Today the Appignani Humanist Legal Center informed the Morgan City Public Library in Morgan City, Louisiana, that their block on the American Humanist Association’s BoycottthePledge.com website is a violation of the freedom of speech.
The BoycottthePledge.com website raises awareness about how the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance discriminate against atheist, humanist and other nontheistic Americans and educates viewers about the history of the phrase, which was added in 1954 during the McCarthy era. The website also encourages individuals who object to this discrimination to exercise their right to remain seated during the Pledge until it is restored to its pre-1954 wording.
Read the email sent to the library from David Niose, legal director of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center, below:
Dear Geraldine Besse,
Our office has been informed by a patron of the Morgan City Public Library that your library has blocked one of our organization’s web sites, specifically a page dedicated to raising awareness of the discriminatory nature of the “under God” wording in the Pledge of Allegiance. The web site urges a boycott of the Pledge until the “under God” wording, which was added to the Pledge in 1954, is removed. (The URL is www.dontsaythepledge.com.)
The purpose of this email correspondence is to convey our objections to your actions in blocking our site, and to demand that the block be removed. If it is not, we will consider your actions an ongoing constitutional violation that will justify legal recourse if necessary.
Please note that your censorship of our web page can only be considered a content-based restriction of political speech. Our Pledge Boycott is informative and of course nonviolent, and is in no way objectionable except to the extent that political and religious views may disagree with it. This suppression of free speech — by a library, where a free flow of ideas and intellectual discourse are presumably encouraged — is most troubling, and will not be tolerated. We demand that you immediately unblock our web site, and assure us that the problem will not reoccur.
We also demand full disclosure of your library’s policies relating to blocking web pages, and an explanation as to why our page was blocked.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
American Humanist Association
Appignani Humanist Legal Center