We send our children to school to become educated. Reading is not just the key to success in school, but also in our careers. Simply put, literacy impacts our economic status. Our communities promote literacy programmes for adults, not just so they can read a book or a contract but so they can improve their families' lives with better employment and therefore an increased standard of living.
But we also read for enjoyment, to broaden our views of the world around us, to test our perceptions by what others have written, and to learn something just for our own personal satisfaction.
Reading is now becoming a threatened right and is being viewed by our government as a potential subversive activity.
When the PATRIOT Act was rushed through Congress soon after 9/11, one of the little noticed provisions was section 215, which severely expands the scope of materials the FBI can access with a warrant from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court. The FBI can demand that bookstores and libraries hand over lists of all of their patrons and what books they've purchased or borrowed. Section 215 also prevents bookstore owners and librarians from telling patrons they're being watched or searched.
So, you ask, how does this apply to you? You feel that you are doing nothing that constitutes any criminal or terrorist action. But, say you are a spouse, a teacher, a church elder or a community leader, and you buy some adult reading material; then for some random reason your name and purchase come up on a list provided by the store to the government - think of how that information has the potential to be used against you!
The Freedom to Read Amendment would prohibit the Department of Justice from using any money in their budget to search a library or bookseller using the wide-sweeping powers granted under section 215 of the PATRIOT Act. The amendment would restore and protect the privacy and First Amendment rights of library and bookstore patrons which were in place before the USA PATRIOT Act. Passage of this amendment would still allow the FBI to use all constitutionally sanctioned means to obtain warrants and criminal subpoenas to access library and bookstore records pertinent to investigations related to terrorism or criminal acts.
The House of Representatives will vote on the Freedom to Read Amendment as early as the afternoon of Wednesday July 7. Please contact your representative immediately and ask them to support the Freedom to Read Amendment to protect American's civil rights and freedom to read. Find your representative at www.house.gov/
As for myself, on any given day, I would rather face the possibility of death by a terrorist act RATHER THAN LOSE OUR FREEDOM AND CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS, EXISTING IN FEAR OF A GOVERNMENT WHO DOES NOT FEEL IT CAN TRUST IT'S OWN CITIZENRY.