notice of appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court challenging a federal court’s ruling that the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) violated the First Amendment. The CIPA statute provided for a direct appeal from the panel decision directly to the Supreme Court.

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25 Jun

Congress to Ashcroft: Has FBI Requested Bookstore Records?

The House Judiciary Committee wants to know how many subpoenas the Justice Department has issued to bookstores, libraries, and newspapers under a provision of the USA PATRIOT Act.

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20 Jun

Barry Trotter Done Gone: Parody and Free Speech Discussed at ALA

Author Michael Gerber is not afraid of being sued over the publication of his new book, Barry Trotter and the Unauthorized Parody. He is a first-time author who is still working a day job to make ends meet. "The worst thing that could happen to me is my cats would be jointly owned by Warner Brothers and Scholastic," Gerber said during a program at the American Library Association convention in Atlanta on Monday.

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10 Jun

Wyoming School Book Ban Controversy May Signal a Change in District Policy

On April 25, Wyoming's Teton County Board of Education (TCBE) voted 4-2 to ban Julius Lester’s When Dad Killed Mom (Silver Whistle) from the Jackson Hole Middle School (JHMS) library. However, after much attention from local media and the book’s author, district policy is being "reviewed and re-written so that incidents like this will not happen again," Board member Zia Yasrobie told BTW via e-mail.

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05 Jun

Anti-Censorship Groups Say New York's Department of Education Fails Free Expression Test

This week, a number of free speech advocacy groups revealed that the New York State Education Department (NYSED), which prepares the New York English Language Arts Regents examinations, is altering literary selections in its Regents exam. In a letter sent Friday, May 31, to Dr. Richard P. Mills, commissioner of education for NYSED, the groups noted that, of 24 prose excerpts used in the exams in the last three years, 19 had been altered in ways that distorted the authors’ intent and message.

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31 May

CIPA Declared Unconstitutional

On May 31, a panel of three federal judges ruled that the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) violated the First Amendment. In a press statement regarding the decision, the American Library Association said it applauded, "the panel of judges for their thoughtfulness and clear understanding of the issues at stake….Americans cannot afford to lose access to the thousands of Web sites offering legal, useful, and valuable information blocked by…filters.

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22 May

Tattered Cover's Joyce Meskis Receives ALA's Immroth and Roll of Honor Awards

This week, the American Library Association (ALA) announced that Joyce Meskis, owner of Denver, Colorado’s Tattered Cover Book Store, is the recipient of the 2002 John Phillip Immroth Memorial Award and the 2002 Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF) Roll of Honor Award. Meskis and her colleagues at the Tattered Cover Book Store have won widespread acclaim as a result of the store’s legal battle in which it successfully defended the privacy rights of its customers.

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Independent bookstores act as community anchors; they serve a unique role in promoting the open exchange of ideas, enriching the cultural life of communities, and creating economically vibrant neighborhoods.







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