I'm with you, Justine. To anyone who "gets" Mark Twain, his point is pretty
clear: that his (and our) countrymen will readily give up their freedom of
speech and conscience rather than risk making themselves unpopular.
After seeing your note, I somewhat masochistically hunted up this piece of
drivel. The article, "The Library Bill of Rights -- A Critique," was written
by a Wisconsin law professor, supposedly at the "request" of someone at the
university's library school, and published in the Summer, 1996 issue of
Library Trends. You can find it online at
if you have the stomach for such things.
Apparently the professor finds the thing pretty distasteful. It selfishly
"embodies the interests of librarians in resisting outside interference with
their work," he says; also, it "would generate criticism because no one
unqualifiedly supports the First Amendment as the Supreme Court interprets
it" -- a notion that I think might startle quite a few members of this
Finally, after 15 footnote-packed pages, this humorless imbecile misquotes
Mark Twain (it's "those three unspeakably precious things," not
"unspeakable") to support his general conclusion, which apparently is that
"self-restraint . . . forbearance, self discipline, and good manners" trump
free speech every time.
It's a shame we can't hear what Twain would have to say about that, but it
would have been pretty withering, don't you think?