One of the things that I’m most passionate about is the freedom of speech. I firmly believe that access to the written word should be one of our most fundamental rights. The written word, found in books, journals, magazines, websites, internet databases, etc. provides informative, enlightening and social discourse. In the written word, there is power. Because it has the ability of making the reader see things through the eyes or minds of someone else, because it has the power to promote free thinking, because it has the power to persuade the reader to comprehend things differently. Information is power, and like all power there are those who want to control it.
I attribute my way of thinking back to my freshman year of High School. In my English literature class, the assigned reading was the Catcher in the Rye. Our enlightened Dominican sisters were revolutionary compared to the strict thinking of the administration in my Grammar school; they informed us that this was considered a banned book, one of the most challenged books, in fact, to date. I always did enjoy reading and hanging out at the library and found out other titles that were banned. I started with Judy Blume, Harper Lee, Lois Lowry, the list seemed to be endless.
Books can be challenged by any person or organization, but in doing so, I believe that sometimes it has the opposite effect, wherein more people will want it. And I believe that is good. The problem lies in a few extremists that really want banned books banned. So, even as a young person I would suggest books to friends, I read a lot, talked about it, and luckily, my parents have always been open-minded and progressive in their way of thinking. As soon as I had access to internet, I checked out the ALA website and always, ALWAYS buy something during banned books week just to support the cause and to bring attention to the subject.
Things are changing in this country, and all over the world, in terms of whom and what controls the sharing of creative works; whether it is writings, art, music… I fear that it is a freedom that we might actually lose. I encourage everyone to get informed and involved, and please, PLEASE, exercise your right to read freely.
A copy of an Intellectual freedom defense letter is attached here: