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ABFE Free Speech Report, vol. 2, no. 1, January 2016
ABA Extremely Concerned About Hong Kong Booksellers
The American Booksellers Association issued a statement on January 7 expressing “extreme concern” over the fate of five employees of a Hong Kong publisher and its bookstore who have apparently been taken into custody by Chinese authorities and brought to the Chinese mainland. The men are employees of Mighty Current, which is well-known for publishing books critical of the Chinese government. “If it is true that these men have been kidnapped, the Chinese have grossly violated the pledge they made to maintain freedom of the press when they took over Hong Kong in 1997,” said ABA CEO Oren
Northshire Bookstore Responds to Free Speech Threat
A customer of the Northshire Bookstore exploded in anger a few days before Christmas when he observed American Qur’an (Liveright), an illustrated copy of the Muslim religious text, on display in the store’s Saratoga Springs, New York, branch. The man yelled at two store employees and threatened to “do everything he could to put us out of business,” store owner Chris Morrow said. He later made good on his threat by falsely reporting on the Internet that the bookstore was closing.
Winter Institute Program Will Stress Training to Meet Free Speech Threats
To help bookstores respond to the kind of free speech issue Northshire confronted, the American Booksellers for Free Expression is sponsoring the Winter Institute program “ABFE Presents: The Tattered Cover Free Speech Training Method.” Matthew Miller, general manager of Tattered Cover, will recreate the training that is given to all new employees of the Denver store to help them respond to angry customers and address other free speech problems that often occur in bookstores. The hour-long session will be interactive and will include an exercise in which attendees will break into small groups to discuss how to respond to a censorship case. “ABFE Presents” will be held at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 26.
Court Hears Arguments in Louisiana Bookseller Case
On Friday, December 18, attorneys representing two New Orleans bookstores and the American Booksellers Association appeared before a federal judge in Baton Rouge and urged him to block enforcement of a new Louisiana law that requires website owners to verify that visitors to their sites are 18 or older before providing access to non-obscene material that could be deemed “harmful to minors” because of its sexual content. Failure to comply is punishable by a $10,000 fine.
Mount Horeb Says “No” to Censorship
A plan to read a children’s book about a transgender girl to an elementary school class was cancelled in late November in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin, when school officials were threatened with legal action if they permitted the reading. As happens so often, however, the attempted censorship appears to have backfired. ABFE Director Chris Finan discusses the case in his latest “Free Speech” column in Bookselling This Week.
|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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