Thursday, June 08, 2006

First They Burn Books, Then They Burn People

Vin Suprynowicz had an article published on Lew today about four librarians that were recently "allowed" to speak out about Federal Agents snooping through library records looking for "suspicious" activity.
What is the recommended procedure now, if Americans want to buy or read a book which our own government might consider "suspicious" or "terrorist-related"? Whether the would-be reader is a college kid preparing a report, a journalist on assignment, or a novelist researching his or her next story line, dare we head to the library and borrow books on demolitions, hijackings, power plants and nuclear fission? Is it OK if your name is Thomson or Jones but not if it’s Faisal or Bashir?

Is there any procedure we can use to get these readings "cleared" in advance with the FBI, the HSD, the CIA, the NSA, the DIA and the TSA before we inadvertently cause our local librarian to receive a call from two officious guys in black suits and shiny shoes who insist on seeing all our records – followed up with a nice, crisp "national security letter" informing her that if she even tells us they’ve been snooping around, SHE could be sent to prison?

We are past the point of warning that if we don’t watch out an American police state "might happen." This is precisely what it looks like. They’re taking it around the block for a test drive, and we’re supposed to believe we can trust them – we have nothing to fear so long as we haven’t done anything wrong.

Yes, but which books? Which book or magazines or newspapers are the ones that, if we borrow and read them, will lead the G-men to suspect we’ve "done something wrong"?

They don’t have to tell you. You don’t need to know.

This reminds me of a great book that I have on my bookshelf at home (which presumably, is still legal for me to own), called 100 Banned Books. It is a fascinating book which chronicles the history of censorship and intimidation of people with "controversial" views. I wrote a (rather poor, admittedly) review of it a few years ago on You may read it here.


Blogger BizzyBlog said...

You're going to have to get more precise with the language if you're going to make a compelling case.

"Literature Suppressed on Social Grounds” is not "banned."

1:55 PM  
Blogger Libertarian Jason said...

Bizzy -

That is the language used by the authors, not me.

If you read the book, yes, all the books they highlight and discussed were the target for outright banning...i.e. legal blocking of the access to such literature.

Check it out. Its a great conversation peice.


10:21 AM  

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