For Your Reference

Citing foreign influence

There is a fundamental and irreconcilable difference between Americans and Canadians on the issue of freedom of speech or expression. Although both of our nations value and protect this human right, the limits to which we take it are markedly different. For Americans, it is inalienable, intrinsic to the dignity of the individual; while the Canadian Constitution subjects it “to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.” Rights discourse in Canada, although grounded in a conception of the individual, is more concerned with the welfare of the community than is its American counterpart. If the United States is founded on the myth of individual rights, then Canada is founded on the myth of social cohesion. And nowhere is this more evident than in libraries, where the tension plays out in surprising and consequential ways.

Founded in 1876, the...