Essays On Book Banning

The very mention of the Patriot Act is enough to drive many publishers, writers, librarians, bookstore owners, readers and concerned citizens into a near-paranoid frenzy at the idea that the government is intruding into their personal business, although few can cite specific instances in which that is the case.

Indeed, the marketing department of any given publishing house probably has far more power over free expression in America than any government office; if it decides a smart book won't sell, the publisher may not sign it.

But the current fuss dates back to this spring, when the Office of Foreign Assets Control issued a particularly stiff response to a query from the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, which wanted to publish papers by scientists from countries under embargo.

The Treasury office ruled that the institute could edit a manuscript from a country under embargo, and engage in peer review, but that making any "substantive or artistic alterations or enhancements of the manuscript" would be illegal without a license.

She says the department encourages publishers to approach them with queries.

So why don't the publishers simply apply for a license? "I'm not going to ask permission," Seaver says.Where there is smoke, there may very well be fire, but there may also be mirrors.It's often hard to draw the line between perception and practice, between how certain government regulations are viewed and how they're actually being enforced.Under these regulations, buying the rights to unwritten books or making significant editorial changes to written works without a license is considered "providing a service," and therefore akin to trading with the enemy, something punishable with jail time and fines of up to

So why don't the publishers simply apply for a license? "I'm not going to ask permission," Seaver says.

Where there is smoke, there may very well be fire, but there may also be mirrors.

It's often hard to draw the line between perception and practice, between how certain government regulations are viewed and how they're actually being enforced.

Under these regulations, buying the rights to unwritten books or making significant editorial changes to written works without a license is considered "providing a service," and therefore akin to trading with the enemy, something punishable with jail time and fines of up to $1 million.

Publishers argue that this regulation violates the First Amendment.

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So why don't the publishers simply apply for a license? "I'm not going to ask permission," Seaver says.Where there is smoke, there may very well be fire, but there may also be mirrors.It's often hard to draw the line between perception and practice, between how certain government regulations are viewed and how they're actually being enforced.Under these regulations, buying the rights to unwritten books or making significant editorial changes to written works without a license is considered "providing a service," and therefore akin to trading with the enemy, something punishable with jail time and fines of up to $1 million.Publishers argue that this regulation violates the First Amendment."That's the Iranian way of doing things." He says Arcade is going full speed ahead with "Strange Times, My Dear: The PEN Anthology of Contemporary Iranian Literature," which is due out in April.He acknowledges that the lawsuit might help draw attention to the book.In accepting a lifetime achievement award from the National Book Foundation at a black-tie gala in Manhattan last month, Judy Blume, the doyenne of young-adult fiction, delivered herself of the following admonition: "Your favorite teacher -- the one who made literature come alive for you, the one who helped you find exactly the book you needed when you were curious, or hurting, the one who was there to listen to you when you felt alone -- could become the next target."A target, that is, of censorship.Blume's books, which address sexuality and religion with a frankness that has made many a grown-up squeamish, have been among the books most frequently banned from public school libraries over the years, and so the author certainly knows whereof she speaks.Today, most defenders of the written word are focusing their energies on opposing certain sections of the USA Patriot Act, chief among them Section 215, which states that federal investigators can review library and bookstore records under certain circumstances in terrorism investigations.Larry Siems, the director of international programs at the PEN American Center, strikes an oft-heard chorus when he denounces "the growing use of government surveillance and government intrusion into your creative space." This, in turn, feeds a concern "that the government is able to see more deeply into our intellectual lives," Siems says.

million.Publishers argue that this regulation violates the First Amendment."That's the Iranian way of doing things." He says Arcade is going full speed ahead with "Strange Times, My Dear: The PEN Anthology of Contemporary Iranian Literature," which is due out in April.He acknowledges that the lawsuit might help draw attention to the book.In accepting a lifetime achievement award from the National Book Foundation at a black-tie gala in Manhattan last month, Judy Blume, the doyenne of young-adult fiction, delivered herself of the following admonition: "Your favorite teacher -- the one who made literature come alive for you, the one who helped you find exactly the book you needed when you were curious, or hurting, the one who was there to listen to you when you felt alone -- could become the next target."A target, that is, of censorship.Blume's books, which address sexuality and religion with a frankness that has made many a grown-up squeamish, have been among the books most frequently banned from public school libraries over the years, and so the author certainly knows whereof she speaks.Today, most defenders of the written word are focusing their energies on opposing certain sections of the USA Patriot Act, chief among them Section 215, which states that federal investigators can review library and bookstore records under certain circumstances in terrorism investigations.Larry Siems, the director of international programs at the PEN American Center, strikes an oft-heard chorus when he denounces "the growing use of government surveillance and government intrusion into your creative space." This, in turn, feeds a concern "that the government is able to see more deeply into our intellectual lives," Siems says.

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