Free Expression

02 Oct

Ban the Books

By Roger Rosenblatt

The week of September 21-28 is declared Banned Book Week by the American Library Association and other organizations interested in publicizing attempts to ban books in schools and libraries.

Except for a concern about the future of democracy, I don't understand what the fuss is about. Ban all the books, I say.

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19 Sep

Top Authors to Speak at Banned Books Week Fundraiser for ABFFE

Authors Pat Conroy, Dave Barry, Connie May Fowler, and Cassandra King will speak at a Banned Books Week fundraiser at Books & Books, Coral Gables, on Saturday, September 21 at 8:00 p.m. The event is being held on the first day of Banned Books Week (September 21-28), the only national celebration of the freedom to read.

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05 Sep

Banned Books Week 2002 -- Let Freedom Read!

Again this year, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) will be a sponsor of Banned Books Week, the only national celebration of First Amendment rights. In 2001, over 1,000 independent booksellers and 2,500 libraries participated in Banned Books Week, and, once again, participating booksellers report that Banned Books Week is one of their customers' favorite promotions.

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04 Sep

Too Free?

By Ken Paulson

In a First Amendment Center/American Journalism Review survey, nearly half of those responding said they think the First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees. And about the same number said the American press has been too aggressive in asking government officials for information about the war on terrorism. Full survey results are available at

Fear can short-circuit freedom.

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21 Aug

Advocacy Groups Hit Justice Department with Freedom of Information Request

On August 21, two days after House Judiciary Committee Chair F. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin) threatened to subpoena Attorney General John Ashcroft over the Justice Department's refusal to divulge information on the USA Patriot Act, civil liberties groups filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the department.

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21 Aug

Rep. Sensenbrenner Wants Answers from Ashcroft on Patriot Act

After refusing a Congressional demand to reveal, among other things, how many subpoenas the Justice Department has issued under the USA Patriot Act to bookstores, libraries, and newspapers, Attorney General John Ashcroft might find himself served with a subpoena. That, at least, was a threat levied by Representative F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.

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15 Aug

Attempt to Ban Potter Series Fails

In early August, some residents of Pampa, Texas, handed the Pampa Independent School District school board a petition containing 750 signatures requesting a ban of the Harry Potter series, as reported by On August 5, the board voted 5-2 to deny the petition and keep the Potter series in the school curriculum.

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08 Aug

Citing First Amendment Violation, Federal Judge Blocks Enforcement of Ohio Legislation

A federal judge has blocked enforcement of an amended portion of the state of Ohio's sex offence law, which had extended the definition of material deemed "harmful to juveniles" to include certain computer-based content. The law -- passed by the Ohio legislature in February and signed by Governor Bob Taft in May -- was challenged in U.S. District Court by a broad-based coalition, which included the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) and Dayton bookstore Wilkie News.

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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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