Thursday, July 17, 2008

LaRue on intellectual freedom

In a blog posting of a response to challenged title, Jamie LaRue writes:

...here's the truth of the matter: not every parent has the same value system...

...our whole system of government was based on the idea that the purpose of the state was to preserve individual liberties, not to dictate them. The founders uniformly despised many practices in England that compromised matters of individual conscience by restricting freedom of speech. Freedom of speech – the right to talk, write, publish, discuss – was so important to the founders that it was the first amendment to the Constitution – and without it, the Constitution never would have been ratified.

How then, can we claim that the founders would support the restriction of access to a book that really is just about an idea, to be accepted or rejected as you choose? What harm has this book done to anyone?

...if the library is doing its job, there are lots of books in our collection that people won't agree with; there are certainly many that I object to. Library collections don't imply endorsement; they imply access to the many different ideas of our culture, which is precisely our purpose in public life.
This is the crux of why librarians go to bat for unpopular titles -- not to endorse any particular writings or ideas, but to ensure free access to a broad diversity of ideas. Thanks to Jamie LaRue for articulating this so eloquently.

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