Free Speech & the First Amendment brought the American Library Association to a House Subcommittee Hearing on Book Bans and Academic Censorship this past April 7th, 2022.
February started off on quite the ominous note, with pastor Greg Locke from Tennessee holding an old-fashioned book burning. While hardly the first, the widespread coverage in the news is a sign that we have stopped denying book burnings happen on US soil. The unfortunate reality is they happen here, and we need to pay attention to their rise in our own backyard.
Student Press Freedom Day will be held on Thursday, February 24, 2022. This year’s theme is “Unmute Yourself!”
The last year, especially the last few months, has seen a dramatic increase in book challenges nationwide. This is alarming, as it should be; however, the timing of such an organized push repeats history with the same frequency as social challenges and advancements. The current wave of attempted censorship is a modern remake of a 1980s special that should have been left in the past.
The Texas House Committee on General Investigating, chaired by Matt Krause, has compiled a lengthy list of books that they allege contains material that might make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex. Ah, the old slippery slope from soft censorship to soul crushing authoritarianism.
The First Amendment (to the United States Constitution) is often referenced in today’s society, but without being prompted can you name all five freedoms that are protected? This was part of a survey administered for The First Amendment: Where America Stands, a project from the Freedom Forum. Freedom Forum, as an organization, strives to raise awareness of First Amendment freedoms through education, advocacy, and action. This project surveyed over 3,000 Americans in summer 2020, asking them more than 200 questions to provide a detailed analysis of how people differ on the relevance of the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment.
Restricted Reading is a new original series of short personal audio narratives that examines access to information in prison and the right to intellectual freedom for the more than 2.2 million people incarcerated in America today.
On Wednesday, June 23, 2021, the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in favor of Brandi Levy and public school students’ speech rights, in the case Mahoney School Board v. Brandi Levy. In 2017, Levy, then a 14 year old high school student in Pennsylvania, tried out for her school’s varsity cheering squad. After not making the team, she vented her frustrations in a Snapchat video, where she flipped off the camera and dropped a few swearwords. The school, after seeing the video, subsequently suspended her from the junior varsity cheer squad, saying that her video and its message violated the cheerleading code of conduct. After failing to come to a resolution with the school, Levy and her parents sued, arguing that punishing her for off campus speech violated Levy’s First Amendment rights.
On May 14, President Joe Biden revoked a slew of Executive Orders enacted by Former President Trump during his final nine months in office, including the “Preventing Online Censorship” executive order which targeted Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
The law is clear: employers get to decide whether or not an employee’s latest Tweet is grounds for termination and the First Amendment, though meant to be a shield from government overreach, is no shield from private consequence.