Peer Reviewed Article

Delegitimizing Censorship: Contending with the Rhetoric of an Anti-Democratic Movement

  • Allison Jennings-Roche orcid logo (Towson University)


Attacks on library collections and library workers have reached a fevered pitch. To effectively combat these threats, library advocates and organizations must move away from debate and dialogue about specific challenges and move towards a political communication strategy that actively disrupts these openly anti-democratic censorship movements. This is a moment of rhetorical disruption; along with the texts and the books are being perceived as harmful, library workers are now being portrayed as threats to society, being called “groomers” who seek to “indoctrinate” children. Contending with the true nature of this evolving rhetoric is essential to be able to respond appropriately and avoid normalizing these debates. If libraries, and our communities, are to prevail in the defense of intellectual freedom, free expression, and cultural representation, censorship simply cannot become ordinary. This paper examines the ways in which the rhetoric of censorship operates, the ways it risks becoming normalized, and the ways in which libraries, librarians, and their supporters can work to counteract and delegitimize this rhetoric.

Keywords: censorship, intellectual freedom, libraries, political communication, rhetoric, information policy, free expression

How to Cite:

Jennings-Roche, A., (2023) “Delegitimizing Censorship: Contending with the Rhetoric of an Anti-Democratic Movement”, The Political Librarian 6(1), 21 - 33. doi:



Published on
30 May 2023
Peer Reviewed