It’s time once again for the Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression to call out blatant, egregious violators of the First Amendment. The 24th annual Muzzles create a chance to shine a spotlight on infamous, deplorable and even outlandish attempts to censor individuals through any means–because legal attempts on the life of free speech are just one form of censorship.
Some of this year’s winners used traditional methods of censorship, trying to use or create laws with the intention of silencing their political or moral opposition. However, in this new age of communication, attacks on free expression have evolved, reaching to crush opposing opinions on social media platforms. Many of the 2015 Muzzle winners fall into this category: A Twitter parody artists was arrested. A teacher was suspended for posting a picture of his daughter wearing a t-shirt. One man’s First Amendment rights were violated for digitally maintaining his innocence.
Censors see digital forms of free speech as more fragile, more dangerous and less protected than their physical counterparts. Let them know they’re wrong. Spread the word by reading the full report. Here are just a few highlights– or lowlights, if you’re fond of free speech:
Peoria, Illinois Mayor Jim Ardis: Arrested people making fun of him via Twitter.
Bergen Community College (NJ): Suspended a teacher for posting a picture of his daughter wearing a “Game of Thrones” T-shit.
Mora Co., New Mexico Board of Commissioners: The government agency “attempted to revoke constitutional rights of oil producers.”
Bedford Co., Pennsylvania District Attorney Bill Higgins: Illegally charged a 14-year-old for posting a picture he deemed offensive.
Alabama Circuit Court Judge Claud D. Neilson: Jailed a blogger for 5 months without proof of defamatory speech.
The Indiana Department of Corrections: Irrationally punished an inmate for something his sister posted to social media.
Asnuntuck Community College (CT): Placed a student on probation for expressing an opinion, and censored Facebook posts of students.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: Fired a new professor for expressing opinions about Israel via social media.