In addition to protecting our right to free speech, the First Amendment also guarantees freedom of religion, including the ability to find information on various faiths. Today, the ACLU of Eastern Missouri filed a lawsuit charging the Salem Public Library with unconstitutional censorship for blocking access to information about minority religions. In particular, information about Native American practices and Wicca were blocked because they were classified as “occult” or “criminal.”
In their press release, the ACLU justifies their action:
“The library has no business blocking these websites as “occult’ or ‘criminal” in the first place and certainly shouldn’t be making arbitrary follow-up decisions based on the personal predilections of library staff,” said Daniel Mach, director of the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief. “Public libraries should be facilitating access to educational information, not blocking it.”
Such censorship by libraries has chilling implications, as the blocking of material could be extended to impact other legitimate educational material, including comics. You can find ACLU’s official press release here.