Rare Book Monthly

Articles - June - 2004 Issue

Book Business Heroes



“The district court exacerbated its error in excusing the police officers’ failure to attempt to ascertain the information via alternative investigative techniques that do not involve the invasion of the First Amendment, and in failing to weigh the potential value of the evidence and the relative importance of the criminal case against the First Amendment principles at stake.” (ABFFE).

It was law enforcement’s premise that the material you read is indicative of your proclivity to commit crime (I hope not, I read lots of murder mysteries!). The bookstore’s and ACLU’s premise was the police should have been more interested in who, of the suspected parties, had been actually manufacturing and selling the drugs, not what books the miscreants had purchased.

Booksellers, stand firm. Hold Joyce Meskis as your example if your records are raided. Don’t forget Fahrenheit 451. We should all be allowed to read whatever we want to read without the government reading over our shoulders.

If you are a bookseller, it would behoove you to peruse the entire story and the legal brief at www.abffe.com/tatteredbrief.htm. For more information on this very important subject, I suggest you check out the excellent interview with Joyce Meskis by Shirley Bryant at www.ioba.org/newsletter/V7/meskis.html, the Colorado Bar website cobar.org/opinions/opinion.cfm?, www.salon.com/books/feature/2002/02/13/bookstore, and the ABFFE website cited above.

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