Issue 64, Winter 1996/1997

NCAC wrote to The New York Times to point out a serious omission in a news report announcing the appointment of Lee C. Bollinger as the new President of the University of Michigan. The AP story of November 6 noted that as dean of its law school, Bollinger had hired Catherine MacKinnon for its faculty and described her as one who "proposes laws making pornography a crime against women." But the story failed to report the crucial fact that this proposal’s unconstitutionality was affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1986.

"The many feminists who think the First Amendment is good for women are greatly concerned when this is not understood. We do not think government agencies should tell women or men how to write or read or think about our lives, including our sex lives. We don’t think that’s good for anyone, and we know it’s not good for women," the letter concluded. NCAC also wrote to Harper’s magazine to refute an article critical of People for the American Way’s annual report, entitled "The Book-Banning Racket" in its October issue. The NCAC letter said in part that "the article’s overall impression is that book-banning problems today really aren’t serious (‘like littering’!). That is flat-out wrong, and it’s dangerous.

"The National Coalition Against Censorship works every day with brave people battling book-banning in their own communities. These wrenching and dramatic struggles often involve talented and dedicated educators who actually risk their reputations and jobs to fight censorship.

"Demands for book-banning are repeatedly caused by a few people determined to suppress whatever they disapprove. (Usually that’s a lot.) Would-be censors are oblivious to the irony that it is only toleration of the dissenting, even extremist view — in the spirit of the First Amendment — that gives them a hearing in the first place. They brook no dissent, no matter that they can’t differentiate between exposure to an idea and indoctrination.

"With the rise of the political force of the religious right, whose members sincerely believe, for example, that if young people are taught about drugs they’ll take them, the consequences for schools and libraries are chilling — everywhere. People for the American Way, and every other concerned group and individual, deserve all the praise they can get for bringing these problems to public attention."