You may not be surprised to learn that the American prison system censors the types of reading materials accessible to the incarcerated. Banned books are an unfortunate, but incessant part of American history, and occur in many institutions including public schools, libraries, bookstores, and, yes, prisons. Take a look at the New York Times article below. This article makes a case that these bans are racially motivated. Do you think having access to all books is a basic human right?
“In the eight years since its publication, “The New Jim Crow,” a book by Michelle Alexander that explores the phenomenon of mass incarceration, has sold well over a million copies, been compared to the work of W.E.B. Du Bois, been cited in the legal decisions to end stop-and-frisk and sentencing laws, and been quoted passionately on stage at the Academy Awards.
But for the more than 130,000 adults in prison in North Carolina and Florida, the book is strictly off-limits…..read more
Are you frustrated with your cable or phone provider but live in an area where you have little choice? Get ready to be frustrated with the entirety of the internet in the same way.
The ALA (American Libraries Association) blog discusses the upcoming FCC vote to roll back protections that disallow ISPs (service providers – like Comcast or Verizon) from taking advantage of what they will allow us to see on the web or tamper with the quality of certain websites.
“…this new FCC order would create a world where ISPs are allowed to block, slow down and limit quality access to any websites or applications they want. ALA stands vehemently opposed to these actions; the draft order violates all the principles we believe are necessary for a free and open internet as well as fundamental library values.”
Last week, we highlighted a disturbing policy change that we had been anticipating for a while: Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Pai’s plan to roll back the net neutrality rules that require internet service providers to treat all internet traffic and services equally.
Between Thanksgiving preparations and leftovers, we have had some time to review this big turkey (220 pages worth). Below are some first impressions…..read more.
Museums and libraries in America, institutions that largely depend on federal funding, are in danger of closing their doors. If you like visiting the Tampa Museum of Art, the Florida Aquarium, or you’re one of the many people that depend on your hometown public library, this is a cause for concern. A message from the American Library Association:
WASHINGTON, DC — In response to President Trump’s proposal to eliminate the Institute of Museum and Library Services in his FY2018 budget, American Library Association (ALA) President Julie Todaro today issued the following statement:
“The President’s proposal to eliminate the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) in his FY2018 budget just released, and with it effectively all federal funding for libraries of all kinds, is counterproductive and short-sighted. The American Library Association will mobilize its members, Congressional library champions and the millions upon millions of people we serve in every zip code to keep those ill-advised proposed cuts from becoming a Congressional reality. Libraries leverage the tiny amount of federal funds they receive through their states into an incredible range of services for virtually all Americans everywhere to produce what could well be the highest economic and social “ROI” in the entire federal budget.
“The Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funded through IMLS is the primary annual source of funding for libraries in the federal budget. IMLS distributes the majority of LSTA funds to every state in the nation according to a population-based formula. Each state library determines how to best spend its allocated federal funds, which must be matched at the state level. The range of services provided to millions of Americans through LSTA grants is matched only by the creativity of the libraries that receive them: veterans transitioning to civilian life, small businesses seeking to expand their business online, summer reading programs, resources for blind and hearing-impaired patrons, resume writing and job skills workshops and computer coding courses to teach youth 21st century job skills.
“America’s more than 120,000 public, school, college and university and many other libraries are not piles of archived books. They’re trusted centers for education, employment, entrepreneurship and free inquiry at the core of communities in every state in the country – and in every Congressional district. And they’re staffed by the original search engines: skilled and engaged librarians.”
UPDATE: Seems like a line was drawn over the weekend. Simon & Schuster cancelled Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos’ book deal, as debated below.
The following news story from about a month ago (Jan 2017) tackles the argument: do publishers, in this case Simon & Schuster, get to decide what is published despite a clear concern that the book may contain flagrant hate speech? In a university, there are policies enforcing the rights of free speech amongst students and faculty in the classroom to encourage critical nuanced debate. What do you think about the arguments brought up in this article to address this particular situation?
Excerpt from the article:
“Trying to suppress hateful speech doesn’t make it go away,” says [Joan Bertin, executive director of the NCAC]. “I mean, I think the whole idea of free speech requires us to be active participants, and when we hear ideas that we think are bad and harmful, it requires us to say ‘why,’ not just say ‘shut up.'”
But publisher Dennis Johnson says another equally important right is at stake here: The right to protest.
“This is not about censoring right wing voices,” he says. “This is about combating hate speech and its entry into the mainstream.”
If you are one of many people in the US who use the internet (and if you’re reading this right now, that’s you!), you probably need to understand what net neutrality means. Here is the Wikipedia article definition: “Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers and governments regulating the Internet should treat all data on the Internet the same, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication.”
Just 6 months ago, the The U.S. Court of Appeals, under President Obama, backed the FCC’s defense of a free, open, and neutral internet, with certain regulations tacked on to protect this neutrality. You can read more about it on whitehouse.gov.
What will happen under the new 2017 administration? If you like the freedoms of an Open Internet (or simply a fast broadband network), you should be concerned. But, as always, there are two sides to any argument. Take a look at the article below published from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). The article links out to many other sources to assess Trump and the new administration’s views. Why do you think they are against net neutrality? Who are the major parties involved? Is the language for an anti-neutrality stance confusing? Read this Atlantic article from 2014 for even more information about the debate, and this Forbes article arguing against net-neutrality.
Trump and His Advisors on Net Neutrality
December 19, 2016 | By Kerry Sheehan
Through the combined efforts of EFF and a coalition of public interest groups — and four million of you who wrote in to the FCC — we won carefully tailored and essential net neutrality protections in 2015 and defended them in court in 2016. But how will the incoming Trump administration impact net neutrality in 2017? We’ve collected a range of statements on the positions of Trump, his transition team, and those who are likely to guide the new administration on this issue.
Trump took a swipe at net neutrality in a November 2014 tweet, stating, “Obama’s Attack on the Internet is another top down power grab. Net neutrality is the Fairness Doctrine. Will target Conservative Media.”
The Republican Party platform [PDF] was also critical of net neutrality, and Trump’s transition team is stocked with staunch opponents to net neutrality.
There are books that address the experiences of marginalized groups in the US, books that bring to light the stories of immigrants, of the LGBTQ community, of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, and other non-white race/ethnicities that make up a significant part of our country. Many of these books, especially YA and children’s’ books, unsettle those who don’t affiliate with these groups. In the article below, the author uses statistics from other recent studies to highlight the fact that diverse books are often targeted for censorship. She points to novels such as Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which the library has in the collection (find it on the second floor, PS3551.L35774 A27 2009).
This year’s Banned Books Week theme, diverse books, has been on my mind for some time. As Jamie LaRue, director of the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom, has noted, defining diversity is difficult. However, the definition used by the organization We Need Diverse Books is succinct and inclusive: “We recognize all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities.”
That Insane Clown Posse full chest tattoo you got in ’04? Your skin might be subject to copyright infringement. Before you get that Nike Swoosh logo or a tat of the The Burger King guy, give this National Post article a read:
More than 20 per cent of all Americans have at least one tattoo, and for millennials that number jumps to almost 40 per cent. What could be more intimately a part of you than a work of body art permanently inked into your skin? You probably assume that the tattoo on your body belongs to you. But, in actuality, somebody else might own your tattoo. Recent lawsuits and events have shown that tattoo artists and companies can have intellectual property rights in tattoos worn by others, including both copyright and trademark rights.
Tattoo-related lawsuits are not uncommon. Just this year, a group of tattoo artists for several high-profile athletes, including Lebron James and Kobe Bryant, filed a copyright lawsuit against the creators of the popular NBA 2K video game franchise because tattoos they created appear in NBA 2K16. The case is still pending in a New York federal court.