Thursday, March 27, 2008

Scary Stuff in Indiana

A new Indiana law meant to target "adult" stores has booksellers up in arms -- and rightly so. The law, according to Indystar.com, "requires businesses that sell sexually explicit material to pay a $250 fee and register with the secretary of state, which would then pass the information to municipal or county officials so they can monitor the businesses for potential violations of local ordinances."

Here are links to two articles that explain the issue way better than I could:

http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080325/NEWS/80325063

http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6544559.html?nid=2286&source=title&rid=1113427106

The whole thing is just so . . . Orwellian. Here at AS IF!, we are accustomed to individuals taking potshots at free expression, but usually the laws are on the side of free speech. When the government itself is the censoring agent, I get scared.

Really scared.

Aside from the blatant constitutional problem in this case, there's another angle. Independent bookstores are hugely important to the health of America's intellectual and literary life, and existing booksellers are already closing faster than new ones open. A $250 licensing fee for new stores (not to mention the ominous spectre of Big Brother) might just be enough to stop potential entrepreneurs from opening bookstores in Indiana.

27 Comments:

Blogger SafeLibraries.org said...

Jordan said, "When the government itself is the censoring agent, I get scared."

Based on my understanding of the situation as presented in this blog, it appears to me that claiming the "the government itself is the censoring agent" is an exaggeration.

Please detail why censorship is involved in this case where "municipal or county officials ... can monitor ... for potential violations of local ordinances."

Thank you.

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