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‘Book Banning’ is Topic of Thursday Night Lecture

McCollough Library Clerk Matt Jochum places holds for pickup Tuesday afternoon.
File Photo
Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library McCollough Library Clerk Matt Jochum places holds for pickup this summer. The lecture is followed by a panel discussion which will include EVPL leadership.

The annual University of Southern Indiana Berger Lecture is tonight with topic, “The Impact of Book Banning in America.” It starts at 7 PM at the USI Performance Center.

The lecture presenter is Sanford Ungar, Director of the Georgetown University Free Speech Project. The event is free of charge.

Book-banning is the act of restricting access to a school library book, initiated by a concerned outside party. Supporters say they’re protecting children from bad content; detractors say it’s censorship.

Included in the panel discussion is USI professor Chad Tew who teaches courses like media ethics, and intro to mass communication.

He says one impact of banning books can include a “chilling effect,” in several ways.

“What happens is, publishers may not want to publish these types of books that are seen as controversial, while writers may not be able to publish their books and get their voices heard. Readers who want those books are not able to get access to those voices.”

Lately he said those include LGBTQ and black voices.

Tew said it’s a good time to have this discussion, because a “bad book” law will take effect in Indiana on January 1, giving legal teeth to anyone hoping to have books banned from schools.

Tew has a strong background in both library science and journalism. As part of the panel discussion, he said he hopes attendees learn about the first amendment.

“I mean, our founding fathers never really promised us a rose garden, you know? Democracies are messy. People have different ideas. But it guaranteed us the right to have access to ideas, which is really the most important right here that we're talking about with banned books.”

Concerned parents tend to be the drivers of banning books. He said he hopes instead of initiating a review process on a book, effectively banning it at least temporarily, they’ll practice parental mediation — talk to their children about controversial content instead of restricting it.

“What's really interesting about the banned book issue is it has the potential of touching almost all of the five parts of the First Amendment,” Tew said. It reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Presenter Sanford Ungar
Presenter Sanford Ungar

You can learn more about the event here

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