Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Daniels, Legislature Besiege Booksellers...and Freedom

OK. Now I'm just slightly calmer than I was an hour ago. Patrons, friends - even strangers - need to know that yours local bookseller is now under the impending threat of arrest.

That's right. If I don't register my bookstore with the state and outline all the sexually explicit materials I sell (and pay $250 for the privilege), the state will arrest me. Presumably, they will shut me down.

Now, I'm told by my lawyers that the actual statute applies to "new" bookstores, those who aren't already established. That means it would apply to the satellite store and the other full-service bookstore we plan to open.

Well, you might say, what's so wrong with that?

Let's just for a moment take a look at a few of the books that would qualify as "sexually explicit."

Hoosier Theodore Dreiser's An American Tragedy would top the list. The Holy Bible certainly contains sexually explicit material. Our Bodies, Ourselves is clearly sexually explicit as are any number of parenting guides that help people teach their children about their bodies.

Take a look at this list from the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression as part of this year's list of banned books, many of which would have to be documented to the state of Indiana, Floyd County, New Albany, and the various zoning boards.

Please read this article from The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression.

ABFFE Condemns Indiana Bookstore Registration Law

On March 25, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) condemned a new Indiana law that requires mainstream bookstores to register with the government if they sell “sexually explicit materials.”

“Sexually explicit” is defined so broadly that the law could apply to bookstores that sell mainstream novels and other artistic works with sexual content as well as educational books about sexuality and sexual health. H.B. 1042 was signed into law last week by Governor Mitch Daniels. “It is un-American to force booksellers to register with the government based on the kinds of books they carry,” ABFFE President Chris Finan said. “It is also unconstitutional, and we intend to do everything we can to challenge this violation of the First Amendment rights of Indiana booksellers and their customers.”

Finan said ABFFE will ask the Media Coalition to file a legal challenge to the Indiana law. Media Coalition defends the rights of businesses that produce and distribute books, magazines, movies, videos, recordings and video games that are protected by the First Amendment. Its members include ABFFE, the Association of American Publishers, and the Freedom to Read Foundation.

1 comment:

just passing through said...

It's a good law. Compliance with HB 1042 will further strengthen the argument that our contemporary community standards include sexually explicit material. I do think $250 is a bit steep and have sympathy for you there.