Mandating electronic copies is unconstitutional


I am writing in response to Feb. 24’s editorial, “Mandating electronic copies hurts academic freedom.” If I may, The Chronicle’s senior staff is arguing the wrong point.

With regards to the Utah Legislature’s attempt to require electronic versions of textbooks, the answer isn’t whether they should or shouldn’t do it; it’s instead whether they can or can’t do it.

Basically it’s a constitutional issue. Textbooks aren’t bought by the U, but instead by the individual student. No governmental agency may ban something from being printed or, once printed, from being sold; nor may they prohibit a student from buying a particular book.

Therefore, the entire argument is moot. A professor can require any text he so chooses for his class, and the government can’t prohibit its use because it isn’t politically correct.

The fact is that requiring a book to be digital, or Braille-ready, is just as politically correct and no different than requiring it to pass a government censor board-ultimately just as unconstitutional.

Never engage in debate over a subject that’s unconstitutional. If the issue is unconstitutional, it simply doesn’t even deserve consideration.

Joshua R. WestPhiladelphia, Pa.