Issue 113, Winter 2010-11

  • An invitation to young adult novelist Ellen Hopkins to speak at Teen Lit Fest 2011 in Humble, Texas was revoked because some parents complained about the content of Hopkins’ novels. Other scheduled authors dropped out in protest and the Festival was canceled.
  • In response to one elementary school parent complaining about the book’s content, the School Board in Stockton, Missouri decided to remove Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian from school classrooms and from the high school library.
  • The Senate recently passed legislation that will protect American authors and publishers from foreign libel judgments that undermine First Amendment free speech rights. The SPEECH act allows American authors and publishers to go into court and seek a declaration that such a foreign judgment is not enforceable in the US, even if no attempt has been made to enforce it.
  • Earlier this year we reported on YouTube’s removal and subsequent restoration of videos by dance-artist Amy Greenfield. In response to NCAC’s and the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s jointly voiced concerns, YouTube has instituted an appeals process and changed its community guidelines to include “artistic” purpose as justifying an exception to its “no nudity” policy.
  • In September, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down an Oregon “harmful to minors” law, which sought to criminalize the dissemination to minors of material containing descriptions or depictions of sexual activity. This would have included material from a sex education book or a Judy Blume novel.
  • What began as a heated protest over Enrique Chagoya’s artwork at the Loveland Museum in Colorado has ended in vandalism. A disgruntled woman ripped his controversial lithograph “The Misadventures of the Romantic Cannibals” after the Loveland City Council decided not to remove the work, as requested by residents, religious groups and some council members.
  • Student journalists in Illinois have enhanced press rights under a new state law, according to a recent court ruling. The case involves claims that Chicago State University had retaliated against the editor and faculty advisor of the student newspaper because of articles critical of the administration. The Illinois law was passed to negate the effects of an earlier appeals court decision restricting student press rights.
  • New and noteworthy: Wartime Dissent in America by Robert Mann tracks dissent in every American war since the Revolution. Palgrave Macmillan, August 2010.

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