BBW celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where these two essential conditions are met.
Courtesy of Doug Johnson, we also might want to celebrate Blocked Bytes Week:
As Doug says:
Americans need the freedom to read more than just books.As Doug has suggested before, I think many schools interpret CIPA incorrectly (read: too stringently). (Also see these three earlier posts on The Fischbowl.) He then shares some very interesting information in the comments:
Yes, we do block some sites - those specifically required by CIPA - basically pornography. We trust our filter settings to make accurate judgments about this.Ahhh, now that’s an interesting idea. The default in Doug’s district is that a non-pornographic site is accessible, and they have to go through a process to block it. In other words, somebody in the district has to show cause and make a case for blocking a particular site, as opposed to allowing a filtering company to make that judgment (typically based on categories) from afar. That lines up pretty well with what I’ve said before about my own school:
What keep us from being "censors," I believe, is that for any non-pornographic site to be blocked requires a formal process be followed similar to a reconsideration process for banning a book.
Our philosophy is to have high expectations for our students, to educate them to behave ethically, responsibly and safely and then expect that they will do the right thing. When they don’t, they know we’ll have a conversation and try to learn from the mistake, but we don’t assume they are going to screw up. In other words, our philosophy has been to educate, not ban.This filtering approach is the opposite of most districts and brings up an interesting philosophical discussion: should access to information generally be considered a good thing and therefore the default status is allowing access? Or should access to information be considered a bad thing and therefore the default status should be to block it? How much power should schools have to "censor" information and prevent students from accessing it? And who makes that decision? What are our schools' core values regarding intellectual freedom?
And, no matter where you fall on those questions, how do we best prepare our students for the unfiltered world they live in when they step off the bus? (Or open their cell phones? Or pull out their laptops with their own unfiltered connection to the Internet?)
(For the record, my district has a relatively open filter compared to most school districts, and we have a clear process where we can request that sites be unblocked. We also have a teacher override that gets teachers to many - but not all - blocked sites. Of the sites listed on Doug’s graphic, only three of them are currently blocked for students: Twitter, Ning and Second Life. Other sites that are blocked include YouTube, Google Video, MySpace, Facebook, LiveJournal, and all sites deemed pornographic by 8e6, our Internet filter company.)
Update 9-30-08: Heard this related story on NPR this morning. Talks about the intial banning of The Grapes of Wrath, so more about books and less about the Internet, but interesting nonetheless.