dishonoured by freedom of speech awards
From The Thomas Jefferson Centre
For its unprecedented efforts of
discouraging, changing, and sometimes censoring the reports and studies
of government scientists in order to make them more supportive of
political policies, a 2007 Jefferson Muzzle goes to… the Bush
Unfortunately, under the Bush
administration examples of political interference in science no longer
appear to be to isolated incidents but “a system-wide epidemic,” says
Dr. Francesca Grifo, director of the Union of Concerned Scientists’
Scientific Integrity Program.
For selectively imposing a policy
prohibiting the use by collegiate teams of Native American names,
mascots and symbols, a 2007 Jefferson Muzzle goes to… The National
Collegiate Athletic Association.
For expelling four students who
created a video that featured evil stuffed animals unsuccessfully
dispatched to kill a teacher, a 2007 Jefferson Muzzle goes to… the
Charles A. Beard Memorial School Board of Knightstown, Indiana.
In the video movie The Teddy Bear
Master, a character with the power to control stuffed animals
orders a number of the usually inanimate objects to kill a former
teacher who had embarrassed him when he was a student. The evil plan
of the “Master” is thwarted, however, by several fellow students who
battle the teddy bears and thereby save the teacher’s life.
The makers of this 78-minute opus come not from Hollywood, but from
Knightstown, Indiana. From the fall of 2005 until the summer of 2006,
four sophomores at Knightstown High School wrote, directed, acted, and
video taped the movie on their own time, off school grounds. The last
name of the teacher / victim in the obviously fictional work was the
same as the last name of an actual teacher at Knightstown Intermediate
School, a school which several of the students had previously
attended. A DVD copy of the video briefly was available for sale on
the popular MySpace website for $5.00 but was removed when school
officials became aware of it.
For filing a discrimination complaint
against Geno’s Steaks solely on the basis of the public display of a
sign reading “This is America . . . When Ordering, Speak English,” a
2007 Jefferson Muzzle goes to… the Philadelphia (PA) Commission on Human
For launching and sustaining a program, ostensibly aimed at
counter-terrorists, that gathered and stored extensive information about
lawful anti-war demonstrators and other citizen groups that posed no
national security threat, a 2007 Jefferson Muzzle goes to the… United
States Department of Defense.
Late in 2005, reports surfaced that
a covert branch of the Department of Defense had been compiling and
maintaining dossiers on peaceful protests within the United States,
and on some of the advocacy groups that organized and took part in
those protests. Despite the publicity and the concern expressed by
some sectors, Congress took no action.
For denying a beer distributor’s
application to sell three beers in the state because it disapproved of
the artwork on the beers’ labels, a 2007 Jefferson Muzzle goes to… the
Maine Bureau of Liquor Enforcement.
For broadening substantially the scope of broadcast material that may
constitute forbidden “indecency” and for targeting alleged “profanity”
as well, a 2007 Jefferson Muzzle goes to… the Federal Communications
In 1927, Congress adopted the first
law that regulated the content of material aired by federally licensed
broadcasters. Since then “indecent” and “profane” utterances have been
subject to sanctions by the Federal Communications Commission, along
with material that is “obscene.” Until recently, the Committee
declined to classify all uses of vulgar and taboo four-letter words on
licensed broadcast stations as violations of this law and its
successors. Several years ago, however, following widespread criticism
of the infamous “Wardrobe Malfunction” during the 2004 Super Bowl
halftime show, and other widely publicized linguistic challenges, the
FCC has adopted a markedly tougher stance on suggestive language and
imagery. Specifically, use of the “f-word” regardless of context has
now been deemed “to have an inherently sexual connotation.”
For suspending students for wearing
black armbands to school in protest of a new school dress code policy, a
2007 Muzzle goes to… Watson Chapel (Arkansas) School District.
For calling upon the Justice Department to seek criminal sanctions
against a newspaper and its staff for disclosing publicly the existence
and extent of covert, warrantless surveillance by the National Security
Administration, a 2007 Jefferson Muzzle goes to… U. S. Representative
Peter King (R., N.Y.)
For canceling the contract with the owner of a public access television
station because he criticized City Council policies on air, a 2007
Jefferson Muzzle goes to… the City Council of East St. Louis, Illinois.
For attempting to remove children picture books from school libraries
because the books were not sufficiently critical of life in Cuba under
the Castro regime, a 2007 Jefferson Muzzle goes to… the Miami-Dade
County (Florida) School Board.
For selectively blocking the workplace access of Kentucky state
employees to certain political blogs and other Internet sites that had
posted statements critical of the governor and his administration, a
2007 Jefferson Muzzle goes to… the Administration of Kentucky Governor
For three separate but remarkably similar acts of censoring the content
of high school publications, a joint 2007 Jefferson Muzzle is awarded to
the administrations of… Ben Davis High School (Indianapolis, IN),
Princeton High School (Cincinnati, OH) and Wyoming Valley West High
School (Kingston, PA).
For requiring, under the Ohio PATRIOT Act, that all applicants for
employment with the State of Ohio or any of its agencies, must answer
satisfactorily six intrusive and ambiguous questions pertaining to
political beliefs and activities, a 2007 Jefferson Muzzle goes to… the
Ohio General Assembly.