by david j. kaplan - © recorder newspapers 2004
reading the headline banner: "plan2succeed asks residents to not support library," in the feb. 12 edition of echoes-sentinel letters to the editor, actually frightened me.
it was like one of those bad seeds one might find in america's flowering garden of culture and literacy that manifests itself as trouble lurking. it was like the invasion of aids, killer bees, or an inverse weed: the result of carelessness and ignorance. it was like rereading about the banning and the burning of books in the 1930's or the taliban dictating what should and what should not be done by others under their thumb.
the question came to mind; had i been fair to plan2succeed and those whose concerns are certainly valid? but upon reflection, i feel their means of dealing with this problem has too broad a stroke for a free society we haven't become a nation of free thought and speech because the constitution was constructed as a menu of items to be taken a la carte.
the first amendment clarifies this as well as language can, by not only granting of the freedom of speech, but by stipulating: "congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech."
so here's the corundrum: how do we protect our children from the onslaught of pornography on the internet, without denying ourselves our first amendment right of free speech? this democracy isn't easy stuff.
obviously, plan2succeed put a lot of thought into its thesis. and yet, i had a feeling that there was a political bias. however, there is always that political swaying back and forth on most issues. but more importantly, their rhetoric and compassion is about the protection of children, which takes precedent over anything else. and for that, i must give them credit.
from what i've seen at the long hill township library, they've done a good job of contending with a difficult problem. their heads aren't in the sand. the computer monitors are out in the open, not locked away in a child's bedroom, where unsupervised surfing may be going on.
the success of the acorn fund dismantles plan2succeed's argument that the library has "complete disregard of the public " citizens of the township support the library and the library has always supported worthy activities in the township and of individuals within the township.
the library's disregard for the people of long hill township was definitely a thought pulled out of thin air by plan2succeed.
when we run the course of censorship, that old slippery slope of more and more censorship, it snowballs into something our country is not at all about.
one of the links on plan2succeed's web site, which of course, itself would be filtered from a library's censored computer, since the word pornography is mentioned, is "parents against bad books in schools." here is a small list of proposed banned authors: leon uris, maya angelou, alice walker, ken kesey, james clavell, toni morrison, jean auel, william stryon and james mitchner.
this doesn't take you back to the 1930's to nazi germany, to the communist revisionists? to the ignorant and helpless and those that dominated their lives.
the world is not the eden of someone's imagination. it is beautiful and ugly. it is pristine and filthy, refined and lewd. children, though guided by their parents, will meet all of these characteristics of our world and those who inhabit it.
parents will have to direct their own children in their own way. that's freedom.
nature establishes real laws, which when fully understood, are elegantly simple, eternal and act equally on all. we, the people, can only author statutes, which are voluminously complex, subjective and change from day to day.
remember - the supreme court once upheld slavery!
support the long hill township library and be aware of your child's behavior. i think the welfare of the children is something we all have in our minds as a fundamental priority.
(editor's note: the long hill library board of trustees held a meeting on wednesday, feb. 18, regarding computer filters. please see related story elsewhere in this issue.)