Muzzle Award Winners

By: Elizabeth Donatelli Email
By: Elizabeth Donatelli Email
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April 10, 2007

As Thomas Jefferson's birthday nears, the proponents of free speech honor his legacy by awarding 14 unlucky people the Muzzle Award for muzzling free speech.

The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression sponsors this competition. It cited the Bush Administration for "discouraging, changing, and sometimes censoring" scientific reports dealing with climate change and global warming. Last year, it cited a member of Congress for doing the same thing.

"A lot of new testimony has come out during the past year indicating just how widespread and how systematic has been this suppression of extremely important, valuable scientific information about what's happening to our environment," said Robert O'Neil of the Thomas Jefferson Center.

The Clinton Administration received their fair share of awards as well.

The rest of the list, taken from the Thomas Jefferson Center's press release, is as follows:

1. Representative Pete King (R-NY) for calling for a criminal investigation of The New York Times because of its reporting on U.S. government surveillance of international financial transactions

2. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for broadening substantially the scope of broadcast material that may constitute forbidden “indecency,” and for targeting alleged “profanity.”

3. The U.S. Department of Defense for their investigations and surveillance of organizations solely because of the organizations’ peaceful and legal anti-war protests.

4. The Bush Administration 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 the administration’s political policies.

5. The Ohio General Assembly for passing a bill requiring new employees at all state agencies, including public universities, to sign a form declaring that one does not have ties to terrorist groups as defined by the U.S. State Department. The form asks employees six questions regarding any financial or material assistance that may have been given to groups on the U.S. terrorist list, answering ‘Yes’ to any of the questions is grounds for being denied the job.

6. The Administration of Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher (R) for blocking access to certain liberal leaning websites from state-owned computers while still permitting access to conservative websites.

7. Maine Bureau of Liquor Enforcement for banning the sale of three specialty beers because of images on the labels of the beer bottles. One label was on a special Christmas edition of a beer with a label depicting Santa Claus drinking a pint. The other labels contained reproductions of paintings that depicted a bare-breasted woman.

8. East St. Louis City Council for forcing off the air a public access television show that had recently begun to criticize city policies and make statements in favor of the Mayor's opponent in an upcoming election.

9. The Philadelphia Human Relations Commission for filing a discrimination complaint against a cheese steak shop owner because he posted a bumper sticker sign that stated, “This is America: When ordering ‘Speak English.’”

10. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) for its politically correct and arbitrary policy regarding athletic team logos. For example, its decision to allow William & Mary to keep the name “The Tribe" but requiring it to remove two feathers from its logo, while at the same time allowing the Florida State Seminoles to retain its name and a war-painted Seminole Indian mascot.

11. The Charles A. Beard Memorial School Board (Knightstown, IN) for expelling four students who created a video that featured evil stuffed animals unsuccessfully dispatched to kill a teacher character.

12. Watson Chapel (Arkansas) School District for suspending approximately 20 students who protested the district's dress code by wearing simple black armbands to school.

13. Miami-Dade County Public School Board for banning the children’s picture book A Visit to Cuba from school libraries after a complaint from a parent who felt the book was insufficiently critical of life within the communist state.

14. A Joint Muzzle to Ben Davis High School (Indianapolis, IN), Princeton High School (Cincinnati, OH) and Wyoming Valley West High School (Kingston, PA) for three separate but remarkably similar acts of censoring the content of high school publications.

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