FREDERICK, Maryland – Freedom of speech is always under attack and Flying Dog Brewery is always ready for the fight. This September, as part of the efforts behind Banned Books Week, the brewery’s focus is on the banning of books. For the next week, Flying Dog will celebrate the countless books that have been censored, removed, or restricted from bookshelves for the past century by launching a takeover of Little Free Libraries across Maryland, Washington, DC, and Northern Virginia.
Marked with signage reminiscent of a burning page, the Little Free Libraries taken over by Flying Dog are packed with titles that have been banned and challenged. In each book is a Flying Dog bookmark that proudly states, ‘I’m with the banned.’ These community-based ‘take a book/leave a book’ bookstalls selected by the brewery are located in Frederick and Baltimore in Maryland, Washington, DC, and Alexandria and Arlington in Virginia. The 5 libraries in each location range from residential boxes to locations within retailers, museums, and bars.
“If you’re offended by different world views and controversial ideas out of fear and ignorance, you’re the problem, not books and freedom of expression,” said Jim Caruso, CEO of Flying Dog Brewery. “Ban censors, not books.”
Banned Books Week – created in the 1980s as a response to the sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores, and libraries – is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. The coalition behind the week brings together all those in the book community in shared support of the freedom to seek and express ideas. The 2022 theme is ‘Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.’ New York Times best-selling author George M. Johnson will serve as the Honorary Chair.
Flying Dog has a long history of standing up to censorship. When Colorado, Michigan, and most recently North Carolina, violated Flying Dog’s 1st Amendment rights, the brewery sued and won all three times. While on the surface these lawsuits are about beer labels, they’re really about defending the 1st Amendment at the margin where all of these battles are fought. Civil liberties are not lost overnight, they are chipped away bit by bit unless vigorously defended.
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