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ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE ACLU Names Arts Censors of the Year; Awardees Span the Political Spectrum Embargoed For RELEASE until September 26, 1993 NEW YORK -- The American Civil Liberties Union today named the 1993 Arts Censors of the Year, a dubious award bestowed upon those who have shown exceptional disregard for the First Amendment. The ACLU's Arts Censorship Project designates the awardees each year to illustrate the different ways that censorship occurs and to spotlight dramatic instances in which groups or individuals have threatened to suppress speech and expression not in accord with their own views. The ACLU announced its second-annual awards today in observance of Banned Books Week, when Americans are reminded of the strains of intolerance and repression that continue to haunt our society. This year's Arts Censors span the political spectrum but share an intolerance for expression they consider offensive. They range from longtime arts foe Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) to the student editors of a feminist law journal in Michigan. They include government bodies like the Federal Communications Commission, which has attempted to silence radio personality Howard Stern, a school district that confiscated books and another that stopped the production of a student mural on the theme of the First Amendment. They include far-right political advocacy organizations in Oregon and Tennessee that have appointed themselves guardians of public morality. "Censorship takes many forms and guises," said Marjorie Heins, Director of the ACLU's national Arts Censorship Project. "The people and groups we've named today share an impulse to stifle those they disagree with and to impose their own moral, ideological or religious views on others." A number of this year's censors are public officials or elected boards that have used the weight and authority of their offices to wage campaigns against artists, authors, students and musicians over the course of the past year. Two of the Arts Censors are private pressure groups that have advocated censorship through tactics ranging from electoral campaigns to lawless theft of books from public libraries. "While the ACLU emphatically supports the First Amendment right to advocate on behalf of one's beliefs, we also vehemently oppose efforts to deprive other Americans of their right to see, hear and express their own opinions," said Ira Glasser, Executive Director of the ACLU. Since its founding in 1920, the ACLU has fought for freedom of expression and against all forms of censorship. The ACLU's Arts Censorship Project provides legal assistance to artists and arts organizations whose rights are threatened. The project also conducts educational efforts to assure the rights of Americans to read, hear, or view expressions of their choice. The ACLU's 1993 Arts Censors of the Year are: GOVERNMENT ARTS CENSORS THE FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION, which has greatly expanded its role as the federal government's only official censor by intimidating radio stations with unprecedented fines against such popular entertainers as Howard Stern for transgressions of ill-defined standards of "decency." SENATOR JESSE HELMS, whose latest sally in a longstanding war on free speech was his sponsorship of the new 1992 cable TV censorship law. Senator Helms needs little introduction; his is the name most frequently associated with congressional attacks on the National Endowment for the Arts. He has come to symbolize the far right's campaign to limit personal freedoms in the name of imposing a single moral standard on Americans. THE STUDENT EDITORIAL BOARD OF THE MICHIGAN JOURNAL OF GENDER AND LAW, for demonstrating the dangers of censorship in the name of feminism by dismantling an art exhibit curated by a woman and consisting of art mostly by women, on the grounds that one video contained "pornography." We include them among the government censors because of the university's sponsorship of the conference and their contracting for the exhibit on behalf of the university. RIB LAKE SCHOOL DISTRICT, WISCONSIN, where an irate principal confiscated a student's copy of Judy Blume's novel Forever, a tale of teen love, then proceeded to hold closed school board meetings to discuss the removal of the book from the school. THE CITY OF SHREVEPORT, LOUISIANA, which canceled heavy-metal band Society of the Damned's concert in a city park after reading promotional fliers warning, "If you are afraid of the free exchange of ideas, stay home!" ELK GROVE UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT, CALIF., where a student mural depicting a burning flag and quoting the First Amendment was censored by authorities. MAYOR TOM FINK, ANCHORAGE, ALASKA, who has used his power to crusade against the arts in Anchorage by attacking works that violated his political ideology and trying to force content restrictions on arts funding. MERIDIAN SCHOOL DISTRICT, IDAHO, which has censored everything from student newspapers to class speakers to a song about recycling. PRIVATE ARTS CENSORS THE OREGON CITIZENS ALLIANCE, moving force behind last year's infamous Ballot Measure 9 and sponsor of similar measures in Oregon municipalities this year -- measures that would deprive citizens of their rights to gather in public places to discuss gay rights and would restrict access to books, magazines, and films that discuss homosexuality in terms other than moral condemnation. CONCERNED WOMEN FOR AMERICA, EAST TENNESSEE CHAPTER, whose member Kathy Hollifield held hostage 18 books primarily dealing with sex education for teens, refusing to return them to the local library. --endit-- ============================================================= ACLU Free Reading Room | A publications and information resource of the gopher:// | American Civil Liberties Union National Office | | "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty"


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