Issue 96, Winter 2004/2005

  • Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger’s frequently challenged coming-of-age novel, will remain in the ninth grade curriculum at Noble High in North Berwick, ME. The school board rejected a request to ban the book for offensive language and themes. The board agreed to revise procedures to inform parents about book selections.
  • The Sinclair Broadcast Group and dozens of other ABC affiliates refused to air the Academy Award-winning film, Saving Private Ryan—a searing portrayal of the trauma of war. The affiliates were afraid that the salty language of World War II soldiers and depictions of wartime violence would trigger FCC fines for "indecency." Most of ABC’s 225 affiliates commemorated Veterans’ Day by airing the film.
  • In deference to the religious right, CBS and NBC refused an advertisement from the United Church of Christ, claiming it is "too controversial." The ad states that: "like Jesus—the United Church of Christ seeks to welcome all people, regardless of ability, age, race, economic circumstance, or sexual orientation."
  • Alabama state lawmaker, Gerald Allen, has introduced a bill to "protect children from the homosexual agenda." It would prohibit public funds for "the purchase of textbooks or library materials that recognize or promote homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle." Doomed for destruction are novels with gay protagonists and textbooks that describe homosexuality as "natural." "I guess we dig a hole and dump them in and bury them," Allen reportedly said.
  • "A free press is the best guarantee of a knowledgeable citizenry," said CT Senator Chris Dodd as he introduced a bill in Congress to shield reporters who refuse to reveal confidential sources. The bill comes amid a federal investigation of a leak of a CIA agent’s name, and on the heels of threatened jailings of reporters. Most states have shield laws to protect journalists in their state, but not—as yet—the federal government.
  • Respect for the integrity of art prevailed at the University of Wichita’s Ulrich Museum after a community group asked to have a political statement posted alongside Where We Come From, an exhibition by the critically-acclaimed Palestinian-American artist, Emily Jacir. The show drew concern from the Mid-Kansas Jewish Federation, which pressured the museum to post a sign and distribute brochures on the group’s views on Middle East politics. The artist objected, and her call for assistance received nationwide response from artists, academics, and curators. NCAC and others argued that the inclusion of a statement from a political group would violate the artistic integrity of the exhibit and expose the museum to future political pressure. The museum decided to go forward with the exhibition without conditions or limitations.