Recent news of challenges to books in school and public libraries remind us that book challenges are not uncommon in Canada and, in most cases, are dealt with by the library staff. When the public does hear about a book challenge in a school library learning commons, it is usually where the school policies were not followed and the decision to remove the challenged item was carried out by school officials working outside the bounds of the book-challenge procedures.
A recent bombshell of a book about the corporate capture of Alberta’s energy regulator sheds light on how private organizations and public institutions sometimes converge into powerful networks that disseminate misinformation. The peer-reviewed book elucidates the inner workings of this phenomenon by developing an approach to analyzing institutional influence and dysfunction that can be used by investigative journalists, scholars, and anyone else opposed to abuses of state and corporate power.
If you want to truly understand free expression and why it’s so vital for a democratic society, you need to immerse yourself in the margins of public discourse. An important subculture that often finds itself at these margins is stand-up comedy, where a variety of controversies are pushing the boundaries of free expression and attracting no shortage of public attention.
Engaged as I am in the endless fight to protect the rights of creative professionals, I spend way too much of my time reading ridiculous claims by folks who just want free stuff. Ask any writer, musician, artist of any kind; approximately four out of every five interactions around our work involves us explaining that we can’t work for free or give away the product of our work without compensation. The pressure for free cultural product is relentless and exhausting to those who are trying to make a living in culture.
A bill to restrict young people’s online access to sexually explicit material has been re-introduced by Senator Julie Miville-Dechêne. The so-called Protecting Young Persons from Exposure to Pornography Act, would make it “an offence for organizations to make sexually explicit material available to young persons on the Internet” and would empower a designated enforcement authority to take steps to prevent such access.