Issue 69, Spring 1998

After years of acrimonious debate in Congress, the Supreme Court will decide whether the government can set “standards of decency” (NEA v. Finley). In 1996, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower federal court decision and ruled that it cannot.

A federal appeals court postponed enforcement of a zoning law that would move sex shops, bookstores and topless clubs to the boondocks of New York City, pending a federal review of the law’s constitutionality. State courts have already rejected the constitutional claim.

Oklahoma City police violated the constitution when they confiscated copies of the award-winning film, The Tin Drum, from a home, libraries, and video stores without a search warrant or adjudicated court order, ruled a federal district court. In April the court will consider whether the film violates state pornography laws. For details of this bizarre case, see Censorship News 67.

Lebanon Valley College in Pennsylvania is exhibiting work from Sex is Art, which had been cancelled in Annsville (CN 67). The college’s Image Wars exhibit also includes NCAC’s new censorship exhibit. Joan Bertin keynoted the college’s three-month colloquium on the humanities.

Donna Demac, counsel for NCAC, and author of Liberty Denied, has edited a report of a year-long censorship roundtable for Freedom Forum. State of the First Amendment is available from NCAC ($5 handling and postage) or the Freedom Forum.

Censorship News readers may remember English teacher Dan Brooks in Peru, Illinois, who convinced the school board to restore Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men to his seventh-grade class after the superintendent had banned it (CN 65). Brooks now tells us that he has been observed more often in the past year than in his entire ten years at Peru and is being frequently reprimanded. “Nevertheless,” he writes us, “I would still do it all over again….It is indeed rare in life that one gets the opportunity to take the real challenge regarding their position on something.” Editor’s note: What lucky students!