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Free Speech: News and Events on the Freedom of Speech

Is freedom of speech an absolute right, or are there legitimate reasons for restricting it? What role does the media play in promoting free speech and in informing the public? What effect to large corporations have when it comes the people's right to know and to disseminate information? These are some of the issues discussed in these recent news stories

School Bans Display About Banned Books
In Virginia, the Harrisonburg Schools Superintendent Donald Ford made an interesting and controversial decision: he banned a display about banned books. The irony of such a decision is pretty strong - it's as if he is saying that it isn't enough to just ban the controversial books, but it's also necessary to ban discussion about the books and about their being banned.

Thanks for Not Speaking Freely
Overt censorship and repression isn't the only way for eliminate free speech. It's also possible to get people to voluntarily abandon free speech by telling them that the free exercise of their right to express themselves is really an "abuse" of their rights when others object violently enough.

Christian Wants 'Fahrenheit 451' Removed from Class
Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction and this is one of those cases. In Montgomery County, Texas, a parent is trying to get Ray Bradbury's book Fahrenheit 451 removed from his daughter's class. What makes this situation so ironic is the fact that this book is about the suppression of books in a future society.

Teacher Let Go: Students See Nude Statute on Museum Trip
Sydney McGee was a veteran art teacher in Frisco, Texas. Now she is on paid administrative leave and may not be returning at all. She isn't even allowed to simply transfer to another school and continue teaching. She's in a lot of trouble. What was her horrible crime? Did she molest a student? No, she took her students to an art museum where they saw a nude sculpture. How horrible!

Petition for Wal-Mart on Bibles
Wal-Mart is the biggest retailer on the planet. Their purchasing power can mean the difference between success and failure for a wide variety of products - including media products like books, magazines, music, and movies. When Wal-Mart refuses to carry one of these, it may mean that it will never reach the audience it was intended for - and perhaps which needs it.

Conservatives Targeting Hotels to Eliminate Choice for Others
Conservative Christians really don't like pornography - and they don't like anything that is even remotely similar to pornography. It's not enough for conservative Christians to refuse to watch sexual material; they want to stop everyone else from doing so as well.

Fighting Blasphemy is Blasphemy: Using Religion to Opress
Around the world, freethinkers and religious dissenters have had to fight hard against blasphemy laws - laws designed to protect religious beliefs and religious institutions from criticism, questioning, and ridicule. The West has largely abolished blasphemy laws but Muslim nations continue to rely on them as a tool for maintaining the oppression of religious traditions.

Calls at UN to Curb Free Speech on Religion
There are numerous religious believers who are convinced that their religion, and perhaps a few other religions, should be so privileged in society that some forms of criticism of those religions should be made illegal. Similar criticism of other religions and other ideologies would continue to be permitted; only certain religions would be exempt from the normal standards of discourse.

German Bishops Want to Ban Satirical Cartoon
Muslims are not the only ones who want to ban cartoons they find blasphemous and disrespectful. In the German state of Bavaria, bishops and other Catholic leaders want to ban the MTV cartoon Popetown, which depicts the pope on a pogo-stick. Apparently, Germans just can't handle seeing this sort of thing.

Anti-Pornography Group Opposing Da Vinci Code
It's been noted in the past that efforts to ban pornography will never stop at just 'porn,' at least in the sense that the concept is generally defined. Efforts to ban pornography are premised on the idea that the state should ban immoral and unhealthy images, words, and ideas. Therefore, if pornography can be banned, then much more will end up being banned before it's over.

Bill Bennett: Imprison Journalists Who Cause Trouble
How much do conservatives in America today really believe in the principle of free speech? Some don't believe in the principle at all - some of the same conservatives who criticized American newspapers for not printing the Danish cartoons of Muhammad also attack those newspapers for printing stories that embarrass the Bush administration, revealing illegal and unethical conduct.

Church Punishes Photographer for Releasing Truth About Scalia
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia reportedly made an obscene gesture in response to a question about what he said to those who question his impartiality. Scalia denied that his gesture was genuinely obscene, but a photographer there released an image of the gesture and reported what he heard - which, if true, makes Scalia a liar. His church newspaper retaliated by firing him.

Borders, Waldenbooks Sacrifice Free Speech to Muslim Terrorism
The April-May issue of Free Inquiry publishes the controversial Danish cartoons of Muhammad, something that is sure to annoy some people. Unfortunately, many won't even know about this because Border Books & Music and Waldenbooks are refusing to carry this issue of the magazine. It's not because they find the cartoons objectionable, but rather because they are afraid of possible violence.

Free Speech Opponent Elected to Florida ACLU Board
Parvez Ahmed, chairman of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) was recently elected as an "at large" member of the Florida ACLU's board of directors. Parvez Ahmed is an opponent of free speech when it involves speech which he doesn't like. Have the members of Florida's ACLU gone completely out of their minds?

Muslims Ask for Cancellation of Voltaire Play
It's not enough for artists and governments to censor current works or expression; now Muslims are demanding that classic works be censored because they might be perceived as too offensive to some religious sensibilities. In France, Muslims are asking that a reading of a 1714 play by Voltaire be cancelled.

Woman Fired for Liberal Politics
With so many conservatives insisting that liberals and traitors and that war criticism undermined the war effort, it was only a matter of time before someone was stupid enough to actually act on such sentiment. In San Diego County, a woman was fired because her car had a bumper sticker for the liberal radio station Air America. Her boss suggested that she might be a member of Al Qaeda.

David Irving, Holocaust Denial, and Free Speech
I am a strong supporter of free speech and believe that any sanctions on speech should be reserved for the absolute worst and most extreme cases, like incitement to murder or riot. Of course, I am coming from an American perspective where denying the Holocaust could not possibly qualify %u2014 is Austria really the same?

Using Violence: People are Afraid to Criticize Islam
An important, and probably deliberate, consequence of all the violence perpetrated by Mulims in reaction to the Danish political cartoons is that people will become even more afraid to criticize Islam. The cartoonists are already in hiding; who else will voluntarily subject themselves to that sort of thing now?

Muslims Call for Critics to be Exterminated
Many Muslims feel that a series of cartoons published last year in a Danish newspaper were insulting to Islam generally and Muhammad specifically. They object to being depicted as violent terrorists. Their reaction, naturally enough, has been to encourage violence and engage in terrorist acts. That will teach Western media to tell the truth about Islam, right?

Western Cowards Say: Religions Should Never Be Insulted
Freedom of speech and freedom of personal expression are fundamental rights in the West - rights upon many other of our rights may be said to rest. Today, unfortunately, we are seeing Western leaders back away from freedom of speech in favor of supporting those who advocate murder and destruction whenever they feel insulted.

Free Speech & Criticism: Some Muslims Just Don't Get It
The controversy over Danish political cartoons continues to get worse. Someone has created an interesting blog designed to gather opinions from various perspectives, Freedom of Speech.dk. The question is, will people be able to learn from it? In particular, will Muslims be able to learn that others have a right to do things forbidden in Islam and which Muslims may not like?

More on Free Speech vs. Islam in Denmark
Last month I wrote about assaults on the principle of free speech in Denmark as people assail the right of a newspaper to print editorial cartoons critical of Islam. Jordan has called for the cartoonist to be punished and international organizations continue to display a complete lack of respect for basic liberty.

Robertson: Criticism of President During War is Treason
Should Americans be allowed to dissent from and disagree with the president's decisions during a time of war? Most would probably argue that at least some dissent and disagreement should be permitted - we don't live in a dictatorship after all. At least one leader of the Christian Right rejects this and argues that it's treason to disagree with the president.

Hillary Clinton Sponsors Anti-Flag Burning Amendment
In a move that has surprised free speech supporters on both the left and the right, Hillary Clinton has agreed to co-sponsor a bill banning flag burning in particular circumstances. She says she still opposes a constitutional amendment that bans flag burning, but this bill does not indicate a very strong support of free speech on her part.

Televangelists and Indecency: Strange Bedfellows
Christian televangelists in America are often among those working hardest to fight indecency. What they sometimes forget are that the laws and regulations which protect them also protect 'indecent' programming. Undermining protections for one will affect the other - and that's why they are working now against a measure that some hope will attack indecency.

School Web Filter Censors Minority Religions
Computers in schools usually have filters to keep students from viewing web sites with inappropriate material. This is understandable because parents and teachers don't want students viewing things like pornography while at school - but filters can also be used to restrict access to other material. In a Florida school, students have been denied access to information on minority religions.

Ann Coulter No Fan of First Amendment, Republicans Cheer
Ann Coulter says a lot of awful things, sometimes going so far as to suggest that she would like to eliminate everyone who disagrees with her. This impression was bolstered by recent comments that she doesn't think much about the constitutional protections for free speech.

Catholic School Bans Student Blogging
Students at Pope John XIII Regional High School in Sparta, New Jersey, are prohibited from keeping weblogs. If anyone is caught with a blog, they will be expelled. Supposedly this policy is designed to protect students, but it's more likely an attempt to stifle unwanted speech.

Liberty is the Right to be Offensive
A few days ago, I wrote about Sony pulling an advertisement in Italy because some Christians found it offensive. In Ireland, there are complaints about an advertisement that plays off of Da Vinci's Last Supper.

Right-Wing Thugs Attack Protesters
Tariq Khan, a sociology major at George Mason University and Air Force veteran, protested at a military recruitment table on campus in September. Khan believes that recruiters have been deceiving students and he wanted to make his views known. As a consequence, he was assaulted, arrested, and prevented from speaking out.

Hecklers are Terrorists?
Walter Wolfgang, an 82-year-old Jewish escapee from Nazi Germany, was detained by the police recently in Britain under the 2000 Terrorism Act. What did he do? He heckled the Labour Foreign Secretary Jack Straw during a Labour Party conference. Over 600 protesters were detained under the same anti-terrorism laws.

Politics and Journalism as Spectacle
The ideal of journalism is that reporters serve the public interest by pressing the powerful - political, commercial, social, religious - to explain themselves and justify their decisions which affect the rest of society. The reality of journalism is that reporters are part of the class of powerful and tend to serve their interests.

Conservative Republicans Seek to Interfere with the Free Market
The Republican Party likes to portray itself as defenders of business and the free market. They oppose regulations that would restrict harmful business practices (like pollution), preferring instead to seek market-based solutions. Why, then, do they propose to interfere with the market of media and entertainment?

Freedom, Government, and the Free Market
Rhetorically speaking, freedom is important in America: politicians and political parties which most successfully portray themselves as defenders of freedom can also be most successful in the elections. Conservatives have done this very well recently; liberals may need to learn some lessons on the issue in order to do as well.

GOP: Entertainment Industry Just Doesn't Get It
According to an important House Republican aide, %u201CThe entertainment industry continues to prove they just don%u2019t get it.%u201D A comment on the moral depravity of Hollywood movies? No, a comment on Time Warner hiring as their top lobbyist someone who has contributed to Democratic candidates.

Neophobia & New Media, Plato & Video Games
What does Plato have to do with the current debate over video games? Critics of video games sound remarkably like Plato in his attacks on the "new" ways communicating and providing entertainment. In order to protect the younger generation, Plato would have done away with writing down speeches and many forms of art.

Video Games and Modern Society
There is, once again, a movement developing to censor and restrict video games because they are too violent. The impetus to this is actually the discovery of a sex scene in a game which is only accessible if you hack the game - that is apparently more serious than the game's violence, but it's a good excuse to attack game violence as well.

Swive You and the Horse You Rode In On (Book Notes: Blue Streak)
There are many with an authoritarian streak that impels them to seek the authority to censor the words, ideas, and deeds of others. Perhaps they simply feel that they know better or perhaps they think that this allows them to serve the greater good. In the long run, though, the results of censorship are almost inevitably fruitless.

Should the American Media Eliminate Indecency?
Censorship appears to be a popular American pastime: every so often, some group goes bonkers over some perceived indecency or obscenity and demands that the government reign in an out-of-control media industry in order to keep kids safe from hearing, seeing, or even just thinking anything contrary to some people's values.

O'Reilly: ACLU, Geneva Convention are 'Terror Allies'
Many people would consider principles like the rule of law and the defense of basic civil liberties to be at the heart of American values - even though America doesn't always live up to them. Bill O'Reilly, though, seems to think that defense of such principles causes a person to side with terrorists and terrorism.

Wal-Mart Newspaper Ban Lifted
A few days ago I wrote about how Georgia Wal-Marts would stop carrying a newspaper because of its critical stories about them. Now, the company has rescinded the ban and will allow the newspaper to remain.

Capitalism and Journalism (Book Notes: Democracy and the News)
Journalism has always been a business, but it seems that the "business" end of the news media has been growing in importance %u2014 perhaps because the number of media owners has been shrinking in number. There are fewer media companies, greater control by non-media corporate giants, and as a result worse journalism.

Wal-Mart Won't Sell Critical Newspapers
In Georgia, Wal-Mart has decided to stop carrying an independent local newspaper that has run critical stories about them. They certainly have a legal right to do this, but the action says a lot about the ethical and community character (or lack thereof) of Wal-Mart management. In effect, they prove that the criticism was well-earned.

Porn, the Erototoxin
Judith Reisman (I hesitate to use her title of "Doctor," as I can't imagine how she could have merited it), puts forth the "theory" that seeing pornography releases "erototoxins" in the brain, restructuring it in ways that should be prohibited by law. I have the "theory" that anti-pornography crusades cause the reasoning centers of people's brains to be switched off.

Dissenting Artwork Shouldn't Be Tolerated?
An art show in the cafeteria of California's state Department of Justice in Sacramento is causing controversy because one painting shows an image of the United States, overlaid with an American flag, sinking into a toilet. Republicans find the piece unpatriotic and insist that such views shouldn't be tolerated.

What is a Civil Libertarian? (Book Notes: Free For All)
Civil liberties are very important in American society and politics, but despite this not everyone appears to understand just what a commitment to civil liberties entails. Defending civil liberties requires defending them for all people, equally, even if those people would promote ideas which are anathema to us.

Journalism, Legitimation, and Control
The news media exercises powerful influence over culture and society - far more than most people probably realize. The very manner in which the media report on events and people serves to legitimize individuals, offices, and institutions. For better and for worse, the media is part of the very system it reports on.

Scientology Drops Copyright Case
The Church of Scientology has, for several years, been pursuing a copyright case against Dutch citizen Karin Spaink. She posted material on her web site from Scientology documents, material which revealed the truth of Scientology's teachings. The Church of Scientology suddenly withdrew from the case at the last minute, though.

Language, Swearing, Aggression in the Brain (Book Notes: Blue Streak)
Swearing is a sort of language which many people object to. But is it "language," really? At first it certainly seems to be - it uses words and grammar, after all, so how could it be anything else? The source of swearing is, however, not the language area of the brain.

The Christian Right's Blacklist
The Christian Right has been engaging in an increasing number of efforts to stifle speech and ideas that they find offensive - which means the expression of ideas they disagree with. In particular they have been targeting advertisers who, in turn, are pulling ads from shows and media which offends the Christian Right.

Faith-Based Media and the Death of Fairness
One recent development that hasn't been discussed too much is the growing influence of conservative evangelical media - particularly "news" media - in the bast few years. They appear to have played a major role in the 2004 election, even without endorsing any particular candidates.

Louisiana: Restrict Gay Books?
Alabama isn't the only state where someone has attacked the presence of "gay" books in libraries. In Louisiana, Republican A.G. Crowe has proposed that all books with "homosexual themes" be restricted to "areas designated exclusively for adult access and distribution."

Alabama: Freedom to Agree
Alabama Republican congressman Spencer Bachus wants HBO's show "Real Time with Bill Maher" taken off the air because he considers some of Maher's comments treasonous. He says that he doesn't want Maher prosecuted (curious, if he really believes that it's treason), but he does seem to want Maher persecuted.

Subordinate the Truth to Bush's War?
A lot of attention has been directed at Newsweek's faulty reporting on American soldiers desecrating the Koran while interrogating suspected terrorists. This is interesting for two reasons. First, those complaining most have, in the past, defended the administration against similar criticisms. Second, those complaining most are also calling for restrictions on the media.

ABC News Admits: We're Irrelevant, Incompetent
Real journalism is hard. Covering stories about runaway brides is easy, but covering complicated stories about war, corruption, and structural problems in society is difficult to do, even if you only do a mediocre job. Some so-called journalists find the task so difficult, in fact, that they are admitting that they aren't even bothering to try anymore.

Nazi Pope: Italian Website Offends Catholic Religion
By now everyone knows about how Pope Benedict XVI was a member of the Nazi Youth. Critics of the pope have been using this against him in satire and this has begun to outrage defenders of Joseph Ratzinger's past. It's even led to calls for censorship.

Alabama: Banning Gay Books, Plays
In Alabama, Republican lawmaker Gerald Allen says that homosexuality is so awful that the state should refuse even indirect funding for any book or play that depicts homosexuality in a positive light. This affects libraries, schools, colleges, and a host of other venues.

Main Stream Media's Old Auntie
Many bloggers today criticize the "Mainstream Media" for being slow, for not doing enough work, and for generally failing their duty to the public. Well, there's one newspaper that should be the envy of every journalist when it comes to research and work - but it's also losing subscribers.

Balanced Treatment... of the Holocaust?
Creationists demand "balanced treatment" for their religious beliefs during science lessons about evolution. Media companies insist on "balanced treatment" for every political opinion that comes along. It was only a matter of time before "balanced treatment" would start making Holocaust Denial more mainstream.

Blasphemy on Ebay?
Should Ebay exclude auctions for items that are "blasphemous" or "sacrilegious" according to religious believers? That's what some are calling for in the wake of an auction for a Eucharist host from a mass said by Pope John Paul II.

Parents Allowed to Burn School Books
The superintendent of Norwood High School in Colorado allowed parents to take an acclaimed book and burn all copies. He could have returned them or donated the books to some other school, but he thought it more appropriate that they be incinerated instead.

Angry Keyboards
There are a lot of people upset with America's current international policies, especially the wars pursued in Afghanistan and Iraq. We have not, however, seen the same massive protests that occurred in response to the Vietnam War. Does this signal that opposition is weaker? That dissenters are more apathetic? Perhaps, but then again maybe something else is going on...

Kicked Out of Bush Speech - For Liberal Bumper Stickers
Three people who tried to attend President Bush's "town hall" meeting in Denver, Colorado, were forcibly removed. Why? Because they had bumper stickers on their cars supporting liberal causes. How horrible! Why weren't they shipped immediately to Guantanamo?

Student with Democrat Shirt Banned from Bush Speech
When President Bush visited Tuscon, Arizona, to tout his Social Security plans, a member of the University of Arizona's Young Democrats planned to attend. He had a ticket and everything, but he was denied entrance. Why? Because he wore a T-shirt with an image of a donkey, the Democratic Party symbol.

Academic Freedom in Florida
Because conservatives are persecuted on college campuses, Florida legislators want to take action to protect them. How? By giving them the right to sue in court if they are exposed to ideas they dislike and if the professors don't present the "alternative," conservative viewpoint.

Outlawing Nazi Symbols in Europe
Are Nazi symbols so odious and contemptible that they should be singled out for criminalization? That's already the case in Germany and some argue that all of Europe should do it. The calls increased in the wake of Britain's Prince Harry wearing a Nazi outfit to a costume party.

Christian Radio Station Cancels Muslims' Ad
A Christian radio station in Florida has cancelled an ad that a Muslim group wanted to run in order to publicize an inter-faith dialogue. Why? Apparently such inter-faith conversations and seminars only serve to "promote" Islam, something these Christians just don't like.

Churches Decry Commercial Censorship
Rolling Stone magazine first rejected then accepted an ad for a new Bible translation. The Christian Right is incensed at this - their anger is understandable, but misplaced. It's part of the capitalist system that privately held media can refuse ads about anything for any reason. This is the system that their own party, the GOP, defends on a regular basis.

U.S. Students Say Press Freedoms Go Too Far
How secure is the freedom of the press in America? Probably not as secure as it should be - at least not if the attitudes of the next generation is any indication. They already think that press freedoms go too far and believe that the government should censor stories.

Arizona: School Protects Blasphemous Art
Erika Vogt-Nilsen, a student at Mountain Pointe High School in Arizona, created a very controversial work of art depicting a crucified Jesus dancing on the ends of strings held by an evil-looking puppet master. There were complaints, including from a teacher, but the school came to the defense of the student and the piece remained in a show.

Entartete Kunst
The concept of "entartete Kunst" (degenerate art) was created as a label for all sorts of modern art that they didn't like and wanted to purge in order to purify German culture. Naturally, much was produced by Jews. The concept of "degenerate" art that undermines culture continues to be used today and can be found in the unlikeliest places...

Novak: Inauguration Protests Are Not 'Free Speech'
Robert Novak is a journalist and, therefore, believes in the value of free speech - right? Well, maybe not quite. Novak has an "interesting" view of what constitutes free speech and what doesn't. Apparently, speech he doesn't like doesn’t always qualify.

No Free Speech for Liberals?
Is it true that liberals shouldn't have the same free speech rights as conservatives? Is it true that "free speech" only exists for Christians to express their beliefs and proclaim their religion while other faiths simply have to sit and tolerate it? Well, that's what some think and argue...

FCC Rejects Indecency Complaints
The Parents Television Council flooded the FCC with complaints about various shows, including the movie "Saving Private Ryan," for indecent words and acts. In all, the FCC rejected complaints of 37 different programs and failed to uphold a single one.

Supreme Court Lets Stand Decision on 'Choose Life' Plates
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that South Carolina's "Choose Life" license plates were unconstitutional because they endorsed one side of the abortion debate and didn't provide a forum for the other side. The Supreme Court has let that ruling stand, a decision that could affect similar programs elsewhere.

Sikh Playwright Speaks Out, Will Fight On
Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti, author of the play that was closed when Sikhs rioted and the government refused to step in to protect free speech, is speaking out. She continues to defend the principle of free speech and the right of artists to be critical of religion.

Christians Force BBC Bosses To Seek Protection
The BBC broadcast a musical based upon the Jerry Springer show and some Christians in Britain are so upset that the program has received more complaints than any other show in their history. Unfortunately, some of the complaints are so nasty that a couple of BBC executives have had to get special protection.

Salman Rushdie Slams Weak-Kneed Ministers
A little while ago I wrote about the play in Birmingham that had to close when Sikhs rioted over the content. Himself no stranger to intimidation by religious extremists, Salman Rushdie has commented on the issue and lambasts the government for failing to protect both the playwright and the principle of free expression.

Christian Lawyers at the ACLU?
There is a popular perception, spread eagerly by the far right, that the ACLU is an anti-Christian organization. If that were true, then we wouldn't expect to find any committed or devout Christians working there - that would be like a devout Jew working for the KKK. Turns out, though, that Christians do work there.

Britain: Sikhs Riot, Protest Play, Theater Closes
A Birmingham theatre tried to put on a production of Behzti, a play that involved sexual abuse and murder occurring in a Sikh temple. British Sikhs were so outraged at these depictions that they not only protested, but rioted - ultimately forcing the theater to close the play down. Let's hear it for free speech!

Half of Americans Favor Cutting Muslims' Civil Liberties
America may be better prepared for fascism and totalitarianism than many realize. A recent survey has found widespread support for cutting the civil liberties of Muslims and people from the Middle East. The strongest support comes from those who are the most religious and who are Republican.

Bush Monkey Exhibition Closed
President George W. Bush has often by compared to a primate by certain critics, but a recent and popular juxtaposition of Bush's image with monkeys has been closed down in a New York art exhibition. From a distance the image looks like Bush; up close, you can see that it's made up of monkeys swimming in a marsh.

Single Group Dominates FCC Complaints
People may be aware of the FCC getting complaints about "indecency" on television or radio, but what most probably aren't aware of is the fact that nearly all of these complaints come through a single group: Parents Television Council. Should broadcast media be limited to what doesn't offend them?

Hate Crimes & Thought Control
There are many who argue that "hate crimes" provisions amount to a form of thought control, criminalizing speech and ideas unnecessarily. A crime is a crime, they argue, and a person's beliefs (on race, religion, sexuality, etc.) shouldn't be a factor in their sentencing. But is this really a fair argument?

Alabama: Banning Books with Gay Characters
Republican Representative Gerald Allen in Alabama has introduced a bill that would ban public funding for "the purchase of textbooks or library materials that recognize or promote homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle." Must be nice to be represented by someone like him, huh?

Oregon: Unity Requires Conformity
After the 2004 presidential election various people have been discussing ways in which many of the deep divisions in the country might be healed and some measure of unity achieved. Most suggestions have involved one side reaching out to the other; some involve one side stomping on the other.

Free Speech Fundamentalism?
There has been a lot of media attention of murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh. Most have been sensible enough to be horrified, but not everyone. Believe it or not, some actually seem to think that Van Gogh was just asking to be butchered.

Las Vegas: ACLU Defends Street Preachers
Religious conservatives commonly - and incorrectly - accuse the ACLU of being anti-Christian and of helping any religious group except Christians. In yet another example of just how ignorant and wrong such claims are, the ACLU is coming to the defense of street preachers in Las Vegas who are being driven off by casino owners

Media Bias: Liberal vs. Conservative
Every reporter is biased - they wouldn't be human, otherwise. But not every bias is bad, not every bias should be excluded from the news, and not all political biases have a major impact upon the news we read or see. As far as political bias is concerned, we experience far less of it that we might if it were a real problem.

Military Families Against Freedom
It's common to see people point out that America's military has been responsible for the maintenance of America's freedoms. Unfortunately, we can also find examples of members of the military (or their families) denigrating those freedoms when they become inconvenient.

Netherlands: Filmmaker of Movie Critical of Islam Murdered
The controversial Dutch film about Muslims' abuse of women has resulted in the murder filmmaker Theo van Gogh, grandson of the brother of famous painter Vincent Van Gogh.

Government Regulating U.S. Citizens' Actions Abroad
Americans aren't allowed to import and smoke Cuban cigars - that would be a violation of the trade embargo. What many may not realize, however, is that they also aren't allowed to smoke Cuban cigars abroad where importation and purchase are legal. Yes, Americans can be prosecuted for legal conduct committed abroad.

Florida: Journalist Assaulted By Police
America is a democracy. America also has freedom of the press. In Florida, though, those two don't always mix. In Palm Beach County, to be specific, a reporter was assaulted and arrested by police for the "crime" of photographing people waiting in line to vote.

Missouri: School Allows Anti-Gay Speech, but not Gay Pride Speech
A student in Missouri is being helped in a lawsuit by the ACLU. According to the student, he has been sent home and ordered to stop wearing shirts that express gay pride or pro-gay messages. At the same time, though, anti-gay and anti-gay marriage messages are allowed all over the school.

Student Threatened with Execution If He Protested Bush
That headline has to be wrong, doesn't it? Surely no one would be threatened with death merely for expressing support for Kerry while at a Bush speech? If the reports are true, that's exactly what happened. People before have been kicked out of Bush events for supporting civil liberties, so perhaps this isn't such a huge leap.

More on Bush's Suppression of Dissent
The other day I wrote about three teachers ejected from a Bush speech because they dared to wear t-shirts emblazoned with the slogan "Protect Our Civil Liberties." More information about the incident has been released as well as about other actions taken by the administration to suppress dissent.

Sinclair Bureau Chief Decries Propaganda, Gets Fired
Not everyone in the Sinclair organization agrees with the company's decision to air a partisan anti-Kerry program commercial-free just days before the national election. Jon Leiberman, the Washington Bureau Chief, has spoken out against the program in clear and unequivocal language.

T-Shirt Police At Bush Speech
No, this isn't a repeated story. A couple back in July were ticketed for trespassing merely because they wore anti-Bush t-shirts at a Bush speech that was paid for by government funds. It wasn't an isolated incident: three teachers were removed from a Bush speech for wearing "Protect Our Civil Liberties" on their shirts.

Washington: Library Fights Federal Demand for Records
A small library stood up to the FBI and won. After learning that someone wrote comments in a book about Osama bin Laden which could be construed as supportive of the terrorist, the FBI demanded the records of everyone who checked the book out. The library refused and the FBI backed down.

Banned Book Week Used to Censor Parents?
Every year the American Library Association (ALA) makes a big deal out of "Banned Books Week," a week of events that draw attention to the many efforts to ban or otherwise censor books as part of various religious morality crusades. Well, the religious crusaders are getting tired of it and now claim that the BBW is really an effort to censor them.

ACLU: Most Obnoxious Group in America?
When people complain about the ACLU, it's important to pay close attention to what is and is not said. Often you'll find a lot of harsh and nasty rhetoric but not a lot of verifiable facts or cases. This is because the actual legal records don't usually support the critics' complaints - but they aren't honest enough to admit that.

The New Journalism: Report the Truth, Get Suspended?
A few days ago I cited an email from Farnaz Fassihi, the Wall Street Journal's Middle East correspondent, that is being distributed around the internet. It describes just how awful things are in Iraq, something that contradicts the WSJ's pro-Bush and pro-war editorial stance. Now, Fassihi appears to have been suspended in retaliation.

Pentagon Going After War Critic
Everyone who hasn't been living under a rock on Mars (with their fingers in their ears) realizes that things are going badly in Iraq - and may get worse. When an active-duty military officer dares to say the obvious, however, the Pentagon gets worried enough to consider taking serious action against him.

Choose Life License Plates Ruled Unconstitutional
Tennessee created a speciality license plate program that included "Choose Life" plates which supported anti-abortion efforts. A federal judge has struck it down as unconstitutional, arguing that the state doesn't have the authority to provide a forum for just one viewpoint in the abortion debate.

Hidden Dissent: Free Speech vs. Corporate Media
Americans typically object when the government tries to restrict free speech, although such reactions haven't been as strong since the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Still, for any sort of reaction to take place people have to hear about it - so what happens when the media totally ignores efforts to stop the government from being restrictive?

Republicans Using Flag Burning for Political Points
Flag Burning is in the news again. This time, Republicans aren't just seeking to curtail Americans' civil liberties in order to make a idol out of the flag, but they are doing so in a singularly cynical manner designed to score political points. Yet, for some reason, they say that they are trying protect the flag from the desecration of others.

Massive Civil Rights Violations in FBI
If you are charged in a criminal case, the police and prosecutors are required by law to turn over everything they have to your defense attorney. As it turns out, though, the FBI hasn't been doing that. They've been keeping rough drafts and rough notes on a special computer, handing over only those notes and reports edited by senior agents. It's tough to overstate how serious this is.

SS Punishing Reporters Who Interview Protesters
When President Bush visited Philadelphia, reporters who left the press area to talk to protestors were not allowed back. Why? America's SS (Secret Service) decided to punish those reporters for daring to get the opinions of people who disagreed with Bush.

Biased Teaching?
It's become almost fashionable among some conservatives to complain about liberal bias at colleges and universities. The existence of possible conservative bias in business, economics, and various fields never occurs to them - only liberal bias in some humanities fields is at issue. What, though, is wrong with a biased professor teaching his or her views?

Veterans Angry Over Warhol Photo Exhibit
The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh will be showing some of the pictures of the abuse of prisoners in Iraq and veterans are angry - but not over how military personnel misbehaved or how Iraqis were treated. No, they are angry that the museum is going to make evidence of the abuse available to the public.

American Police State
Police treatment of protestors are the Republican National Convention was something of a disgrace. People were incarcerated and charged with felonies for no reason other than to keep them off the streets. Why was that a goal? Presumably so as to suppress dissent and eliminate the impression that protests existed.

Dangerous Times: When Freedom is Disloyalty
There has been a lot of criticism of Zell Miller's speech at the Republican National Convention, most of it focusing on Miller's attacks on Kerry. Not enough attention has been paid to the manner in which he equated legitimate political dissent with treason and disloyalty.

Justice Department Censors Supreme Court Quote
It's not uncommon for government documents to have areas covered over with black bars - the reason cited for this is that information too sensitive for the public had to be redacted. Sometimes that is very understandable - it would be wrong to reveal the names of undercover police agents, for example. Not all cases, however, are reasonable.

Republican Maneuvers in War on Free Speech
If you read much news on the internet, you've probably come across the story about how Congressman Dennis Hastert smeared George Soros by implying that he got his money from drug cartels. What you may not have read about, however, is why he said such ridiculous things. I think I have a pretty good idea about that.

CNN Rejects Ad From Gay Republicans
The gay Republican group Log Cabin Republicans may not be supporting George W. Bush this year because of the intensely intolerant Republican Party Platform. They are, however, running ads that express their displeasure - but you won't be seeing the ads on CNN.

Abandoning Journalism
One of the problems with the media coverage of conservative smears and lies is that they so-called "journalists" often don't make an effort to evaluate the credibility of the claims being made. Indeed, they sometimes deny that they have any obligation to evaluate the credibility of what they report.

Bush Opposes First Amendment
One of Bush's refrains in the war on terrorism is that America's enemies hate America because it is a nation that is free and promotes freedom. Insofar as such freedoms conflict with religious fundamentalism, he has a point. If he really believes in freedom, though, why does he want to kill freedom by undermining the First Amendment?

Homeland Security vs. Academia
One area where foreign visitors are relatively common (aside from tourism) is academia: it's not unusual for schools to have scholars visit from abroad to share their experiences and perspectives. This can be a great benefit to students, but not when the Department of Homeland Security decides that such scholars are too suspicious to be let in.

FBI Using Intimidation Against Political Protestors
Apparently, the FBI has been going around questioning people they think will demonstrate at the Republican Convention. The FBI claims that they are only investigating those who plan violent protests, but it has a chilling effect on peaceful protests as well. Should people really be questioned by the government simply because they intend to exercise their free speech rights?

Olympics: Fans Banned for Wearing Wrong Brands
Commercial endorsements have become very important in modern sports. Athletes who endorse one product aren't allowed to be seen in public with a competitor. At the Olympics, though, this is getting out of hand: fans won't be permitted in the Olympic venues with products made by competitors of the companies sponsoring the events

NBC Protecting the President from Critics
Most people might expect the news media to at least try to be somewhat independent when it comes to politics - you know, willing to participate in critiques and strong questioning of those on every part of the political spectrum. NBC, however, has taken steps to prevent public criticism of President Bush.

Pro-Choice Citizens Booted from Bush Rally
If you have any thoughts about attending a rally for President George W. Bush to hear him speak, be advised that you won't be allowed to stay if there is any chance that you might express any views contrary to his. In Bush's America, there is no dissent or disagreement permitted within his sight

Design Theft
Copyright law is becoming more and more important these days. Everyone wants to copyright or patent their ideas and prevent others from "stealing" them. Sometimes, though, it is difficult to tell when an idea has been "stolen" and when it's an entirely new work that is simply based upon an older one. Where do you draw the line?

Bush & Bush Punishing Critical Journalists
President Bush has not treated critical journalists very well - he doesn't seem to like it when reporters fail to merely parrot the government's (mis)information. That's what most of the media has been doing, unfortunately, despite the fact that it's contrary to their duty as journalists.

New Mexico: Teacher Fired After Anti-War Reading Settles Case
A while ago I wrote about a New Mexico where a student's poetry that was critical of the government led to her mother (a teacher) being suspended and her teacher-advisor being fired. Well, her teacher has settled his lawsuit against the school - which doesn't admit to any wrongdoing.

The Sad Fate of Political Protest in America
One would think that if any form of speech should be given deference, it would be political protest. Although the First Amendment doesn't single out any type of speech for extra protection, most tend to view political speech as among the most important. Unfortunately, the reality of that is changing dramatically and political protests are getting more restrictions.

Papers Pulling Controversial Doonesbury
A "Sunday-comics consortium" that provides the Sunday comics section to 38 papers is dropping Garry Trudeau's "Doonesbury" after a poll that reveled 21 of the papers didn't like it. No other polls have been held on any other comics, though.

Conservatives Speak Out on Linda Ronstadt
I wrote yesterday about Linda Ronstadt being escorted out of the Aladdin casino in Las Vegas, without even being allowed to get her things from her room, because she dedicated a song to Michael Moore and made some negative comments about President Bush. Unfortunately, reactions from the far-right have been less than mature.

Linda Ronstadt Censured for Anti-Bush Remarks
More and more we find that when someone is critical of President Bush, they become the targets of a nasty backlash designed to help silence anyone else uppity enough to voice their opinions. Whoopi Goldberg was dropped from Slimfast ads, now Linda Ronstadt has been escorted out of a casino.

Iran: Academic Sentenced to 5 Years Jail
Iranian academic Hashem Aghajari, charged with blasphemy for calling on Muslims not to blindly follow clerical leaders like "monkeys," has been sentenced to five years in prison. This is actually an improvement for him - he was originally sentenced to death - but it still demonstrates that Iran has a long way to go before being free.

Fox's 'Fair and Balanced' Slogan Challenged
Fox News is well-known for the slogan that they are "fair and balanced," a statement greeted with much derision by critics. Some, though, are going a bit further and are challenging this phrase as "deceptive advertising" with the Federal Trade Commission.

This Novel's a Bomb
Charles C. Green is a writer - or at least he'd like to be, in the sense of making writing his profession. Everyone's a critic, it seems, and that includes the Department of Homeland Security. According them, Green is a dangerous writer - dangerous enough, in fact, to be placed on their terrorist watch list.

Obscenity Charges Over Sex Toys Dropped
Last year Joanne Webb was arrested for selling sexual toys to two undercover officers. Yes, rural Johnson County in Texas has nothing better to police than sex toys. Perhaps the local prosecutor tired of all the negative attention from national media, though, because he has decided to drop the case.

T-Shirt Charges Dismissed, Police Unapologetic
Remember the story from a few days ago when the couple were arrested at a Bush speaking event because they wore anti-Bush t-shirts? Well, the charges have been dismissed - but the police not only aren't apologetic, they wish they have filed state charges so they could go forward with the prosecution.

Free Speech Battle over Anti-Bush Sign
A few days ago I wrote about a couple arrested for wearing anti-Bush T-shirts at Bush event. In a related story, a man's anti-Bush sign was destroyed - but not before his local government issued a warning because the sign as a "code violation."

Fascism, New York City Style
The Republican party is holding its convention in New York City this year. As expected, there are plenty of people who want to hold protests in order to send a message both to the Republicans and to America generally that the current administration is not well liked. Guess what? The city government seems to be doing all it can to stop them.

Flag Burning... Flag Waving?
Despite a spate of court decisions against them, some people continue to insist that there is no speech interest in flag burning and, therefore, flag burning should not be protected by the First Amendment. One has to wonder, then, whether something like flag waving is a speech act?

Flag Desecration
Every couple of years we see new attempts by members of the Christian Right to pass a Constitutional amendment that would authorize making it a criminal act to “desecrate� the American flag. I don’t think that there can be any more obvious expression of their attitude that America is a religious rather than a secular project.

Couple Arrested for Anti-Bush T-Shirts
Has it become a crime to protest the president and his administration? Has it become illegal to attend a speech by President Bush and express your disagreement with his policies? Apparently it has - at least, that's what a couple in West Virginia experienced. They were removed from the area before his speech for nothing more than wearing T-shirts with the message "Love America, Hate Bush."?

The Mask Slips
Some have been complaining for a while that the major news media in America have been acting as little more than the unofficial propaganda arm of the United States government, dutifully repeating whatever they are told without bothering to check, question, or challenge. Recently, a Freudian Slip made on a news show lends credence to this.

Homeland Security Hunting for "Islamics"
The American government is once again working to get American citizens to spy and report on each other. The latest program involves getting truck drivers to keep an eye out for suspicious activity on America's roads and highways. Dubbed "Highway Watch,"? it will eventually include tollbooth workers, rest-stop employees, and construction crews for an army of 400,000 informants.

Lessons of Censorship and History
It is understandable that the government would want to withhold sensitive military information from the public during wartime. After all, what the public learns the enemy will also learn and there are many things that the enemy should not learn. Sometimes, though, there is a greater risk from ignorance and a greater price to be paid for secrecy.

Sneak & Peek: Is Your Home Safe?
Remember Brandon Mayfield? He was the Oregon lawyer arrested on the charge that he was involved with the Madrid train bombings. He had to be let go because there was no evidence to support the charges. What many news outlets didn't report, however, is that the government did a 'sneak & peak'? on him: they secretly entered and searched his home without telling him.

C-Word as a “Term of Endearment�
People with close relationships often have little terms of endearment for one another. Married couples might call each other 'sweetie,'? for example, and good friends might have nicknames as well. I have not, however, ever seen the 'c-word'? used in such a manner. Have you?

Moscow Trial for Blasphemy
The director of Moscow's Andrei Sakharov Museum (a human rights museum) is on trial because a display outraged leaders of the Orthodox Church. The exhibition has been labeled 'blasphemous' and Yuri Samodurov faces up to five years in prison because he intended the display to "incite hatred or enmity" and/or to impugn the dignity of a group based on their ethnicity and relation to religion.

Republican Wants 'Other Side'? of Abuse Story Told
Not too long ago I wrote about the San Francisco gallery owner who was physically attacked and whose gallery was vandalized because she showed a painting depicting the abuse of Iraqi prisoners. A politician would like to move the painting to city hall to send a message to the thugs, but a Republican disapproves.

Costs of the Drug War
What does the drug war cost America? The lives of a lot of good people - they either die or they lose their lives in prison. Is it worth it? It seems difficult to say that it is.

Free Speech or Treason?
There are a number of people who attempt to equate free speech with treason. For them, the revelation of misdeeds of the government or even just criticisms of the government are the same as betrayal of one's country.

Federal Judge Backs Fortunetellers
Tennessee had a law banning the telling of fortunes for a fee, but when challenged they changed it to require that fortunetellers include a disclaimer. That has now been struck down as an unconstitutional restriction on free speech

Ban on Pro-Drug Legalization Ads Struck Down
The federal government has taken a strong position against the legalization of any drugs that are currently illegal, like for example marijuana. The government tried to enforce this position by denying federal funds to transportation authorities if they carried pro-legalization advertisements, but a federal court has struck that down as unconstitutional.

Are you a Disaffected, US-Hating Terrorist?
Brandon Mayfield was arrested by the FBI in connection to the terrorist train bombings in Madrid because of an erroneous fingerprint identification. He was eventually released and the government has been criticized for its handling of the case. Some, though, don't see a problem.

Disney's Politics & Saudi Connections
Disney's refusal to allow subsidiary Miramax to distribute Michael Moore's new film that is critical of the Bush administration and it's connections to the Saudi royal family was supposedly because Disney didn't want to be "in the middle of a politically-oriented film during an election year." As it turns out, though, they are in the middle of politically-oriented material every single day.

Browser Hijackers Ruining Lives
Have you ever downloaded "malware" - software so malicious that it hijacks your web browser and sends you off to sites (usually pornographic) that you don't want to see and would never visit on your own? If so, you may want to be doubly careful about it: in some cases, people's lives have been almost ruined because of it.

Student Poetry Critical of Bush Leads to Firing of Teacher
Does freedom of speech extend t0 critical ideas or does it only apply to those ideas which are approved of by government and military leaders? Most Americans might be forgiven for assuming that the former is the case - but there are some in the government who are determined to disabuse us of such quaint notions. If they are successful, we won‘t even be able to complain.

Man Cited for Anti-Bush Sign
Do you have the right to protest and criticize President Bush at his public appearances? One would think so, but perhaps not - perhaps that is a right that is disappearing today.

Women Can't Handle the Truth?
The Bush administration has made a habit of removing material from government web sites when that material is politically controversial. Now there is a new case where information on a lot of different women's issues has disappeared - information on women's health, women's economic status, scientific data, and more.

Justice Department Censors ACLU
The ACLU has been involved in a secret lawsuit against the Justice Department. The ACLU released a press release which contained a paragraph describing what sorts of information the FBI could demand (without a court order) from your ISP - and the government had them take that information down.

School Bans Novel About Censorship
In an act that should receive some sort of award of irony, the Federal Way School Board in Washington state has banned a novel about censorship because it contains material of a sexual nature that is too "mature" for high school students and "embarrasses" them. Actually, I think that the real problem is that it "embarrasses" some of the parents.

Government Investigates Student Over Records Request
Be careful of what information you ask for - sometimes, it could result in your being investigated by the FBI and the Secret Service. Mark Miller got curious about the nature and extent of tunnels beneath the University of Texas' campus so he filed a request for records on them. Now, somewhere, there is a record on him.

Judge Orders Couple Not to have Children
If the government can prevent women from exercising the choice not to have children (by banning contraception and abortion), what's to stop the government from preventing women from exercising the choice to have children? Even under current circumstances, the latter sometimes happens.

Archbishop Calls for Play to be Closed
Religious believers sometimes get very upset when things like plays, movies, or books ridicule or attack religion. Indeed, they sometimes get so upset that they even call for the art work to be banned in some fashion. That appears to be what is happening in Spain with regards to a recent play.

Rethinking Bans on Pornography
There are many who dislike pornography and want it banned. Unfortunately that has proven difficult because of the pesky First Amendment and our rights to free speech. "Obscene" material can be banned, but it isn't always easy to get material labeled "obscene." Thus, there are all sorts of creative ideas for how to stop pornography despite the First Amendment.

Two Brothers, Your Votes
More and more places are moving to electronic voting instead of the old paper ballots. Did you know that two brothers, Bob and Todd Urosevich, own the companies that will count about 80% of all votes in the next presidential election? Do you suppose that this is a bit too much power and responsibility to be placed in the hands of too few unaccountable people?

Disney Forbids Distribution of Michael Moore Film
Michael Moore is a controversial film maker, but there is no doubt that his movies can make a lot of money even as they generate at least as much heated debate. Why, then, is the Walt Disney Company forbidding Miramax from distributing Moore's latest film, "Fahrenheit 911," a critical look at George W. Bush's connections to Saudi Arabia and his response to the 9-11 terrorist attacks?

Journalist Raises White Flag, Abandons Integrity
According to David Ignatius, there was little media critique of the plans to invade Iraq "because there was little criticism of the war from prominent Democrats and foreign policy analyst." If asking hard questions, holding public officials accountable, and doing independent investigations aren't within the purview of journalism, then what in the world are journalists for anyway?

Undermining the Constitution
Most Americans would like the government to take a firm stand on terrorism - both for the sake of bringing terrorists to justice and in prevent future terrorist attacks. Not all methods of combating terrorism are equal, however. Some involve undermining important constitutional liberties.

Diebold Disenfranchising Voters
Do you care about whether your votes count? You should - but if your state or community is starting to move to electronic voting machines, you should care even more because ther are good reasons to think that you could be disenfranchised. I've written before about the funny business going on with Diebold machines and the efforts of Diebold to silence critics.

Victims' Rights Amendment Back Again
One of the attempt to amend the Constitution that comes back every so often is the so-called "Victims' Rights Amendment ," a provision that would (among other things) ensure the right of victims to be present at trials and give their input to various judicial decisions (like those involving testimony, sentencing, etc.). Although it sounds awfully good, in reality it's awfully bad.

School Disciplines Student for Anti-Bush Drawing
We all have a right to protest the government, right? We all have a right to ridicule our political leaders and portray them in an unflattering light, right? Perhaps - but just how much of a "right" is retained when such ridicule and such portrays result in a visit from the Secret Service?

When is Censorship Justified?
Balancing between free speech and censorship is difficult. Obviously it is wrong to clamp down too much on speech, but certainly there are some thing which can't be allowed. Where, however, should the line be drawn? In American the line is drawn at the point where speech will lead to immediate violence. In Canada, a wider variety of "hate speech" can be restricted.

Inmate Wins Writing Award, Has Files Erased
A good prison system takes steps to ensure that people don't return to crime. Some writing programs do very well - for example, Barbara Parsons Lane won a $25,000 PEN American Center prize for her 2003 book "Couldn't Keep It To Myself: Testimonies from our Imprisoned Sisters." Did prison officials praise her? No, they erased her work and the work of all the other inamates.

NXIVM Loses in Court. Again
I've reported several times before about NXIVM, a group that has sued over being called a "cult" and to have materials critical of it taken down from a web site. It doesn't appear that they have always acted very well and, now, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has ruled against them.

Blow Struck Against Freedom of Association
One freedom people take for granted is the freedom of association - the right to spend time with any person they wish. Our government isn't supposed to tell us to refrain from joining certain groups or spending time with certain types of people - but that hasn't stopped them from trying. In Illinois, a judge has forbidden members of a suburban gang from hanging out with each other.

Pat Boone: Censorship is "Healthy"
Censorship is debated a great deal - most agree that there are some materials which should be prohibited, but where exactly the line should be drawn is another matter entirely. Some would ban lots of different things while others would limit censorship to just the bare minimum - images or speech that leads immediately to violence or other crimes. Pat Boone appears to be one of the former.

Australian TV Viewer Sues for Blasphemy
An evangelical Christian is suing Channel 7 in Australia because a character in a crime drama swore using the name "Jesus Christ." This, according to, Andre van der Linden, is blasphemous and shouldn't be allowed under Australian law.

Anti-Wal-Mart? Anti-American!
In recent years more and more people have become critical of Wal-Mart - specifically, the way in which the company drives down wages, pressures suppliers, runs small companies out of business, and has become rather wasteful in how it does business. But did you know that if you oppose a Wal-Mart moving into your area you are actually unAmerican? Yes, it's true!

Art Cover-Up
Some people really dislike nudity no matter what the context, even art or attempts to replicate art. In Tennessee, the G&L Garden Center has had to cover up statues that showed a little bit more than some local residents approved of. Of course, now the covered statues are attracting even more attention than they did before.

Woman Charged for Selling Sex Toys
Just as people held "Tupperware Parties" in the past to make extra money by selling products from Tupperware, people today can do the same by selling sex toys. Many find the atmosphere in a private home to be more comfortable than what they might find in a public store - but some in the government aren't entirely happy about it.

Adult Novelties Ruled Obscene
Government is continuing its crackdown on obscenity and pornography - not just videos and movies, but also novelty items. The Lion’s Den Adult Superstore northwest of Abilene, Texas, has apparently been indicted for selling obscenities after a grand jury deemed 29 items obscene.

Christian Censorship in Georgia
Stories like this seem to come from Georgia more often than from other places. In Bartow County, Georgia, the Board of Education has been asked by a group of Christian parents to eliminate a number of titles from schools' reading list because they are "too offensive" for children to read.

Stealing the Internet
At one time the internet consisted primarily of sites started and run by individual people; today, however, larger corporations control much of the content available online and they are seeking for ever greater control over what you see and learn. Is that the way the internet should go?

Selling Adult Material to Adult Customers: Illegal?
Not everyone like adult-oriented material, but presumably any business that takes precautions to clearly mark off such material and sell it only to adults shouldn't have to worry about legal problems. Right? Well, maybe not.

Administration's New War on Pornography
Apparently, terrorism and drugs aren't the only threats to society that are on the Bush administration's radar screen. For the first time in more than a decade, the government is significantly upping the amount of money being used to combat adult pornography. Why? Because, you know, Western civilization is at stake.

Child Charged with Child Pornography - of Self!
Laws against producing and distributing child pornography are quite understandable - they do, after all, represent a form of sexual exploitation of children. But how can a person be charged with child pornography when the "child" in the photos is herself? Sound impossible? It's true and it's happening in Pennsylvania.

Store Can't Sell Playboy Due to Sales Contract
If you own a store, you figure that you can sell anything legal. You might need a special license for something like alcohol, but in principle you're allowed to sell it all - right? Wrong. Apparently, if the previous owners of the property had a moral objection to certain things, they may have included a covenant into the contract prohibiting some sales - and there's nothing you can about it.

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