TJ Center tags free speech spoilers
For the sixteenth year in a row, the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression has handed out its annual Muzzle Awards. Handed out each year in celebration of Thomas Jefferson's birthday (April 13), the awards "dishonor" those individuals, organizations, and government entities that have trampled on the spirit of free expression embodied in the First Amendment.
This year, the TJ Center handed out 14 Muzzle Awards, most notably to the Bush Administration for the suppression of scientific information on climate change that did not serve its political policies, the US Department of Defense for spying on Americans, and The Federal Communications Commission for its broadening definition of what constitutes "indecency" on the airwaves. Muzzles also went to the NCAA for selectively censoring the use of Native American symbols in college sports, the Maine Bureau of Liquor Enforcement for censoring art on a beer label, and several school districts across the country for suppressing student expression.
Here at home, thanks to the TJ Center-sponsored free speech wall, it's unlikely that Charlottesville will ever be accused of muzzling free speech. Indeed, the photo left, which shows a recent collage on the free speech wall, has some saying some muzzling might be in order.
"Supporters of the wall seem to think that their acceptance of all the crap on here reflects a true embodiment of the principles of free speech," says Charlottesville resident Kevin Cox, who took the photo and has taken to erasing objectionable material that covers the text of the First Amendment and a quote by Thurgood Marshall. "But what I feel most is sadness. I'm sad that the noble ideal of free expression in American life has been debased by a monument that serves as a platform for profanity, hate speech, vulgarity, and pornography."