The following letter appeared in the American Library Association Journal.
OFFICE OF INTELLECTUAL FREEDOM'S CENSORIOUS "FRIEND"
Today I was appalled to learn from the Assistant Director of
ALA's Office of Intellectual Freedom, that some of the "friends" ALA/OIF
has accepted as friends and co-signers in the ALA Supreme Court lawsuit
concerning the Federal Decency Act are the online providers American Online
(AOL) and CompuServe, who are major censors of information and information
transfer, print and nonprint. Indeed, AOL is notorious for its blatant
censorship, going so far as to censor the use of the word "breast" (see the article by AL
Editor, Leonard Kniffel, AL, March, 1996, p. 27) on their service. AOL, with
5 million subscribers and 400,000 to 500,000 users online with AOL at any one
time during "peak hours", may be the greatest censor in the "Free World" at
this time. I have been told by AOL workers that AOL cancels hundred's of
customer's accounts each week for transmitting print or nonprint transmission
through them that they subjectively deem to be "indecent".
Ms. Liebow admitted that AOL was a great censor, and that OIF did not approve
of their censorship, but said that, "we may need to deal with that in the
To me this is pragmatism gone mad!
Until AOL stops censoring information, I do not think that the ALA should
have any relationship with AOL and its censorious ilk, much less accept them as
"friends" and associates. I fully support the ALA/OIF suit, have supported
the OIF for decades, and count Judy Krug as one of my friends, but I DEMAND that
ALA disassociate us from AOL (etc.) immediately, in all ways. And I ask that
the Freedom to Read Foundation and the ALA Executive Committee
immediately act to see that this happens. We do not need to be in bed with
these blatant enemies of intellectual freedom!
R. M. Collard
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