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. –The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America
Somehow I missed the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week at the end of September. That unfortunate slippage of my middle-aging memory means that I need to slap a big old red letter F on my patriotism for that week.
For those who are not in the know, the ALA annually releases a list of the most contested titles on library shelves throughout the nation. I typically try to celebrate freedom of speech by choosing and reading a "banned" book from the list that week. This time, I missed it.
Oh, well. I suppose as long as we have a First Amendment I can look forward to a future Banned Books Week. And I must say that I am always amused and amazed by the strange alliances that surface whenever someone’s First Amendment rights are threatened. The most recent example, of course, is Jon Stewart, Whoopi Goldberg, and Joy Behar jumping into the fray over Hank Williams Jr.’s ouster from Monday Night Football as a result of his criticism of the president.
On a less controversial but still First Amendment-related note, I am happy to not have missed the Southern Festival of Books, an annual Humanities Tennessee event that will take place in Nashville’s Legislative Plaza this weekend. There’s more than one way to celebrate the freedom of the written word.