Censorship and the Anemic State of Political Discourse in America

When I lived in China in the early 1990s, there were things that you could not discuss. One was Tibet. Another was Taiwan, “referred to in my daughter’s public elementary school in Shanghai as “China’s largest island.” Another was the 1989 massacre of students and workers in Beijing. I used to be grateful at the time that I was an American and that back home, we could talk about anything.

Except that in a way we can’t. Not in public discourse, anyhow.

Published in: on March 17, 2008 at 12:14 am  Leave a Comment  

An inability to tolerate Islam contradicts western values

Free speech is now the rallying cry of escalating tensions, but we can also use it to expose double standards on both sides

Karen Armstrong

In the 17th century, when some Iranian mullahs were trying to limit freedom of expression, Mulla Sadra, the great mystical philosopher of Isfahan, insisted that all Muslims were perfectly capable of thinking for themselves and that any religiosity based on intellectual repression and inquisitorial coercion was “polluted”. Mulla Sadra exerted a profound influence on generations of Iranians, but it is ironic that his most famous disciple was probably Ayatollah Khomeini, author of the fatwa against Salman Rushdie.

Published in: on July 21, 2007 at 4:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

Charges added against 2 who held anti-Bush banner

Sign was held on highway overpass

Published in: on July 16, 2007 at 11:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

White House Policy Illegally Silences Americans Critical of Bush

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit against Gregory Jenkins, a former high-level White House staffer who enacted a policy that unlawfully excluded individuals perceived to be critical of the administration from public events where President Bush was present. The policy is laid out in an October 2002 “Presidential Advance Manual” obtained by the ACLU.

Published in: on July 7, 2007 at 1:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

Court Allows Student’s Anti-Bush T-Shirt

Putting its recent ruling on student speech into practice, the Supreme Court on Friday rejected a school district’s appeal of a ruling that it violated a student’s rights by censoring his anti-Bush T-shirt.

A seventh-grader from Vermont was suspended for wearing a shirt that bore images of cocaine and a martini glass _ but also had messages calling President Bush a lying drunk driver who abused cocaine and marijuana, and the “chicken-hawk-in-chief” who was engaged in a “world domination tour.”

Published in: on June 30, 2007 at 10:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Intimidation of a Vet

An Interview with Liam Madden

VFW blasts inquiry into anti-war vets

Published in: on June 23, 2007 at 1:40 am  Leave a Comment  

The Regents and Ward Churchill

Now is the Time to Speak Out!

In the next few weeks, the Board of Regents of the University of Colorado (CU) will vote on the dismissal of Professor Ward Churchill. This is the final opportunity for public input in this process.

Over the past two and a half years, many of you have opposed CU’s attempts to fire Ward. Ward and I have engaged in this struggle not for the sake of his job (he will always write, speak and teach), nor because we enjoy battling bureaucracy, but because it has become emblematic of contemporary efforts to silence those who insist on discussing uncomfortable truths.

Published in: on June 23, 2007 at 1:36 am  Leave a Comment  

Protesters Barred From Cheney’s West Point Speech

A federal appeals court on Friday denied an organization permission to stage an antiwar demonstration on Saturday on the grounds of the United States Military Academy at West Point, where Vice President Dick Cheney is to deliver the commencement address.

Published in: on May 26, 2007 at 11:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

The War on Free Expression

In a post-9/11 climate, the right of free expression is under attack and endangered in the age of George Bush when dissent may be called a threat to national security, terrorism, or treason. But losing that most precious of all rights means losing our freedom that 18th century French philosopher Voltaire spoke in defense of saying “I may disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Using it to express dissent is what noted historian Howard Zinn [and Thomas Jefferson] calls “the highest form of patriotism” exercising our constitutional right to freedom of speech, the press, to assemble, to protest publicly, and associate as we choose for any reason within the law.

[addition mine]

Published in: on May 15, 2007 at 1:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

Use the First Amendment – But Not In Public

Don Imus and the Triumph of Economic McCarthyism

By Ted Rall
April 17, 2007

Published in: on May 14, 2007 at 3:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

On the Media and Imus

via Freepress.net

Don Imus and What’s Ailing the Media
That people took advantage of their rights to help convince networks and advertisers to abandon Imus is much less a threat to democracy than the fact that control over what we read, see and hear through the media is in fewer and fewer hands.

Joseph Hughes, TPM Cafe

Imus Is a Symptom of Centralized Media

Lost in the debate over Don Imus is any discussion of U.S. media policy, which created and sustains a system that richly rewards “shock jock” programming.

Wally Bowen, Ashville Citizen Times

Big Media and the Imus ‘Accident’

Stations that aired Imus’ talk show were more likely to be owned by large group owners — companies that own stations in multiple markets or own more than three stations in a single market. None of them were minority-owned stations.

Timothy Karr, StopBigMedia.com

Tell the FCC to Stop Big Media

Published in: on April 19, 2007 at 11:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

Imus in the Hornets’ Nest

April 11, 2007, 5:42 pm
Dick Cavett

Don Imus must feel as if he has been run over by a cement truck, which then reversed and backed over him.

It’s probably true that the women on the Rutgers basketball team are not Imus fans and, as he says, they probably didn’t know who he is. It would be interesting to know exactly how the ladies got the bad news. Did someone say, for example, “A broadcaster announced on the air that you have undesirable ethnic hairdos and that you are prostitutes”? (more…)

Published in: on April 11, 2007 at 11:30 pm  Comments (5)  

Paying the Price

April 12, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

You knew something was up early in the day. As soon as I told executives at MSNBC that I was going to write about the “60 Minutes” piece, which was already in pretty wide circulation, they began acting very weird. We’ll get back to you, they said.

Published in: on April 11, 2007 at 10:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

Imus: The Tip Of The Iceberg In Talk Radio

Imus is another example of the degradation of talk radio that has been going on since Rush Limbaugh started this in 1980.

Published in: on April 11, 2007 at 10:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Imus Fallout and Lessons for Black America

One area of fallout that has to be explored is the detoxification of the public airwaves and Black America’s role in that effort. This is where we arrive at a “mirror moment” for Black America to come to grips with its own culpability in this regard.

Published in: on April 11, 2007 at 10:06 pm  Leave a Comment  

Imus’s Sponsors and Guests Owe the Bigger Apology

And it’s interesting that no one has made a peep about the first amendment in this entire media swirl.

Published in: on April 11, 2007 at 10:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

Nappy-headed Hos of the World Unite!

I have straight blondish hair and have never sold any sexual services, but if the Rutgers women are “nappy-headed hos,” then I’d be proud to be one too.

Barbara Ehrenreich

Don Imus Suspended Over Racial Remarks

The radio talk show host Don Imus was suspended for two weeks yesterday after the outcry over his racially disparaging remarks about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team.

Published in: on April 9, 2007 at 10:06 pm  Comments (2)  

Police Log Confirms FBI Role In Arrests

Group Detained, Questioned During D.C. War Protest

Published in: on April 3, 2007 at 9:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

How to Tell a Billionaire From a Bomber

March 30, 2007

The Billionaires, with a capital B, were delighted to hear that there are more superrich New Yorkers than they had thought.

Several Billionaires were sitting in Union Square Park the other day, and one of them remarked to us that 45 billionaires, small B, call New York home. Actually, we said, there are 50, judging from the latest Forbes magazine list.

Well, that touched off so many high-fives and shouts of “All right!” that you’d have thought the incredible had happened, like world peace or the Knicks making the playoffs.

Published in: on March 29, 2007 at 11:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Free speech central to Web porn decision

“Perhaps we do the minors of this country harm if First Amendment protections, which they will with age inherit fully, are chipped away in the name of their protection,” he wrote.

Published in: on March 23, 2007 at 1:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

Scientist accuses White House of ‘Nazi’ tactics

A government scientist, under sharp questioning by a federal panel for his outspoken views on global warming, stood by his view today that the Bush administration’s information policies smacked of Nazi Germany.

“This is the United States,” Hansen told the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee. “We do have freedom of speech here.”

Published in: on March 20, 2007 at 11:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

“BONG HITS 4 JESUS” case goes to U.S. Supreme Court

Starting tomorrow the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case pitting first amendment free speech rights against the Juneau School District and its policies.

Published in: on March 18, 2007 at 9:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

Peace-Loving Convicts

Edited By Gregory Flannery

One of the weirder trials to take place in [Cincinnati’s] Hamilton County Municipal Court in recent years ended March 13 with the conviction of four peace protesters on a charge of trespassing. The trial was distinctive in several ways: Five volunteer lawyers represented four defendants, including a 79-year-old nun. The prosecutor repeatedly told the jury how nice the defendants are. The trial stretched over the course of six days. The prosecutor presented a minimalist case, offering only one witness. No police officers took the stand.

Published in: on March 15, 2007 at 7:43 am  Leave a Comment  

Setting Aside Differences


Published in: on March 3, 2007 at 2:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

Walter Reed patients told to keep quiet

Is one of the freedoms they fought to uphold being denied them?

Published in: on February 28, 2007 at 12:31 pm  Comments (1)  

Victory for Satire

It was on this day in 1988 that the Supreme Court issued an important decision in the history of satire in the case of Hustler Magazine v. Jerry Falwell. The court ruled that satire of a public figure — no matter how vulgar, insulting, or even false — is protected by the First Amendment. [Writer’s Almanac]

Published in: on February 24, 2007 at 6:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Call for an Open Discussion of Mass-Marketed Pornography

The fear of anything resembling censorship prevents us from confronting what pornography tells us about the cruelty of our culture, and the white supremacy and misogyny that abounds in America.

Published in: on February 17, 2007 at 6:51 pm  Comments (2)  

He’s Got a Big Sign, and He’s Not Afraid to Use It

February 11, 2007
This Land


After he has closed his restaurant for the night, downed a few beers at a neighboring bar and eaten a predawn breakfast at Denny’s, Bill Balsamico returns to an unshared apartment beside his darkened establishment and clicks on the television. This is when she visits, his invisible muse. (more…)

Published in: on February 13, 2007 at 12:12 am  Comments (1)  

More Than Antiwar

January 29, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist


It was a few minutes after 11 a.m. when the scattered crowd began moving slowly toward the stage at the end of the Mall. The sky was a beautiful sunlit blue and the Capitol building, huge and white and majestic, offered the protesters an emotional backdrop that seemed almost close enough to touch.

Published in: on January 29, 2007 at 2:24 am  Leave a Comment  

Bush T-shirt ban

An Australian who lives in Britain has threatened legal action against Qantas for barring him from a Melbourne-to-London flight wearing a T-shirt depicting US President George Bush as a terrorist.

Published in: on January 22, 2007 at 9:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

Jailed for blogging

CAIRO: In a cramped jail cell in Alexandria, Egypt, sits a soft-spoken 22-year-old student. Kareem Amer was sent to prison for over a month for allegedly “defaming the president of Egypt” and “highlighting inappropriate aspects that harm the reputation of Egypt.” Where did Amer commit these supposed felonies? On his weblog.

Published in: on December 28, 2006 at 1:27 am  Leave a Comment  

Sean Penn: On Receiving the 2006 Christopher Reeve First Amendment Award

For the purposes of tonight and my own personal enjoyment, I’m going to yield to the notion that I deserve this.
[Thx Billy!]

Published in: on December 19, 2006 at 9:22 am  Leave a Comment  

Court takes ‘Bong Hits 4 Jesus’ case

Juneau School Board v. Frederick

Published in: on December 2, 2006 at 12:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

Gingrich wants to restrict freedom of speech?

Legal expert looks at constitutionality of former House Speaker’s comments

Published in: on November 29, 2006 at 3:54 pm  Comments (1)