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Snooping on Readers Puts Freedom at Risk

June 04, 2003

Re "One Word From Librarians That Speaks Volumes," Voices, May 31: Michael McGrorty's profound one word -- no -- connecting the USA Patriot Act to the library where he is an intern shows that the worst enemy we now have is within our own myopic government. This incessant need to snoop into all of our reading habits in bookstores and libraries must stop.

Our son, an avid reader, now in Iraq with the Marine Reserves, is there to help bring order to a formerly dictatorial country. Its citizens could not speak out, but we must. Now comes Patriot Act II? Sadly, our country will slowly lose the freedoms that our son could die for in Iraq. I am but one voice; let's hope more will follow.

Barbara Gentner

Alta Loma

*

On May 31, The Times printed three letters and one Voices piece bemoaning a loss of civil liberties under the Bush administration and the war on terror. Get a grip. We lost many of our civil liberties decades ago when we first invited the federal government to educate us, to give us charity and to provide us with health care, to name a few social services. If you want your freedoms back, then I'd suggest voting for politicians who are seriously committed to significantly reducing government entitlements. Remember, if the government didn't own libraries, it wouldn't be able to access your records so easily. Big government is always the enemy of freedom, regardless of which party holds office.

Chris R. Gennusa

Los Angeles

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Thank you for publishing McGrorty's moving piece. We are indeed facing another McCarthy-like era and, just as we did in the 1950s, librarians are leading the charge in support of democracy. The California Library Assn. and the American Civil Liberties Union have launched a joint campaign to educate the public about the USA Patriot Act and how the FBI can requisition patrons' library records without benefit of a subpoena.

Please direct your readers to www.libraryprivacy.org for more information.

Cindy Mediavilla

Past President

California Library Assn.

Culver City

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