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Category Archives: Censorship

Why the Most Educated People in America Fall for Anti-Semitic Lies

The Atlantic [read free] “By now, December’s congressional hearing about anti-Semitism at universities, during which the presidents of Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, and MIT all claimed that calls for the genocide of Jews would violate their university’s policies only “depending on the context,” is already a well-worn meme. Surely there is nothing left to say about this higher-education train wreck, after the fallout brought down two of those university presidents and spawned a thousand op-eds—except that all of the punditry about diversity and free speech and criticism of Israel has extravagantly missed the point. The problem was not that Jewish students on American university campuses didn’t want free speech, or that they didn’t want to hear criticism of Israel. Instead, they didn’t want people vandalizing Jewish student organizations’ buildings, or breaking or urinating on the buildings’ windows. They didn’t want people tearing their mezuzahs down from their dorm-room doors. They didn’t want their college instructors spouting anti-Semitic lies and humiliating them in class. They didn’t want their posters defaced with Hitler caricatures, or their dorm windows plastered with F##k Jews. They didn’t want people punching them in the face, or beating them with a stick, or threatening them with death for being Jewish. At world-class American colleges and universities, all of this happened and more. I was not merely an observer of this spectacle. I’d been serving on now–former Harvard President Claudine Gay’s anti-Semitism advisory committee, convened after the October 7 Hamas massacre in Israel and amid student responses to it. I was asked to participate because I am a Harvard alumna who wrote a book about anti-Semitism called People Love Dead Jews. As soon as my participation became public, I was inundated with messages from Jewish students seeking help. They approached me with their stories after having already tried many other avenues—bewildered not only by what they’d experienced, but also by how many people dismissed or denied those experiences…”

Book Banning Goes Digital: Libraries Suspending Their E-Book Services and the Complications It Poses For First Amendment Doctrine

Book Banning Goes Digital: Libraries Suspending Their E-Book Services and the Complications It Poses for First Amendment Doctrine – Catherine E. Ferri.  Stanford Technology Law Review, Stanford Law School. Volume 27  Issue 1.  “Book banning predates the United States and has survived and thrived in a splintered twenty-first century political climate. As the fight for… Continue Reading

“Cast as Criminals, America’s Librarians Rally to Their Own Defense”

The New York Times [read free]: “…As America’s libraries have become noisy and sometimes dangerous new battlegrounds in the nation’s culture wars, librarians like Ms. Neujahr and their allies have moved from the stacks to the front lines. People who normally preside over hushed sanctuaries are now battling groups that demand the mass removal of… Continue Reading

A Brief History of the Grand Old American Tradition of Banning Books

LitHub: “Book banning is a chaotic and illogical business. How a book is received or understood is often subject to the historical moment—and the tastes of individuals. The notion of an objective measure or checklist to decide what is “appropriate”—something far-right school boards have worked to police and enforce—has long been slippery to define. In… Continue Reading

Tools for Thinking About Censorship

Ex Urbe: “Was it a government action, or did they do it themselves because of pressure?” This is inevitably among our first questions when news breaks that any expressive work (a book, film, news story, blog post etc.) has been censored or suppressed by the company or group trusted with it (a publisher, a film… Continue Reading

Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Affirms That Texas Book Ban Law is Unconstitutional

Association of American Publishers: “The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit today affirmed the preliminary injunction of the “Reader Act” (formerly HB 900) granted by Judge Alan D. Albright of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Austin Division in a written opinion issued on September 18, 2023.  The law would have required independent bookstores, national… Continue Reading

A leak-hosting site looks to thaw the chill of censorship

Columbia Journalism Review: “In November, Reuters published a special investigative feature headlined, “How an Indian startup hacked the world.” The story alleged that a hacking-for-hire firm called Appin had stolen secrets from executives, politicians, military officials, and wealthy elites around the globe. (Appin has denied this.) A few weeks later, however, the story was taken… Continue Reading

Protecting Students from Faulty Software and Legislation: 2023 Year in Review

EFF: “Lawmakers, schools districts, educational technology companies and others keep rolling out legislation and software that threatens students’ privacy, free speech, and access to social media, in the name of “protecting” children. At EFF, we fought back against this overreach and demand accountability and transparency. Bad bills and invasive monitoring systems, though sometimes well-meaning, hurt… Continue Reading

The Atlas of Surveillance Hits Major Milestones: 2023 in Review

EFF: “If you haven’t checked out the Atlas of Surveillance recently, or ever before, you absolutely should. It includes a searchable database and an interactive map, and anyone can download the data for their own projects. As this collaboration with the University of Nevada Reno’s Reynolds School of Journalism (RSJ) finishes its fifth year, we… Continue Reading

International Threats to Freedom of Expression: 2023 Year in Review

EFF: “2023 has been an unfortunate reminder that the right to free expression is most fragile for groups on the margins, and that it can quickly become a casualty during global conflicts. Threats to speech arose out of the ongoing war in Palestine. They surfaced in bills and laws around the world that explicitly restrict… Continue Reading

Read it yourself: All 673 books removed from Orange classrooms

Orlando Sentinel: “These books are among the 673 rejected by Orange County Public Schools this year [read free] for fear they violate a new Florida law that prohibits “sexual conduct” in books available to students. The books were in teachers’ classroom libraries. The books will get another review by OCPS staff, and could be returned… Continue Reading