10 September, 2008

It Is Official

No, not that I am incapable of working on a single post without being distracted. Admittedly, I have the attention span of a kitten presented with more than one dangling shoe string. That is well understood, and indeed is part of my charm.

Instead, I refer to this.

This makes it official. My vote will not go for the McCain/Palin ticket.

Allow me to explain.

I have been called a civil libertarian absolutist by my ideological opponents on both the right, most notably being Jeff Goldstein, and left, most notably being the entire Green Party of California. (And yes. As far as actual power goes, they're pretty much equal in stature.) I revel in this descriptor. Any possible encroachment on the liberties of Americans must be countered with great fervor, for the government cannot be allowed to tiptoe down the slippery slope.

And here, we have then-Mayor Sarah Palin inquiring as to the official position of a librarian if she were asked "to remove certain books from the collection." The resulting flap about the librarian being terminated for responding in the forceful negative is, in my view, secondary.

She asked, on the public record, about the process for banning books. Period. Full stop. And that is a deal-breaker.

Books contain only information. Information, in and of itself, is not and cannot be dangerous. It simply is. Only through the determined application of information can there be any actual danger. Cases in point one and two. Determined use of the information provided via these two links can cause actual and measurable harm, whether physical or economic, to another individual.

And that, my friends, is the line that something or someone needs to cross before any activity can be ethically and morally restricted, hereby bolded for easier retention: actual and measurable harm, whether physical or economic, to another individual. This means rape, murder, assault, theft, arson, or any other related criminal statutes. While this policy would include the release of toxic substances which can cause actual and measurable harm to those that come into contact, please note that this does not include the possibility of harm to another individual's philosophical worldview. There is zero capacity for actual harm to befall someone by being told that another person disagrees with them, for a bruised ego does not cross the aforementioned line.

The removal of books by public libraries or school systems that refer, whether openly or inferred, to homosexuality or other religions or how-to-be-a-religious-extremist-in-thirty-days or civil insurrection or simply how life really was back in a less-enlightened time, or any of the other possible reasons that books are challenged in this day and age... It is morally and ethically wrong, and counter to the principles behind the the founding of these United States, to "remove certain books from the collection" simply because you, in your religious or political beliefs, disagree with them.

Oscar Wilde says it better than I could. "There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written."

I cannot, in good conscience, vote for someone to become second-in-line to the Leader Of The Free World who is willing to participate in censorship, regardless of form or severity, regardless of success or failure, regardless of rhyme or reason, regardless of any other qualifications or lack thereof.

For this reason, among many others, I will ask that you join me in supporting Banned Books Week, for ideas can only be dangerous to those who would keep you from having them.

[Turn Signal: John Cole]


jeanvo said...

Garbage in garbage out. Get a grip. No book banning, no desire to ban books, raving imagination run wild. The Palin paranoia grows absolutely unfettered by reality.

Off Colfax said...

Sorry, Jean, but the evidence does speak against your "paranoia" counter. I'll reiterate. Asking, on the public record, about removing books from the collection.

The phrase "removing books from the library's collection" is a polite euphemism for banning books. How do I know? The politically-correct crowd at my college used the exact same language when they were looking to ban such books as Atlas Shrugged, authors such as Rush Limbaugh, and classics such as The Federalist Papers. I was almost too late to join the fight then, because I believed the euphemisms they used. And ever since, I've been on hair-trigger for the exact same words to be used again.

That is a serious offense against personal freedom, regardless of what political slant they lean on, and I will not stand idly by when it happens again.