Art by Sam Welty, Photo Courtesy of the TJ Center
The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization in Charlottesville, Virginia dedicated to protecting free speech, has just announced its 2013 "Jefferson Muzzle" award winners. Each year, the Muzzles highlight especially egregious examples of government censorship.
In 2008, for example, a Muzzle was awarded to Valdosta State University’s then-President, Ronald Zaccari, for retaliating against student Hayden Barnes for his protected speech. Torch readers may remember that FIRE helped Barnes throughout the battle that eventually ended with a jury finding Zaccari personally liable for violating Barnes’ due process rights.
This year’s winners include the North Carolina General Assembly, for expanding a state anti-bullying statute to prohibit a range of speech about teachers, including criticisms of teachers that are rooted in facts. As the TJ Center points out, "the law discourages respect for free speech by teaching young people that government officials are above criticism." This is exactly the kind of unlearning liberty that FIRE works to prevent in the higher education context.
Read the full list of winners on the TJ Center’s website!