Thursday, June 16, 2005

Virtual Ban on Reading 

"If there are terrorists in libraries studying how to fly planes, how to put together biological weapons, how to put together chemical weapons, nuclear weapons, ... we have to have an avenue through the federal court system so that we can stop the attack before it occurs," said Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla).

The above statement was made regarding the provision of the Patriot Act that allow investigators free access to library records and bookstore sales receipts in order to see who's reading what. The House voted 238-187 not to renew this provision, but would still permit investigators access to library internet use records.

The Senate still has to vote on the issue, and the White House has threatened to veto anything that is less than a full renewal of all provisions.

But you know, Rep. Feeney might have a point - if people are reading about these things, we should know about it, right? Then again, why is this information available in the public libraries? If we don't want people learning this stuff, we should just ban the books! Louisiana, Oklahoma and Arkansas have all had recent efforts to ban gay themed (particularly those mentioning same sex marriage or kids with same sex parents) from schools and libraries. Maybe they should also have access to bookstore records so they can find out who's reading them anyway. I mean, if they're a threat to the community in the library, they're a threat to the community no matter where they come from. Rick Santorum has gone to great lengths to link gay marriage with terrorism, so haul out the Patriot Act and track down these threats!

There better not be any information in those libraries about people who have burned flags in protest of government actions, either. People might get ideas. Root 'em out, yank 'em from the shelves. Burn the books, not the flag. Then get the records on anyone who checked out those books prior to removal.

If these books are to remain in the library, perhaps there should be some sort of ID system that keeps track of who reads them in the building without checking them out. That's the whole point, isn't it? To find out who's accessing this information?

I've got it! Retinal scans upon entering any library or bookstore, followed by tracking that clearly identifies any publication which the patron peruses for more than 3 seconds. This isn't censorship - the books are still there. We just want to know who has the freaking nerve to look at them.

Land of the free, home of the surveilled.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 1:54 PM