Thursday, March 27, 2008

Scary Stuff in Indiana

A new Indiana law meant to target "adult" stores has booksellers up in arms -- and rightly so. The law, according to, "requires businesses that sell sexually explicit material to pay a $250 fee and register with the secretary of state, which would then pass the information to municipal or county officials so they can monitor the businesses for potential violations of local ordinances."

Here are links to two articles that explain the issue way better than I could:

The whole thing is just so . . . Orwellian. Here at AS IF!, we are accustomed to individuals taking potshots at free expression, but usually the laws are on the side of free speech. When the government itself is the censoring agent, I get scared.

Really scared.

Aside from the blatant constitutional problem in this case, there's another angle. Independent bookstores are hugely important to the health of America's intellectual and literary life, and existing booksellers are already closing faster than new ones open. A $250 licensing fee for new stores (not to mention the ominous spectre of Big Brother) might just be enough to stop potential entrepreneurs from opening bookstores in Indiana.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Teacher Suspended Over Book

Teacher Suspended Over Book

Perry Township, IN teacher Connie Heermann was suspended for allowing her high school students to read FREEDOM WRITERS DIARY. The book is a collection of essays from high school students who give candid looks at their lives, fears and hopes. It deals with violence, homelessness, racism, abuse and other topics that this group of urban California students lived with.

The school board had originally taken a motion to severe her contract with the school, but later changed it to an unpaid suspension until the end of the 2008 -2009 school year. Heermann, who has taught for 27-years, was charged with insubordination. Her supervisor was unhappy with the language and content in the book and asked her to stop using it in the classroom, even though her students had signed permission slips.

At an earlier public hearing, Heermann had many supporters, including Californian Erin Gruwell who's students wrote the FREEDOM WRITERS DIARY.

For a teacher to punished for encouraging her students to read about real-life issues is a scary thought. What we at AF IF! would like to know is, was it really insubordination at issue or the book itself?

For more information, check out these links: