Read the latest news about FTRF and the First Amendment in Libraries and engage with thoughtful opinions from leaders in our community on The FTRF Blog. If you are interested in writing for the blog, please email Jonathan Kelley at email@example.com.
Past recipients of grants from FTRF's Judith F. Krug Memorial Fund gathered last week on a Google Hangout to discuss their successful Banned Books Week projects. It was a great opportunity to learn about what worked in various communities, and hopefully will inspire people in communities all over the country - and world - to come up with their own unique, engaging, and provocative events.
"Doing Good by Doing Theatre" is the motto for Hope Operas, a unique event in Arlington, Virginia at which local theatre folk write and stage five plays each fall. The plays are serialized, and run during Mondays in October - and each play benefits a different charity. One of the plays, "The inTell Heart," benefits the Freedom to Read Foundation.
This year's theme is "District of the Damned." The penultimate performances are tonight, with the series finale next Monday. Admission to each week's show is $15, and at the end of each night the audience votes on which charity they want to support.
Here are the playwright and director of "The inTell Heart" discussing their show and why they support the Freedom to Read Foundation. Thanks to Catherine, Kristy, and Hope Operas for their creativity and generosity!
Posted By Jonathan Kelley,
Friday, October 17, 2014
Updated: Thursday, October 16, 2014
On Wednesday, October 22, please join the Freedom to Read Foundation and other sponsors of Banned Books Week for a look back at some of the fun, provocative, and engaging events that celebrated our freedom to read.
Yesterday, the Freedom to Read Foundation joined several other organizations and bookstores in filing a lawsuit in federal court against Arizona House Bill 2515, which makes it a felony "to intentionally disclose, display, distribute, publish, advertise, or offer a photograph, viodeotape, film or digital recording of another person in a state of nudity or engaged in specific sexual activities if the person knows or should have known that the depicted person has not consented to the disclosure."
The suit asserts that the law violates the First Amendment, in that it is overbroad, vague, not narrowly tailored to achieve its stated goal, and is a content-based restriction on constitutionally protected speech. Read the full complaint here.
The law, whose putative target is "revenge porn" (that is, the malicious online posting of explicit photos by aggrieved ex-lovers), in fact cuts a much broader swath: the complaint lists a number of every day situations in which libraries, booksellers, journalists, artists, and others could be prosecuted for distribution of protected speech that is historic, educational, artistic, and/or newsworthy in nature.
The suit, Antigone Books v. Horne, was coordinated by Media Coalition and the ACLU. Media Coalition has created a wonderful Q&A that explains the case and discusses the reasons for the lawsuit and the law's problematic reach. Included in that is this, specifically regarding the concerns of librarians:
Q7: What can booksellers and librarians do to comply with the law? A: The threat of going to prison means every bookseller and librarian is responsible for every book, magazine newspaper and video they carry. To follow the law, they would have to review each picture in every book and magazine they carry, which would be an almost impossible task. They would also have to determine whether each picture violates the law, without knowing the circumstances surrounding each photograph. Many booksellers and librarians will decline to carry material that includes nude images, rather than risk prosecution, even though they have a constitutional right to sell this material.
The law also affects their customers and patrons. If booksellers and librarians are forced to remove any material that includes a nude photo, customers and patrons are deprived of their right to purchase and borrow these materials. That means you would not be able to purchase an issue of National Geographic at the bookstore and you won’t be able to borrow art books that include nude images from the library.
The ACLU also has an excellent blog post explaining plaintiffs' objections to the law. There has been extensive media coverage already of this case:
Joining FTRF as plaintiffs are five Arizona booksellers (including Antigone Books), the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the Association of American Publishers, the National Press Photographers Association, and Voice Media Group, publisher of the Phoenix New Times and other alternative newspapers.
Banned Books Week starts Sunday, and FTRF members and supporters are encouraged to check out some of these events from the 2014 recipients of grants from the Judith F. Krug Memorial Fund. Follow the links for many more great events from these sponsors! All events are free and open to the public.
Library Survivor is a game where we pretend that the library is on fire and the trucks are loaded with books! Five books remain but there is only room on the truck for one more book. What book will we choose to save? Five banned books (played by five actors) will defend their importance to you, the audience, who will decide their fate!
This year, Banned Books Week celebrates graphic novels and comics, frequent targets of censorship due to their visual nature. Hear from authors, artists, readers, librarians and activists at our panel discussion. Featuring:
Student members of 451 Degrees, Lane Tech College Prep High Schools banned book club and Chicago Public Schools recent challenges to Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
James Klise, librarian & author of Love Drugged and The Art of Secrets
Aaron Renier, comic artist and lecturer in DePaul's College of Computing and Digital Media
Under the Center’s tent, the Library will display banned LGBT‐themed books as a reminder of our First Amendment rights and to draw attention to the harms of censorship. An official Banned Books Week event.
Columbus, OH: Open Mic Reading. Friday, Sept. 26, 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m., Multimedia/TV Studio, Columbus Hall first floor. Sponsored by Columbus State Community College.
The Library will be hosting a banned books-themed reading and open mic. The reading will be emceed by Associate Professor, Ann Palazzo, in partnership with the Columbus State English Department. We would like this reading to provide students, faculty, and staff the opportunity to share poetry or other creative works that explore such concepts as censorship, intellectual freedom, and banned books. Light refreshments will be provided.
Pittsburgh, PA: 2014 fREADom. Monday, Sept. 22, 7:00 p.m. Jewish Community Center, Robinson Building, Katz Auditorium, 5738 Darlington Road, Squirrel Hill. Sponsored by the ACLU of Pennsylvania.
Pittsburgh personalities and performers will read from their favorite banned or challenged works.
Charlie Batch, former quarterback- Pittsburgh Steelers/founder- Best of the Batch Foundation
Paul Guggenheimer, host, WESA’s “Essential Pittsburgh”
Dan Kamin, world-renowned mime
Alan Olifson, comedian, host of Moth StorySLAM Pittsburgh
Hope Academy of Music and the Arts, arts education outreach program for youth
Vanessa German, poet, performer, photographer, sculptor and activist
Plus - Banned Advertising! Images and clips from ads that some folks thought you shouldn’t see!
Charleston, SC: Charleston Read-Out, Monday, Sept. 22, 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, 161 Calhoun St. Sponsored by Charleston Library Friends.
Featuring writers and artists reading from their favorite banned books. Presenters to include: Marcus Amaker, Herb Frazier, Sharon Graci, Bret Lott, Theodore Rosengarten, Joy Vandervort-Cobb, Marjory Wentworth, and Katherine Williams.