Acacia O'Connor

About Acacia O'Connor

Acacia works on youth free expression issues at NCAC and is coordinator of the Kids' Right to Read Project. Her work at NCAC combines many of her passions, including but not limited to: literature, libraries, language and freedom of speech. Also an Italian translator, Acacia received her Master's degree in Literary Translation Studies from the University of Rochester. Prior to pursuing her MA, she spent a year in Southern Italy teaching English literature and American culture through a Fulbright fellowship. She received her BA from Vassar College with a double major in English and Italian.

Free Speech Defender Anthony Lewis Dies at 85

By |2016-01-14T12:21:46-05:00March 25th, 2013|Blog|

New York Times columnist and Pulitzer-prize winning writer Anthony Lewis passed away this weekend. Lewis was a leading expert on constitutional law whose work in defense of free speech earned him the Presidential Citizens Medal in 2001. We honored Lewis' lifetime commitment to freedom of expression in 2008 at our annual benefit. In his 2007 book Freedom for the Thought That [...]

On Persepolis: Chicago Students “Exposed to Real Violence on a Daily Basis”

By |2019-03-07T21:45:53-05:00March 19th, 2013|Blog|

In an interview with PBS station WTTW Chicago last night, Barbara Jones, Executive Director of ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom, of the Chicago Teachers Union and two Lane Tech Seniors spoke about the removal of Persepolis from classrooms in Chicago Public Schools. You can watch the interview here, but this particular moment stood out as a perfect response to anyone who might [...]

Chicago Public Schools Demands ‘Persepolis’ Be Removed from Classrooms

By |2019-03-07T21:51:21-05:00March 18th, 2013|Blog|

Photo by Chris Walker/ Chicago Tribune Teachers and students gathered outside Lane Tech College Prep in the freezing rain Friday for a spirited protest. "Honk if you love free speech," and "Closing Schools. Banning Books. What's next?" students' signs read. The protest was organized in response to the revelation that the Chicago Public School Board had evidently mandated [...]

Censorship, Kids and the Internet

By |2019-03-15T17:23:11-04:00March 14th, 2013|Blog|

One part the internet, one part kids... mix and the result is a recipe for parental anxiety, mixed opinions from professionals and politicians, and overreaching attempts to control access to information. (See: Harlem Shake meme) This week the ACLU of Rhode Island released a report, "Access Denied," showing that the use of internet filtering software is pervasive in R.I. schools and [...]

Today is World Day Against Cyber Censorship

By |2019-03-15T18:10:47-04:00March 12th, 2013|Blog|

Organized by Reporters Without Borders, World Day Against Cyber Censorship pays tribute to the fight for internet freedom and to the citizens who have been arrested, harassed or affected in some way by government attempts to control information. Learn more about internet censorship and which countries are doing the most damage here.

Judge Upholds Arizona Law Banning Ethnic Studies

By |2019-03-07T23:31:40-05:00March 12th, 2013|Blog|

Arizona state officials rejoiced yesterday as a U.S. Circuit Judge upheld state law HB 2281, which prohibits any class that "advocates ethnic solidarity." The law was written to advance the dissolution of the popular and effective Mexican-American Studies (MAS) Program in Tucson in January 2012. Though Judge A. Wallace Tashima did not believe objections to the law met "the high [...]

Rather than Censor Video Games, NJ Library Censors Everything

By |2019-03-07T23:33:27-05:00March 5th, 2013|Blog|

Early in February, we wrote a letter in response to reports that the public library in Paterson, NJ had banned the playing of video games on their public computers. While the policy was conceived with children in mind, it ostensibly applied to anyone. Despite reports to the contrary, as soon as we sent them a stern letter, the library back-pedaled, claiming [...]

VIDEO: Steve McQueen Outmaneuvers Censors in Arizona

By |2019-03-07T21:45:50-05:00March 4th, 2013|Blog|

Steve McQueen's biography, "Tales of a Lurid Life" was apparently too much so for some patron of the Flagstaff City-Coconino County Library in Arizona. Reports don't specify why the challenge was lodged, but a library committee ultimately decided to keep the book on its shelves. In honor of this narrow evasion, we give you: an epic 6 minute-long motorcycle escape scene [...]

Seriously, Just Let the Kids Harlem Shake

By |2019-03-07T23:33:23-05:00March 1st, 2013|Blog|

In case you blinked and missed it – the Harlem Shake video meme has been sweeping the internet for the past month. Tens of thousands of versions of the Harlem Shake video have been made and millions of viewers have watched them on YouTube and beyond. Everyone appears to have jumped on the meme wagon, firefighters, people in offices, division [...]

You All Remember Boy Jim, Aunt Polly’s… “Little Helper”?

By |2019-03-07T21:45:50-05:00February 27th, 2013|Blog|

Earlier this month, the Washington Post reported on a mother's attempt to have Toni Morrison's Beloved banned from AP English classes in Fairfax County. When we heard about the challenge, we immediately contacted board members to take the temperature of the situation. In Fairfax County -- a huge public school system with beefed up district operations serving 180,000 studentss -- there's a [...]

Just Like the Original, Teen-Lit Version of Homer’s “Iliad” Contains Sex, Gossip and Violence

By |2019-03-15T18:10:41-04:00February 25th, 2013|Blog|

...and this was a problem for the mother of a student in Pennsylvania, who recently lodged a challenge against Adele Geras' Troy (Scholastic). The book was housed in the Northwestern Lehigh Middle School library and will stay there: the school board voted 5-4 to keep the book, in spite of the challenge. Two things caught my attention about this story. First of [...]

Banning Books, Excluding Thoughts: An Animated Music Video

By |2019-03-20T13:24:23-04:00February 1st, 2013|Blog|

Combining a number of genres, Daniel Pritchard sends a unified message: ideas should be free to be shared and absorbed. Daniel is one of our 2012 Youth Free Expression Project Film Contest semifinalists. Like what you see? "Like" this video on YouTube and it could become our 2012 People's Choice Award Winner!

Ban Harry Potter? This Teen Won’t Stand for It!

By |2019-03-20T13:24:09-04:00February 1st, 2013|Blog|

April Jackson dramatizes a story about her sister, who was told by their mother she wasn't allowed to read Harry Potter because it contained witchcraft. April's short film is one of our 2012 Youth Free Expression Project Film Contest semifinalists. Like what you see? "Like" this video on YouTube and it could become our 2012 People's Choice Award Winner!

Bye-Bye 30 Rock, A Show that Was Censored And Wouldn’t Shut Up About It

By |2019-03-15T17:22:56-04:00January 31st, 2013|Blog|

In honor of tonight's series finale of "30 Rock," a great show that had the balls to poke fun at NBC censors, everyone should play their "Censor It" game. The game shows lines from scripts and asks you, playing the Censor, whether such offensive and prurient material should make it on the air. After that, why not sit down and watch/re-watch the [...]

VIDEO: When it Comes to Reading Books, Teens Can Speak For Themselves

By |2019-03-20T13:24:07-04:00January 30th, 2013|Blog|

Often the books we find the most affecting, the most informative are the ones others want to ban or keep us from reading. Alexis Opper's statement of youth power is one of our 2012 Youth Free Expression Project Film Contest semifinalists. Like what you see? "Like" this video on YouTube and it could become our 2012 People's Choice Award Winner!

Watch “Redacted” A Short Teen Film About Book Censorship

By |2019-03-20T13:24:06-04:00January 30th, 2013|Blog|

Sarah Grabman and Evan Horowitz submitted their whimsical reflection on how the censoring impulse can even seep into your own head and self-perfection. This film is one of our 2012 Youth Free Expression Project Film Contest semifinalists. Like what you see? "Like" this video on YouTube and it could become our 2012 People's Choice Award Winner!

High-Fiving A Million Angels: Debating the NYTimes Video Game Debate

By |2019-03-07T21:45:49-05:00January 28th, 2013|Blog|

This weekend, the New York Times featured comments on the debate over violent media in its Sunday Dialogue segment. The letters were written in response to one penned by Susan Linn, director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. A couple of the responses were thoughtful and incisive; others, not so much. Here are the highs and lows... HIGHS From Chris [...]

VIDEO: Unlock the Books for All the Read!

By |2019-03-20T13:24:10-04:00January 25th, 2013|Blog|

A person or group of people shouldn't limit what others can read and see, Naomi Clements expresses in her film. Naomi is one of our 2012 Youth Free Expression Project Film Contest semifinalists. Like what you see? "Like" this video on YouTube and it could become our 2012 People's Choice Award Winner!

Today’s Featured Teen Film: Speaking Out and Shutting Down Censors

By |2019-03-20T13:26:48-04:00January 25th, 2013|Blog|

Sometimes those with authority are the ones telling you a book isn't appropriate, other times the voice of the censor is internalized. David Raygoza explores a battle over a good book in one of our 2012 Youth Free Expression Project Film Contest Semifinalists. Click here and watch this year's semifinalist films and to learn more about our film contest. To [...]

Are Textbooks All Fact? A Teen’s Response to Textbook Censorship

By |2019-03-20T13:24:17-04:00January 24th, 2013|Blog|

Watch Nathan Water's video on textbook censorship, a book banning for the modern era. Nathan is one of our 2012 Youth Free Expression Project Film Contest Semifinalists. Like what you see? "Like" this video on YouTube and it could become our 2012 People's Choice Award Winner! To learn more about textbook censorship, check out NCAC.org

What Do Teens Think About the Mexican-American Studies Ban?

By |2019-03-20T13:24:03-04:00January 24th, 2013|Blog|

Watch this awesome video by Gio Garcia, a student in Tucson, and find out! Gio is one of our 2012 Youth Free Expression Project Film Contest Semifinalists. Like what you see? "Like" this video on YouTube and it could become our 2012 People's Choice Award Winner! New reports out about the dissolution of MAS in Texas indicate that the program [...]

Post-Newtown, “Zero Tolerance” for Student Expression

By |2019-03-15T17:22:32-04:00January 23rd, 2013|Blog|

If you want to express your thoughts, your feelings, your grief, your pain, or your opinions through poetry or art, you best wait until you're old enough to vote. Click here to watch interview In December, a  16-year-old high school student in New Jersey was arrested and thrown in juvenile detention just days before Christmas because of a [...]

WATCH: Awesome Teen Films About Book Censorship

By |2019-03-20T13:24:02-04:00January 11th, 2013|Blog|

It's that time of year -- yesterday we announced the semifinalists for the 2012 Youth Free Expression Film Contest and we couldn't be more excited. Reasons why we're excited: 1. Theme: Banned Books. This year's films asked students to respond to the prompt "You're Reading WHAT?!?" and talk about attempts to censor teens' reading choices - something dear to our [...]

Elvis Presley Musical Expurgated in Utah High School. SRSLY?

By |2019-03-15T17:22:38-04:00January 7th, 2013|Blog|

In a censorship story that feels dredged from a mid-century time capsule, a High School in Utah will allow the musical All Shook Up to be performed, but has removed a "questionable song." It's unclear what song has been removed from the play, which is in fact a rewriting of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. About that: evidently in addition to the [...]

Fighting Words… Or Not

By |2019-03-07T21:51:18-05:00December 21st, 2012|Blog|

The First Amendment Center commented this week on an Ohio Appeals Court ruling that an adolescent girl was guilty of disorderly conduct. The girl was arrested for the words she spoke to police offers, following a fight among middle school students. With the ruling, the court denied the girl's claims that her arrest violated her First Amendment rights to free [...]

Even Santa Claus Gets Censored

By |2016-01-14T12:32:36-05:00December 19th, 2012|Blog|

You remember Santa Claus, the jolly white-haired gent? If you've read or heard Clement C. Moore's classic holiday poem, A Visit From Saint Nicholas, you probably have a mental picture from the following lines: "His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry! His droll little mouth was drawn [...]

The Epic Conclusion: On the Twelfth Day of Censorship, NCAC Gave to Me…

By |2019-03-15T16:31:50-04:00December 19th, 2012|Blog|

...Years of fighting Censorship. Ok, maybe it doesn't sound epic, but that's because winning these battles of encroaching censorship is something that is so easy to take for granted. So, instead, imagine NCAC as a plucky hobbit-creature and Censorship as a fire-breathing dragon, a heartless, harbinger of death and destruction (culturally relevant blog humor!). Anyhow, this is your friendly holiday [...]

On the Eleventh Day of Censorship, the Censors Gave to Me…120 Days of Sodom

By |2019-03-15T16:31:51-04:00December 18th, 2012|Blog|

The Twelve Days of Censorship Years of Censorship Battles 120 Days of Sodom Egyptian Breasts Milking Nude Ladies Dancing Lords Banned for Witchcraft Bush Monkeys Swimming Nude Adults laying A golden chastity key Aristophanes‘ The Birds Catholic French outrage, a Clear Channel Dove and no art in Newark library We selected this censored film for Day 11 of the Twelve Days, as the Museum of Modern Art [...]

On the Tenth Day of Censorship, the Censors Gave to Me…Egyptian Breasts Milking

By |2019-03-07T23:32:57-05:00December 14th, 2012|Blog|

The Twelve Days of Censorship Years of Censorship Battles 120 Days of Sodom Egyptian Breasts Milking Nude Ladies Dancing Lords Banned for Witchcraft Bush Monkeys Swimming Nude Adults laying A golden chastity key Aristophanes‘ The Birds Catholic French outrage, a Clear Channel Dove and no art in Newark library Five nude paintings were pulled from a show in Nevada County, California after Nevada County's general services analyst [...]

On the Ninth Day of Censorship, the Censors Gave to Me…Nude Ladies Dancing

By |2019-03-07T23:32:54-05:00December 13th, 2012|Blog|

The Twelve Days of Censorship Years of Censorship Battles 120 Days of Sodom Egyptian Breasts Milking Nude Ladies Dancing Lords Banned for Witchcraft Bush Monkeys Swimming Nude Adults laying A golden chastity key Aristophanes‘ The Birds Catholic French outrage, a Clear Channel Dove and no art in Newark library Karen Finley was set to perform A Certain Level of Denial at Chicago's Metro Club in 1994, but the [...]

On the Eighth Day of Censorship, the Censors Gave to Me… Lords Banned for Witchcraft

By |2019-03-07T23:32:53-05:00December 12th, 2012|Blog|

The Twelve Days of Censorship Years of Censorship Battles 120 Days of Sodom Egyptian Breasts Milking Nude Ladies Dancing Lords Banned for Witchcraft Bush Monkeys Swimming Nude Adults laying A golden chastity key Aristophanes‘ The Birds Catholic French outrage, a Clear Channel Dove and no art in Newark library   At least eight "Lords" have been banned or challenged at one time or another. Between J.R.R. Tolkein's [...]

On the 7th Day of Censorship, the Censors Gave to Me…Bush Monkeys Swimming

By |2019-03-07T23:32:32-05:00December 11th, 2012|Blog|

The Twelve Days of Censorship Years of Censorship Battles 120 Days of Sodom Egyptian Breasts Milking Nude Ladies Dancing Lords Banned for Witchcraft Bush Monkeys Swimming Nude Adults laying A golden chastity key Aristophanes‘ The Birds Catholic French outrage, a Clear Channel Dove and no art in Newark library The manager of an art show being held at Chelsea Market didn't much appreciate Chris Savido's portrait of [...]