Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Freedom to Read . . .

Imagine an America without the freedom to read.

Imagine an America where "dangerous" books are banned from libraries and classrooms, newspapers with "controversial" ideas are shut down, and certain words and thoughts are considered too "hot" to be read or voiced--by anyone, anywhere.

Impossible?  Unconstitutional?  Un-American? 

Don't be so sure.

In communities across the U.S., including some in our own backyards, censorship is alive and thriving. Books considered inappropriate for high school students are removed from curriculums and libraries, often at the direction of school boards and community groups.  In high schools and colleges, student newspaper editors are told they cannot print stories that will embarrass their school or express opinions likely to offend readers.  Those who resist often find themselves admonished, demoted, transferred, or even fired.

If the right to read what you choose strikes you as important--and clearly it should--you'll want to get to the NCC Library next week and take part in the Library's "Stand with the Banned: Celebrating the Freedom to Read!" program.  There'll be a host of great events, all aimed at examining this complex but critical issue.

On Tuesday, Sept. 24, you can stop by the Library and read a few lines aloud from your favorite banned book (no bleeped out words here).  For the selfie-lovers in the crowd (and we know you're out there), you can also take your picture at the "Stand with the Banned" photo booth. 

On Wednesday, Sept. 25, you can hear (at 11 a.m.) a panel of NCC faculty share their takes on campus speech (a hot topic at many schools, including NCC) and listen (at 12:30 p.m.) to a talk on censorship and First Amendment rights and a debate on book bans.

That's not all.  Throughout the day on Thursday, Sept. 26, the Library will be showing the film "Hunger Games," based on the novel (a banned book as well!) of the same title. 

"Stand with the Banned" is a celebration of Democracy at its best: a chance to discuss, debate, and air out views on the right to read and think--an issue vital to all of us.  No matter where you stand on such topics as campus speech, censorship, national security, the First Amendment, and freedom of expression, it's important that your voice be heard.   

So come be a part of the campus discussion next week!  You may not like or agree with everything you'll hear, but then again, that's sort of the point.

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