mgraber at gvpt.umd.edu
Thu Sep 11 10:31:06 PDT 2008
At the most general level, I suspect general agreement exists that a) the government may participate in the marketplace of ideas (hard to see how this could be avoided in some instances), but that b) the government may not unduly dominate the marketplace of ideas. The phrase "unduly dominate" is intentionally vague, because that is where constitutional tensions arise.
The difference between "book banning" and discretion may have a certain progressive flavor. From my perspective, professional choices (the librarian) should be given some leeway, so I trust the librarian more than local politics to choose appropriate books. If you lack my sometimes blind faith in expertise and deep suspicions of popular democracy, not much difference exists.
>>> "David Bernstein" <DavidEBernstein at aol.com> 09/11/08 1:23 PM >>>
To turn this into a constitutional law issue, I've never quite understood
the following. A town has a public library. The librarian gets to decide
which books are available, and to whom. The librarian declines to buy
Playboy or anything racier, restricts books with explicit sexual content to
the young adult and adult sections, and turns down a donation of racist
books aimed at children. No problem.
The problem allegedly arises when local citizens get together, ask the city
council to tell the librarian to remove Playboy from the shelves, restrict
books with explicit sexual content to mature readers, and remove children's
books with racist content from the shelves.
The librarian is engaging in "discretion." The citizens are asking for
"book banning." I don't follow.
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