Erosion of Speech Freedoms is How Censorship Grows in the U.S.

Censorship it easy to spot when China or Iran simply turn off media channels. However, in the US, well-meaning local agencies are also advancing censorship.

Want a job? Give us your social media passwords.
The City of Bozeman, Montana, has a long-standing policy of requiring job applicants to provide usernames and passwords for “any and all current personal or business Web sites, web pages, or memberships on any Internet-based chat rooms, social clubs, or forums, to include, but not limited to: Facebook, Google, Yahoo,, MySpace, etc”.

National coverage has caused the city to reconsider the policy. Bozeman City Attorney Greg Sullivan said in The Daily Chronicle that the policy may change – instead of asking applicants for login information, applicants would be required to “friend” officials on Facebook so the city could see the individual’s profile, for example. What’s next, diary screening? Government employees have privacy too, right?

Update: On Monday night, the city issued a release (PDF) stating it would henceforth cease the practice of requesting candidates’ login information.

Old English font is NOT for teens
The principal of the high school in Orange, California, has confiscated copies of a student magazine prior to publication.  His main complaint about the latest issue of PULP concerns the cover, which features a faux full-back tattoo with the publication’s name and a picture of a panther, the school mascot.

The principal alleges that the image promotes gang life and might encourage students to get tattoos, singling out the use of Old English font to create “gangster-style writing.” The principal agreed to allow the magazine’s publication if it carried an “anti-tattoo” message. This undercuts the legitimate gang concern, as tattoos don’t cause gangs, and are in fact a further form of self expression. Students can use any font they want, right?

Read more on the Citizen Media Law Project.

UMass Student Leaders Compel Conservative Apology
The Legal Satyricon
illuminates state-backed censorship voted in by student leaders at UMass:

The UMass conservative organization, the Silent Majority, publishes a newspaper called The Minuteman. The most recent issue exposed some financial irresponsibility in another student organization, Bridges (an organization that is supposed to spend its funds to tutor minority students), and mocked the organization and its director. The expose appears on the first page of this document. . . .

The Bridges crew wasn’t too pleased about this, so they engaged in a pretty time-honored UMass tradition: They stole all of the copies of the newspaper that they didn’t want others to read. The UMass student government association responded by calling for the conservative group’s funding to be cut unless they purchased an advertisement in the campus’ main newspaper, The Collegian, apologizing for the above statements. (source)

Despite the fact that the measure violated the First Amendment in two different ways, it still passed. When a student senator attempted to introduce his own measure repealing the clearly unconstitutional measure, he was escorted from the senate floor by campus police.

“No decency, no shame, not even a hint of self-awareness.”  Says Professor Randazza:  “Any ‘liberal’ who doesn’t stand up for the Minuteman has no right to complain the next time it is liberal-valued free speech under attack.”

In a related case, the tenth circuit upheld a school’s requirement that a student who mentioned Jesus in a valedictory speech be compelled to apologize as a condition of receiving her diploma.

It seems increasingly that individual rights are balanced against collective righteousness. And increasingly, the mob seems to believe its good intent trumps constitutional protection.

1 Response to "Erosion of Speech Freedoms is How Censorship Grows in the U.S."

  • battery-stores

    May 21, 2010

    Your point is very positive.
    I like your style so much, I am your honest reader.

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