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The Eighth Annual Muzzle Awards: Dishonorable mentions

Dishonorable mentions

• One-legged World War II veteran Noel Dube has the dubious distinction of having two of his First Amendment rights violated — freedom of speech and of religion. Dube, 85, had to take the Town of Pepperell to court in order to keep a religious shrine on his property that included a 24-foot illuminated cross. Fortunately, Middlesex Superior Court judge Kenneth Fishman ruled last January that Dube was within his rights to practice his religion as he saw fit.

• The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation already sells Henry David Thoreau’s classic Walden at the Walden Pond Reservation. Its employees might consider reading it as well. Last July, a state park ranger ordered Eric Eldred to leave Walden Pond because he was trying to give away copies of Walden. "If you’re going to give away books for free," park supervisor Denise Morrissey explained, "it might take away business."

• The University of New Hampshire taught Timothy Garneau a lesson on the perils of political correctness last November. After Garneau wrote and distributed a flier joking that freshman women could lose 10 to 15 pounds by taking the stairs instead of the elevator, he was ordered out of his dorm, and was forced to live in his car for three weeks. After the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education intervened, Garneau was reinstated.

• Rowdyism — and worse — among college students has become an increasingly pernicious problem in Boston. But Boston city councilors Michael Ross and Jerry McDermott do not have the answer. Last fall they proposed an ordinance that would require colleges and universities to provide the city with the names and addresses of students who live off campus. And it passed. "We’re not trying to take away your civil liberties or go after you," Ross said. Uh, yes, councilor, you are.

• In 2001, ex-governor Paul Cellucci earned his third Muzzle Award for ordering the MBTA not to accept advertising from Change the Climate, a Greenfield-based group that favored the decriminalization of marijuana. This year, a Dishonorable Mention goes to the MBTA itself for vowing to keep the ban alive — even after the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled that the T had engaged in "viewpoint discrimination" (see "Free Speech," This Just In, December 3, 2004).

— DK

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