The Freedom to Read Statement

| April 14, 2003

New postings at libraries across the United States are an imposing testament to the idea that we now are all under surveillance and that the government has the right to know what we are reading. And while this may come as a surprise to many citizens, organizers at the Westchester Conference of the American Library Association and the American Book Publishers Council came up with The Freedom to Read Statement in 1953 out of concern that the national tradition of free expression was no longer valid. ?We believe that free communication is essential to the preservation of a free society and a creative culture,? the statement reads. It would seem that the concerns expressed in the statement hold just as much relevance today as when they were written?proof that the intensity of government watchfulness and censorship ebbs and flows throughout the course of U.S. history. ?No art or literature can flourish if it is to be measured by the political views or private lives of its creators,? the statement says. Not only does censorship penalize those who have already spoken, it is a deterrent for those with something to say.
?Nick Garafola

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