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Introducing America’s 10 Worst Censors

10 Worst feature image

FIRE’s annual list has expanded to highlight the worst-of-the-worst in censorship across the nation, including off-campus offenders for the first time.

PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 13, 2024 — It’s almost Valentine’s Day, so treat yourself to flowers, chocolate, and the 13th annual skewering of America’s worst censors, speech infringers, and petty despots.

This year, we're doing things a little differently. Our annual “10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech” is now “America's 10 Worst Censors” to celebrate FIRE's expansion into off-campus First Amendment defense. Whether the censors are on campus or off campus, there's nowhere left for them to hide.

This year’s list includes people and institutions guilty of many forms of censorship, including raiding a small-town newspaper, punishing a middle schooler for wearing eye black at a football game, canceling students and professors for their views on the Israel-Hamas war, and retroactively censoring famous authors without their consent.

“This year’s list goes to show that no one is safe from the possibility of censorship,” said FIRE President and CEO Greg Lukianoff. “Americans of all ages and professions are being pushed into a corner when trying to express themselves freely: Shut up or be shut up. Censorship is an abuse of authority and a poor substitute for honest dialogue, and FIRE is here to fight it every step of the way.”

The 10 Worst Censors of 2023, in alphabetical order, are:

  • Book censors
  • California Community Colleges
  • Florida state officials
  • Hypocritical university admins
  • The Marion County Police Dept.
  • The Mayo Clinic College of Medical Science
  • Muirlands Middle School
  • New York state officials
  • San Francisco State University
  • The Texas A&M University system

Detailed descriptions of each censor’s speech-chilling misdeeds are available on FIRE’s website.

“It’s past time for off-campus censors to get the dishonor they're due," said FIRE Director of Public Advocacy Aaron Terr. “Censors on and off college campuses have run roughshod over Americans' rights for years, and we hope that by throwing shade at them, we can prompt other would-be censors to think twice.”


FIRE also issued its sixth Lifetime Censorship Award, reserved for those censors that deserve special recognition for their commitment to censorship. This year, Harvard University earned the award for threatening the New York Post with a defamation lawsuit, canceling scholars for their views on everything from biological sex to Israel, and coming in dead last in FIRE’s annual free speech rankingsHarvard has appeared on the “10 Worst” list five times in the past: in 2012201320172018, and 2020.

Harvard joins Georgetown University, Yale University, Syracuse University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and DePaul University on our list of Lifetime Censorship Award recipients. 

Previous editions of FIRE’s annual “10 Worst” list can be found on FIRE’s website.

The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to defending and sustaining the individual rights of all Americans to free speech and free thought — the most essential qualities of liberty. FIRE educates Americans about the importance of these inalienable rights, promotes a culture of respect for these rights, and provides the means to preserve them.


Katie Kortepeter, Communications Campaign Manager, FIRE: 215-717-3473;

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