âLaw and logic are on my side. “
Last week, a comment in another newspaper argued that the recent decision by three state universities to ban subversive books from their respective libraries is not an exercise of academic freedom, but a violation of rights. freedom of expression and expression of their students. I absolutely do not agree. Law and logic are on my side. Although the commentary cites the Constitution as well as Philippine and American jurisprudence, it admits that there is no specific constitutional provision or court order to support its theory. The commentary broadly assumes that a student at a state university or college (SUC) has the constitutional right to access all books that exist in the world, but it does not cite any specific provision of the Constitution or Supreme Court decision to validate this hypothesis. . From a pragmatic point of view, no SUC in the Philippines has such a large library, let alone the budget for one. The premise assumed in the commentary is wrong because not all books and publications are legally accessible to students and the public. There are books and publications which, due to their content, are not legally accessible to anyone, students or not. For example, obscene and pornographic books and publications are not accessible in the libraries of an SUC because Philippine law prohibits the publication and distribution of such books and publications. The Supreme Courts of the Philippines and the United States have repeatedly upheld the validity of legal prohibitions against obscenity and pornography. This observation applies to the subversive publications of local communist organizations like the National Democratic Front, the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army. Whatever form it takes or what name it takes, communism embraces the violent overthrow of the duly constituted government of the Republic of the Philippines and its replacement by a lawless, intolerant and extremist socialist regime. Thus, the state has the right to protect itself against the communist threat. Like its citizens, the state has the inherent right to self-preservation. This is why all subversive posts are illegal under Philippine laws. Undoubtedly, the state has the right to use all its resources to defend its very existence. From there, the SUC has the legal power to ban subversive books and publications from their libraries. Since obscene and pornographic literature and subversive publications cannot legally be sold in bookstores or released to the public, they should not be made available in SUC libraries. What is not allowed to be done directly, should not be allowed to be done indirectly. I repeat, if local subversive organizations want to glorify or promote communism in the country, they should not expect the state to allow the use of government facilities for this purpose. To insist otherwise is to demand that the state supply the firearm against itself. Specifically, the owner of a school library, whether public or private, has the exclusive power to choose which books or publications should be and should not be placed in the school library. No one, not a court, and certainly not the radical and selfish faculty of the University of the Philippines, can interfere with this discretion. Therefore, since an SUC owns its library, each SUC has the exclusive prerogative to decide which books can be put in its library and which cannot. When a SUC removes subversive publications from its library, the SUC is not just defending the existence of the state that finances it; the SUC protects its students from the nefarious influence of communism. In legal disputes over a student’s exercise of freedom of speech and freedom of expression, the issue is not whether certain books are banned from their college or university library. The question is whether or not school authorities prohibit the student from saying what he thinks or expressing himself, regardless of what the school library allows or prohibits on its shelves. Freedom of speech and freedom of speech have nothing to do with what an SUC may or may not put in their library. The prohibition of a particular book from its library in no way prevents a student from speaking or expressing himself on any subject whatsoever. As I mentioned in this column two weeks ago, the academic freedom enjoyed by all higher education institutions includes the right to decide what to teach and how to teach it. Necessarily, the right to decide “what to teach” includes the right to decide “what not to teach”. In turn, the right to decide “what not to teach” includes the right to decide which books and publications should be excluded from the college or university library. Academic freedom allows SUCs to ban red books from their libraries.
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