Issue 111, Winter 2009/2010

  • Organizers of the Orchard Street Shul Cultural Heritage Artists Project requested that artist Richard Kamler modify his installation at The John Slade Ely House for Contemporary Art in New Haven.  Organizers expressed concern that an element of the work, interwoven pages from the Koran and the Torah, may offend viewers.
  • In Pennsylvania, Downingtown West High School did an admirable job dealing with a challenge against Laurie Halse Anderson’s Twisted: school officials and parents resolved the issue amicably through discussion. The book remains on the reading list.
  • The University of Massachusetts, Amherst, under pressure from Governor Deval Patrick and police groups, dis-invited former United Freedom Front leader Ray Luc Levasseur.  He was then re-invited by a faculty group. The speech had to be canceled anyway because the U.S. Parole Board refused to allow Levasseur to leave Maine after more pressure from police groups.
  • Two employees at the Jessamine County Library in Kentucky kept a graphic novel on permanent “checked-out” status, and they removed a “hold” one young patron placed on the book so that she would not be able to borrow it.  The employees were fired for violating library policy that states “material should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal approval.”
  • In October, artist-activist collective, The Yes Men, set up a mock Chamber of Commerce website, and held a mock press conference where they announced that the Chamber was shifting its opposition to serious efforts to address global warming.  In response, the Chamber tried to have the mock site taken down and is now suing The Yes Men for trademark infringement.
  • A billboard with the words “Don’t Believe In God? You are not alone” was removed from a site in downtown Cincinnati because of threats received by the owner of the site.  The controversial billboard has been moved to a new location.
  • A nude model was arrested during a photo shoot by artist Zach Hyman at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  All charges were dropped, however, as New York’s ban on public nudity provides exemption for “any person entertaining or performing in a play, exhibition, show, or entertainment.”
  • A lawsuit brought by parents didn’t stop productions of RENT and The Laramie Project at Green Valley High School in Henderson, NV.  The court denied a request for a preliminary injunction because there was no evidence that the plays would cause irreparable harm.