NCAC congratulates the winners of our 2011 Youth Free Expression Film Contest, whose films were screened at the New York Film Academy on March 31st. 1st Place: The Right To Bully? by Jake Gogats and Caitlin Wolper; 2nd Place: Don’t Use Your Rights to Make Wrongs  by Summer Lee; 3rd Place: Expressing Freedom in 140 Words or Less by Patrick Rooks. The 2012 contest theme will be “You’re Reading WHAT?!?” and asks participants to reflect on when and how books are taken away from youth and classrooms.

Free Speech defenders and book-lovers were happy to bid adieu to Vern Minor, the Superintendent of Schools for Republic, MO, who pushed for bans on Slaughterhouse Five and Twenty Boy Summer. The Republic School Board defeated his contract renewal in a 4-3 vote, and Minor subsequently resigned. Minor had also wanted to ban all R-rated films from high school classes (including Saving Private Ryan and Schindler’s List). So it goes.

Fast Life, a mural by French street artist MTO, was whitewashed in Sarasota, Fl, because of complaints that it resembled a gang sign. The mural was part of the first graffiti section of Sarasota’s annual Chalk Festival.

In February, continuing the pattern of censoring LGBTQ content in Catholic educational institutions, Villanova University cancelled an artist-in-residency workshop by queer performance artist Tim Miller. And in April, Notre Dame High School in Lawrence Township, NJ cancelled a production of The Laramie Project, a play about the reaction to the 1998 murder of gay student Matthew Shepard.

The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) was approved in a surprise House vote on April 27, and will go to the Senate. The Electronic Frontier Foundation and other free speech groups have condemned CISPA as “a bill that would allow companies to bypass all existing privacy law to spy on communications and pass sensitive user data to the government.” There has been netroots resistance to CISPA and demands for the Senate or a presidential veto to kill the bill.

Lawrence, KS officials banned Amber Hansen’s The Story of Chickens: A Revolution, an art project that would invite locals to feed, pet and interact with chickens housed in a coop in public space. After one month, the chickens would have been butchered by a local farmer and served at a potluck at the Percolator Art Gallery. Despite the fact that chickens are killed every day at factory farms, critics claimed the installation would amount to animal cruelty.