By Harvey Silverglate
Three cheers for Margery Eagan for her July 8th Boston Herald column’s deft skewering of those who have reacted with horror and, even worse, threats of future censorship toward this year’s Beverly Farms Horribles Parade, posted on YouTube. Eagan alone appears to understand the appropriateness of the biting – even crude and vicious – satire directed at the whole brouhaha over whether a group of teenage mothers-to-be in Gloucester got together to plan their deliveries at about the same time.?xml:namespace>
partially a free speech blog, so we’d be remiss in failing to note the passing
of George Carlin. He failed to convince the Supreme Court of the absurdity of
the Federal Communications Commission’s “broadcast indecency” rules that
scrubbed the airwaves during the day and evening (when, presumably, the kiddies
are awake) of those naughty words that we all hear and (if the truth be told)
many of us use quite regularly.
In a puritan streak, Harvard University has forced several student groups who were planning on hosting a "Barely Legal" party to change the name -- or they otherwise couldn't hold the party, according to the Harvard Crimson and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). (Disclosure: Free For All writer Harvey Silverglate is Chairman of the Board of Directors of FIRE.
This morning, the Supreme Court ruled that a law that outlaws promoting or advertising -- "pandering" -- child pornography is constitutional and does not interfere with First Amendment freedoms. In the case, United States v. Williams, decided 7-2, the justices declared that there is no free speech right that protects "offers to provide or requests to obtain child pornography," even if (in fact) there is no pornography to be provided.
Last month, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (disclosure: for which TheFreeForAll blogger Harvey Silverglate serves as Chairman of the Board) noted that Colorado College had punished several students who published a parody of a campus feminist publication. FIRE is now reporting that the College has denied the students' appeal.
The Waltham-based university named after the late and great Supreme Court Justice, Louis D. Brandeis, champion of free speech and free thought, has just achieved the dubious distinction of winning one of the “muzzle awards” given out annually by the highly respected Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, located in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Just when you think you’ve heard the last politically correct, holier-than-thou pronouncement coming out of our university campuses for a while, you open the morning’s newspaper and find more inanities. This morning’s two-minutes-outrage is a rant from campus professors, researchers and administrators criticizing Big Tobacco for giving – and universities for accepting – no-strings-attached grants for health-related research at Boston University, Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of technology, and the University of Massachusetts.