2006 Muzzle Awards

By: Elizabeth Donatelli
By: Elizabeth Donatelli
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April 11, 2006

It's that time of the year when the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression recognizes violators of free speech. They are called the Jefferson Muzzle Awards and given to people who try to stifle free expression. According to the Center, this year's top violator was President Bush.

President Bush was given "top honors" for authorizing wiretapping on U.S. citizens .

"The American Bar Association said very clearly to the President, you don't have that authority. They also said to the Congress, you ought to go back and make absolutely clear that you didn't empower the President to gather this kind of information if that was your intent," said Robert M. O'Neil of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression.

Bush is one of three Presidents to win since they awards began in 1992, but there are several other government winners this year. The Mayor of New York won for pulling an art permit for a show because a graffiti artists would spray paint on subway cars.

"That that somehow would arouse or incite New Yorkers to paint cans and go looking for the nearest car barn or yard, just seems to us a greatly exaggerated concern," said O'Neil.

The Florida Supreme Court won for pulling this advertisement from lawyers because of it's negative image.

"The notion that any perspective client would somehow be mislead into thinking that by hiring these lawyers, he would be engaged with mortal combat with his adversary, that seems to us just way over reaction," said O'Neil.

These are just some of this year's 15 recipients on the list of "Best Censors." To see them all, check out their website at tjcenter.org.

The Center gives out the awards in April because this is the month that Thomas Jefferson was born.

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