dan.tobias.name | Controversies | Censorship
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Creeping Censorship

Read this before they censor it!

  • A young person asks if it's OK to run an illegal library from their locker at school, supplying banned books.
  • A British columnist asks, Why should I respect these oppressive religions? regarding the tendency of Muslims to take offense at all criticism of their religion, and some Westerners' acquiescence to this by supporting bans on such criticism in the name of opposing "hate speech" in the name of "tolerance". He said this has a chilling effect on free speech, and his point was soon proven when India prosecuted an editor for reprinting the column in question. More comments are in a followup column.
  • The local government of Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona is using heavyhanded tactics to suppress negative coverage a local free tabloid newspaper has been giving about its controversial sheriff, including a ridiculously broad subpoena demanding they turn over all reporters' notes remotely connected with the issue, as well as logs of all people who viewed their Web site. Then they arrested the paper's founders for publishing the fact that this subpoena was issued, since it included a gag order. See coverage here and here. Charges were later dismissed after public outcry.
  • A Korean court imposed a $129,000 fine on a college student for publishing satiric images of local politicians. The court considered the student's actions particularly punishable because they aimed to "get the public interested in politics." And this is the half of Korea that's on "our side" and not part of the "Axis of Evil"???
  • Some post-Sept. 11 Homeland Security actions have First Amendment implications... see my separate page for more information.
  • In one of the more ridiculous cases of suppression of student free-expression rights, a high school principal actually suspended a student for wearing a Pepsi shirt on a day the school had designated "Coca-Cola Day" in the hope of winning a prize from Coke for coming up with creative ways of promoting the corporate product at school. Apparently, offending a multinational corporation is now "disruption" which is punishable by the authorities.
  • It Can Happen In America... At the urging of a busybodyish pro-censorship group, Oklahoma City authorities seized copies of an Academy Award winning film, The Tin Drum, from several individuals, stores, and public libraries on the grounds that one scene implied (without showing explicitly) sex involving a child. This allegedly makes the whole film "child pornography". The cops then used Gestapo-like tactics of demanding that video stores reveal who the film was rented to (in violation of a Federal law protecting the privacy of video rentals) and then stormed in on the individuals without a warrant, demanding they surrender the video immediately. The city was sued by the ACLU among others, and I hope they have to pay severe damages (though, unfortunately, it's the taxpayers of Oklahoma who would have to foot the bill). There used to be a lot of sites online about this case, but all the links I formerly had have now gone dead.
  • Gloria Sankeur, a city councilwoman in Michigan, authored an anti-pornography ordinance for the local library's Internet access -- and then got indignant when a librarian refused to help her access pornography when she was "doing research" for future anti-porn legislation. The librarian was only enforcing Sankeur's own ordinance, but she made a big stink about it, prompting the librarians' union to demand an apology. Meanwhile, when some Internet users put up web sites discussing the incident, Sankeur called them "cyber-stalkers" and demanded they be muzzled. (The link I used to have to info on this case no longer works.)
  • The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund aims to preserve freedom of press in the comic book world, against a renewed attack of the sorts of censorship that led to the blanding-down of comics in the '50s.
  • One victim of this anti-comics censorship war is Mike Diana, a Florida cartoonist who has been convicted of obscenity for his drawings. Sure, his cartoons were pretty outrageous, but even more outrageous is the concept that the state can use the force of law to suppress them. Read about this case in these sites:
  • Of course, cyberspace is a common target of censorship these days... read all about it in my Current Controversies, Crises, and Censorship in Cyberspace section.

 

This page was first created 23 Aug 1997, and was last modified 25 Aug 2009.
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