Issue 93, Spring 2004

  • Two members of the Advisory Council on Bioethics who supported stem-cell research were dismissed recently, bolstering charges that the administration manipulates science panels to suit policy. Elizabeth Blackburn, a biologist at the University of California at San Francisco, and William F. May, a medical ethicist and retired professor at Southern Methodist University were replaced.
  • A 12-year old student was expelled from St. Pius X School in Portland, Oregon for listening to rock music at home. The principal told the parents that their son is “a moral and spiritual detriment” to the student body for listening to Rage Against the Machine and Korn.
  • A film about the Declaration of Independence, 1776, was banned in Fairfax County, VA middle schools. In it Thomas Jefferson told John Adams that he “burns” for his wife. Adams asks “will you be a patriot…or a lover?” The social studies coordinator, Sara Shoob, explained that “There’s some sexual innuendo and language, and when you’re talking about the Declaration of Independence, that does not have to be part of your discussion.”
  • Protestors and others at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa were stunned when a federal prosecutor subpoenaed the university for records of an antiwar conference called Stop the Occupation! Bring the Iowa Guard Home! to obtain names of attendees and leaders of the university’s chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. Although national outrage caused the U.S. Attorney to retreat, it is uncertain whether the investigation is closed.
  • The Department of Education has denied funding for closed-captioning for some 200 programs, including Law and Order, Power Rangers, The Simpsons, Sanford and Son, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and many sports programs. The National Association for the Deaf’s Kelby Brick said, “We are outraged that the department has taken paternalistic steps to exclude deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals. Such censorship is offensive and insulting.”
  • New and Noteworthy:David L. Hudson Jr.’s report, Silencing of Student Voices: Preserving Free Speech in America’s Schools, published by First Amendment Center, examines “zero tolerance” and other restrictive policies in the schools and student First Amendment rights. For more info, click here.

    Robert W. McChesney’s The Problem of the Media, U.S. Communication Politics in the 21st Century, discusses control of the media and media reform.