The 2002 Jefferson Muzzles have been announced. These are awarded each year near Thomas Jefferson's birthday to (dis)honor those who've ignored his warning on limitations of free speech. [via BookNotes]
Censorship Wins Out: on the obstacles to the Internet being used as a free flow of information from opaque countries, in particular the control of governments over technological and economic access to the net.
A decade or so ago, it was all clear: the Internet was believed to be such a revolutionary new medium, so inherently empowering and democratizing, that old authoritarian regimes would crumble before it. What we've learned in the intervening years is that the Internet does not inevitably lead to democracy any more than it inevitably leads to great wealth.
In a case brought by The Tattered Cover with the assistance of the ABFFE, The Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that the First Amendment protects bookstores from being forced to turn over customers' purchase records to police. This could be a good sign in terms of a related clause in the PATRIOT Act mentioned here a few days ago, although the court did leave open the possibility that there were situations where such records could be obtained by the government.
See also: The court's ruling.
Most Far-Reaching Gag Order In 1st Amendment History?: not only are bookstores and libraries subject to demands for patrons' book lists, they can't discuss it afterwards.
John Ashcroft's war on terrorism includes the most far-reaching gag order in First Amendment history -- preventing the press from reporting on the FBI's seizure of the lists of books bought or borrowed in bookstores and libraries by noncitizens and citizens suspected of terrorist activities. Under the omnibus USA Patriot Act, the FBI has the authority to get an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court -- a secret body composed of rotating federal judges -- to seek "any tangible things (including books, records, papers, documents, and other items) for an investigation to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities."
The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) and the American Library Association (ALA) have particularly alerted their members to part of the law that prevents booksellers and librarians -- once the FBI has come calling -- to reveal that a search has been made. The law states: "No person shall disclose to any other person ... that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has sought or obtained" these records.
[via New World Disorder]
The Patriot Act is not antiterrorism legislation; it's antispeech legislation, and is no more a direct response to the September 11 attacks than the Children's Internet Protection Act is a direct result of sincere concern by members of Congress about the safety of minors. The cold, cynical reality is that the Patriot Act is a bloated hodgepodge of speech-chilling law that lurked in congressional corridors not only before September 11 but in large part before the Bush administration. It was hustled into reality in the post-9/11 environment so quickly, secretively, and undemocratically that our Bill of Rights had been clocked with a one-two punch well before any of us realized it was under attack.
[via Unknown News]
US threat to peace, says vicar, in a parish magazine, circulation 500, article. A parishioner filed a complaint that the vicar was "inciting racial hatred against Americans" and British police are investigating. [via Unknown News]
Freedom of Speech and Press: Exceptions to the First Amendment - A Congressional Research Service report. [via Secrecy News]
In Sacramento, a Publisher's Questions Draw the Wrath of the Crowd: Janis Besler Heaphy, publisher of The Sacramento Bee, was booed off the stage while giving a commencement speech at California State University, Sacramento because of her comments urging citizens to safeguard their rights. [via Follow Me Here]
University of South Florida has fired Sami Al-Arian, a tenured computer science professor, largely because of the disruption caused his appearance on the O'Reilly Factor, which he says was a setup, and the subsequent death threats he received and bomb threats the University received. He was placed on paid leave two days after the show aired and was sent a letter of intent to terminate yesterday. In addition to the recent trouble, he has spoken out against the detention of his brother-in-law on secret evidence, been a vocal critic of Israel and has been accused of running a front organization for Islamic Jihad, though the charges have not been proven.
Mark at wood s lot tied this article describing The Invasion of the Body Snatchers' basis as a statement on McCarthyism to The New McCarthyism article I linked to yesterday (no, not the Donald Sutherland version).
Matthew Rothschild of The Progressive on The New McCarthyism: Secret Service visits, booksellers being required to disclose purchase records while under a gag order, columnists fired and professors harrassed for unpopular statements.