Posted on January 27, 2017

#FellowshipofWords – Freedom of Speech

As you may know, I declared this year the #FellowshipofWords year and I’m encouraging everyone to bring people together through books and the written word. (See the first post at  http://tinyurl.com/jtjpamr.)

I am starting a teen book club at my local library, and am on the planning committee for an upcoming librarians’ conference. Those are the obvious ways I plan to use my volunteer time towards this goal. But I also find myself drawn into the political fray. I promise not to get too preachy here, but I am shocked at recent presidential attempts to curb scientists’ and others’ freedom of speech. This seems like a perfect time to consider how the words we use matter and revisit the concept of freedom of speech. We can’t have democracy or civil discussions without it.

Here are a few classic works that explore the idea of freedom of speech (book links in parentheses):

1984 by George Orwell

(http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/326569/1984-by-george-orwell/)

Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau (nonfiction essay)

(http://store.doverpublications.com/0486275639.html)

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

(http://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Fahrenheit-451/Ray-Bradbury/9781451673265)

I’ve read Fahrenheit 451 most recently, so I’ll use that one as an example. I was struck by the idea of life without independent thought and how drab it was. I loved the images at the end, where individuals took responsibility for passing on great worlds of literature to save civilization. (And I hope we never get to that stage. That’s why we need to have conversations about this now.) Ray Bradbury’s book is a great way to imagine a world where the lack of freedom of speech is taken to its logical conclusion. He shows how important this is. And of course there are other reasons why his book is brilliant, but I’m focusing on this theme for now.

What do you think about these books?

What other books would you recommend for this theme?

Any other thoughts on how books and writing can help us through this time?

Thanks, and keep reading and writing! Join the #FellowshipofWords !

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