Thank your local librarian for fighting censorship

September 09, 2010

In advance of Banned Books Week (Sept. 25-Oct. 2) I want to thank the often unheralded defenders of my First Amendment rights — librarians — who have quietly fought and continue to fight censorship. Large amounts of great literature have been banned at one time or another by self-appointed arbiters of the public morality — churches, school boards, censor boards, etc. — because these books have asked questions or described situations that made the rich and powerful uncomfortable or offended someone's sensibilities.

Works by such great American writers as Sinclair Lewis, Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain, John Steinbeck and others have been banned and the authors labeled socialist or communist, or blacklisted, because they had empathy for the downtrodden and abused or questioned the actions of the political leadership.

Probably no other group has fought harder against censorship or government snooping into citizens reading habits — or received less public credit for it — than librarians and the American Library Association. This is true, quiet patriotism — standing up for the rights guaranteed by the Constitution, often at the risk of their jobs. They are walking the walk, not just talking the talk. Librarians are high on my list of American heroines and heroes. Thank you!

Craig Herud, Aberdeen

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