Censorship News Articles

What’s wrong with this picture?

By |2019-03-07T23:12:12-04:00December 15th, 2008|Censorship News Articles|

To paraphrase H.L. Mencken, for every complex problem, there’s a simple solution — and it’s almost always wrong. Mencken must be smiling at the proposal to address the complex problem of teen smoking by including warnings to parents about movies that contain smoking, like the warnings about sex and violence.

Arresting Speech! Protests, Police and the Press at the National Conventions

By |2019-03-07T23:11:33-04:00October 1st, 2008|Censorship News Articles|

Political conventions are about political speech. Or at least about political speeches: night after night of them. That speech is protected — by layers of security at the conventions, including police, the Secret Service, the FBI, and even the U.S. Northern Command. But the forces arrayed to protect those inside the highly fortified convention centers routinely restrict the free speech of those outside.

The Ultimate Taboo

By |2019-03-07T23:18:46-04:00June 23rd, 2008|Censorship News Articles|

Only 6 years ago, the Supreme Court held that “virtual” child pornography – sexual depictions that appear to, but do not, involve actual children – is protected by the First Amendment, for the same reasons that simulated sex in films like Lolita is protected.

The Long And Short of It: CN 107

By |2019-03-07T23:45:57-04:00June 23rd, 2008|Censorship News Articles|

Arkansas Tech University postponed a student production of John Weidman and Steven Sondheim’s “Assassins” – a historical play about presidential assassins – because administrators thought the sight and sound of gun violence in the play could be disturbing in light of recent campus shootings.

Terrorizing Art

By |2019-03-15T18:06:54-04:00June 23rd, 2008|Censorship News Articles|

In a highly publicized incident this March, the San Francisco Art Institute cancelled Don't Trust Me, an exhibition by Algerian-born French artist Abdel Abdessemed consisting of video footage of animals being killed by a single blow from a sledgehammer.

The Trouble With Balance

By |2019-03-08T00:03:38-04:00February 5th, 2008|Censorship News Articles|

“Balance” has become the stalking horse for efforts to undermine academic freedom, to pressure journalists to self-censor or tone down critical reporting, and to justify censorship of art. What the proponents of "balance" demand is that any expression on a controversial topic be accompanied by opposing views, no matter how prevalent the latter may already be in public discourse. Frequently, the demand for “balance” results in the cancellation of the entire discussion. Such situations suggest that the rhetoric of balance has been co-opted as a subtle and insidious disguise for censorship.

A Finger on the Scales of Justice

By |2019-03-07T23:18:40-04:00August 6th, 2007|Censorship News Articles|

“Where the First Amendment is implicated, the tie goes to the speaker, not the censor.” So says Chief Justice John Roberts, in his decision in Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life, which considered whether federal restrictions on “electioneering communication” immediately prior to an election violate the First Amendment.

A Victory for Free Speech on the Airwaves

By |2019-03-07T23:18:42-04:00August 6th, 2007|Censorship News Articles|

On June 4th, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled in a 2-1 decision in Fox Television Stations v. FCC that the Federal Communications Commission’s rule banning “fleeting expletives” was “arbitrary and capricious” in violation of the federal Administrative Procedure Act.

Free Speech 4 Students?

By |2019-03-07T23:49:00-04:00July 1st, 2007|Censorship News Articles|

In July, a fractured Supreme Court issued four separate rulings in Morse v. Frederick, the case involving a high school student who was suspended after standing on a public sidewalk in Juneau, Alaska, displaying a banner that read “Bong Hits 4 Jesus.” (See CN#104.) The result is a narrow but disturbing loss for First Amendment advocates, who are left to [...]

Morse v. Frederick

By |2019-03-07T23:18:35-04:00April 26th, 2007|Censorship News Articles|

For the first time in nearly 20 years, the Supreme Court is poised to address the free speech rights of students. The Court is considering a case, Morse v. Frederick, involving a high school senior from Juneau, Alaska, who was suspended for displaying a banner that his principal did not approve of.

The Imus Affair

By |2019-03-07T23:18:37-04:00April 26th, 2007|Censorship News Articles|

Don Imus created a giant headache for free speech advocates. Of course he’s entitled to say what he wants. And his employers also have the right to fire him for it. The heavy hand of government was not involved. So why are so many First Amendment advocates uneasy?

The Long And Short Of It: CN 104

By |2019-03-07T23:45:42-04:00April 26th, 2007|Censorship News Articles|

The Community Center in Mansfield, CT removed a photo collage by George Jacobi depicting images of the American flag and two sculptures by artist Eda Easton from an exhibition; the former because an Air Force veteran found it offensive and unpatriotic, and the latter because a local mother thought the sculptures were sexually suggestive.

Censoring Science: Politics Trumps Knowledge: CN103

By |2019-03-20T13:26:09-04:00January 3rd, 2007|Censorship News Articles|

Recently, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Massachusetts et al. v. Environmental Protection Agency, a case questioning whether the EPA is obliged to regulate carbon dioxide, a major component of greenhouse gases, as an air pollutant. What the casual observer might not realize is that the case is also about censorship and the distortion of science for political purposes. ...

More %#@! from the FCC: A Bleep Too Far

By |2019-03-07T23:17:22-04:00January 3rd, 2007|Censorship News Articles|


In FCC v. Pacifica (1978), the Supreme Court created an exemption to First Amendment law when it upheld the authority of the Federal Communications Commission to regulate “indecent” broadcast material, defined as “language that describes, in terms patently offensive ... sexual or excretory activities and organs.” However, the Court cautioned the FCC to “exercise [its] authority with the utmost restraint, lest we inhibit constitutional rights.”

Roz Udow An Appreciation

By |2016-01-19T10:39:52-04:00August 11th, 2006|Censorship News Articles|

NCAC Censorship News Issue #102: Roz Udow (1926 - 2006): An Appreciation Roz Udow was a member of NCAC’s Board and editor of Censorship News for more than 20 years until her death on May 29, 2006. She was a passionate advocate, deeply committed to free expression and her work at NCAC, but she was able to write about the [...]

Moral Panic, Version 2.0: CN102

By |2019-03-07T23:17:22-04:00August 11th, 2006|Censorship News Articles|

New technologies almost invariably stimulate irrational fear. In 1671, the governor of the colony of Virginia opined, “I thank God we have not free schools nor printing ... For learning has brought disobedience and heresy and sects into the world; and printing has divulged them ... God save us from both."

Subversive Schools

By |2019-03-08T00:03:37-04:00May 24th, 2006|Censorship News Articles|

Poor Jay Bennish, the teacher in Aurora, Colorado, who criticized aspects of the State of the Union address in his 10th grade geography class. Too bad he didn’t like it. Too bad one of his students was secretly recording the class.

The Controversy That Won’t Quit

By |2019-03-15T16:44:57-04:00May 24th, 2006|Censorship News Articles|

  Issue 101, Spring 2006  On September 30, 2005, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published “The face of Mohammed,” 12 cartoons (including the one at right, by Arne Sørensen) accompanied by an article in which editor Flemming Rose commented provocatively, "The modern, secular society is rejected by some Muslims. They demand a special position, insisting on special consideration of their own [...]

Waging the War of Ideas With a Heavy Hand

By |2019-03-15T18:06:50-04:00February 11th, 2006|Censorship News Articles|

Nearly a year has passed since news broke that the administration was paying television commentators to tout its policies on the air, and was distributing pre-packaged video segments designed to be indistinguishable from local news reports. Although the Government Accountability Office decried these practices as illegal "covert propaganda," the Justice Department has instructed those responsible to ignore the GAO’s opinion, because it is “nonbinding.”