November 24, 2014

Censorship: Proposed South Carolina Higher Education Budget Cuts Violate First Amendment Principles, Basic Tenets Of Academic Freedom

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Note: The issue discussed in the item below was featured Library Journal article by LJ’s Ian Chant published earlier this month.

From the National Coalition Against Censorship:

The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC), ACLU of South Carolina, American Association of University Professors, Modern Language Association and other free speech organizations today sent a letter [embedded below] to members of the South Carolina Senate criticizing the recent defunding of public institutions of higher learning because of objections to assigned reading.

“The proposed budget cuts are designed to punish the schools solely because some members of the legislature don’t approve of certain books being taught,” said NCAC Executive Director Joan Bertin. “The Supreme Court has sent a clear message over decades: lawmakers may not prohibit the expression of ideas simply because they find them to be offensive.”

According to Victoria Middleton, Executive Director of the ACLU of South Carolina, “This kind of political interference with academic freedom not only violates core First Amendment values, it compromises the quality of higher education in our state.”

The group letter included the following NCAC participating organization members:

  • American Association of University Professors
  • American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression
  • American Library Association
  • Association of American Publishers
  • Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
  • Modern Language Association
  • National Council of Teachers of English

It states that “Penalizing state educational institutions financially simply because members of the legislature disapprove of specific elements of the educational program is educationally unsound and constitutionally suspect and (…) threatens academic freedom and the quality of education in the state.”

The letter also maintains that “it is the right of faculty, based on their disciplinary and pedagogical expertise, to develop curriculum and assign books free of outside political interference by legislators who lack such expertise. “

Read the Complete News Release

NCAC, ACLU-SC Joint Letter to SC Senate Finance Committee

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Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.