- NCAC screened our 2013 Youth Free Expression Film Contest Winners at the New York Film Academy on March 29. Top prize went to Ani Akpan of the Bronx for his visually dazzling Future Warfare III, followed by Peter Ackerman of Augusta, Maine and Austin Guerrero of Gresham, Oregon; Daniella Sanchez won the People’s Choice Award with the greatest number of “likes” on YouTube. You can view the work of these budding filmmakers at ncac.org/project/film-contest and learn about this year’s contest theme: Free Speech Forever! Censorship Past, Present and Future.
- Gay book bashing is underway in South Carolina after a state legislator proposed funding cuts to two SC colleges for assigning to incoming freshman Fun Home, Alison Bechdel’s account of growing up with a closeted gay dad, and Out Loud: The Best of Rainbow Radio, a collection of stories from South Carolina’s first gay and lesbian radio show. Rep. Garry Smith proclaimed, “I understand diversity and academic freedom… This is purely promotion of a lifestyle with no academic debate.” NCAC’s letter to the legislature: “The Supreme Court has sent a clear message over decades: lawmakers may not prohibit the expression of ideas simply because they find them to be offensive.”
- NCAC partnered with the Electronic Frontier Foundation and MIT’s Center for Civic Media on April 4th, otherwise known as 404 Day, to call attention to Internet censorship in public schools and libraries. “Page Not Found” messages appear on student screens because of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), which requires schools receiving federal funding to install filters to screen out references to sex. NCAC Board Member Chris Peterson joined a digital teach-in that addressed the cost and efficacy of filters, over-aggressive implementation, how easy it is to ask librarians to turn filters off, and the disproportionate effect on low-income communities that rely on public computer access.
- Kennesaw State University reinstated artist Ruth Stanford’s “A Walk in the Valley” to the opening exhibition at the new Bernard A. Zuckerman Museum of Art after its initial takedown because of concerns about a reference in the exhibit to an 1899 article about lynching. NCAC argued to the University “if an open conversation about race and history is to be banned from a college campus, what claim to academic freedom can that campus ever have?” Demands for “trigger warnings,” to alert students to material that may be upsetting, are trending on many campuses. They draw a blurry line between actual post-traumatic stress disorder and general discomfort with certain topics. Just ask those Wellesley students, who petitioned to have a sculpture of a man in his underwear removed for fear of triggering “thoughts regarding sexual assault.”
- Artist Kara Walker, Newark Public Library Director Wilma Grey, the late publisher Peter Workman, and author Sherman Alexie were feted at NCAC’s annual Free Speech Matters Celebration in November for their commitment to free thought, inquiry and expression. (The battle continues on behalf of Sherman’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, recently censored in Meridian, Idaho.)
- “NCAC Joins the World Wide Web!” That was a headline announcing NCAC’s new website in our Spring 1996 issue of Censorship News. Several incarnations and 18 years later, we’ve launched a new and improved ncac.org.