Issue 115, Winter 2011 In Republic, MO there’s a battle going on over the hearts and minds – and religion and morality – of public school students. The complaint that started the debate says: It is an abomination to God to expose children to books like Slaughterhouse Five . . . It is difficult to understand how a school board [...]
Show your support for NCAC at our Annual Celebration of Free Speech and Its Defenders on November 29 at Tribeca Three Sixty° in Manhattan. Don Weisberg, President, Penguin Young Readers Group will Chair. We will honor Laurie Halse Anderson, Paul M. Smith, and Kaylie Jones. For more information, including tickets and other sponsorship opportunities, see our online event journal [...]
Social media platforms are owned by private corporations that have no obligations under the First Amendment to uphold free speech rights, but are increasingly in the position to control information.
Online predators! Cyberbullying! Privacy! There are a lot of fears about how young people are growing up online. And, since these are young people we're talking about, those fears often turn into full-blown panics (with help from the occasional, sensational news report). Good decisions are rarely made in a panic, however. To help kids navigate the world of instant communication in which they live, we need to take a step back and examine the facts and our fears.
Many book censorship incidents start with a single complaint seeking to remove one or more books from a school classroom or library. But what is at stake is more than a few books. Often battles over books represent an effort to imbue the public schools with a particular set of views and values. That’s why so many book censorship cases become emotionally loaded crusades.
LA MOCA's new director, Jeffrey Deitch, ordered a mural commissioned by the museum whitewashed within hours of its creation because of fear that its anti-war message would offend the museum's neighbors: a Veteran Hospital and a memorial to Japanese-American soldiers. A Department Of Education "Dear Colleague" letter on bullying worries First Amendment advocates because of its expansive definition of verbal [...]
In the fall of 2010 culture wars rhetoric seemed like a thing of the past, remembered alongside attacks on the National Endowment for the Arts and Congressional saber-rattling about “offensive” art. What a difference twenty years made: the National Portrait Gallery in Washington was mounting Hide/Seek, a show on queer portraiture in art, and Congress was voting to repeal the military’s repressive “don’t ask don’t tell” policy. It almost appeared as if the old cultural battle-axes had been buried.
Subscribe to Censorship News NCAC's newsletter, published four times a year, covers current book censorship controversies, threats to the free flow of information, obscenity laws, creationism, attacks on school textbooks, and more. Available in print form from the National Coalition Against Censorship for $30 per year. Simply print out this page, fill in the spaces below, and mail or fax [...]
NCAC devotes the latest issue of Censorship News to video games and the latest in a series of efforts to “protect” minors by restricting their freedom of speech.
In Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association, the Supreme Court will decide whether the state can impose criminal penalties for selling or renting violent video games to minors. It may seem inconsequential to nongamers, but it poses a critically important issue even for people who will never play a video game: whether representations of violence will continue to be protected by the First Amendment.
Issue 113, Winter 2010-11 An invitation to young adult novelist Ellen Hopkins to speak at Teen Lit Fest 2011 in Humble, Texas was revoked because some parents complained about the content of Hopkins' novels. Other scheduled authors dropped out in protest and the Festival was canceled. In response to one elementary school parent complaining about the book's content, the [...]
Alexander Nehamas is professor of philosophy at Princeton University. This is an excerpt from a longer article that appeared as an online opinion piece in The NY Times's philosophy series, The Stone, on August 29th, 2010
Issue 113, Winter 2010-11 Using the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the NEA “decency clause,” NCAC initiated a conversation about the arts and their place in society today. Two panels, organized in collaboration with the Vera List Center for Art and Politics, brought together survivors of the culture wars and culture workers who are coming to creative maturity [...]
Many of you are familiar with our concerns about ratings. They’re highly subjective, they reflect value judgments about content, and they reduce complex material to a few letters and numbers.
This April school administrators of Franklin Township in Indiana pulled Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon out of the hands of AP English students, who were half-way through reading the book. The following comments, selected from a heated discussion on a local paper's website, shed light on what's at stake for students, parents, and community members whenever a book censorship incident occurs
Kids today have less time on their own to play, run around outside, ride their bikes aimlessly, or simply do nothing. Their lives are heavily programmed and supervised. This state of affairs makes it all the more important that children’s imagination, curiosity, and intellectual development is not similarly programmed and supervised to limit their world to one that offers no unexpected challenge.
What a year, and it’s not over yet. Whether by happenstance or design, the Supreme Court is knee-deep in free speech cases. It’s too early to say where we’ll be when the dust settles.
In Tennessee and Texas, two states where the chainsaw-roar of censorship has been heard for generations, today’s textbook censors are wielding subtler weapons in their efforts to get rid of ideas which don’t conform to their political and religious beliefs.
Last summer, Yale University decided to strip all images of Mohammed from The Cartoons that Shook the World, by Jytte Klausen, a scholarly review of the events surrounding the 2005 Danish cartoon controversy published by Yale University Press. (See CN 101) To justify the decision, University officials cited concerns that the book might stimulate violence “somewhere in the world,” even though no actual threats had been received.
In September, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, a case challenging provisions of the anti-terrorism laws that make it a crime to give “material support,” including “training” and “expert advice or assistance,” to any group designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. government.
Every state in the nation makes it a crime to abuse animals. In 1999, Congress decided that wasn’t enough and created a new crime – taking or possessing a picture of animal cruelty.
In this issue of Censorship News, we discuss the importance of academic freedom and Yale's decision to remove images of Mohammed from Jytte Klausen's The Cartoons that Shook the World.
On Monday, October 19, 2009 we celebrated NCAC’s 35th Anniversary Celebration with A Night of Comedy with Judy Blume & Friends. We invited fearless writers, artists, actors, comedians, musicians and filmmakers who have fought back against censorship to share a brief tale or riff on growing up. Check out photos and videos from the evening!
The Supreme Court ducked the First Amendment issues in Federal Communications Commission v. Fox (See CN 109), a challenge to the FCC’s ban on “fleeting expletives.”
In February, the NCAC and the ACLU of Tennessee jointly responded to a complaint that filters installed at the Central High School in Knoxville, TN were blocking websites providing political and educational content about LGBTQ issues. The ACLU brought an action alleging constitutional violations and the school agreed to modify its internet policy.
Taking nude pictures of yourself — nothing good can come of it.— Police Capt. George Seranko, Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Captain Seranko made his observation after three girls and three boys at Greensburg Salem High School were charged with child pornography.
Toni Morrison won the Nobel Prize for Literature, the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, the National Book Award Medal of Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, and most other awards that can be bestowed on a writer. She’s also a much-censored author.
Even though a jury has now determined that Ward Churchill, a tenured professor at the University of Colorado, was fired as a result of his controversial views and in violation of his constitutional rights, his case remains controversial.
The Supreme Court has a full docket of First Amendment cases. Some of them are
confusing even to the Justices. The article looks at: Ysura v. Pocotatello Education Association, Pleasant Grove City v. Summum, FCC v. Fox Television Stations, Wyeth v. Levine, and Citizens United v. FEC.
The latest edition of NCAC's newsletter Censorship News is out. This edition includes First Amendment policy and practices that can be addressed by the Obama Administration, Supreme Court cases being argued on First Amendment grounds, and Joan Bertin's editorial on free expression during economic recession.
In August Random House canceled publication of The Jewel of Medina, a historical novel about Mohammed’s wife Aisha, after a professor of Islamic studies warned it might be “offensive to some in the Muslim community,” and also “incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment." The professor alerted colleagues about the book; what follows is the response of one of those colleagues, Shahed Amanullah, editor-in-chief of altmuslim.com.
The economy has tanked. Chaos in financial institutions has been averted for the moment only through the infusion of federal funds. Hardship is spreading, leaving people without homes and jobs, shrinking the middle class and creating panic in educational and cultural institutions.