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Ethics, libel, freedom of the press

CONTENTS

 

• Codes of Ethics, Standards and Guidelines,
and Statements of Principle and Best Practices

• Codes of Conduct
• Medical ghostwriting and ethical issues in medical publishing
•Privacy and invasion of privacy

(including phone searches at border)
Online privacy: Steps you can take to protect data
(data privacy vs. data protection)
GDPR, or the 'right to be forgotten'
(the battle between 'right to privacy' and 'right to know')
• Social media monitoring
• Virtual private networks (VPNs)
• Bullying, cyberbullying, and online harassment
• Sexual harassment
•  HIPAA, electronic health records, medical privacy laws, and patient rights
•Photographers' rights
• Recording phone calls
Right of publicity (personality rights)

• Plagiarism, recycling, patchwriting, and sloppy research

Defamation, libel, and slander
• Defamation and #MeToo
• Anti-SLAPP law
Protection for whistleblowers
• What's up with shield laws?
(right to protect confidential sources)

• Organizations fighting for the four freedoms
• Free speech, freedom of expression, and freedom from censorship
• Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
• Freedom of the press
Free speech (including dissent and protest)
• Academic freedom, campus free speech, teacher tenure, student rights, educational gag orders
(and Stop Woke Act)

• Censorship
• Censorship vs. freedom of expression
• Timelines of censorship history
• Prior restraint (government censorship)
• Censorship by the numbers

What you can do to fight book bans and challenges
(which has its own list of contents)
Banned & challenged books
• Banned & challenged books (lists)
• Cancel culture
• The flag, the national anthem, and free expression

• Sunshine laws and Sunshine Week, government transparency, open government, shield laws, and fighting gag rules
• Transparency reporting
(Getting Internet companies to report government takedowns)
• Truth, accuracy, public trust, and accountability
Trump, January 6, election lies, the press, the truth, and civil rights
• Anonymous sources
• Blogging, digital journalism, and the law
• How to cover your digital trail and how it can be used against you
• Best practices for government communicators

SEE ALSO:
Section 230, The EARN IT Act, and Fosta Sesta(blog post)
(child sexual exploitation and freedom from libel suits)
Black Lives Matter (a reading list for adults)
Books for and about children of color
News literacy and fake news
How to spot and identify fake news
(aka misinformation and disinformation)
Fact-checking sites
Verification sites
Computer security

 

 


What you can do to fight book bans and challenges

 

***Action Plans: Things you can do to help combat censorship

***Where to report censorship

***When your book is banned

***Censorship

***Censorship and banned book cases and hearings

***Students and banned books

***Top Banned and Challenged Books lists

***Banned Book clubs

***Banned Books Week and other activities

***Parents want authority over what kids can/can't read

***Banned books in prisons and authoritarian countries

Under Censorship:

The urge to ban books


Action Plans: Things to do to help combat censorship

Ask your local libraries and school libraries to carry anti-racist, sex ed, trans, and LGBTQ books.
Tyler Public Library giving away banned books for Banned Books Week (Michael Garcia, KETK.com, Fox Texas, 9-29-23) From Oct. 2 to Oct. 6 the library will be giving away paperback copies of “Charlotte’s Web”, “Where The Wild Things Are” and “Fahrenheit 451” on a first come first serve basis.

    Help censorship backfire productively!
Resources for Authors of Banned and Challenged Books (National Coalition Against Censorship, aka NCAC)
---A Handbook for Educators (NCAC)
---Guidelines for School Officials (NCAC)
---Fight Censorship With the surge in local and statewide book challenges, ALA offers this super clearinghouse of resources to help library workers and advocates respond to and support others facing those challenges.
---Kids’ Right to Read Project (KRRP) (National Coalition Against Censorship) The Kids’ Right to Read Project is a signature part of NCAC’s Youth Free Expression Program. In response to the rapid expansion of organized politically partisan efforts to remove books from school and public library shelves, KRRP spearheads a collaborative effort to oppose the growing trend to “red flag” and label books like movies and video games.
---Banned Books Inquiry Centers: A Resource for Teachers (NCAC)
---School Book Challenge Resource Center (NCAC)
---Create a Google Alert with your name and publication titles can keep you informed of the ways your work is being discussed online. In addition, authors tend to learn of controversy through social media (whether from posts, direct messages, or trending topics), increased website traffic, or outreach from reporters, students, teachers, librarians, or parents through email or website contact forms.
Woodhull Freedom Foundation (Affirming Sexual Freedom as a Fundamental Human Right) Legislators are introducing broad and sweeping legislation to limit sexual expression online. The Censoring of Sexual Freedom” is a monthly community virtual gathering featuring conversations with free speech experts and activists discussing the threats of censorship to our Democracy and to our daily lives, and to discover actions we can take to stop the attacks. See, for example,
---Woodhull Censorship Series
---Censored Pleasure: Porn, Free Expression & Sexual Freedom
---The Dangers of Educational Censorship
---Newsletter archive
---Blog posts on many issues
A tote bag with a message "Warning: Contains banned books."
Fight Censorship Many important links -- to the American Library Association's resources on censorship and challenges (attempts to ban books).

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Illinois to Become First State to Ban Book Bans (Book Riot, 5-4-23) The Illinois Senate has passed HB 2789, a bill whose terms dictate that state funding from public or school libraries that remove books from circulation will be withheld. As per the bill, the $62 million of funding that goes to the state’s libraries will only be eligible for said funding if they “adopt the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights” or “develop a written statement prohibiting the practice of banning books or other materials within the library or library system.“
The Campaign Is On to Form the Nation’s First Library PAC (American Libraries, 9-4-12) “EveryLibrary is a tactical organization that looks at one day—Election Day—and how to use the current PAC framework to leverage donations nationally to support local libraries on that ballot. It isn’t about public outreach, it is about voter education. A library PAC advocates and fights the political battle for libraries at the local level.
     "EveryLibrary activities will not supplant the year-round advocacy efforts of programs such as ALA’s I Love Libraries or OCLC’s Geek the Library. Nor will EveryLibrary be competing with ALA, the Urban Libraries Council (ULC), or any other 501(c)3 library organization for outside funding, since a 501(c)3 cannot accept donations to conduct election campaigns. EveryLibrary as a 501(c)4 won’t be eligible for the grant funding that libraries and library nonprofits depend on. Donate here.

Book Ban Busters: The Network of Suburban Moms Working to Stop Book Bans (Book Riot, 2-4-22) Red Wine and Blue ("Channeling the Power of Suburban Women") is a 504(c)(4) corporation working to drive women in the suburbs into action for good. With 250,000 members strong, they’re mobilizing and empowering women who haven’t been or considered themselves activists to get to work in their own communities. They’ve streamlined and simplified ways to connect, to share information, and to contact politicians, stating their support of accurate, inclusive education. The latest focus? Book bans. See their wonderful interactive map of book ban cases, and watch for their "Troublemaker Training." Red Wine and Blue is an antidote to the actions of groups like those actively working to dismantle public education and intellectual freedom.

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UABB Action Toolkit (Unite Against Book Bans), also available as PDF. How to talk about book bans. How and where to talk to elected officials and media. How to create, circulate, and successfully deliver a petition; connect with others and spread the word.

• Join the campaign Unite Against Book Bans (#UniteAgainstBookBans, American Library Association) and tell others to do the same. Share social media graphics. A national initiative to empower readers everywhere to stand together in the fight against censorship. We are not alone. On both sides of the aisle, large majorities of voters and parents oppose book bans. 71% of voters oppose efforts to remove books from public libraries. 67% of voters oppose efforts to remove books from school libraries. And yet, attempts to ban books from libraries are rising at an unprecedented level across the country. The ALA reported more than 729 attempted bans of 1,597 individual books in 2021 alone.
So, Your Book Has Been Challenged: A Tip Sheet for Authors (PEN America) PEN's advice is based on decades of fighting censorship.
How to Fight Book Bans: A Tip Sheet for Students There are steps each of us can take to challenge book bans. #1 Go buy the book! #2 Read it and see for yourself. #3 Talk about it. And more...

How to fight book bans — and win (Alyssa Rosenberg, Washington Post, 4-5-23) "Reminders of the risks of litigation helped library advocates temper a censorship policy in League City, Tex....And library lovers can offer evidence that censorship efforts can backfire in costly ways: Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry’s tip line for complaints about librarians and teachers was flooded with witty anti-censorship spam. While the campaign wasted public resources, it stung given that Landry had previously cited a lack of funds as a reason not to set up a tip line for reports of clerical sex abuse."
Stop Book Bans Toolkit (Authors Guild)

What you can do about banned and challenged books (Pat McNees, American Society of Journalists and Authors, 3-1-22) Tips for the ordinary reader who's wondering how to help fight book banning.

• Humor online: "Let's turn an old school bus into a mobile library, fill it with banned books, drive to conservative areas and give them to the kids. We could call it "Banned on the Run" (their parents might get it).

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Where to report censorship

If you learn that a book has been banned or challenged locally, you can report censorship to several organizations, including the

---American Library Association (ALA),

---National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC)

---National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), and

---Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (call 1-800-99-CBLDF or email info@cbldf.org)
Report challenged material Use this ALA tool to report material challenged in your neighborhood.
Reporting Challenges (ALA) Since 1990, the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom has maintained a database on challenged materials. ALA collects information from two sources: media reports and reports submitted by individuals. Reports of challenges culled from media across the country are compiled in the Journal of Intellectual Freedom and Privacy; (subscriptions to JIFP include access to the archives of the Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom) those reports are then compiled in the resource guide, Banned Books: Defending Our Freedom to Read.

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When your book is banned


Authors of most banned books in the U.S. speak up: 'We can’t take these freedoms for granted' (Barbara VanDenburgh and Mary Cadden,USA Today, 9-16-22) Eight authors who have found themselves on the 10 most frequently banned books list tell how book banning has affected their lives and careers. (Maia Kobabe, ‘Gender Queer’; Jonathan Evison, ‘Lawn Boy’; George M. Johnson, ‘All Boys Aren’t Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto’; Ashley Hope Pérez, ‘Out of Darkness’; Sherman Alexie, ‘The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian’; Jesse Andrews, ‘Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’; Juno Dawson, ‘This Book Is Gay’; Susan Kuklin, ‘Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak’. "The majority of authors we spoke to believe their books have been willfully misrepresented as part of a political movement seeking to silence marginalized voices."

Go Ahead and Ban My Book (Margaret Atwood, The Atlantic, 2-12-23) To those who seek to stop young people from reading The Handmaid’s Tale: Good luck with that. It’ll only make them want to read it more.
When Your Book Is Banned: The Author's Perspective (YouTube video, Authors Guild panel, 9-19-22) Authors Sherman Alexie, Jonathan Evison, and Ellen Hopkins, authors of books that have been banned, talk about their experience. What is the impact on authors when their books are banned from schools, libraries, and elsewhere? What challenges do they face? Does it affect sales or marketing? Does it change what or how they write going forward, or impact their ability to sell their next book? Much public discourse focuses on the politics at play and the content of the books, but relatively little on how book bans affect the authors.''
His Book Was Repeatedly Banned. Fighting For It Shaped His Life. (Brian Raftery, NY Times, 5-1-24) “The Chocolate War,” published 50 years ago, became one of the country’s most challenged books. Its author, Robert Cormier, spent years fighting attempts to ban it — like many authors today.
Holocaust book Maus hits bestseller list after Tennessee school board ban (Maya Yang, The Guardian, 1-31-22) Author Art Spiegelman says decision to ban Pulitzer-winning novel that depicts Jewish people as mice is ‘demented’

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Censorship


Woodhull Freedom Foundation’s Censorship Series An excellent series of discussions, including Why Does The Internet Hate S3x? , in which Samantha Cole talks about her book and its topic, How Sex Changed the Internet and the Internet Changed Sex, and Preserving Online Freedom: FOSTA, Age Verification, and Censorship with Ricci Levy, Bob Corn-Revere and Larry Walters. Check out the whole series.

A sampling from the New York Times, showing varying national  and local  flavors in censorship.

Speech We Loathe Is Speech We Must Defend (Bret Stephens, NY Times, 7-11-23) Government cannot deputize the private sector to act as a censor.
The Art of Telling Forbidden Stories in China (Han Zhang, NY Times Magazine, 8-3-23) Read or listen. Many writers are looking for ways to capture the everyday realities that the government keeps hidden — sometimes at their own peril. Hao Qun, who once enjoyed a successful writing career in China, fled to Australia after facing persecution.
I, Too, Will Stand Up for Tiananmen (Murong Xuecun, Opinion, NY Times, 5-22-14) “Hard as it may seem to believe — I have a law degree, and I myself can hardly believe it — reciting such an essay at a private gathering can violate China’s laws. By the government’s logic, I too have committed the crime of ‘picking quarrels and provoking trouble.’ ”
Learning How to Argue: An Interview with Ran Yunfei (Ian Johnson, New York Review, 3-2-12) One of China’s most outspoken public intellectuals, Ran Yunfei was detained last year after calls went out for China to emulate the “Jasmine Revolution” protests sweeping North Africa. He was held without trial for six months until last August. It was his blogging—where he sometimes goes for the jugular, mixing humor and exaggeration—that got him into trouble.
Meta Begins Blocking News in Canada (Katie Robertson, NY Times, 8-2-23) Meta, the company behind Facebook and Instagram, has started blocking news articles on its social networking services in Canada. The change came in response to a new law in Canada that requires tech companies to pay news outlets for using their content.
Judge Rejects Hong Kong’s Bid to Ban Pro-Democracy Song From Internet (Tiffany May, NY Times, 7-28-23) The authorities sought a court injunction that could have pressured Google and other tech firms to remove “Glory to Hong Kong.” The government was seeking an injunction that could have given it the power to force Google and other tech companies to restrict access to the song in Hong Kong. The government was seeking an injunction that could have given it the power to force Google and other tech companies to restrict access to the song in Hong Kong. See Hong Kong Asks Court to Stop Protest Anthem From Circulating Online (Chang Che, Business section, NY Times, 6-7-23) Efforts to ban “Glory to Hong Kong,” a song popularized during pro-democracy protests in 2019, could set up a legal battle between tech giants and Hong Kong.
Russia’s Online Censorship Has Soared 30-Fold During Ukraine War (Paul Mozur, Adam Satariano and Aaron Krolik, NY Times, 7-26-23) What’s the difference between Russia’s internet before and after the invasion of Ukraine? The answer: a thirtyfold increase in censorship. A report from Citizen Lab laid out how much online censorship has increased on one of Russia’s biggest social media sites.
They Checked Out Pride Books in Protest. It Backfired. (Jill Cowan, NY Times, 7-22-23) Two San Diego residents cleared out the Pride month display at their library and said such materials shouldn’t be available to children, one of several recent clashes over L.G.B.T.Q. issues in California.
As Iraq Tries to Chill Critics, Its Newest Target Is Social Media (Alissa J. Rubin, Reporting from Baghdad, NY Times, 7-16-23) New regulations on “degrading content” are part of a broader campaign to silence independent voices. A few months ago, the people featured in these clips were stars of Iraq’s booming social media scene. No longer. They have been largely silenced by being tried, convicted and sentenced to time in Iraq’s overcrowded prison system because of new Interior Ministry rules against “indecent” or “immoral” content on social media. This crackdown on social media is of a piece with a broader campaign to silence, sideline or co-opt those who publicly question or criticize the government.
The Future of Online Speech Shouldn’t Belong to One Trump-Appointed Judge in Louisiana (Kate Klonick, Guest Opinion, 7-13-23) The politics of internet regulation have become too local. The "objectionable part of Judge Doughty’s ruling in the case, which was brought in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana by two Republican state attorneys general, is the cherry-picked legal analysis attached to an overbroad injunction. The injunction seems to prevent anyone in the Biden administration from having any kind of communication with online platforms about matters related to speech."

Censorship and banned book cases and hearings


Texas Library Must Reshelve Controversial Books, 5th Cir. (Julie Steinberg and Isaiah Poritz, Bloomberg Law, 6-6-24) A Texas public library must reshelve eight books, including LGBTQ+, sex ed, and racism topics, it removed from circulation, after a ruling by a hotly divided federal appeals court panel. The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, known for its slate of conservative justices, found the First Amendment rights of public library patrons limits which books libraries are allowed to remove based on objections to the book’s content. The books include “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent” by Isabel Wilkerson; “Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen” by Jazz Jennings; books related to sex education and bodily functions including “It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex and Sexual Health” by Robie Harris; and a series of children’s books that make jokes about flatulence.

PEN America v. Escambia County School District "PEN America, Penguin Random House, and a diverse group of authors joined with parents and students in Escambia County, Florida, to file a federal lawsuit challenging removals and restrictions of books from school libraries that violate their rights to free speech and equal protection under the law.
     "This lawsuit brings together authors whose books have been removed or restricted and parents and students in the district who cannot access the books, in a first of its kind challenge to unlawful censorship." Read the complaint and answers to frequently asked questions.

      "Authors Sarah Brannen (Uncle Bobby's Wedding), George M. Johnson (All Boys Aren't Blue), David Levithan (Two Boys Kissing), Kyle Lukoff (When Aidan Became a Brother, Too Bright to See), and Ashley Hope Pérez (Out of Darkness) all have written books that have been ordered removed from libraries in the school district and/or subjected to restricted access within such libraries and kept from students as a result.
Board of Education v. Pico (Anuj C. Desai, The First Amendment Encyclopedia, Middle Tennessee State University) In Board of Education, Island Trees Union Free School District v. Pico (1982) 457 U.S. 853 (1982), the Supreme Court addressed a constitutional challenge to a local school board’s decision to remove several books from the district’s school libraries; in a splintered decision with seven of the nine Justices writing opinions, the Court held that factual disputes about the school board’s motivation for the removal precluded the school board from prevailing in the lower court without a full trial. What happened: Students sued school board after books removed from library. Lower courts disagreed on whether a trial should be held. Supreme Court said school boards must work within First Amendment. Justices said school boards could not remove books to suppress ideas. Court said a trial should have been held rather than giving summary judgment to school board. Dissenters did not think removing the books implicated First Amendment rights.
---Board of Education v. Pico: Forty years of First Amendment Legacy (Nia Thimakis, Intellectual Freedom Blog, ALA, 6-16-22) "Justice William Brennan announced the Court’s decision, saying it boiled down to the intent of the School Board when they removed the items: if it was to deny access to ideas they disagreed with, it was a First Amendment violation. While the Supreme Court found in favor of Steven Pico and the other students, there were seven different opinions written regarding the decision.
      "The decision, while technically in favor of Steven Pico and his fellow students, should have been the final answer on the issue. However, it was not definitive nor clear enough to dissuade or prevent repeated censorship attempts by school boards and parents alike in the intervening decades. Additionally, the decision states materials cannot be removed if they violate a governing body’s personal political or social views; it does not protect materials that are removed under the argument of vulgarity or education suitability, nor does it protect materials that have yet to be added to collections in schools. The Justices discussed at length the right to receive information and what was considered appropriate scope of authority by school boards to control the information available to students; however, they did not show a clear majority in their decision. Legal articles surrounding the Pico case show how nebulous some of the word choices used in the decision were; subsequent challenges in lower courts have used those unfortunate word choices to erode the Supreme Court’s decision in later cases.
      "In essence, the Supreme Court decided this particular case but failed to do so in a way that was clear and final that would prevent future censorship attempts by governing bodies—the fallout of which we are now seeing nationwide. With state legislatures passing censorship laws in multiple states, it is only a matter of time before the battle for access reaches the Supreme Court once more."
Democrats must hit back hard at GOP book bans. Here’s a start. (Paul Waldman and Greg Sargent, Wash Post, 4-4-22)

      “The Supreme Court in Board of Education v. Pico held that it violates the First Amendment for government to remove books from school libraries because certain pressure groups disagree with the viewpoint.”  Republicans are good at using congressional hearings to draw attention to the issues they want Americans (and especially their base) to think and talk about. Which is why Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.) is planning to hold a hearing on book banning in the House oversight subcommittee he chairs. Democrats plan to make a robust public case that such a congressional airing is necessary to protect the First Amendment. Raskin's hearing would spotlight the "escalating threat to academic and intellectual freedom in America.” The flood of efforts at the state and local level to banish certain books from schools and libraries are said to be driven by "the Republican belief that political hay can be made from allegedly dangerous ideas on race and sexuality that might be infecting the minds of children."


Marge Heins on FEN listserv spoke of 'the tension in Pico between education officials’ power to “inculcate civic values” and any First Amendment prohibition on banning books for “narrowly partisan or political" reasons.'

What you can do to fight book bans and challenges

 

***Action Plans: Things you can do to help combat censorship

***Where to report censorship

***When your book is banned

***Censorship cases and hearings

***Students and banned books

***Top 10 and 100 lists

***Banned Book clubs

***Banned Books Week and other activities

***Parents want authority over what kids can/can't read

***Banned books in prisons and authoritarian countries

Under Censorship:

The urge to ban books



 

Students and banned books

You can ban a book, but can you stop teens from finding it online (Heather Kelly, Washington Post, 9-22-22) Online resources are at the center of the national battle between limiting and expanding book access for teenagers. More than 1,651 titles were banned from schools between January and August alone, according to PEN America, including Beloved by Toni Morrison, Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag by Rob Sanders and Sulwe, a children’s book by Lupita Nyong’o. Demand for many of those same titles is only growing online, as educators and librarians try to fill the void with internet-based resources. Some libraries have removed physical copies of controversial books but still offer them as digital checkouts through apps like Libby. A book about sexuality or racism might not be allowed in your school, your local library or even your own home. But online, it can be found as an e-book in another library, less legally on torrenting sites, or for purchase from any online bookstore. See next item.
Books Unbanned (Brooklyn Public Library) Brooklyn Public Library is adding our voice to those fighting for the rights of teens nationwide to read what they like, discover themselves, and form their own opinions. National Teen BPL eCard. For a limited time, individuals ages 13-21 can apply for a free BPL eCard, providing access to our full eBook collection as well as our learning databases. To apply, email booksunbanned@bklynlibrary.org. BPL’s eCard is always free to teenagers in New York State. Apply here. ("Please be patient with us as we respond to an overwhelming demand for library cards. Estimated response time may be a week or longer.")

       Fritzi Bodenheimer reports: 'The response has been strong. Since April, we have had over 5000 teens from every state in the nation write in to ask for a card (via email or a direct message on Instagram). While we are delighted to be able to share our collection, every one of the 5000 notes we received reflect a young person who lacks access. For example, one young person said that he or she currently "volunteer in my school library for service hours. last week, my principal made me + my friends spend our entire hour there picking out a list of queer books we had because they were "under review." i don't know if they're coming back any time soon or ever."'
How Students Fought a Book Ban and Won, for Now (Isabella Grullón Paz and Maria Cramer, NY Times, 10-2-21) Hundreds of students, parents and residents in York County, Pennsylvania, protested limits on books told from the perspective of gay, Black, and Latino children.

 

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Banned Book clubs

Start a book club, using suggestions from the Banned Book list! The surest way to get a kid to read a book is to ban it!
Join the Authors Guild's Banned Books Club This is a free virtual book club held on the social reading app Fable. Each month, the Banned Books Club presents a different work of fiction or nonfiction recently barred in one or more U.S. school districts or states. Past selections include:Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan; Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson; Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson; Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Crank by Ellen Hopkins, Caste by Isabel Wilkerson, The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow, Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Pérez, The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (led by Lydia R. Diamond). You can access previous discussions in the Fable app.
The Banned Books Club
Teens fight for the right to read with ‘banned-book clubs’ and lawsuits (Hannah Natanson. Washington Post, 5-3-22) Ella looked at her notes for the club’s 14th meeting, convened to review I.W. Gregorio’s None of the Above.The book tells the story of Kristin, a high school student who discovers she is intersex, a condition in which people are born with atypical combinations of chromosomes, hormones, gonads or genitals.

      In December, the Leander Independent School District had banned the novel from classroom libraries and from use in high school student book clubs — along with 10 other books — because it features “sensitive topics” and “concepts of sex and anatomy.” The teens in Texas — who would spend the next hour sharing how they never knew people could be intersex, and wondering what other aspects of the world will remain hidden if grown-ups keep banning books — are part of a swelling movement of students who are gathering all across the country to fight, in ways large and small, for the right to read."


Fifth Circuit Court Strikes Down Texas Book Ban Law as Unconstitutional (Authors Guild, 1-19-24) The "US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld a preliminary injunction barring the enforcement of Texas’ ill-named READER Act while the case is still pending. If allowed to take effect, the act would have mandated that any entity supplying books to Texas schools must mark them as “sexually explicit” or “sexually relevant,” as applicable. These ill-defined, vague terms have no basis in existing law, and offer no recourse for judicial review."
---Booksellers sue to stop Texas law restricting ‘sexually explicit’ content (Niha Masih, WashPost, 7-26-23) "A coalition of booksellers and publishers filed a lawsuit in Texas on Tuesday seeking to block a recently passed law that would keep books deemed “sexually explicit” out of schools. The law, which is scheduled to take effect Sept. 1, would require vendors to rate and evaluate books they sell or have previously sold to schools based on their depictions or portrayals of sexual conduct. Insufficient compliance from booksellers would bar them from doing business with public schools and subject them to open censure.
       "The lawsuit, filed in a federal court in Austin, argues that H.B. 900, now known as the Restricting Explicit and Adult-Designated Educational Resources (Reader) Act, is unconstitutional because it forces private companies to conform with the government’s views under threat of retaliation. It further states that the government’s standards for the ratings are “vague and ambiguous,” violating free-speech rights protected under the First Amendment, and notes that the state has the authority to overrule vendors."
Caption for photo: A local variation of a Little Free Library, dubbed the “Little Banned Library,” invites readers in Houston to take books that it says have been challenged by schools across Texas.
Texas students create 'Banned Book Club,' hoping more student voices will be heard (Mike Marut, KVUE, 2-15-22) Sophomores created the student-run club at the beginning of the school year after reading books banned in Leander ISD classroom libraries.
---Read-in protest held in rotunda of Texas Capitol in opposition to book-banning policies (Britny Eubank, Conner Board, kiiitv.com, 7-26-22) A few dozen people gathered in the rotunda of the Texas State Capitol to speak out against the banning of certain books in Texas schools.
--- 11 books removed from Leander ISD book club, classroom libraries; still available on campuses (Shawna M Reding, kiiitv.com, 12-7-21)
---'It breaks my heart that we're just muting those voices' | Leander ISD teachers push against banning books (Mari Salazar (KVUE), 4-6-21) Leander ISD said it removed six books from Student Book Club reading lists after complaints.
Authors Guild Banned Books Club (scroll down and sign in to Fable) Read a new banned or challenged book every month and have the rare opportunity to engage with the author!

Chicago establishes ‘Book Sanctuaries’: ‘Encouraging and alarming’ (Laura Rodríguez Presa, Chicago Tribune, 9-26-22) "Instead of taking the books off the shelves, visitors at the library were invited — in celebration of Banned Book Week 2022 — to learn about each one of them and encourage discussions about the topics for which they were banned. City Lit Theater Company joined the efforts by presenting a theatrical display of iconic banned and challenged books, allowing people to make their own decision on whether to read them."
Texas students push back against book bans for censoring LGBTQ, racial justice issues (Brooke Park, Texas Tribune, 3-7-22) Students are forming banned-book clubs and distribution drives to contest restrictions that focus mostly on LGBTQ and racial themes.

Kids' Right to Read Action Kit for Students and Parents (National Coalition Against Censorship)
Get Involved (American Library Association, aka ALA) Suggested activities for Banned Books Week.

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Write an op ed.  Here are some good ones.  

(H/T ALA for some of them)

--- Schools are banning my book. But queer kids need queer stories. (Maia Kobabe, the author of "Gender Queer," Washington Post,  10-29-21)

--- How ‘Gender Queer: A Memoir’ became America’s most banned book (Jeffrey Fleishman, LA Times, 12-21-22) "The No. 1 most challenged book in 2020 was Melissa (previously titled George) by Alex Gino, a narrative of a trans elementary schooler written by a nonbinary author. Queer youth are often forced to look outside their own homes, and outside the education system, to find information on who they are. Removing or restricting queer books in libraries and schools is like cutting a lifeline for queer youth, who might not yet even know what terms to ask Google to find out more about their own identities, bodies and health....Books kept me company through my years of questioning and confusion."
--- 'A number of civil rights groups blame former President Donald J. Trump for creating an atmosphere of intolerance in America's schools. His promotion of what he called "patriotic education" — which sought to minimize the country's history of slavery — spurred conservative policymakers to support a series of efforts, including banning books, revising curriculums and challenging diversity programs...."We cannot underestimate the normalizing of intolerant behaviors..."' ~Strife in the Schools: Education Dept. Logs Record Number of Discrimination Complaints
---The Story Will Be Told — Banning Books Can’t Erase Our Truth (George M. Johnson, BET, 11-23-21) ‘All Boys Aren’t Blue’ author George M. Johnson writes about the resiliency of Black storytelling. The book was doing fine and then "A few conservatives from a county in Kansas City decided to post excerpts from two chapters of my book where I describe my first sexual encounters as a teen and young adult. These two excerpts were being labeled as "porn," despite there being an extensive author's note at the beginning of the book that prepared for these sections, and the fact that they make up less than 10 pages of the 320-page book....It wasn't a matter of "if" my book would be banned for me as much as "when" it would be banned, and would I be ready?"
---Banning My Book Won’t Protect Your Child (Carmen Maria Machado, NY Times, 5-11-21) Ms. Machado is the author of Her Body and Other Parties, a collection of short stories, and In the Dream House, a memoir. "When I was in my early 20s, I was in an abusive relationship with another woman. Soon after it ended, I did what I always did when I was heartbroken: I looked for art that spoke to my experience. I was surprised to find shockingly few memoirs of domestic violence or verbal, psychological and emotional abuse in queer relationships."
---The push to ban my book in Indiana (Julia Scheeres, Journal & Courier,10-10-11) Jesus Land is about two same-aged siblings -- one Black, one white – struggling to find acceptance in a conservative Indiana town. But then again, maybe Jesus Land’s themes of racism and intolerance hit a little too close to home. "These parents aren’t just fixated on sex, however. They’re fearful of anything that challenges their worldview, which is overwhelmingly straight, white and evangelical. They send harassing emails to teachers who display “Black Lives Matter” banners or Pride flags on classroom walls and call out school librarians who order books like “Sparkle Boy,” about a kid who likes to wear glittery skirts and paint his fingernails.
---On Attempts to Ban Books, Draw a Line Between Censorship and Age-appropriateness (Robert Pondiscio, AEI, Inside Sources, 11-30-21) “We’re just negotiating over where to draw the line.”
---My Young Mind Was Disturbed by a Book. It Changed My Life. (Viet Thanh Nguyen, NY Times, 1-29-22) When I was 12 or 13 years old, I was not prepared for the racism, the brutality or the sexual assault in Larry Heinemann’s 1977 novel, Close Quarters. As a Vietnamese American teenager, it was horrifying for me to realize that this was how some Americans saw Vietnamese people — and therefore me. I returned the book to the library, hating both it and Mr. Heinemann. It didn’t cross my mind that we should ban Close Quarters or any of the many other books, movies and TV shows in which racist and sexist depictions of Vietnamese and other Asian people appear. Instead, years later, I wrote my own novel about the same war, The Sympathizer.

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Who's behind banning books and removing them from schools and libraries

    The Stop Woke Act and various spates of book removals

Should Parents or Other Adults Be Able to Ban Books from Schools and Libraries? (ProCon.org, 8-2-22) Banned Books – Top 3 Pros and Cons. Hold a discussion, including parents for and against book banning.

Titles Challenged BY STATE in Public Schools and Libraries During 2023 (Office for Intellectual Freedom, American Library Association, 3-4-24) This map shows visually (and distributed by state) what the caption summarizes: Attempts to censor books during this period: 938. Total titles challenged in those attempts: 9,021. Unique titles: 4,240. Texas and Florida are not looking good.

Authors Guild Statement on Florida Book Bans (3-21-23) The AG is appalled by the recent spate of book removals from Florida school libraries in response to House Bill 1467, a law enacted last year that gives the state broad oversight of materials used in schools.

    We are equally disappointed that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis called these book bans a “hoax,” claiming that only pornographic books are being removed. The law, part of the “Stop WOKE Act,” requires that books be pre-approved or vetted by a media specialist trained by Florida’s Department of Education. This has created an effective bottleneck in the distribution of many books, resulting in empty shelves. “There is absolutely nothing wrong with a parent deciding a certain book is not right for her child,” said Authors Guild member Jodi Picoult in response to the removal of her books last week in Martin County. “There is a colossal problem with a parent deciding that, therefore, no children should read that book.”    

      Most of the books being purged in Florida as a result of this law are novels portraying the experiences of LGBTQ+ or BIPOC people or factually accurate nonfiction about the experiences of racial minorities. They speak to all children, as well as marginalized children and adolescents who often don’t have any other outlet or support system.


‘Reading is resistance’: students and parents take on DeSantis’s book bans (Jordan Blumetti, The Guardian, 9-23-23) Florida governor’s constant attacks on the education system have led to an increasing backlash from a wide range of people. See also ‘Where learning goes to die’: DeSantis’s rightwing takeover of New College, a liberal arts college (9-3-23).

Court rules Florida's 'stop woke' law restricting business diversity training is unconstitutional (Curt Anderson, AP, ABC News, 3-5-24) "A federal appeals court has ruled that a Florida law pushed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis that limits diversity and race-based discussions in private workplaces is unconstitutional. A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday upheld a Florida federal judge's August 2022 ruling that the so-called “Stop WOKE” act violates the First Amendment as it applies to businesses and is impermissibly vague.
      “By limiting its restrictions to a list of ideas designated as offensive, the Act targets speech based on its content. And by barring only speech that endorses any of those ideas, it penalizes certain viewpoints — the greatest First Amendment sin,” Circuit Judge Britt C. Grant wrote for the court.

Book-purging fever needs to break soon (Michael Schaller, Opinion, Arizona Star, 3-26-23)

     Just imagine the spectacle: Government officials traipsing through libraries pulling forbidden books from the shelves and accusing librarians of “grooming” vulnerable readers to undermine the nation. Seventy years ago, "the specter of international communism threatened the Republic." To uncover the villain, in March, Senator McCarthy dispatched his chief of staff, Roy Cohn, and Cohn’s friend, David Schine, "on a whirlwind tour of European capitals. In each city, they scoured library shelves for contraband, removing books by 75 authors, including Ernest Hemingway, Howard Fast, Mark Twain, Theodore Dreiser, Langston Hughes, Upton Sinclair, Lillian Hellman and Dashiel Hammet. When Dulles ordered all USIA libraries to sanitize their collections, embassy staffers burned some of the suspect books in ways reminiscent of Nazi book burnings.

     "Only when fellow Republicans sensed he had lost the public's attention did they join Democrats in condemning him. He died a broken man in 1957. But can we gamble that the current fever will burn itself out without irrevocably damaging our democracy?"
      "Sen. McCarthy’s 1954 political humiliation during televised hearings into his claim the U.S. Army was riddled with Reds short-circuited the library purge movement. At least until recently. Lately, politicians, mostly from Republican-leaning states, bereft of any real policy proposals, have re-discovered demon books. With communists in short supply, these culture warriors conjured new bogeymen, such as critical race theory and “wokeism,” targeting America’s youth."  (H/T Lynne Lamberg)                             

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100+ 'questionable' books placed in restricted section while Escambia schools review them (Brittany Misencik, Pensacola News Journal, 10-4-22) Vicki Baggett was the driving force behind the book investigation, which began with her reading "The Perks of Being a Wallflower." She has read about 150 books circulating in the district and has found about 116 of them disturbing.
---Board bans 3 more books:'I am embarrassed to be a student in Escambia County.' (Brittany Misencik, Pensacola News Journal, 2-21-23) Board bans 3 more books:

     "All Boys Aren't Blue," "And Tango Makes Three" and "When Aidan Became a Brother" are the latest book titles to join the growing list of banned books in Escambia County Public Schools.

In a special board meeting, all three books in question — which explored topics such as gender identity and same sex relationships — were voted for immediate removal. "All Boys Aren't Blue" was particularly scrutinized for detailing two sexual encounters and an instance of sexual assault. The titles will not be able to be challenged again for five years following the vote.

--- Book purge begins in Escambia classrooms as some titles are pulled from shelves for review (Brittany Misencik, Pensacola News Journal, 2-22-23) When N.B. Cook first-grade teacher Mary Skinner showed up to work for an in-service day on President’s Day, she was shocked to learn that her fully stocked bookshelf, taller than she was, would soon be halfway cleared out by lunchtime.
     “Arthur’s Hiccups,” “Curious George Flies a Kite” and “Big Red Barn" − titles she has taught for the past 30 years − were among those shoved in a box in the back of her car at the request of the school’s media specialist.
      “I am livid that someone can come into my room and tell me what I am able to read,” Skinner said.
---Escambia School Board votes to keep 4 challenged books after 7+ hours of debate (Brittany Misencik, Pensacola News Journal, 3-21-23) "The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison, "Drama" by Raina Telgemeier, "The Nowhere Girls" by Amy Reed and "New Kid" by Jerry Craft were criticized for addressing topics such as rape, LGBTQ relationships and racism. All four were challenged by Northview high school teacher Vicki Baggett, who cited reasons such "indoctrination of LGBTQ," "sexual introductions," "race-baiting" and "anti-whiteness." One of the titles, "Drama," involving a boy who has a crush on another boy, does not depict any sexual scenes.

 

Parents want authority over what kids can/can't read

Amid book bans, Virginia parents push for more 'authority' over what kids can read in school libraries (Deena Zaru, ABC News, 9-8-22) Virginia delegate Tim AndersonAnderson, a Republican who represents parts of the cities of Norfolk and Virginia Beach, said that he plans to introduce a bill that would identify titles that contain "sexual content" and implement a rating system for library books that would essentially be based on the Motion Picture Association film rating system. Books would be marked with "Parental Advisory Warning" labels and parents would be able to opt their children out of reading books with a particular rating.
Battle over books rages in North Texas school district amid outcry over new policy (Deena Zaru, ABC News, 9-4-22) "Texas has had by far the most bans of any state, by far the most districts engaging in book bans and other forms of district level educational censorship." Keller ISD schools developed "a rubric that lists various themes based on which books in the libraries and classrooms will be judged: profanity, kissing, horror, violence, drug or alcohol use by minors, tobacco use by minors, drug and alcohol use by adults, glorification of suicide, self-harm, or mental illness, brief description of non-sexual nudity, sexually explicit conduct or descriptions of sexual abuse, illustrations or description of nude intimate body parts, passionate and/or extended kissing, as well as sex scenes or sexual activities." Nothing about the quality of the writing and the storytelling.
California parent alleges St. Mary's public schools are 'sexualizing' children (Caleb M. Soptelean, Southern Maryland News, 10-11-22) California resident Elena Brewer believes St. Mary’s public schools are “sexualizing” children by exposing them unnecessarily and too early to what she called variant lifestyles. At the May 25 meeting, Brewer also said that her then-fifth-grade son chose a book called The Thing About Jellyfish from a summer reading list but was later “horrified” to find out it described a homosexual relationship. "My son didn't even know what heterosexuality was, much less homosexuality," Brewer said. "You robbed me and my son of his innocence."

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Banned Books Week and other activities

Display ideas for Banned Books Week (ALA) For example, collect banned books and display them in a locked cage. "The book to read is not the one that thinks for you but the one which makes you think." ~Harper Lee
5 Things You Can Do to Support the Right to Read (Banned Books Week)

Know Your Rights. Be prepared (know which groups to work through). Stay informed. Report censorship. Speak out against banned and challenged books.
Shop Banned Books products (ALA) Buy "I read banned books" stickers and 'Books Unite Us' tote bags.
Quotes to post for Banned Books week (Pinterest)

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Important resources for fighting censorship

Report Censorship (National Coalition Against Censorship) One of the best ways to fight censorship is to call it out as it happens.
EveryLibrary, the first and only national political action committee for libraries. EveryLibrary helps public, school, and college libraries win bonding, tax, and advisory referendum, ensuring stable funding and access to libraries for generations to come.
School Book Challenge Resource Center (NCAC)
Standing Committee Against Censorship (National Council of Teachers of English)
Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) . See its case files.
Changing the World, One Word at a Time! (powerful video of three teenagers on the wrong lessons we learn from society, on Queen Latifah show)
Campaign for Core Freedoms (PEN American Center)
Katherine Anne Porter Award for First Amendment Defender (new $10,000 award from PEN American Center)
PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award (projects to further their work against censorship or to writers who have been in dire financial straits as a result of political persecution, often consisting of imprisonment)
The Freedom to Read Statement (American Library Association)
New Report Links Rise in Book Bans to Anti-LGBTQ Groups (Claire Woodcock, Motherboard, Vice, 9-20-22) The report found evidence of at least 38 state, regional, or community groups unaffiliated with national organizations and at least eight national organizations with a combined count of at least 300 local or regional chapters. Aside from Moms for Liberty, the PEN America report lists US Parents Involved in Education, No Left Turn in Education, MassResistance, Parents’ Rights in Education, and Mary in the Library as national organizations pushing challenges against books across the US. 

In other words, these organizations support censorship in schools.
Citizen Media Law Project blog
Free speech blog, blog archived as Index on Censorship. Check out its blog roll.

"Organizations such as the American Library Association and EveryLibrary have resources to offer anti-censorship campaigners. EveryLibrary will fund efforts to signal-boost (spread word about) local petitions against book bans. The ALA and PEN America have major databases of challenged books. Reporting local censorship efforts can help those organizations identify patterns and coordinated campaigns. And organizations such as the ACLU can bring to bear powerful legal expertise and resources."

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Banned books in prisons and authoritarian countries

Buying Books, Amplifying Voices (Amnesty International) Libraries and bookstores are encouraged to buy and make available a list of books by or about authors authors identified by Amnesty International as individuals arrested, murdered, harassed, exiled, or executed for their published creative works (writing, photography, etc.).The act of purchasing and making available the words of such authors is a counterweight to the censorship of authoritarian regimes. Inclusion of such texts in a college or university library is likely to broaden the discussion of relevant global issues and help students and faculty understand the nature and effects of censorship.
Who Should Decide What Books Are Allowed In Prison? (Lee Gaines, NPR, 2-22-2020) A recent report from PEN America, a nonprofit that advocates for free expression, found that book censorship in U.S. prisons represents "the largest book ban policy in the United States." And while censorship guidelines vary in different prison systems, the restrictions "are often arbitrary, overbroad, opaque, [and] subject to little meaningful review....Two common standards for evaluating publications: "Do they pose a potential threat to the security of the operation of the prisons? Or do they contain nudity or sexually explicit materials?"
Donating Books to Prison Libraries Do some research and find out what nearby prisons will accept.
Contraband Books: What Texas prisons have against Michelle Alexander, Frederick Douglass, and Alice Walker (Julie Poole, Scalawag Magazine, 9-21) It’s possible that shipping books to prisons is meant to be hard. "Even if our customers follow all of the facility's criteria, sometimes things still get rejected and sent back to us." "Inside Books has been shipping free books to Texas prisoners since 1998. In order to receive them, an incarcerated reader writes a request letter asking for books of a certain genre, or in their interests. Inside Books receives over 2,000 requests a month, and they do the best they can to match each person's request with titles in their donation library. Dani understands firsthand how confusing it can be for families and friends to know exactly what they need to do to get books to their loved ones—she's the one who answers their emails."
The Free Expression Educators Handbook (National Coalition Against Censorship) NCAC in collaboration with the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), created this book for teachers, librarians, and school administrators -- to offer guidance for developing inclusive and viewpoint-neutral instructional material policies, including sample review policies.It also offers advice for educators navigating book challenges. 

The Dangerous Lesson of Book Bans in Public School Libraries (David French, Reason, 7-9-22) An obscure Supreme Court case (Island Trees School District v. Pico) provides a roadmap through the curricular culture war. A small group of parents acquire a list of books that are a clear and present danger to children. They learn that 11 of the titles are found in school district libraries or curricula school board members and direct the superintendent to remove the books and to put out a press statement declaring the tomes "anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-Sem[i]tic, and just plain filthy." Students sue the Island Trees school district, arguing that the board's book removal order violated the students' First Amendment rights to receive information. In the fight between parents and teachers, the students should have a constitutional say too. 'When school boards and principals hear challenges to books or consider restrictions on curriculum, they need to understand the very purpose of their educational project. It is not, as the Island Trees district declared back in 1976, to protect children from "moral danger." It is to prepare citizens for pluralism. Our nation's schools must not suppress "expressions of feeling with which they do not wish to contend."

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Banned books & challenged books

See also
Lists of banned and challenged books

What you can do to fight book bans and challenges

Academic freedom, teacher tenure, student rights, campus free speech, and educational gag orders
If you're afraid that reading a book might change someone's thinking,
Then you're not afraid of books. You're afraid of thinking.
~Occupy Democrats


Banned Books Week Resources for the annual week in September when schools and libraries celebrate the Freedom to Read. Theme for 2022:  "Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us."

What's the difference between a challenged book and a banned book? (ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom) "A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. Due to the commitment of librarians, teachers, parents, students and other concerned citizens, most challenges are unsuccessful and most materials are retained in the school curriculum or library collection."

Banned in the USA: The Growing Movement to Censor Books in Schools (Jonathan Friedman and Nadine Farid Johnson, PEN America, 9-19-22) PEN America estimates that at least 40 percent of bans listed in the Index (1,109 bans) are connected to either proposed or enacted legislation, or to political pressure exerted by state officials or elected lawmakers to restrict the teaching or presence of certain books or concepts.
       PEN America has identified at least 50 groups involved in pushing for book bans across the country operating at the national, state or local levels. Of those 50 groups, eight have local or regional chapters that, between them, number at least 300 in total; some of these operate predominantly through social media. Most of these groups (including chapters) appear to have formed since 2021 (73 percent, or 262).
      Nearly half of the unique titles banned were young adult books, but bans also affected many books for younger readers, including 317 picture books and 168 chapter books.
      Of the 2,532 bans listed in the Index, 96 percent were enacted without following the best practice guidelines for book challenges outlined by the American Library Association (ALA) and the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC).

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How Books Get Removed from Classrooms and Libraries (Brooke Gladstone, On the Media, WNYC, 2-4-22) Brooke asks: Could you take me through the process of challenging a book, and how long does it take for a book to be pulled from the shelf or not?

      KELLY JENSEN: 'So it's going to vary. Typically, what happens is a parent or a community person will file a complaint. Most libraries have a form. What books are you complaining about? Why are you complaining about it and did you read the material in full? Typically, the process is there is a committee that will meet and discuss the book. They will all read it, they will read the professional reviews, and then they'll determine whether or not it's appropriate for their community.

      Now, though, we're seeing more state governments stepping in, demanding schools and libraries look for these particular books in their collections. So in Texas, it's a list of 850 books seemingly slapped together from some quick research. So there's this tension now that whatever the schools policy is might not be enough to protect their expertise in doing their jobs. Instead, it's being handed over to the state."

        And more on the dynamics of putting pressure on librarians to pull certain books from easy access to young readers.
Virginia Legal Action Threatens the Freedom to Read (National Coalition Against Censorship, 8-30-22) Attempts by a former Virginia Congressional candidate to declare Maia Kobabe's Gender Queer and Sarah J. Maas's A Court of Mist and Fury obscene and to ban the sale of the books to youth under Virginia’s 18.2-384. Proceeding against book alleged to be obscene has failed. Virginia Beach Circuit Court Judge Pamela S. Baskervill ruled that the law is unconstitutional because it violates due process by authorizing judgment without notice to the affected parties. Judge Baskervill also stated that the law doesn’t allow a different standard for minors, and the petition failed to allege that the works are obscene for adults. No book has been banned for obscenity in the United States in more than 50 years. Prohibiting the sale of books is a form of censorship that cannot be tolerated under the First Amendment. See Authors Guild statement on case.

How the new banned books panic fits into America’s history of school censorship (Constance Grady, Vox, 2-17-22) What’s at stake? Who gets to control the story of America. Conservative-driven school book bannings are heating up across the country. And experts say there’s a special virulence to this particular wave. In Tennessee, a school board yanked Art Spiegelman’s graphic Holocaust memoir Maus from the eighth grade curriculum. Last fall, a Texas legislator launched an investigation into 850 books he argued “might make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex,” including The Legal Atlas of the United States and Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery.” In December, a Pennsylvania school district removed the LGBTQ classic Heather Has Two Mommies from school libraries.

     This year, says Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN America, she finds herself hearing from more and different authors about their books being banned. And the bans, too, are much more forceful than they’ve been before. “Some are an individual school board deciding to pull something from a curriculum or take it out of the library,” she says. “But there are also much more sweeping pieces of legislation that are being introduced that purport to ban whole categories of books. And that’s definitely something new.”

       There is a backlash against “a specific kind of content, seen as teaching children, especially white children, that there’s something wrong with America.” And yet, compare book bannings of the 1930s with the bannings of the 2020s and you can see how history repeats itself.
New Report Links Rise in Book Bans to Anti-LGBTQ Groups (Claire Woodcock, Motherboard, Vice, 9-20-22) The report found evidence of at least 38 state, regional, or community groups unaffiliated with national organizations and at least eight national organizations with a combined count of at least 300 local or regional chapters. Aside from Moms for Liberty, the PEN America report lists US Parents Involved in Education, No Left Turn in Education, MassResistance, Parents’ Rights in Education, and Mary in the Library as national organizations pushing challenges against books across the US.
Florida’s book-ban frenzy targets Nora Roberts, and she’s not happy (Greg Sargent and Paul Waldman, WaPo, 4-28-23) The school district in Marin County, Fla., recently decided to yank from its high school library circulation eight novels by Nora Roberts that are not “pornography” at all — largely prompted by objections from a single woman who also happens to be a Moms for Liberty activist.“All of it is shocking,” Roberts told us. “If you don’t want your teenager reading this book, that’s your right as a mom — and good luck with that. But you don’t have the right to say nobody’s kid can read this book.”

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Have we forgotten what a public library is for? (Deborah E. Mikula and Loren Khogali, Washington Post, 9-30-22) A town in Michigan signaled with their votes that they would rather defund — and possibly shutter — their only public library than keep books with LGBTQ themes on the shelves. The place from which that vote stems — a small but vocal minority trying to dictate what others can and cannot read — is even more troubling.Across the United States, there has been a rising tide of efforts to undermine fundamental tenets of the First Amendment by suppressing intellectual inquiry and the right to read.

     A chilling indicator of just how extreme these would-be censors can be is found in their willingness to go far beyond accepted norms — political or social — to get what they want. In Jamestown, the library director resigned earlier this year because of online harassment she had been subjected to by a small, well-coordinated group. The interim director who replaced her also resigned, citing harassment. Describing an “alarming increase in acts of aggression toward library workers and patrons,” the ALA in June issued a statement condemning “violence, threats of violence and other acts of intimidation increasingly taking place in America’s libraries.”
Smithtown Library Board bans LGBTQ+ displays from children’s sections (Nicholas Grasso, Greater Smithtown, 6-22-22) The Smithtown Library Board of Trustees has issued a resolution demanding the removal of all LGBTQ+ Pride displays from the children’s departments across all four of the library district’s buildings. NY Gov. Kathy Hochul and the New York Library Association condemned the board’s action. Hochul tweeted, ”For many LGBTQ+ kids, libraries are one of the few spaces where they can be welcomed and affirmed for who they are. “Our public spaces should be accepting our young people — not rejecting them,” Hochul continued. ”To LGBTQ+ New Yorkers: We stand with you, we support you, & you are welcome here.”
BookLooks, Framed As “Objective” Book Rating Resource, a Moms For Liberty Joint (Kelly Jensen, Book Riot, 5-16-22) What appears to be an objective measure of a book’s content, mirrored after movie ratings, is anything but. It is a tool developed by Moms For Liberty being used to push their agendas even further under the guise of protecting children. Their mission is to “write and collect detailed and easy to understand book content reviews centered around objectionable content, including: profanity, nudity, and sexual content.” But what appears to be an objective measure of a book’s content, mirrored after movie ratings, is anything but. See Booklooks Book Report Index.
The Group Banning LGBT Books Wants to Replace Them With Anti-Gay Propaganda (Claire Woodcock, Motherboard, 6-2-22) Moms for Liberty has allied with Republicans across the U.S. to change what public school libraries are allowed to offer. “I just think it’s ironic that they’re now trying to get propaganda into our school libraries by way of donating them and circumventing the processes in place that are meant to protect our children from propaganda,” Katie Paris, founder of Red, Wine & Blue, a nonprofit made up of suburban women advocating for progressive political causes told Motherboard.

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PEN Pals An interview series giving voice to authors of children's and young adult books whose works have been challenged, through an exchange that illuminates today’s issues.
How conservative Facebook groups are changing what books children read in school (Tanya Basu, Technology Review, 9-9-22) Parents and conservative Facebook groups are gathering online to review children's books and lobby schools to restrict certain books in school libraries or remove them altogether, often on the basis of sexual content. 
Censorship Attempts Will Have a Long-lasting Impact on School Library Collections, SLJ Survey Shows (Kara Yorio, School Library Journal, 9-8-22) In the last year, school librarians have faced a bigger, broader, more coordinated, and hate-filled censorship campaign as politics and the country's divisive culture wars have moved into school libraries. "A new school librarian is advised to omit eight books that deal with "nonwhite perspectives on American society and history" from the library inventory of a suburban high school in the Northeast, or the school board will likely decide the newly created librarian position is no longer necessary.

Books with LGBTQIA+ characters or story lines disappear from the shelves, taken by administrators or parents and held out of circulation indefinitely."

     In 2021, most of the challenges came from parents (80 percent), with teachers and administrators next at 14 percent and 11 percent. Many of "the efforts are more often attention-getting, high-visibility acts, e.g., yelling at a school board meeting and pushing for unilateral book removal rather than filing official challenges or following the formal process of reconsideration."

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Do we really still need Banned Books Week? (Ron Charles, Book World, WaPo, 9-26-18) '“There are so many places like in rural communities where you say, ‘Well, the book isn’t banned. It’s still been published. It’s still available on Amazon. It’s still in a bookstore.’ But let’s say you’re a young gay kid, and you go to your library, and David Levithan’s ‘Two Boys Kissing’ has been removed, and so you don’t know that it’s there. You don’t have a credit card to get it from Amazon. You can’t hop in a car if you’re 14 years old and drive to a bookstore. So the ban is not a trivial thing. It’s a deliberate suppression of a viewpoint that has real consequences for people.”'

        And: '“If I say, ‘I don’t want my child to read this,’ you have the right to do that,” acknowledges James LaRue (ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom). “But when you try to remove it from the library, you’re saying that other people’s children don’t have the right to read it.” That, he suggests, is the hallmark of an intolerant society.'
Banned in the USA: Rising School Book Bans Threaten Free Expression and Students’ First Amendment Rights (Report from PEN America)

Book Banning Efforts Surged in 2021. These Titles Were the Most Targeted. (Elizabeth A. Harris and Alexandra Alter, NY Times, 4-4-22) Most of the targeted books are about Black and L.G.B.T.Q. people, according to the American Library Association. The country’s polarized politics has fueled the rise. “What we’re seeing right now is an unprecedented campaign to remove books from school libraries but also public libraries that deal with the lives and experience of people from marginalized communities,” said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, the director of the American Library Association’s office for intellectual freedom. “We’re seeing organized groups go to school boards and library boards and demand actual censorship of these books in order to conform to their moral or political views.”

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The Banned Books Club (Melissa Giannini, Elle, 9-19-22) Writers tackling complex issues are under fire now more than ever. Here, six targeted authors and experts speak out. About kids actually reading books banned in schools: "If you can get any of them to actually read the book, then they’re like, Oh…oh."
These are books school systems don’t want you to read, and why (Laura Meckler and Perry Stein, WaPo, 4-28-22) "The recent challenges fall into several categories. Some of the challenges involve books dealing with race, sexuality or gender and come from conservatives. But not conservatives alone. Liberals also have challenged classics such as “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Huckleberry Finn,” saying they use racist language and character stereotypes. Recently, a Tennessee school district removed a book about the Holocaust."

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Banning Books Silences Stories (Millie Davis, National Council of Teachers of English) People who ban books "fear the reality—even in fiction—of the people in the books who are different from themselves, who speak and behave differently, who have different ways of thinking. Four of the top ten books [on ALA’s Top Ten Challenged Book List for 2017] were challenged for LGBT themes while others were challenged for profanity, for sex, for topics such as teen suicide or drug use... What is it about people who fear others’ stories? I don’t know. But I do know that stories—all stories—are how we make sense of the world."

Banned and Challenged Books (ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom) Many online resources.

America’s First Banned Book Really Ticked Off the Plymouth Puritans (Matthew Taub, Atlas Obscura, 11-1-19) The author, known as the “Lord of Misrule,” had the audacity to erect a maypole in Massachusetts.
The History (and Present) of Banning Books in America (Amy Brady, LitHub, 9-22-16) In 2016, the list of books challenged each year by American public libraries and schools included Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, and Emily M. Danworth’s The Miseducation of Cameron Post. Most of the titles are by LGBTQ authors and authors of color who write about life beyond white, straight, middle-class America." “There were over 300 book challenges in 2015,” said Chris Finan in an interview. “And themes of race, ethnicity, and sexual preference have been a large part of why those books got challenged.” Then Brady takes us back into banned books history.
How to Fight Book Bans: Student Strategies Feb. 28, 2022, Meet authors, free expression experts, and student activists from York, PA and San Antonio, TX to share strategies for fighting censorship in schools. The event will be recorded, so search for it later if you miss it.
16 Major Pros and Cons of Banning Books in Schools (Connect Us) I can see it now: A debate between parents and teens, between pro-banning and anti-censorship panelists. "Isn’t it interesting that society has concerns about how people will behave after reading a book, but they don’t share that perspective when it comes to something like gun ownership."

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'Critical Race Theory Is Simply the Latest Bogeyman.' Inside the Fight Over What Kids Learn About America's History (Olivia B. Waxman, Time, 7-16-21) "At a moment when Eastern European historians of the Holocaust are under threat from nationalist governments and countries with colonial pasts are pulling down statues and renaming streets, the debate over how to teach the history of race in America is entangling local school boards and engulfing national politics. It’s a conversation that predates the tumult of 2020: the New York Times’ 1619 Project, released to mark the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in Virginia, aimed to reframe America’s origin story around the legacy of slavery; the project helped push scholarly conversations about the impact of racism on U.S. history into the mainstream." See also Critical race theory: What is it and why is everyone arguing about it?
Far-Right Group Wants to Ban Kids From Reading Books on Male Seahorses, Galileo, and MLK (Kelly Weill, Long Read, Daily Beast, 9-24-21) Moms for Liberty is raising hell in a Tennessee school district over books that teach about race in American history—and also books that teach about wild animals and science. School books about Martin Luther King Jr., Ruby Bridges (the first Black child to integrate an all-white public elementary school), protests during the Civil Rights Movement, Native Americans, and school segregation are too “divisive.”

 • ‘We’re Preparing For a Long Battle.’ Librarians Grapple With Conservatives’ Latest Efforts to Ban Books (Olivia B. Waxman, Time, 11-16-21) Two members of a Virginia school board, concerned about “sexually explicit” books, called for a book burning. School libraries in at least seven states have removed books challenged by community members. Most of the challenged books so far, across fiction and non-fiction, are about race and LGBTQ identities. Among the books most frequently targeted are Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye (1970), George M. Johnson’s All Boys Aren’t Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto (2020), Maia Kobabe’s Gender Queer: A Memoir (2019), Jonathan Evison’s Lawn Boy (2018), and Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (2006).

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Banning Books Is on the Rise. . . (Pat McNees, My Little Bird, 4-7-22)
Cases related to book banning and libraries (First Amendment Encyclopedia MTSU, John Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies) The cases on this list of significant court cases related to book banning and libraries cover disputes such as the breadth of the authority of local school boards to remove certain books from school libraries, and the authority of the state to seize and destroy obscene books. Supreme Court said school boards must work within First Amendment.

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US conservatives linked to rich donors wage campaign to ban books from schools(Adam Gabbatt, The Guardian, 1-24-22) The director of the American Library Association says the number of attempts to ban books in schools soared in 2021 and appears to be an organized effort by a number of conservative advocacy groups. These groups across the US, often linked to deep-pocketed rightwing donors, are carrying out a campaign to ban books from school libraries, often focused on works that address race, LGBTQ issues, or marginalized communities.
Book Ban Efforts Spread Across the U.S. (Elizabeth A. Harris and Alexandra Alter, NY Times, 1-30-22) Challenges to books about sexual and racial identity are nothing new in American schools, but the tactics and politicization are. In Tennessee, the McMinn County Board of Education voted to remove the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel Maus from an eighth-grade module on the Holocaust ostensibly because of nudity and curse words. Among the most frequent targets are books about race, gender and sexuality are George M. Johnson’s “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” Jonathan Evison’s “Lawn Boy,” Maia Kobabe’s “Gender Queer” and Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye.”
      The advocacy group No Left Turn in Education maintains lists of books it says are “used to spread radical and racist ideologies to students,” including Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Perhaps no book has been targeted more vigorously than The 1619 Project, a best seller about slavery in America that has drawn wide support among many historians and Black leaders and which arose from the 2019 special issue of a best seller about slavery in America that has drawn wide support among many historians and Black leaders and which arose from the 2019 special issue of The New York Times Magazine. It has been named explicitly in proposed legislation.

Holocaust book Maus hits bestseller list after Tennessee school board ban (Maya Yang, The Guardian, 1-31-22) Author Art Spiegelman says decision to ban Pulitzer-winning novel that depicts Jewish people as mice is ‘demented’ Art Spiegelman sees the new ban of his book ‘Maus’ as a ‘red alert’ (Michael Cavna, WaPo, 1-28-22)

Longtime ‘Reading Rainbow’ host LeVar Burton urges kids to read banned books: ‘That’s where the good stuff is’ (Jaclyn Peiser, Washington Post, 2-17-22)

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How a Debut Graphic Memoir Became the Most Banned Book in the Country (Alexandra Alter, NY Times, 5-1-22) Maia Kobabe’s book “Gender Queer,” about coming out as nonbinary, landed the author at the center of a battle over which books belong in schools, and who gets to make that decision. “‘Gender Queer’ ends up at the center of this because it is a graphic novel, and because it is dealing with sexuality at the time when that’s become taboo,” said Jonathan Friedman, the director of free expression and education at PEN America. “There’s definitely an element of anti L.G.B.T.Q.+ backlash.”
Backlash to school books centering on race, sex and LGBTQ people turns into conservative rallying cry (Hannah Knowles and Hannah Natanson, Washington Post, 11-12-21) “When we start allowing parents or general citizens to walk into a school’s library and pull books off the shelf, declare them pornographic or for whatever other reason,” said Rebecca Murray, a retired former school librarian in Spotsylvania County, “then we no longer have intellectual freedom in our school library.
Poll Shows Majority Oppose Banning Books About History, Race (School Library Journal, 2-24-22) According to a recent CBS News/YouGov poll, a large majority of Americans don't think books that discuss race, criticize America's history of slavery, or share different political views should be banned from school libraries or classrooms. More than 80 percent of those asked said those books should be taught.

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Discussion Guides for Graphic Novels (Comic Book Legal Defense Fund) Comics are easy targets for would-be censors. These discussion guides can be used to lead conversations about challenged graphic novels and to help allay misconceptions about comics.
History of Comics Censorship (Comic Book Legal Defense Fund) An online history in six parts.
CBLDF Banned Books Week Handbook (Comic Book Legal Defense Fund) This free resource gives you the scoop on what comics are banned, how to report and fight censorship, and how to make a celebration of Banned Books Week in your community.
Banned Books Week 2021: Comics & Graphic Novel Edition (Franco V., Toledo Library)
Reasons for Banned Books (Libraries and Center for Academic Technology, Butler University) Among them: racial issues, encouragement of "damaging" lifestyles, blasphemous dialog, sexual situations or dialog, violence or negativity, presence of witchcraft, religious affiliations (unpopular religions), political bias, age inappropriate.

 

• “Censors never go after books unless kids already like them. I don’t even think they know to go after books until they know that children are interested in reading this book, therefore there must be something in it that’s wrong.” --Judy Blume, in a speech for Virtual Read Out, 2011

 

NCAC Opposes Removal of To Kill a Mockingbird and Huckleberry Finn from Minnesota Classrooms (National Coalition Against Censorship, 2-7-18) Based on a history of complaints about the use of racial slurs, both To Kill a Mockingbird and Huck Finn are being removed from all schools in the Duluth, MN school district. They'll remain in libraries, but will not be taught in classrooms. (And they are SO teachable when you teach them in historical context.)
‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ Returns to Mississippi School’s Reading List After Outcry (Christine Hauser, NY Times, 10-27-17) "The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Harper Lee has been taught in countless classrooms and influenced generations of readers. Set during the Depression in a small Alabama town where a black man is accused of raping a white woman, its exploration of racism, injustice and discrimination has placed it among the most banned or challenged works of literature in the United States, according to the American Library Association."

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•  Anderson's 'Speak' Under Attack Again. Banned or "warned about" books: Rocco Staino, in School Library Journal (9-23-10), interviews Laurie Halse Anderson about strong reaction to Wesley Scroggins' op ed piece in Missouri's News Leader, cautioning parents against the "soft porn" of Anderson's "filthy" novel, Speak, about a teenager who chooses not to speak rather than give voice to what really happened: rape. Other books Scroggins warns parents about: Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut and Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler. Anderson says that thousands of readers have written to say that Speak "made them feel less alone and gave them the strength to speak up about being sexually assaulted and other painful secrets."
Op-Comic: 3,362 book bans? What year is this, anyway? (comic op ed by Bryn Durgin and Navied Mahdavian, Los Angeles Times, 2-20-24) Kurt Vonnegut survived one of the worst massacres in the fire bombing of Dresden. It took him 23 years to write about it in 'Slaughterhouse-Five'. The least we can do is listen."
Artist Creates Replica of Parthenon from 100,000 Banned Books (Jessica Stewart, My Modern Met, 7-6-17) Created from 100,000 banned books, this architectural replica of the Parthenon in Athens is a work in progress, with the public being asked to continue bringing volumes with them when visiting the exhibition, which is in in Kassel, Germany.

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Banned Books Week and other activities


Banned Books Week. Sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA), this annual event, held the last week of September, celebrates the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment.
With Rising Book Bans, Librarians Have Come Under Attack (Elizabeth A. Harris and Alexandra Alter, NY Times, 6-7-22) Caustic fights over which books belong on the shelves have put librarians at the center of a bitter and widening culture war. The reporters spoke to two dozen librarians and library associations across the country for this article.
A familiar Russian playbook (Fred Hiatt, Washington Pot, 6-29-14)." In fall 1958, when Russian author Boris Pasternak was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, the Soviet regime unleashed a campaign of vilification against their native son so brutal that it drove the author, then 68, to contemplate suicide. Pasternak’s crime was to have written a novel, “Dr. Zhivago,” that did not glorify the Bolshevik Revolution — and to allow the book to be published abroad when Communist authorities banned it at home." See what both sides in the Cold War did in The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle Over a Forbidden Book . See Alan Furst's review: "Finn and Couvée have taken a complex and difficult history with many moving parts and turned it into a kind of intellectual thriller."

Book Ban Efforts Spread Across the U.S. (Elizabeth A. Harris and Alexandra Alter, NY Times, 1-30-22) Challenges to books about sexual and racial identity are nothing new in American schools, but the tactics and politicization are. In Tennessee, the McMinn County Board of Education voted to remove the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel “Maus” from an eighth-grade module on the Holocaust ostensibly because of nudity and curse words. Among the most frequent targets are books about race, gender and sexuality, including George M. Johnson’s “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” Jonathan Evison’s “Lawn Boy,” Maia Kobabe’s “Gender Queer” and Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye.”

       The advocacy group No Left Turn in Education maintains lists of books it says are “used to spread radical and racist ideologies to students,” including Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Perhaps no book has been targeted more vigorously than “The 1619 Project,” a best seller about slavery in America that has drawn wide support among many historians and Black leaders and which arose from the 2019 special issue of The New York Times Magazine. It has been named explicitly in proposed legislation.

Book Banning Efforts Surged in 2021. These Titles Were the Most Targeted. (Elizabeth A. Harris and Alexandra Alter, NY Times, 4-4-22) Most of the targeted books are about Black and L.G.B.T.Q. people, according to the American Library Association. The country’s polarized politics has fueled the rise.
How a Debut Graphic Memoir Became the Most Banned Book in the Country (Alexandra Alter, NY Times, 5-1-22) Maia Kobabe’s book “Gender Queer,” about coming out as nonbinary, landed the author at the center of a battle over which books belong in schools, and who gets to make that decision.

US conservatives linked to rich donors wage campaign to ban books from schools (Adam Gabbatt, The Guardian, 1-24-22) The director of the American Library Association says the number of attempts to ban books in schools soared in 2021 and appears to be an organized effort by a number of conservative advocacy groups. These groups across the US, often linked to deep-pocketed rightwing donors, are carrying out a campaign to ban books from school libraries, often focused on works that address race, LGBTQ issues or marginalized communities.

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16 Quotes from Great Authors for Banned Books Week (Tom Blunt, Signature, 9-18-17) Judy Blume,  Ray Bradbury, Allen Ginsberg, John Irving, Harper Lee, Toni Morrison, Philip Pullman, Justin Richardson, MD ("And Tango Makes Three"), Philip Roth, J.K. Rowling, Salman Rushdie, Morris Sendak, Mildred D. Taylor ("The Land"), Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut,
Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret (presented by the Dramatists Legal Defense Fund)performed in sixteen U.S. cities during Banned Books Week Sept. 24-30, 2017.
Banned Books Week Resists Censorship and Celebrates the Freedom to Read (Peter Montgomery, People For the American Way Foundation, 9-25-17)
Books on the Chopping Block (check out the list) is City Lit's annual 60-minute performance of dramatic readings of short excerpts from these 10 banned books, in cooperation with the American Library Association, in special events, libraries and bookstores in and around Chicago.
Beyond Banned Books: Defending Intellectual Freedom throughout Your Library (Kristin Pekoll, Office for Intellectual Freedom, American Library Association)


What you can do to fight book bans and challenges
Banned & challenged books (lists)
Censorship vs. freedom of expression
Timelines of censorship history
Censorship by the numbers
Cancel culture
Prior restraint (government censorship)

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Top Banned and Challenged Books (Lists)


Top 10 Most Challenged Books, by Decade (ALA, 2001 through 2021)
Top 10 Most Challenged Books Lists(by year, 2001 to the present) Reasons are given for why each book was challenged.
Top 10 Most Challenged Books Lists
Top 100 Banned & Challenged Books of the Decade 2010-2019 (American Library Association
Top 10 Banned Books of All Time (Shortlist)
Top 100 Most Banned and Challenged Books (2010-2019) (Publishers Weekly)
Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000-2009
'Top 10 Most Challenged Books' of 2021 (ALA) Recent polling shows that seven in 10 voters oppose efforts to remove books from public libraries, including majorities of voters across party lines. Three-quarters of parents of public-school children (74%) express a high degree of confidence in school librarians to make good decisions about which books to make available to children, and when asked about specific types of books that have been a focus of local debates, large majorities say for each that they should be available in school libraries on an age-appropriate basis.
The top 10 books Americans tried to ban last year (Thu-Huong Ha, Quartz, 9-29-15). No. 3 is And Tango Makes Three, based on the true story of two male penguins who raised a baby penguin together--a picture book aimed at 2- to 5-year-olds.
Top 10 Banned Books and Their Reason for Being Banned (About.com)
10 Books Politicians Don’t Want You to Read (ACLU) Read book descriptions on ACLU website:
    The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
    Heather Has Two Mommies by Lesléa Newman
    All Boys Aren’t Blue by George Johnson
    Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe
    Melissa by Alex Gino (formerly published as George)
    Stamped: Racism, Anti-Racism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds
    All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
    Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison
    The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
    Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

100 most frequently challenged books by decade (ALA)The American Library Association's list.
All the Graphic Novels Challenged in 2020 (Jordan Smith, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, 8-4-21)

---Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation by Ari Folman & David Polonsky;

---Bass Reeves: Tales of the Talented Tenth by Joel Christian Gill;

---The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey;

---Check Please! by Ngozi Ukazu; Drama by Raina Telgemeier;

---Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel;

---Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe;

---Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka;

---Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy by Rey Terciero & Bre Indigo;

---Naruto by Masashi Kishimoto;

---Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman & Colleen Doran.


Authors Guild Banned Books Club Each book’s author will lead the discussion─or if the author is deceased, a well-known writer who has a special affinity with the work─to help readers understand the story and find their own meaning in it.
---Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
---Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon
---Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison
---The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi Durrow
---All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
---Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez
---Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
---Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson

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Read banned books...because you can (Powell's Books)
Banned & Challenged Classics (American Library Association. or ALA)
Frequently challenged young adult books (ALA)
Top ten frequently challenged books lists of the 21st century (by year -- ALA)
Katherine Paterson: The Risks of Great Literature . The celebrated and banned children’s book author speaks with us about the fears of censors, the deaths of children, and what we need to risk for literature. (Guernica)
Which books are banned, and where? A state-by-state guide to banned learning in the US. (News@Northeastern) How is your state doing?
More Than 1,500 Books Have Been Banned in Public Schools, and a U.S. House Panel Asks Why (Ariana Figueroa, Maryland Matters, 4-7-22)The report found that of the banned books, 467 — or 41% — contained main or secondary characters of color; 247, or 22%, addressed racism; and 379, or 33%, of books contained LGBTQ+ themes. Raskin held up a children’s book that administrators have tried to remove from school libraries. The book was written by Ruby Bridges, a civil rights icon who was the first Black child to desegregate an all-white Louisiana school. Bridges, who was 6 years old at the time, was a witness at the hearing.
My Book Was Censored in China. Now It’s Blacklisted — in Texas. (Andrew Solomon, NY Times, 11-23-21) On Oct. 25, the Texas state representative Matt Krause, a Fort Worth Republican, sent notice to the Texas Education Agency that he was initiating an inquiry into “school district content.” He appended a superlong spreadsheet/list of books, calling on schools to disclose whether any of about 850 book titles were in their libraries. Choices were "affected by the state’s House Bill 3979, which bans the teaching of materials that would lead to 'an individual [feeling] discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of the individual’s race or sex."

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Banned Books That Shaped America (Library of Congress list of books banned/challenged, as posted by Northeast High)
Most frequently challenged authors of the 21st century (ALA)
Links to ALA's yearly lists of banned or challenged books
Frequently challenged children's books (ALA)
Frequently Challenged Books with Diverse Content
Top ten frequently challenged books lists of the 21st century (for 2000 through 2015)
15 Books Banned For The Most Absurd Reasons Ever (BuzzFeed). Can you guess which book was banned for depicting women in strong leadership roles? Hint: It’s a children’s book.

50 Most Frequently Banned Books (Jason Chervokas and Tom Watson, Cybertimes, 8-22-97)

I Read My 5-Year-Old Banned Books & You Should, Too (Lisa Catherine Harper, HuffPost 9-29-11
 

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Censorship by the Numbers


Book ban attempts hit record high in 2022, library org says (Hillel Italie, AP, 3-23-23) Attempted book bans and restrictions at school and public libraries continue to surge, setting a record in 2022, according to a new report from the American Library Association. More than 1,200 challenges were compiled by the association in 2022, nearly double the then-record total from 2021 and by far the most since the ALA began keeping data 20 years ago. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” says Deborah Caldwell-Stone, who directs the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. “The last two years have been exhausting, frightening, outrage inducing.”
      A few years ago, complaints usually arose with parents and other community members and referred to an individual book. Now, the requests are often for multiple removals, and organized by national groups such as the conservative Moms for Liberty, which has a mission of “unifying, educating and empowering parents to defend their parental rights at all levels of government.” Some books have been targeted by liberals because of racist language — notably Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” — but the vast majority of complaints come from conservatives, directed at works with LGBTQIA+ or racial themes. They include Maia Kobabe’s “Gender Queer,” Jonathan Evison’s “Lawn Boy,” Angie Thomas’ “The Hate U Give” and a book-length edition of the “1619 Project,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning report from The New York Times on the legacy of slavery in the U.S.
ALA Report Shows Record Number of Book Bans by Year (Authors Guild) United by Book Bans chart shows jump from 458 in 2003 to 1269 in 2022. The ALA’s report issued today shows nearly twice as many challenges at school and public libraries in 2022 than were made in 2021, which was itself a record.
1269 Attempts to Ban Library Books in 2022 (United Against Book Bans) “Overwhelmingly, we’re seeing groups and individuals at library board meetings demand the removal of long lists of books obtained from organized censorship groups who share these lists on social media." ALA documented 1,269 demands to censor library books and resources in 2022, the highest number of attempted book bans since ALA began compiling data about censorship in libraries more than 20 years ago. The record number of reported book bans in 2022 nearly doubles the 729 book challenges reported in 2021.
Censorship By the Numbers (Office for Intellectual Freedom, American Library Association, 2018)

     Challenge: Attempt to remove or restrict materials or services based on content

     Ban: Removal of materials or cancellation of services based on content

     531: Total number of materials affected in censorship attempts in 2018 (including books,  magazines, films, databases)

 

Who initiates challenges (ALA, 2021)

50% Parents
20% Librarian patrons
11% Board/administration
9%   Political/religious groups
5%   Librarians/teachers
4%   Elected officials
1%   Students

(Statistics based on 147 responses)

 

Five types of book censorship in 2018

62% Books

15% Programs, meeting rooms

10% Databases,magazines,films, games

6%   Displays, artwork

7%   Other (includes access,social media,hate crimes)


Red Wine and Blue Banned Book Busters interactive U.S. map of articles about where book ban activity is happening.

   Red: Banned passed permanently.

   Orange: banned passed temporarily.

   Gold: Ban requested.

   Green: Ban busted.

 

The top three reasons cited for challenging materials as reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom are:

---the material was considered to be "sexually explicit"
---the material contained "offensive language"
---the materials was "unsuited to any age group"


• ****How book bans are affecting schools and libraries, (Theara Coleman, Briefing, The Week, 9-11-22) Librarians feel under siege as they battle the latest book ban wave. PEN America "attributes the new wave of book bans to the increasing number of "educational gag orders" being passed across the country. According to PEN, 36 states have introduced 137 educational gag order bills. Though only seven states have passed such laws, the number of proposed bills is 250 percent higher than in 2021. Many of these gag orders address the inclusion of critical race theory and LGBTQ themes in school. They are being used to facilitate the censorship of books in classrooms and school libraries.
         "The number of books being challenged has reached an unprecedented high, per The American Library Association. Compared to the usual 300-500 annual book challenges they receive, the number of challenges clocked in at 729 complaints levied against 1,527 different books in 2021.
       "One reason for the increasing political pressure around the issue is that parents are creating a national network to give each other tips on influencing the accessibility of books they deem harmful. Florida-based parental rights group Moms of Liberty has expanded to over 200 chapters nationwide."
        "Most censorship laws specifically target K-12 classrooms and higher education, but some states are contemplating expanding the bans to public libraries. While school libraries are directly addressed in most new regulations, the public library has primarily been protected because it is a public space protected by First Amendment rights."


•  March 30, 2023:  "I am very happy to report that the federal district court in Austin, Texas has issued a preliminary injunction ordering the Llano County, Texas government and library board to return the books removed from the collection of the Llano County Public Library because of their content or their viewpoint to the library's shelves. The court further ordered the defendants to list the books as available for checkout in the library's catalog and to refrain from removing any books from the Llano County library for the pendency of the plaintiffs' lawsuit. Among the books to be returned to the library shelves are Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent by Isabel Wilkerson; In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak; It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex and Sexual Health by Robie Harris; My Butt is So Noisy!, I Broke My Butt!, and I Need a New Butt! by Dawn McMillan; Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen by Jazz Jennings; Shine by Lauren Myracle; and ` by Isabel Quintero." ~ Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom<http://www.ala.org/offices/oif>, American Library Association<ala.org>, AND Freedom to Read Foundation.

 

Texas Banned Over 800 Books Last School Year (Caitlin Cruz, Jezebel, 8-19-22) "Florida pulled 566 books out of classrooms, while Pennsylvania banned 457—mostly in conservative York County. Tennessee only banned 349 bans across six districts, so it failed to even medal in the Dumb State Olympics.
     "According to the study, 1,648 individual titles were banned across the country, affecting 4 million students. Forty-one percent of the banned titles are about LGBTQ themes or have lead or prominent LGBTQ characters, and 40 percent have main or prominent characters of color.
     "The report identified at least 50 activist groups behind the spread of book bans, bent on changing public school systems.
     "It’s important to have queer stories accessible to make sure more people understand queer humanity. It’s important to tell stories of racism and sexism so students can learn about others’ experiences or feel less alone in their own lives. The people banning books appear to be intent on make the world smaller and smaller for American kids until empathy and intellectual curiosity are things of the past."
---10 of the Most Absurd Titles on State Rep. Matt Krause's 'Banned Books' List (Simone Carter, Dallas Observer, 6-8-22) Read the article for comments on the absurd reasons these books were listed. "Texas Republican lawmakers are apparently picky readers."
--The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron
--The Cider House Rules by John Irving
--Avoiding Bullies? Skills to Outsmart and Stop Them by Louise Spilsbury
--Everything You Love Will Burn: Inside the Rebirth of White Nationalism in America by Vegas Tenold
--The Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, byJacqueline L. Longe
--Native America and the Question of Genocide, by Alex Alvarez
--I’m Pregnant. Now What? by Cleo Stanley and Carolyn Simpson
--Inventions and Inventors, by Roger Smith
Here's the full list, and (and more readable) here: Texas Asks If V For Vendetta & Y The Last Man Are in School Libraries (Rich Johnson, Bleeding Cool, 11-6-21) A final word:
All 850 Books Texas Lawmaker Matt Krause Wants to Ban: An Analysis (Danika Ellis, Book Riot, 11-5-21) After an interesting characterization of the candidate banned books, Ellis writes,            

   "Speak out against this kind of censorship and bullying behavior from school and government officials.

      Request your local libraries and school libraries carry anti-racist, sex ed, trans, and LGBTQ books.

       Run for your local school board and library board.

   Join the fight. Because students deserve better than this."

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The urge to ban books
What you can do to fight book bans and challenges
Banned & challenged books
Banned & challenged books (lists)
Censorship vs. freedom of expression
Timelines of censorship history
Censorship by the numbers
Cancel culture
Prior restraint (government censorship)

 

"A person can decide that they don't want to read a certain book.

 A person can decide that they don't want their child to read that book.

 But a person can't decide that an entire school or an entire town can't read that book."

                          ~ ACLU of Indiana


Trump,  January 6, election lies, myths vs. facts, indictment, trials

Find yourself arguing about Trump? These links (to both opinion and facts) may be helpful.

 

"Call me old-fashioned but I don't think a president who incites a coup against the U.S. government deserves a $200,000 pension for the rest of his life, along with a million-dollar travel budget, all financed by U.S. taxpayers. Just sayin."
~ Robert Reich

 

"When a clown moves into a palace, he doesn't become a king. The palace becomes a circus."
~ Turkish proverb

 

Updated frequently.


'A number of civil rights groups blame former President Donald J. Trump for creating an atmosphere of intolerance in America's schools. His promotion of what he called "patriotic education" — which sought to minimize the country's history of slavery — spurred conservative policymakers to support a series of efforts, including banning books, revising curriculums and challenging diversity programs...."We cannot underestimate the normalizing of intolerant behaviors..."' ~Strife in the Schools: Education Dept. Logs Record Number of Discrimination Complaints


• Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) on Trump reportedly discouraging a GOP border resolution before the election:

    “The fact that [Trump] would communicate to Republican senators…that he doesn't want us to solve the border problem because he wants to blame Biden for it is really appalling.”  (And not surprising.)
Trump’s Contempt for Military Service (Tom Nichols, The Atlantic, 2-13-24) Trump’s contempt for people who serve in uniform, including his now-infamous 2015 comments about John McCain’s time in a North Vietnamese prison camp, long predates his most recent offensive belches on the subject. More recently, Trump went to Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day in 2017 with his then–secretary of homeland security, retired Marine General John Kelly, where they stopped to pay respects at the grave of Kelly’s son (who was killed serving in Afghanistan). Trump, standing among the headstones in one of America’s most sacred places, said to the slain soldier’s father: “I don’t get it. What was in it for them?” A year later, Trump refused to visit a military cemetery while he was in Europe, because it was “filled with losers.” On the same trip, Trump referred to the more than 1,800 Marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood as "suckers" for getting killed.
Poster of Trump's story (a Facebook page)
An Outburst by Trump on NATO May Push Europe to Go It Alone (David E. Sanger, NY Times, 2-11-24) [A shared link that should allow non-subscribers to read this piece.]

     “Many were alarmed by comments that he would “encourage” Russia to attack U.S. allies that didn’t pay into NATO, but European leaders were already pondering the prospect of an alliance without the United States. “Long before Donald J. Trump threatened over the weekend that he was willing to let Russia 'do whatever the hell they want' against NATO allies that do not contribute sufficiently to collective defense, European leaders were quietly discussing how they might prepare for a world in which America removes itself as the centerpiece of the 75-year-old alliance.
     “Even allowing for the usual bombast of one of his campaign rallies, where he made his declaration on Saturday, Mr. Trump may now force Europe’s debate into a far more public phase.
    “So far the discussion in the European media has focused on whether the former president, if returned to office, would pull the United States out of NATO.
    “But the larger implication of his statement is that he might invite President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to pick off a NATO nation, as a warning and a lesson to the 30 or so others about heeding Mr. Trump’s demands.”

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Maggie Haberman, the Confidence Man’s Chronicler (Katy Waldman, New Yorker, 1-7-23) In her book Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America, Haberman 'presents Trump as a bullshit artist whose grand theme is his own greatness. Trump, Haberman writes, “was usually selling, saying whatever he had to in order to survive life in ten-minute increments.” He “was interested primarily in money, dominance, power, bullying, and himself.”

     'Haberman sees herself as a demystifier. Her coverage is often grounded in statements about Trump's character—that he thrives on chaos but loves routine, or that he stirs up infighting among his cronies. When I asked her about these conceptual scoops, she corrected me: "They're contextual scoops." Context is key to Haberman's project. A characteristic article, which she co-wrote in July of 2017, emphasized that Donald Trump, Jr.,'s huddle with a Kremlin-linked lawyer proved "unusual for a political campaign" but "consistent with the haphazard approach the Trump operation, and the White House, have taken in vetting people they deal with." It was a quintessential Haberman balancing act, which underlined both the meeting's extraordinary nature (for Washington) and the mundane pattern that it fit (for the Trumps). A reader wondering whether to be surprised by such carelessness, such corruption, gets her answer: yes and no.'
I chatted with a courtroom sketch artist who draws Trump (Marisa Kabas, The Handbasket, 1-25-24, illustrated with court drawings) Christine Cornell has been at this for nearly 50 years—and she's seen it all. "I've been getting a lot of emails from all over the country, especially since Trump became my most current news...." Asked What’s it like capturing someone [like Trump] who is such an emotional trigger for people? CORNELL: "You know, his face is—everybody knows it. And he has about three expressions: One is just implacable. You don't know what the heck is going on. The other is angry, and the other is a smug smile."
Donald Trump fraud verdict: $364 million penalty in New York civil case (AP, WTOP, 2-16-24) A New York judge ruled against Donald Trump, imposing a $364 million penalty over what the judge ruled was a yearslong scheme to dupe banks and others with financial statements that inflated the former president’s wealth.
Trump is the Greatest Evil! (YouTube video, Liz Cheney, The Bulwark Podcast with Charlie Sykes, 12-6-23) Listen and follow the transcript.

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Jeff Greenfield On Trump and History (On The Dishcast with Andrew Sullivan, 1-19-24) Excellent summary, but listen, also.
Is $83.3 Million Enough to Make Trump Stop Lying? (David A. Graham, The Atlantic, 1-26-24) To avoid today’s eye-popping verdict, he just needed to stop talking about E. Jean Carroll. Is there any sanction so dire that it can keep Trump from lying?
Tracking the Trump investigations and where they stand (Derek Hawkins, Nick Mourtoupalas and Natalie Vineberg, Washington Post)  A lengthy calendar, updated regularly, I believe.

12-22-24: Four of Trump's co-defendants have pleaded guilty to illegally conspiring to overturn his defeat. They include three lawyers associated with Trump — Jenna Ellis, Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell — as well as Atlanta bail bondsman Scott Hall. All could testify against the other defendants if those cases go to trial.
The Constitutional Case for Barring Trump from the Presidency (Isaac Chotiner, New Yorker, 8-23-23) Does the Fourteenth Amendment empower state election officials to remove him from the ballot? The argument rests on Baude and Paulsen’s interpretation of Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment, which states that officeholders, such as the President, who have taken an oath to “support” the Constitution and “shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof” will no longer hold such an office....

     Laurence Tribe, a liberal law professor, and J. Michael Luttig, a conservative former judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals, wrote an article for The Atlantic, in which they essentially endorsed the view advanced by Baude and Paulsen: “The former president’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, and the resulting attack on the U.S. Capitol, place him squarely within the ambit of the disqualification clause, and he is therefore ineligible to serve as president ever again.”
      See: The Constitution Prohibits Trump From Ever Being President Again (J. Michael Luttig and Laurence H. Tribe, The Atlantic, 8-19-23) "As students of the United States Constitution for many decades—one of us as a U.S. Court of Appeals judge, the other as a professor of constitutional law, and both as constitutional advocates, scholars, and practitioners—we long ago came to the conclusion that the Fourteenth Amendment, the amendment ratified in 1868 that represents our nation’s second founding and a new birth of freedom, contains within it a protection against the dissolution of the republic by a treasonous president."
       "This protection, embodied in the amendment’s often-overlooked Section 3, automatically excludes from future office and position of power in the United States government—and also from any equivalent office and position of power in the sovereign states and their subdivisions—any person who has taken an oath to support and defend our Constitution and thereafter rebels against that sacred charter, either through overt insurrection or by giving aid or comfort to the Constitution’s enemies."

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Letters from an American (Heather Cox Richardson, 1-20-24) "Last night at a rally in New Hampshire, former president Trump repeatedly confused former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, who is running against him for the Republican presidential nomination, with Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the former speaker of the House....

     "Observers have been saying for a while now that once Trump had to start appearing in public, his apparent cognitive decline would surprise those who haven’t been paying attention....
      "The Trump Organization’s auditor said during a fraud trial in 2022 that the past 10 years of the company’s financial statements could not be relied on, and Trump was forced to turn to smaller banks, likely on much worse terms. Now the legal case currently underway in Manhattan will likely make that financial problem larger. The judge has already decided that the Trump Organization, Trump, his two older sons, and two employees committed fraud, for which the judge is currently deciding appropriate penalties....
      "Since 2023, right-wing organizations, backed by Republican state attorneys general, have argued that banks are discriminating against them on religious and political grounds....

     "The attempt to create distrust of large financial institutions is part of a larger attempt to destabilize the institutions of democracy. Trump is the figurehead for that attempt, but it is larger than him, and it will outlast him....

    "Once elected, Trump and MAGA Republicans started to undermine faith in the rule of law that underpins our democracy. Less than four months after he took office, Trump fired the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, James Comey, for investigating the connections between his 2016 campaign and Russian operatives, and his attacks on the FBI and the Department of Justice under which the FBI operates have been relentless ever since.
     "Trump and his supporters have also challenged the U.S. military, insisting that it is weak because it is “woke.” He has called its leaders “some of the dumbest people I’ve ever met in my life.”
     "Over all, of course, is the Big Lie that undermines the nation’s electoral system by insisting that the 2020 presidential vote was “rigged” against Trump. Although there has never been any evidence of such a thing, 30% of Americans think Biden won the presidency only through “voter fraud.”
What Trump's lawyer was really advocating (Robert Reich, 1-11-24) America is not the Weimar Republic in its final days and Trump is not Hitler, but … the parallels between a potential Trump presidency and the Weimar Republic on the eve of 1933.

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Jonathan Karl: Donald Trump and the End of the GOP (YouTube video, In Conversation with Jonathan Swan, 12-9-23, intelligent Q&A  at Commonwealth Club, well worth listening to). Karl is author of Tired of Winning: Donald Trump and the End of the Grand Old Party. In this special online-only program Karl details the former president’s quest for retribution, talks about how Trump talked about leaving the Republican party, during the post-election-defeat time when he was a pariah in the party) and provides a glimpse at what the GOP would be signing up for if it once again chooses him as its standard bearer. Interesting stories, about Trump threatening to leave the party, the role of the massive database of Trump supporters (which Trump made a lot of money from, renting it out to the Republican party), about the threat of being ineligible ever to run for president again. Most shocking to Karl was Trump's belief that he could resume the presidency without being re-elected--it would just happen. He's drawn working class voters (Hispanic and African American men) and he really brings out the voters (from both parties). This has never been about policy. It's about orienting the party towards the whims of one man.
Trump on Trial newsletter (NY Times) The latest news and analysis on the trials of Donald Trump in New York, Florida, Georgia and Washington, D.C.
Trump’s Authoritarian Pronouncements Recall a Dark History (David Remnick, New Yorker, 3-22-24) Adam Gopnik considers how Hitler came to power, and what it tells us about the 2024 election.
A Financial Reckoning for Donald Trump (John Cassidy, New Yorker, 3-19-24) The former President’s inability to secure a $464-million bond in his New York civil fraud case is a reminder of the deep legal and financial peril he’s in.
Trump Will Be a Dictator on Day One and Every Day Thereafter (Matt Ford, TNR, 12-6-23) His interview with Hannity told us everything we need to know about his second-term plans. His supporters have argued that Trump’s opponents actually struck first by charging him with a series of crimes after he left office. It’s a neat rhetorical trick from Trump and his allies: simultaneously arguing that the cases against them are illegitimate and that any targeting of his opponents would be legitimate.
     "But that reasoning is detached from reality. First, the reason that Trump has been indicted multiple times is that he appears to have committed a wide variety of genuine crimes. He manipulated property values in New York to secure favorable loans from banks and lower taxes rates before taking office. He pressured local officials to “find” enough votes to let him win Georgia in the 2020 presidential election. He summoned a mob to attack the Capitol to stop the peaceful transfer of power. And he stole classified documents from the federal government after leaving office."

• In a piece about Joe Biden's verbal slips: "Mr. Trump, at age 77, has not exactly been a smooth operator himself. He has long strayed off message, and has his own growing record of verbal slips. He has confused Mr. Biden with Mr. Obama, suggested America is on the verge of entering World War II, praised Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed militant group, and told supporters not to worry about voting."

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Trump doubles down, saying ‘Obamacare Sucks’ and must be replaced (NBC News, 11-29-23) Despite the GOP 2024 front-runner's call, congressional Republicans are divided on whether to pick that battle again after they tried and failed to eliminate the law in 2017.
A Court Ruling That Targets Trump’s Persona (Lora Kelley, The Atlantic, 9-27-23) 'A New York judge’s decision undermines the former president’s image as a “deals guy.” He rode his image as real-estate mogul and a maestro of transactions first to pop-culture stardom, then to the White House. Now a judge has ruled that much of that dealmaking was fraudulent: New York Judge Arthur Engoron found yesterday that Trump and his associates, including his sons Eric and Donald Jr., committed persistent fraud by toggling estimates of property values in order to get insurance and favorable terms on loans. The judge ordered that some of the Trump Organization’s “certificates,” or corporate charters, be canceled, and that a receiver be appointed by the court to dissolve some of its New York companies. This latest blow for Trump puts on record that his mythos of business acumen was largely built on lies.'
Why have so many Americans succumbed to Trumpism? (Robert Reich, Alternet) An opinion piece well worth reading. Trump has responded to America's lopsided economy "by portraying himself as a strongman who would fight for the “forgotten Americans.” He has responded to their suspicions by giving them a set of villains who, he claims, have conspired to keep them down — the so-called “Deep State,” the cultural elites supporting it, and the political establishment guarding it.

     "In his 2024 campaign, Trump is using the criminal proceedings against him as a means of fusing his own identity with that of millions of Americans who have felt mistreated and bullied by the system. He is them. This fusion is a hallmark of authoritarian fascism. "As we have seen, many of the key political and economic institutions of our society have abandoned their commitments to the common good — and along the way, abandoned the bottom half of the adult population, especially those without college degrees. The consequence has been a catastrophe, especially for the bottom half.

     "Trump’s attempted coup could not have gotten as far as it did — and it continues to this day — without the deepening anger, despair, and suspicions that have subsumed a substantial portion of the American population. This is especially true of Americans without college degrees, without good jobs, whose pay has stagnated, who have little or no job security, and whose adult children are no longer doing better than they did — in places that have been hollowed out and economically abandoned."

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Trump’s Chaos Agenda (Robert Reich, 10-9-23) Reagan’s negative view of government has morphed into a malevolent anti-democracy fervor. Ronald Reagan told Americans that “government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.”
    "Reagan is still revered, especially by Republicans, but his negative view of government has morphed into an authoritarian fervor within the Republican Party. And that fervor has become the basis of a strategy — led by Trump — for seeking to persuade the rest of America that the nation is ungovernable as a democracy and therefore in need of an authoritarian strongman."
    "The more chaos Trump and his allies create, the more pessimistic Americans feel about the capacities of our democratic institutions to govern the nation — which advances their authoritarian agenda."

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Trump’s Long Fascination With Genes and Bloodlines Gets New Scrutiny The former president’s remark about undocumented immigrants “poisoning the blood” of the country is one of several comments he’s made over the years regarding “good genes.” Mr. Trump dismissed criticism that his language echoed Nazi ideology.
Maggie-Koerth Baker Untangles the Story behind Trump’s False Claims of Immigrant Voter Fraud (Jeanne Erdmann, Open Notebook, 9-12-17) Trump proclaimed he had peer-reviewed research to support his claim: a 2014 study that said enough noncitizen immigrants were registered to vote to swing an election. What Trump didn’t tell his base is that other scientists had debunked the study, identifying a major flaw in the data analysis.
Keeping Track of the Trump Investigations (The New York Times) State and federal prosecutors are pursuing multiple investigations into Donald J. Trump’s business and political activities, with the cases expected to play out over the coming months. Here is a guide to the major criminal cases involving the former president.
Covering Trump: An oral history of an unforgettable campaign (Shelley Hepworth, Vanessa Gezari, Kyle Pope, Cory Schouten, Carlett Spike, David Uberti and Pete Vernon, Columbia Journalism Review, 11-22-16. Series reported in partnership with Guardian US). Did Trump's tactics wound the media?

     "You hear him talk for five minutes and understand that he does not believe in free and independent media. We know how threatening that is, not just to journalists, but to the idea of having accountability and the idea of democratic governance. That's part of what we all react to viscerally."
Trump Thinks Running for President Again Is His Get Out of Jail Free Card (Bess Levin, Vanity Fair, 7-18-22) Justice Department policy says a sitting president cannot be prosecuted—and Trump knows it. He doesn’t care that rational people believe that inciting an insurrection (or being an abject racist, or trying to use the government to punish his enemies, or pardoning war criminals, or setting the wheels in motion to overturn Roe v. Wade) should disqualify him for holding office again, and he has apparently decided that another run for the White House is happening.
The Patriot: How General Mark Milley protected the Constitution from Donald Trump (Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic,11/23) Until General Mark Milley, no chairman of the Joint Chiefs had confronted the possibility that the president might provoke a coup, The Atlantic’s editor in chief, Jeffrey Goldberg, writes in our cover story. Milley may have done more than any other American to protect the Constitution from Donald Trump.
     "In normal times, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the principal military adviser to the president, is supposed to focus his attention on America’s national-security challenges, and on the readiness and lethality of its armed forces. But the first 16 months of Milley’s term, a period that ended when Joe Biden succeeded Donald Trump as president, were not normal, because Trump was exceptionally unfit to serve. “For more than 200 years, the assumption in this country was that we would have a stable person as president,” one of Milley’s mentors, the retired three-star general James Dubik, told me. That this assumption did not hold true during the Trump administration presented a “unique challenge” for Milley, Dubik said....

    "In The Divider, Peter Baker and Susan Glasser write that Milley believed that Trump was “shameful,” and “complicit” in the January 6 attack. They also reported that Milley feared that Trump’s “ ‘Hitler-like’ embrace of the big lie about the election would prompt the president to seek out a ‘Reichstag moment.’ ”

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My Father, My Faith, and Donald Trump (Tim Alberta, The Atlantic, Jan 2024) 'Dad would have preferred any of the other Republicans who ran in 2016. He knew that Trump was a narcissist and a liar; he knew that he was not a moral man. Ultimately Dad felt he had no choice but to support the Republican ticket, given his concern for the unborn and the Supreme Court majority that hung in the balance. I understood that decision. What I couldn’t understand was how, over the next couple of years, he became an apologist for Trump’s antics, dismissing criticisms of the president’s conduct as little more than an attempt to marginalize his supporters. Dad really did believe this; he believed that the constant attacks on Trump’s character were ipso facto an attack on the character of people like himself, which I think, on some subconscious level, created a permission structure for him to ignore the president’s depravity. All I could do was tell Dad the truth. “Look, you’re the one who taught me to know right from wrong,” I would say. “Don’t be mad at me for acting on it.” '
Fox Will Pay $787.5 Million to Settle Defamation Suit (Jeremy W. Peters and Katie Robertson, NY Times, 4-18-23) The settlement with Dominion Voting Systems was the latest extraordinary twist in a case that exposed the inner workings of the most powerful voice in conservative news....
      "Producers referred to pro-Trump guests like Sidney Powell and Rudolph W. Giuliani as “gold” for ratings and acknowledged that the audience didn’t want to hear about subjects like the possibility of a peaceful transition from a Trump administration to a Biden administration.
      "Those communications have shown how employees at Fox expressed serious doubts about and, at times, were scornful of Mr. Trump and his allies as they spread lies about voter fraud, questioning the legitimacy of Mr. Biden’s election. Some at Fox mocked Mr. Trump and his lawyers as “crazy” and under the influence of drugs like L.S.D. and magic mushrooms.
The Mar-a-Lago Documents Indictment (Doug Muder, The Weekly Sift, 6-12-23) As clear and complete an explanation as you're likely to find in this short a space.
Fact-Checking the Breadth of Trump’s Election Lies (Linda Qiu, Fact Check, 8-17-23) The former president faces multiple charges related to his lies about the 2020 election. Here’s a look at some of his most repeated falsehoods.
Newspaper editorial boards reflect on Trump indictment across the U.S. (Politico, 8-2-23) On Tuesday, special counsel Jack Smith charged Trump with four felony counts, including conspiracy to defraud the United States and conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding. The United States “had never seen an indictment of this magnitude,” The New York Times Editorial Board wrote.
Fact check: 14 of Trump’s false claims on ‘Meet the Press’ (Daniel Dale and Jack Forrest, CNN, 9-17-23) He's keeping fact checkers busy, for sure.
George Will: Republican Party Living in Fear of Voters (MSNBC, MTP Daily,8-20-20) Columnist George Will says the GOP has enabled President Trump, and “fear” is the main reason they aren’t pushing back, “The Republican Party today lives in terror of its voters, and that’s, again, a very dangerous political condition.”
Trump's debate response: The fascist who doesn't want America to think (Robert Reich, 8-25-23) The presidential mugshot. He deals in images designed to invoke defiance in supporters and outrage in opponents. Or complains about unflattering shots, of which this is surely the prize (scroll to bottom).
True patriotism is the opposite of Trump’s White Christian Nationalism (Robert Reich, 7-3-23) For July 4th, Trump advances his version of patriotism based on White Christian Nationalism. For example (and I quote):
---He commended the Supreme Court for rejecting affirmative action “so someone who has not worked as hard will not take your place.”
---He saluted the court’s decision to overrule Roe v. Wade so “radical left Democrats will not kill babies.”
---He condemned foreign governments that "send" over the border "people in jails and insane asylums" and promised to deny entry to "all communists and Marxists." And so on.
Trump’s Legal Woes Mount as Trial Dates and Campaign Calendar Collide (Charlie Savage, NY Times, 7-19-23) The Republican front-runner is facing a growing tangle of criminal and civil trials that will overlap with next year’s presidential primaries. A rundown on all his trials.

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Years later, Jan. 6 fallout continues for journalists (Kirstin McCudden, Press Freedom Tracker blog, 7-28-23)
Newspaper editorial boards reflect on Trump indictment across the U.S. (Kierra Frazier, Politico, 8-2-23) The United States “had never seen an indictment of this magnitude,” The New York Times Editorial Board wrote.
Global media reacts to Trump’s third indictment (Jenna Moon, Semafor, 8-2-23) American democracy itself will hinge on this trial, said Financial Times columnist Gideon Rachman. This indictment will be the most important, he wrote, because the center of the argument is that Trump is a threat to political freedom.
Jared and Ivanka made up to $640 million in the White House (Jordan Libowitz and Caitlin Moniz, Citizens for Ethics, 2-8-21) One major factor in their outside profits came from Ivanka Trump's ownership stake in the Trump Hotel in DC, just blocks from the White House and the locus of influence peddling in the Trump administration...

    "Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump should never have been allowed to work in the White House. The Department of Justice reversed decades of precedent to grant President Trump's wish to have his children work in the White House. While taking on enormous responsibilities that they were unqualified to carry out, and debasing their positions with constant ethics scandals, they likely made hundreds of millions of dollars from questionable sources. All that was waived off by the same nepotism that got them their jobs." 
Trump, Macho Macho Victim (Maureen Dowd, NY Times, 11-19-22) 'It wasn’t really an announcement [of his candidacy for president] so much as another Trump scam to fend off prosecutions and to keep raising money from his supporters. Trump is no victim....Trump is the first former president subjected to a special counsel investigation into whether he masterminded a coup attempt. That’s mind-blowing, especially since he’s running for president again....Trump told Fox News that he "won't partake" in the investigation, as if it were a breakfast buffet at Mar-a-Lago that he's skipping.'
To Jail or Not to Jail (Maureen Dowd, Opinion, NY Times, June 17, 2023) 'During his presidency, The Times reported, “his aides began to refer to the boxes full of papers and odds and ends he carted around with him almost everywhere as the ‘beautiful mind’ material. It was a reference to the title of a book and movie depicting the life of John F. Nash Jr., the mathematician with schizophrenia played in the film by Russell Crowe, who covered his office with newspaper clippings, believing they held a Russian code he needed to crack.”
     "The aides used the phrase — which turned up in the indictment — as shorthand for Trump’s organized chaos, how he somehow kept track of what was in the boxes, which he held close as a security blanket. During the 2016 campaign, some reporters said, he traveled with cardboard boxes full of real estate contracts, newspaper clippings and schedules, as though he were carrying his world around with him. "The guy likes paper."
    'Trump has said one of his favorite movies is “Citizen Kane.” Perhaps the boxes at Xanadu he’s obsessed with, the papers that could make him the locked-up loser he dreads being, have been revealed as his Rosebud.

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What the January 6th Report Is Missing (Jill Lepore, New Yorker, 1-9-23) The investigative committee singles out Trump for his role in the Capitol attack. And that, in brief, is the report, which concludes that “the central cause of January 6th was one man, former President Donald Trump.” And that, in brief, is "the problem: chasing Trump, never quite untethering itself from him, fluttering in the biting wind of his violent derangement, like a ribbon pinned to the tail of a kite during a tornado, and failing, entirely, to see the tornado."

      "As prosecution, the report is thorough. But as historical explanation it’s a mess."
The Tangled Fates of Fani Willis and Her Biggest Case (Charles Bethea, New YOrker, 2-14-24) Will the Fulton County D.A.’s “clandestine” relationship derail her effort to prosecute Trump? Whether Willis’s relationship with Wade amounts to a violation of ethics or of the law—or merely to bad optics—the right-wing media has seized on the story.
Trump Real Estate Deal in Oman Underscores Ethics Concerns (Eric Lipton, NY Times, 6-20-23) Details of the former president’s agreement to work with a Saudi firm to develop a hotel and golf complex overlooking the Gulf of Oman highlight the ways his business and political roles intersect.Mr. Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, has already brought in at least $5 million from the Oman deal. The project could also draw scrutiny in the West for its treatment of its migrant workers, who during the first phase of construction are living in compounds of cramped trailers in a desertlike setting and are being paid as little as $340 a month, according to one of the engineers supervising the work.
Indictment Presents Evidence Trump’s Actions Were More Blatant Than Known (Alan Feuer and Maggie Haberman, News Analysis, Trump Documents Inquiry, NY Times, 6-8-23) The accounts in the 49-page indictment provide compelling evidence of a shocking indifference toward some of the country’s most sensitive secrets. The indictment of former President Donald J. Trump that was unsealed on Friday provided compelling evidence that Mr. Trump’s handling of classified documents was more cavalier, and his efforts to obstruct the government’s attempts to retrieve them more blatant, than previously known. A classic example of what is known as a “speaking indictment,” the charging document did far more than merely lay out seven crimes, among them obstruction of justice and the willful retention of national defense records.
       "Prosecutors say that Trump knowingly removed classified information from the White House; that the information was sensitive, including some relating to the country’s military vulnerabilities; that Trump left the documents in public places where others might have seen them; and that when asked to return the documents, he lied to federal investigators and tried to obstruct an investigation. Trump says he is innocent and the case is a witch hunt intended to prevent him from returning to the presidency."

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Indictment turbocharges Trump’s fundraising (Alex Isenstadt, Political, 4-15-23) The former president’s two political entities brought in $18.8 million during the first quarter of this year, through his joint fundraising committee and his campaign. But the campaign also says it brought in nearly the same amount in the two weeks after the charges were filed against the former president — $15.4 million — underscoring just how much the charges against Trump have animated his backers... nearly a quarter of those who contributed to Trump during that period had never given to him before. While the former president’s indictment — along with potential future charges in several ongoing investigations — puts him in serious legal jeopardy, it has helped to solidify his standing with his supporters and grow his campaign war chest."
Letters from an American (Heather Cox Richardson, 8-6-23) From Republican presidential candidate James A. Garfield's powerful speech in 1880 about how "four years after unreconstructed southern Democrats had taken control of all the former Confederate states and cemented the process of taking the vote away from Black men" this essay shifts to "Trump is charged with conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding—violating a law passed to stop Ku Klux Klan terrorists from breaking up official meetings in the late 1860s—and obstructing that proceeding: the counting of electoral votes."
     "In the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision, the Supreme Court significantly weakened the Voting Rights Act. Republican-dominated states immediately found ways to keep minority voters from the polls and their votes from being counted, and in 2020, then-president Trump tried to throw out the votes of people in majority Black districts in order to overturn the results of that year’s presidential election."
Letters from an American (Heather Cox Richardson, 6-11-23) "Trump supporters have flooded media channels with accusations that President Joe Biden has weaponized the Department of Justice to use as a political cudgel against former president Trump...While committed Republican partisans seem to believe Trump is a victim, according to the CBS News poll, 38% of likely Republican primary voters do, in fact, believe Trump endangered our security—and national security, after all, is the primary job of the president...The question is how much damage the fight for control will do to the Republican Party, especially in light of the fact that Smith’s other investigation, the one into the attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, has not yet been concluded. There is reason to suspect those congress members involved in that effort might have been spooked by just how thorough the investigation of the documents case turned out to be."
Trump’s Indictment Reveals a National-Security Nightmare (Tom Nichols, The Atlantic Daily, 6-9-23) Republicans are trying to gaslight America about the former president’s astounding recklessness. Trump and his enablers are already trying to brush the charges away as the result of a witch hunt over a minor issue, but this indictment shows why Trump was, and remains, a threat to national security. (Check out the photos of how and where he stored classified documents and read about who he shared their contents with.)

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America’s First Indicted Ex-President Is Very Sorry—for Himself (Susan B. Glasser, New Yorker, 4-5-23) "Indicted and Arraigned Trump, in other words, turned out to be just like his most recent previous incarnation, Impeached and Defeated Trump: a rambling, unrepentant grievance machine...he’s already raised more than seven million dollars as a result of Bragg’s indictment, began sending out fund-raising e-mails using his “NOT GUILTY” plea even before he had entered it....you could get a T-shirt emblazoned with a fake mug shot of the former President for a contribution of a mere forty-seven dollars to the campaign."
For Now, Trump and Allies Focus on Political Upside of a Criminal Case (Maggie Haberman, Michael C. Bender and Jonathan Swan, NY Times, 4-5-23) The indictment of the former president has unlocked a rush of fund-raising and has frozen the 2024 Republican primary, but he faces deeper legal peril in multiple inquiries.

      To convict Trump of a felony, prosecutors must show that Trump’s “intent to defraud” included an intent to commit or conceal a second crime. That turns on the untested question of whether a state prosecutor can invoke a federal crime even though he lacks jurisdiction to charge that crime himself.
The Cases Against Trump: A Guide (David A. Graham, The Atlantic, 3-23-23) The timelines, the issues at stake, and the threat they pose to the former president--arranged by Graham's assessment of the seriousness of the allegations to democracy and the rule of law, from the least significant to the most.
How Fox Chased Its Audience Down the Rabbit Hole (Jim Rutenberg, NY Times, 4-6-23) Rupert Murdoch built an empire by giving viewers exactly what they wanted. But what they wanted — election lies and insurrection — put that empire (and the country) in peril. Win or lose, Fox News will still face a choice in the coming election and beyond. Do they continue catering, perhaps with more careful lawyering, to paranoid fantasies like those that led to Jan. 6, or do they pull back from the brink?
Manhattan Prosecutors Will Begin Presenting Trump Case to Grand Jury (William K. Rashbaum, Ben Protess and Jonah E. Bromwich, NY Times, 1-30-23) The Manhattan district attorney’s office will begin presenting evidence to a grand jury about Donald J. Trump’s role in paying hush money to a porn star during his 2016 presidential campaign, laying the groundwork for potential criminal charges against the former president in the coming months. A conviction is not a sure thing, in part because a case could hinge on showing that Mr. Trump and his company falsified records to hide the payout from voters days before the 2016 election, a low-level felony charge that would be based on a largely untested legal theory. The case would also rely on the testimony of Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former fixer who made the payment and who himself pleaded guilty to federal charges related to the hush money in 2018.
Judge Imposes Sanction on Fox for Withholding Evidence in Defamation Case (Katie Robertson and Jeremy W. Peters, NY Times, 4-12-23) Judge Eric Davis also said an investigation was likely into Fox’s handling of documents and whether it had withheld details about Rupert Murdoch’s corporate role.

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Trump’s ‘Secret Weapon’? College Accreditation (Katherine Knott, Inside Higher Ed, 5-4-23) The issue of accreditation has become the subject of much debate between the two leading Republicans eyeing the presidency in 2024. Trump said in a campaign video that his plan would reclaim colleges and universities from the “radical Left.” If Trump returns to the White House, he plans to replace college accreditors and impose new standards on the nation’s colleges and universities that include removing diversity, equity and inclusion staff members; protecting free speech; and “defending the American tradition and Western civilization.”

      Trump’s plan also would fine college and university endowments if they are found to have engaged in “unlawful discrimination under the guise of equity.”
Inside the Hush-Money Payments That May Decide Trump’s Legal Fate (Ronan Farrow, New Yorker, 4-6-23) Years of interviews with potential witnesses provide insights into the Manhattan D.A.’s case. 'Trump had met with Michael Cohen, his personal attorney at the time, and David Pecker, then the chief executive of A.M.I. The three men formalized a scheme in which Pecker and A.M.I. agreed to buy the rights to incriminating stories on behalf of Trump’s campaign and never publish them. The practice of purchasing a story in order to suppress it is known in tabloid circles as “catch and kill.”'
The Same Ole Line Dudes Are Waiting for You (Eric Lach, New Yorker, 4-7-23) Donald Trump’s arraignment may have been a circus for the media, but it was just another day at the office for New York’s professional line sitters.
House Jan. 6 Committee to Issue Criminal Referrals, Chairman Says (Luke Broadwater, NY Times, 12-6-22) Representative Bennie Thompson, the panel’s chairman, said no decision had been made on who would be the subject of the referrals or what the charges would be. Scroll down for the Times coverage of the Jan. 6 Investigations (status of various hearings, trials, and investigations).
Trump’s New Recruits (Tom Nichols,The Atlantic, 9-19-22) His embrace of the QAnon conspiracy theorists represents a new expansion not only of Trump’s cult of personality, but of his threats to sow violence.

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Elections and Trump's claims of election fraud
Fact check: Trump lies about voter fraud while states, CDC encourage voting-by-mail as pandemic-friendly option (Facts First, Fact Check, CNN) CNN holds elected officials and candidates accountable by pointing out what’s true and what’s not.
Trump repeats false election fraud claims during speech in Washington (Jill Colvin, AP/PBS, 7-26-22) In his first return to Washington since Joe Biden ousted him from the White House, former President Donald Trump vigorously repeated the false election-fraud claims that sparked the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. In a dueling speech not far away, his former vice president, Mike Pence, implored the Republican Party to move on from Trump’s defeat.
Records Show Fox and G.O.P.’s Shared Quandary: Trump (Nicholas Confessore and Jim Rutenberg, NY Times, 3-8-23) Fox hosts and executives privately mocked the former president’s election fraud claims, even as the network amplified them in a frantic effort to appease viewers.
      "It was a week after the 2020 elections, and Tucker Carlson — along with Fox News executives and other hosts — had watched with panic as Fox viewers, furious and disbelieving at President Donald J. Trump’s defeat, began to turn against the top-rated network.
     "Fox News has been the most trusted and watched source of information for conservative America for decades, and its frequent symbiosis with the Republican Party is well established. But the internal documents released in recent days have provided an unprecedented glimpse into network decision-making as its dual imperatives — to keep its base audience of conservatives satisfied and meet its promise to maintain journalistic standards of fairness and factuality — came into conflict as never before.
      "Mr. Carlson texted with staff members in early January 2021, adding, “I hate him passionately.”...But in the months after the Jan. 6 attacks, “Tucker Carlson Tonight” doubled down on a pro-Trump narrative that both Mr. Carlson and his bosses knew was rooted in a lie. According to a New York Times analysis, in 2021 nearly half of Mr. Carlson’s shows — more than 100 episodes — featured segments downplaying the Capitol riot, casting the insurrectionists as innocent citizens seeking legitimate redress for election fraud, and suggesting the riot itself was a “false flag” operation orchestrated by federal law enforcement to entrap Trump supporters....Senator Mitch McConnell pushed back against Mr. Carlson’s characterization of the Capitol attack.
      "Top Fox personnel agonized over the difficulty of escaping Mr. Trump’s influence over their own audience. “This day of reckoning was going to come at some point — where the embrace of Trump became an albatross we can’t shake right away if ever,” Dana Perino, a prominent Fox host, wrote to a friend in November 2020.
     "Yet the shoals they were trying to navigate had been in no small part laid by Mr. Carlson, one of Fox’s most-watched hosts. Though the newly released messages show Mr. Carlson expressing skepticism in his private emails about the extent of “voter fraud,” he had been an early and energetic promoter of the doubt Mr. Trump was trying to sow."

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The Enduring Power of Trumpism (Jelani Cobb, New Yorker, 9-15-22) No matter what becomes of Donald Trump, the forces of intolerance, racism, and belligerence he harnessed in American politics will persist. "The G.O.P. has abided all manner of corrupt, dishonest, anti-democratic, and potentially illegal behavior from Trump, including his incitement of an armed insurrection against the United States Congress, but the lacklustre midterm performance of Republicans seems to suggest that, like McCarthy sixty-eight years ago, the former President has reached a point where his demagogy has become a liability for his own party."
It’s Just Fraud All the Way Down (David A. Graham, The Atlantic, 9-21-22) The complaint filed today by New York Attorney General Letitia James is remarkable not for the shrewdness of the misconduct it alleges, but for its audacity. "At times in his prepresidential life, Donald Trump represented himself as a real-estate mogul, a television star, a business visionary, and a salesman par excellence. But according to a complaint filed today by New York Attorney General Letitia James, the Trump Organization was actually just a massive fraud with incidental sidelines in property development, merchandising, and entertainment."
How they did it: Reporters uncovered Trump hush payments to two women (Denise-Marie Ordway, 3-11-19) A Wall Street Journal reporter discusses the newspaper's investigation into secret payoffs Donald Trump and his associates arranged to suppress sexual allegations from two women during the 2016 presidential campaign.
How they did it: ProPublica investigates Trump's ‘zero tolerance’ immigration policy (Chloe Reichel, 3-4-19) “I’ve been doing this a long time, and I haven't ever been part of a story that has had such powerful impact so swiftly,” Ginger Thompson, senior reporter at ProPublica, said.
Key Takeaways From Trump’s Tax Returns (Jim Tankersley, Susanne Craig and Russ Buettner, NY Times, 12-30-22) Thousands of pages of tax documents contain details that have not previously been revealed. Among insights: Trump made no charitable contributions in 2020. In a bad year for business, Trump didn’t take a full refund. His own tax law may have cost him. Fred Trump is a silent actor in the returns. (Charlie Smart, NYTimes, 12-21-22)

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Appeals Court Restores Justice Dept.’s Access to Sensitive Files Seized From Trump(Charlie Savage, Glenn Thrush and Alan Feuer, NY Times, 9-21-22) A federal judge had temporarily barred the department from using the records marked as classified in its inquiry into whether the former president illegally retained national defense documents. The decision by the appeals court was a striking repudiation of Mr. Trump’s attempts to claim in public, but not in court, that he had declassified the sensitive records at issue. The ruling was the latest turn in what began as a legal sideshow to the investigation into Mr. Trump’s hoarding of government documents, including some marked as highly classified.
      Mr. Trump “suggests that he may have declassified these documents when he was president,” the appeals court wrote. “But the record contains no evidence that any of these records were declassified.” The court went on to say, “In any event, at least for these purposes, the declassification argument is a red herring because declassifying an official document would not change its content or render it personal.
Heather Cox Richardson (2-21-23)
"Right-wing media has been trying to spin Biden’s trip to Kyiv and speech in Poland as proof that he doesn’t care about the derailment of the train carrying hazardous chemicals in East Palestine, Ohio. In fact, Republican governor Mike DeWine initially rejected federal help when Biden offered it, saying he didn’t see the need for it.
        "The right wing has also gone after Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg for the accident, although it was the Trump administration that weakened safety regulations put in place under Barack Obama that could have mitigated the crisis, and railroad personnel cuts that left the train understaffed. Before the accident, train workers had worried that the 151-car train, 9,300 feet long and weighing 18,000 tons, was too long and too heavy to travel safely."

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Why has Trump remained so popular with Republicans? (Mark Mellman, The Hill, 1-17-24) "After the 2016 elections, I wrote a book chapter exploring his initial electoral appeal, which I argued arose from uniting three strands of conservatism—aversion to government, aversion to change and aversion to difference—along with the billionaire bounce, the view that a successful businessperson (which he was less of than he claimed) could fix the economy."
"Since then, lots has happened and most of it should have hurt the former president, even among Republicans. But it hasn’t. Why not? In my view, three factors taken together account for much of his continuing appeal—partisanship, the persistence of preexisting beliefs and (faux) authenticity."
Insult Politics: Donald Trump, Right-Wing Populism, and Incendiary Language (Oscar Winberg, European Journal of American Studies, Open Edition Journals, Summer 2017) "This article positions the Trump campaign in historical traditions of right-wing populism, incendiary political language, and insulting rhetoric. Trump’s mocking and insulting rhetoric in the campaign was widely described as both norm-breaking and, surprisingly, not politically harmful. This article challenges both assumptions, illustrating how Trump fits into a long tradition of insult politics, and how it remains controversial and politically dangerous. The insult politics Trump utilized throughout his campaign served a political purpose. However, there are strong indications that Trump won the White House in spite of his mocking rhetoric, not because of it. Rather, the particular political position of Trump, and his media image, explains how he could utilize insult politics to his advantage."
The Trump Presidency and the Mainstreaming of Far-Right Politics (Aurelien Mondon and Antonia Vaughan, Gale, 2021) By proceeding through the 2016 and 2020 campaigns, this article has underlined how the evolving role of the alt, far and extreme right reflects the broader normalisation of far-right discourse. No longer the outrageous cheerleaders of 2016, 2020 saw the far-right discourse lose its shock factor, in the process migrating the Republicans further to the right. This migration is perhaps best highlighted by Trump’s own words to the insurrectionists: ‘We love you’, in defiance of the outrage.

Trumpism (Wikipedia, where you can see footnotes to this extract) "Trumpism is an authoritarian movement that consists of the political ideologies and political movement associated with Donald Trump and his political base. Scholars and historians have identified Trumpism as consisting of a wide range of right-wing ideologies such as right-wing populism, national conservatism, neo-nationalism, and neo-fascism. Trumpist rhetoric heavily features anti-immigrant, xenophobic, nativist,and racist attacks against minority groups. Other identified aspects include conspiracist, isolationist, Christian nationalist, protectionist, anti-feminist, and anti-LGBT beliefs.
"Trump's rhetoric has its roots in a populist political method that suggests nationalistic answers to political, economic, and social problems. These inclinations are refracted into such policy preferences as immigration restrictionism, trade protectionism, isolationism, and opposition to entitlement reform....Referring to the populism of Trump, sociologist Michael Kimmel states that it "is not a theory [or] an ideology, it's an emotion. And the emotion is righteous indignation that the government is screwing 'us'".
As media scholar Daniel Kreiss summarizes Hochschild, "Trump, along with Fox News, gave these strangers in their own land the hope that they would be restored to their rightful place at the center of the nation, and provided a very real emotional release from the fetters of political correctness that dictated they respect people of color, lesbians and gays, and those of other faiths ... that the network's personalities share the same 'deep story' of political and social life, and therefore they learn from them 'what to feel afraid, angry, and anxious about.'"
Trumpism, an ideology for the extreme far-right globally (Mariano Aguirre, openDemocracy, 12-14-20) Trumpism is the extreme far-right ideology that attacks democracy and normalizes violence against progressive agendas and liberal cultures, while promoting full market deregulation.
Biden May Win, but Trump Remains the President of Red America (Susan B. Glasser, New Yorker, 11-4-20) His attacks on “the rigged election” are a worst-case scenario for the country. “Trump’s incessant questioning of the basic institutions of our government and electoral system has now produced his desired result, even if he may not be back for another four years: a superpower torn apart from within, no longer trusting of its own democracy.”

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Letters from an American (Heather Cox Richardson, 11-15-22) "The [Republican] party’s losses in the midterms appear to have opened the door for Trump's opponents to toss him under the bus. According to Jonathan Swan at Axios, at this morning’s annual meeting of the Republican governors, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie got “huge applause” from the room full of hundreds of politicians, consultants, and wealthy donors when he blamed Trump for three cycles of losses for the Republican Party. Christie said voters “rejected crazy.”
    "Meanwhile, Trump has told the special master that the president has the authority simply to declare which records are personal records, and that he declared all the seized documents to be personal records while in office. He suggests his careless handling of the classified documents proves he considered them personal records. The Department of Justice has responded with incredulity (that’s the gist of it, anyway).

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'Times' Journalists Puncture Myth Of Trump As Self-Made Billionaire (Terry Gross interviews investigative reporters Susanne Craig and David Barstow, who say the president received today's equivalent of $413 million from his father's real estate empire, through what appears to be tax fraud. See also Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes as He Reaped Riches From His Father (Susanne Craig and David Barstowand Russ Buettner, NY Times, 10-2-18) Much of the $413 million Trump received (in today’s dollars) from his father’s real estate empire came through schemes to avoid paying taxes on multimillion dollar gifts in the family.

Kari Lake was unflinchingly loyal to Trump. Then her campaign unraveled. Isaac Stanley-Becker and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, WaPo, 12-12-22) "Advisers wanted her to focus less on Trump’s false claims of voter fraud and more on homelessness, water independence and border security, according to people familiar with their counsel. Business leaders recommended that she tone down her MAGA message to create a friendlier climate for capital. Republican strategists asked her to stop denigrating early ballots, a method of voting once critical to Republican victories in the state....After pushback from some members of Lake’s team, the candidate herself spoke up. She said that True The Vote, the Texas-based group pushing unfounded claims of voter fraud, had told her to instruct supporters to mail in their ballots — not put them in drop boxes — as a way to “confuse the Democrats....Lake burst onto the national political stage this year as perhaps the purest embodiment of Trump’s grievance-fueled brand of politics....As advisers urged her to consolidate GOP support after the primary, Lake remained fixated on a grudge match against people loyal to the legacy of the late Sen. John McCain." See also True the Vote leaders sent to jail after contempt ruling by federal judge (Azi Paybarah, WaPo, 10-31-22) The organization, which has pushed false claims about the 2020 election, had been sued by a software company that has alleged defamation
Trump should fill Christians with rage. How come he doesn’t? (Michael Gerson, Opinion, Washington Post, 9-1-22) A long, thoughtful essay about the Christian embrace of populist politics in America. "Leaders in the Republican Party have fed, justified and exploited conservative Christians’ defensiveness in service to an aggressive, reactionary politics. This has included deadly mask and vaccine resistance, the discrediting of fair elections, baseless accusations of gay “grooming” in schools, the silencing of teaching about the United States’ history of racism, and (for some) a patently false belief that Godless conspiracies have taken hold of political institutions." The essay links to other op-ed pieces about specific issues, among them:
---The GOP celebration of covid ignorance is an invitation to death
---Of all the conservative bans on teaching about racism, the one in Texas is the worst
---Donald Trump’s Jan. 6 assault on American democracy (neither a spontaneous act nor an isolated event). "In both public perception and evident reality, many White, conservative Christians find themselves on the wrong side of the most cutting indictments delivered by Jesus of Nazareth."
A Timeline of Trump’s False and Misleading Statements on the Mar-a-Lago Search (Stuart A. Thompson, NY Times, 8-16-22) The former president has pushed frenetic and sometimes contradictory claims about the F.B.I.’s search of his Florida home. He and his allies have given often conflicting defenses of his retention of classified documents without addressing why he had kept them. In the wake of the search, Mr. Trump has accused the nation’s justice system of being exactly what he tried to turn it into: a political weapon for a president. Republicans have struggled to coalesce around a unified strategy to respond to the F.B.I.’s search of Donald J. Trump’s headquarters in Palm Beach, Fla.
The Part of the Espionage Act That Matters (Jan Lodal, a longtime defense and intelligence official, in a guest post on James Fallows blog, Breaking the News) "Trump’s violation of this Subparagraph (d) of the Espionage Act could not be clearer. Unlike all other crimes being considered for prosecution, Subsection (d) requires no probing of intent or consequence. It defines as criminal a clear process violation -- “failing to return” classified documents when properly asked to do so."
Trump’s Shifting Explanations Follow a Familiar Playbook (News Analysis, NY Times, 8-14-22)
The Complete Guide to All the Ways Donald Trump Is Legally Screwed (Vanity Fair, 8-22)

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A Sober Look at the ‘Cartoonishly Chaotic’ Trump White House (David Greenberg, NY Times, 9-14-22) In “The Divider,” political journalists keep their cool as they chronicle the outrageous conduct and ugly infighting that marked a presidency like no other. It’s all here: the culture wars and the corruption, the demagogy and the autocrat-love, the palace intrigue and the public tweets, the pandemic and the impeachments (plural).
How Trump Supporters Came to Hate the Police (Luke Mogelson, New Yorker, 9-10-22) At the Capitol riot and elsewhere, MAGA Republicans have leaped from “backing the blue” to attacking law-enforcement officials.
Most Americans see Trump's MAGA as threat to democracy (Jason Lange, Reuters, 9-8-22) A Reuters/Ipsos poll completed on Wednesday found a majority of Americans believe Trump's movement is undermining democracy.
“We need to take away children.” (An investigation by Caitlin Dickerson, The Atlantic, 8-7-22) The secret history of the U.S. government’s family-separation policy. "It is easy to pin culpability for family separations on the anti-immigration officials for which the Trump administration is known. But these separations were also endorsed and enabled by dozens of members of the government’s middle and upper management: Cabinet secretaries, commissioners, chiefs, and deputies who, for various reasons, didn’t voice concern even when they should have seen catastrophe looming; who trusted “the system” to stop the worst from happening; who reasoned that it would not be strategic to speak up in an administration where being labeled a RINO or a “squish”—nicknames for those deemed insufficiently conservative—could end their career; who assumed that someone else, in some other department, must be on top of the problem; who were so many layers of abstraction away from the reality of screaming children being pulled out of their parent’s arms that they could hide from the human consequences of what they were doing....

    “Congress, too, deserves blame, because it failed for decades to fill a legislative vacuum that anti-immigration officials moved to exploit. For too long, an overworked and underequipped border-police force has been left to determine crucial social, economic, and humanitarian policy....What happened in the months that led up to the implementation of Zero Tolerance—the Trump administration’s initiative that separated thousands of families—should be studied by future generations of organizational psychologists and moral philosophers.”
Among the Insurrectionists (Luke Mogelson, Reporter at Large, New Yorker, 1-15-21) The Capitol was breached by Trump supporters who had been declaring, at rally after rally, that they would go to violent lengths to keep the President in power.

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January 6: A chronicle of an attack foretold.
Plot to Overturn the Election (video, Frontline, 3-29-22) Many Republican voters believe his election was illegitimate, and the idea that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump is now a defining issue of the Republican Party. In a new investigative collaboration, FRONTLINE and ProPublica trace the hidden sources of misinformation about the 2020 election, demonstrating how a handful of people have had an outsized impact on the current U.S. crisis of democratic legitimacy.
How ‘Stop the Steal’ Captured the American Right (Charles Homans, NY Times Magazine, 7-19-22) "The movement to reinstate President Trump has gone far beyond him — and now threatens the future of American elections. It could properly be said to constitute a movement, but one that no longer gathers under the banner of “Stop the Steal,” preferring the good-government language of “election integrity” — though the movement has next to nothing in common with earlier efforts to shore up genuine vulnerabilities in the American election system....The insistence on America as a “republic” but not a “democracy” is a tendentious reading of James Madison popularized by the John Birch Society, the conspiratorial anti-communist organization — a justification for governing the country according to conservative values and policy prerogatives, even when the numerical majority of its people did not vote for them."
The January 6 Hearings Are Changing Republicans’ Minds (Sarah Longwell, The Atlantic, 7-28-22) GOP voters want political power. And they’re no longer sure Donald Trump is the best way to get it.
Will Be Wild (Wondery) An 8-part podcast series about the forces that led to the January 6th insurrection and what comes next. "Through in-depth stories from a wide range of characters – from people who tried to stop the attack to those who took part – hosts Andrea Bernstein and Ilya Marritz explore the ongoing effort to bring autocracy to America, the lasting damage that effort is doing to our democracy, and the fate of our attempts to combat those anti-democratic forces. Because January 6th wasn't the end of the story, January 6th was just a practice run."


Tinker, Tailor, Mobster, Trump (Greg Olear, Prevail, 3-31-20) What happens when a Confidential Informant becomes President? This old post has come up in several recent Substack comments in response to the question, "Why hasn't Tя☭mp been arrested all these years?"

Trump Claims He’s Not Ignoring N.Y. Attorney General Subpoena, He Just Lost His Phone (Bess Levin, Vanity Fair, 5-10-22) According to the ex-president, he is simply “not currently in possession” of the electronic devices prosecutors say contain crucial documents concerning his Trump Organization work.

•  In Sworn Deposition, Trump Says He Has Real Concerns About Being Killed By a Piece of Fruit (4-27-22) Pineapples, tomatoes, and bananas are “dangerous stuff” that could take a person’s life, the ex-president testified.
Building the “Big Lie”: Inside the Creation of Trump’s Stolen Election Myth (Doug Bock Clark, Alexandra Berzon and Kirsten Berg, ProPublica, 4-26-22) Internal emails and interviews with key participants reveal for the first time the extent to which leading advocates of the rigged election theory touted evidence they knew to be disproven, disputed or dismissed as dubious.
A Fact-Checked List of Trump Accomplishments (Farah Stockman, Opinion, NY Times, 9-11-2020) A checklist, in case you can't remember them all.
How Biden Should Investigate Trump (James Fallows, The Atlantic, 12-9-2020) The misdeeds and destructive acts are legion. The new president should focus on these three: "corrupt and possibly criminal” offenses, "corrosion of government rather than corruption of government," and three outright catastrophes, of which one, the mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic is "the greatest failure of governance in U.S. history."
Yoni Appelbaum's pieces in The Atlantic up to 2021.
Litigation Tracker (Just Security) Pending Criminal and Civil Cases Against Donald Trump.

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She Took the White House Photos. Trump Moved to Take the Profit. (Eric Lipton and Maggie Haberman, NY Times, 3-31-22) The former chief White House photographer made plans to publish a book of Trump photos. The former president had other plans. Official photographers from every White House since President Ronald Reagan’s have published their own books. Barack Obama and George W. Bush were so supportive that they wrote forewords for them. But like so much else involving Mr. Trump, the plan by his chief photographer, Shealah Craighead, did not follow this bipartisan norm. Mr. Trump jumped the gun and did his own book of photographs.

      "Since leaving office, Mr. Trump has sought multiple ways to monetize his presidency, from charging supporters to attend an event and take photos with him to selling MAGA merchandise. He also has a long history of disputes from before his political career with business partners and over the years faced regular accusations that he did not properly compensate contractors."
How Donald Trump Captured the Republican Party (Romesh Ratnesar, NY Times, 2-22-22) A review of INSURGENCY: How Republicans Lost Their Party and Got Everything They Ever Wanted by Jeremy W. Peters.“Insurgency” chronicles the astonishingly swift transformation of the Republican Party, from the genteel preserve of pro-business elites to a snarling personality cult that views the Jan. 6 insurrection as an exercise in legitimate political discourse. The outlines of the Republicans’ hard-right turn are by now largely familiar. Watching the reality-television star deliver remarks from the Trump Tower food court to a crowd that allegedly included actors who had been paid $50 to hold signs and cheer, [Steve] Bannon couldn’t contain himself. “That’s Hitler!” Bannon said. And, as Jeremy W. Peters writes in this spirited new history, “he meant it as a compliment.” What distinguishes “Insurgency” is its blend of political acuity and behind-the-scenes intrigue.
How did Trump’s name end up on coronavirus relief checks in 2020? ABC News successfully sued to find out. (Chris Young, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, 3-2-22)
Trump had positive COVID test before event with Gold Star families: book (Leo Shane III, Military Times, 12-1-21) When Trump came down with a life-threatening case of Covid, he suggested that he might have caught it from Gold Star families he had met with after his positive test. He not only concealed the result but also proceeded to put hundreds of people at risk by continuing his normal activities while refusing to wear a mask or practice social distancing. H/T Paul Krugman.
The Ecological Destruction from the Border Wall, in “American Scar” (New Yorker documentary, Film by Daniel Lombroso, Text by Murat Oztaskin, 4-30-22) Congress didn't go along with Trump's call for a border wall, so in early 2019, the President found a different way: he declared a national emergency at the southern border, a move that allowed him to reallocate funds for the wall’s construction from the Department of Defense. All told, the Trump Administration built more than four hundred and fifty miles of the barrier, about a quarter of the length of the U.S.’s border with Mexico. Construction continued until the moment of Joe Biden’s Inauguration. Funding the project from the D.O.D.’s budget and classifying it as a matter of national security offered the Trump Administration a way around protections: it made the wall’s construction exempt from the stipulations of the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, and more than eighty other laws and statutes. “There’s a certain kind of lawlessness that applies to the southern border that does not apply anywhere else,” said Stephania Taladrid, a New Yorker writer who’s covered the effects of the border wall, and who reported and produced “American Scar.”

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Trump: Americans Who Died in War Are ‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers’ (Jeffrey Goldberg,The Atlantic, 9-3-20) The president has repeatedly disparaged the intelligence of service members, and asked that wounded veterans be kept out of military parades, multiple sources tell The Atlantic. President Donald Trump canceled a visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris in 2018, saying “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.”
A Political Obituary for Donald Trump (George Packer, The Atlantic, 12-9-2020) "The United States’ score on the human-rights organization Freedom House’s annual index dropped from 90 out of 100 under President Barack Obama to 86 under Trump, below that of Greece and Mauritius. Trump withdrew the U.S. from 13 international organizations, agreements, and treaties. The number of refugees admitted into the country annually fell from 85,000 to 12,000. About 400 miles of barrier were built along the southern border. The whereabouts of the parents of 666 children seized at the border by U.S. officials remain unknown."
Documentary “Plot to Overturn the Election" Reveals Origins of the Stolen Election Myth (ProPublica and Frontline, 3-29-22) A group of people working from a plantation in South Carolina spread misinformation about the November 2020 election. These falsehoods have since become articles of faith for many Republicans. Watch "The Plot to Overturn the Election" (54 min.)
Trump lost the election, but he won the online disinformation war (Peter Geoghegan, openDemocracy, 11-9-2020) "Social media platforms have allowed US conservatives to delegitimise the election and sow mistrust of democracy. Posts by far-right news site Breitbart had been shared three times as often as posts from the official pages of every Democratic member of the US senate combined in the previous 30 days....As Tuesday night moved into Wednesday morning, Trump held the Sunshine State comfortably, mainly thanks to Latino voters in the state's most populous county, Miami-Dade, shifting in huge numbers from Clinton in 2016 to Trump this time around. Why? One reason is the months of YouTube videos and Facebook posts that led many in Miami to believe that Biden was a stalking horse for socialism, anathema to the city's large Cuban ex-pat population. These conspiracy theories were shared widely and then repeated incessantly on Spanish-language radio."

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What if a U.S, presidential candidate refuses to concede after an election? (Van Jones, TED Talk about how to stop a coup, October 2020) You can read transcript as you listen. "The president’s litigation strategy is unlikely to succeed, but it’s doing great harm in the meantime." Explaining why the customary concession speech is one of the most important safeguards for democracy, Jones exposes shocking legal loopholes that could enable a candidate to grab power even if they lose both the popular vote and the electoral college.

     Did you know "that under our constitution a presidential candidate could actually lose the popular vote, fail to get a majority in the electoral college, refuse to concede, manipulate hidden mechanisms in our government and still get sworn in as the president of the United States of America? Everyone essentially ignores the elite electoral process...".A concession speech is "the one speech no presidential candidate ever wants to give, and yet, it is that public address that is most important for the health and the well-being of our nation....The best way to stop a coup is to update and strengthen our democratic system as soon as this election is over. Maybe we need to rethink, reimagine or just get rid of this whole electoral college, extra inning thing in the first place.
      "Get informed. A number of progressive organizations are already working hard to warn Americans about this growing threat to our democracy. Some organizations you could look into and research for yourself: choosedemocracy.us, electiontaskforce.org, protectdemocracy.org, mobilize.us, allamericans.org, civicalliance.com and the Fight Back table at demos.org. All these groups are working on this. Now, on the right, if that's your cup of tea, you could also check out The Heritage Foundation or the Government Accountability Institute."

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The Making of Donald Trump David Cay Johnston. An easy read: a once-over lightly survey of why this man should never have been allowed to hold office -- covering Trump's taxes and shockingly crooked tax dodging (easily done as a real estate tycoon), his casinos, Trump University, the fake names he's used in phone calls with the press, links with mafia members and Roy Cohn, his use of lawyers to bully, how he caused the destruction of the nascent United States Football League, his amorphous net worth, fake awards he has given himself, his golf courses, and the huckster's perpetual myth maintenance. (H/T Franklin the Mouse)
He Bought Health Insurance for Emergencies. Then He Fell Into a $33,601 Trap. (Jenny Deam, ProPublica, 5-8-21) Since the Trump administration deregulated the health insurance industry, there’s been an explosion of short-term plans that leave patients with surprise bills and providers with huge revenue.
How a Future President Can Hold the Trump Administration Accountable (Sam Berger, Center for American Progress, 8-5-2020)
President Trump’s 3,400 conflicts of interest (Corruption, Crew, 9-24-2020) The conflicts include visits to Trump properties by foreign government officials, taxpayer spending at Trump businesses, and Trump’s own blatant promotions of the businesses. CREW has tracked around two conflicts of interest per day, but that is likely only the tip of the iceberg. According to data from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Trump made at least 500 visits to his own hotels, golf courses, restaurants, and other facilities during his four years in office. Special-interest groups held 130 events at Trump properties.

Trump wanted to launch missiles into Mexico to rid of drug labs: Esper memoir (Kelly McClure, Salon, 5-5-22) In a memoir written by Trump's former defense secretary, Mark T. Esper, it's revealed that the former president would often suggest shocking weapons-based forms of problem solving such as blowing up Mexican drug labs with missiles and shooting anti-police brutality demonstrators.
Heather Cox Richardson (5-6-22) "In other news today, a new book coming out by Mark Esper, former secretary of defense under Trump, reveals that the former president wanted the military to recall to active duty retired General Stan McChrystal and Admiral William H. McRaven in order to court-martial them for disloyalty to him. It also says that Trump wanted to have the U.S. military launch missiles at Mexican drug labs, quoting him as telling Esper that “[w]e could just shoot some Patriot missiles” into our neighbor and ally, Mexico, and no one would know it was the U.S. because Trump could just deny it.
"Esper pointed out that such an attack on a sovereign nation would be an act of war."

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Trump’s company has received at least $970,000 from U.S. taxpayers for room rentals (David A. Fahrenthold and Joshua Partlow, WaPo, 5-14-2020)
Judge slaps down Trump appointee who has sought to reshape Voice of America and related agencies (Paul Farhi, Wash Post, 11-21-2020) 'Lee R. Crain, one of the attorneys who represented the plaintiffs, said Howell’s ruling ensures that journalists at the agencies can ‘rest assured that the First Amendment protects them from government efforts to control” their reporting. “They are free to do exactly what Congress intended: export independent, First Amendment-style journalism to the world.”... Michael "Pack had asserted the right to direct how journalists at VOA and sister networks such as Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Radio Free Asia covered the news, a violation of the traditional “firewall” that ensures the networks aren’t government mouthpieces.'

      See also Court Injunction Bars USAGM From Editorial Interference (Jessica Jerreat, VOA News,11-21-2020) and see U.S. Government-Funded Broadcasters Must Remain Free from Political Interference PEN America (11-22-2020) decries "vandalism" being committed by USAGM CEO Michael Pack, files court brief in lawsuit against the U.S. Agency for Global Media. "Since its inception, public broadcast journalism's challenge has been to win the trust of its audience—to bury any impression that Radio Free Europe, for example, is an American Pravda."
An Oral History of Trump’s Bigotry (David A. Graham, Adrienne Green, Cullen Murphy, and Parker Richards, The Atlantic, June 2019) His racism and intolerance have always been in evidence; only slowly did he begin to understand how to use them to his advantage. "One of the things Trump learned when he injected himself into the Central Park Five case was that he could get attention for himself because he was a spokesman for a certain type of Archie Bunker New Yorker. I think that’s one of the bonds that he shares with [Trump attorney and former New York City Mayor] Rudy Giuliani: They’re both profoundly guys from that moment in New York when a lot of racial boundaries got drawn."
Making Sense (Sam Harris's podcast, 10-30-2020). This link takes you to Harris's fascinating discussion with Andrew Sullivan about why Trump has been so successful despite being a horrible person.
How Trump Became the Pro-Infection Candidate (Dhruv Khullar, New Yorker, 10-23-2020)
The Coup Stage of Donald Trump’s Presidency (Masha Gessen, New Yorker, 11-20-2020) Is it a coup or a con? Trump’s bad con continues to show how easy it would be to stage a good one. Then we would call it a coup.

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Trump's Clown Coup (Susan B. Glasser, New Yorker, 11-20-2020) We’ve been getting used to painful truths for so long that the awful enormity of the current situation doesn’t hit us in the way it should. The G.O.P. leadership, which has tolerated so many abuses by Trump, is now openly complicit in his worst one yet.
How Trump and His Enablers Are Laying the Groundwork For a Coup d'état (A Pointed View, 11-10-2020) There's an interesting discussion of this on Facebook (launched by Anita Bartholomew's post).
In 1,316 days, President Trump has made 22,247 false or misleading claims (Washington Post Fact Checker) The Fact Checker’s ongoing database of the false or misleading claims made by President Trump since assuming office. A timeline of untruths, along with the facts. See also Trump is averaging more than 50 false or misleading claims a day (Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly, The Fact Checker, 10-22-2020)
Disappearing Data (HuffPost Report, 10-28-2020) Data is the lifeblood of a functioning government. Over the past four years, the Trump administration has destroyed, disappeared or distorted vast swathes of the information the state needs to protect the vulnerable, safeguard our health, and alert us to emerging crises. This is an accounting of the damage in several areas where data is crucial: The Pandemic, Climate Change, The Vulnerable, Pollution, Science, Food, Conservation, and the Census.

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The President's Taxes: Long-Concealed Records Show Trump’s Chronic Losses and Years of Tax Avoidance (Russ Buettner, Susanne Craig and Mike McIntire, NY Times, 9-27-2020--part of a series) The Times obtained Donald Trump’s tax information extending over more than two decades, revealing struggling properties, vast write-offs, an audit battle and hundreds of millions in debt coming due. "Donald J. Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency. In his first year in the White House, he paid another $750. He had paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years — largely because he reported losing much more money than he made." The returns "reveal the hollowness, but also the wizardry, behind the self-made-billionaire image — honed through his star turn on “The Apprentice” — that helped propel him to the White House and that still undergirds the loyalty of many in his base....Indeed, his financial condition when he announced his run for president in 2015 lends some credence to the notion that his long-shot campaign was at least in part a gambit to reanimate the marketability of his name."
The Swamp That Trump Built (Nicholas Confessore, Karen Yourish, Steve Eder, Ben Protess, Maggie Haberman, Grace Ashford, Michael LaForgia, Kenneth P. Vogel, Michael Rothfeld and Larry Buchanan, NY Times, 10-10-2020) A businessman-president transplanted favor-seeking in Washington to his family’s hotels and resorts — and earned millions as a gatekeeper to his own administration.
18 Revelations From a Trove of Trump Tax Records (NY Times, 9-27-2020) Times reporters have obtained decades of tax information the president has hidden from public view. Among the key findings of The Times’s investigation: "Mr. Trump paid no federal income taxes in 11 of 18 years that The Times examined. In 2017, after he became president, his tax bill was only $750. He has reduced his tax bill with questionable measures, including a $72.9 million tax refund that is the subject of an audit by the Internal Revenue Service. Many of his signature businesses, including his golf courses, report losing large amounts of money — losses that have helped him to lower his taxes."Read on.
Trump Engineered a Sudden Windfall in 2016 as Campaign Funds Dwindled (Susanne Craig, Mike McIntire and Russ Buettner, NY Times, 10-9-2020) Tax records expose more than $21 million in highly unusual payments from the Las Vegas hotel Donald Trump owns with Phil Ruffin, routed through other Trump companies and paid out in cash. His tax records show that "his 'self-funded' presidential campaign was short on funds, and he was struggling to win over leery Republican donors. His golf courses and the hotel he would soon open in the Old Post Office in Washington were eating away at what cash he had left on hand....And in early 2016, Deutsche Bank, the last big lender still doing business with him, unexpectedly turned down his request for a loan. The funds, Mr. Trump had told his bankers, would help shore up his Turnberry golf resort in Scotland. Some bankers feared the money would instead be diverted to his campaign."

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Misinformation about Biden’s health spreads after debate (Elizabeth Dwoskin, Washington Post, 9-30-2020) TikTok videos and Trump ads with false information got more than 700,000 views and clicks. See also Right-wing voices are dominating Facebook after the first presidential debate (WaPo, 9-30-2020) Many Americans who primarily get news from Facebook are living in a media ecosystem where the winner of the debate is clear: President Trump crushed Joe Biden. But Facebook and Twitter take unusual steps to limit spread of New York Post story (Dwoskin, WaPo, 10-15-2020) "Four years after Russian operatives exploited tech giants’ services during a presidential contest, the companies’ swift and aggressive steps in responding to the unverified story, and their divergent responses, are a real-time case study in their ability to protect the integrity of an election that has been marred by domestic disinformation and misleading accounts. That activity has included misinformation about Biden’s health, the dying wish of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and the validity of mail-in ballots — much of it spread by Trump and his supporters."
Trump got a $21 million tax break for saving the forest outside his N.Y. mansion. Now the deal is under investigation. (Joshua Partlow, Jonathan O'Connell and David A. Fahrenthold, Washington Post, 10-9-2020) Five years ago, Donald Trump promised to preserve more than 150 acres of rolling woodlands in an exclusive swath of New York suburbia prized for its luxury homes and rural tranquility. He wrote off the cost as a business expense and the family calls it "a retreat for the Trump family."

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Trump says he's leaving hospital for White House, feels good (Zeke Miller, Jill Colvin, and Aamer Madhani, AP, 10-5-2020) "For more than eight months, Trump's efforts to play down the threat of the virus in hopes of propping up the economy ahead of the election have drawn bipartisan criticism....According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those with mild to moderate symptoms can be contagious for as many — and should isolate for at least — 10 day. On Sunday afternoon, Trump briefly ventured out of the hospital while contagious to salute cheering supporters by motorcade — an outing that disregarded precautions meant to contain the virus....Less than one month before Election Day, Trump was eager to project strength despite his illness. The still-infectious president surprised supporters who had gathered outside the hospital, riding by Sunday in a black SUV with the windows rolled up. Secret Service agents inside the vehicle could be seen in masks and other protective gear....[Sunday] was the second straight day of obfuscation from a White House already suffering from a credibility crisis. And it raised more doubts about whether the doctors treating the president were sharing accurate, timely information with the American public about the severity of his condition."
‘It’s like every red flag’: Trump-ordered HHS ad blitz raises alarms (Dan Diamond, Politico, 9-25-2020) "The health department is moving quickly on a highly unusual advertising campaign to "defeat despair" about the coronavirus, a $300 million-plus effort that was shaped by a political appointee close to President Donald Trump and executed in part by close allies of the official, using taxpayer funds....[Michael] Caputo, who has no medical or scientific background, claimed in a Facebook video on Sept. 13 that the campaign was "demanded of me by the president of the United States. Personally."...But 10 current and former health officials told POLITICO that they have concerns about the campaign's scope, goals and even how it has been funded — by pulling money out of health agencies like the Centers for Disease Control that are in the midst of fighting the pandemic, rather than working with lawmakers to set up a brand-new advertising effort with congressional oversight, or drawing on substantial internal resources and expertise in running health-related public service campaigns....But 10 current and former health officials told POLITICO that they have concerns about the campaign's scope, goals and even how it has been funded — by pulling money out of health agencies like the Centers for Disease Control that are in the midst of fighting the pandemic, rather than working with lawmakers to set up a brand-new advertising effort with congressional oversight, or drawing on substantial internal resources and expertise in running health-related public service campaigns."

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The Coronavirus and the Threat Within the White House ( David Remnick, New Yorker, 10-3-2020) "The best security system and the most solicitous medical officers in the world could not protect Donald Trump from a danger that he insisted on belittling and ignoring....The Centers for Disease Control and other public-health institutions have long said that wearing masks is essential to minimizing the spread of the coronavirus. Trump has been of another opinion, a delusional one."

The Plot to Keep Meatpacking Plants Open During COVID-19 (Michael Grabell, ProPublica, 5-13-22) Newly released documents reveal that the meatpacking industry’s callousness toward the health of its workers and its influence over the Trump administration were far greater than previously known. Congressional investigators have reported on a high-pressure lobbying campaign by the meat industry leading to one of the most consequential moments in the nation’s COVID-19 response: Trump's presidential order that effectively thwarted efforts by local health officials to shut plants down and slow the spread of COVID-19.
The Battle Over “The Room Where It Happened” Continues (Authors Guild, 9-24-2020) "On September 15, the Trump Administration continued its campaign against John Bolton and his book The Room Where It Happened by opening a criminal inquiry into whether Bolton had unlawfully disclosed classified information in his bestselling memoir. Ellen Knight, formerly of the National Security Council, expressed concern 'about the politicization -- or even the perceived politicization -- of the prepublication review process. Once authors start perceiving that manuscripts are being reviewed for political considerations, they will lose confidence in the integrity of the process and find ways to publish or release their works without submitting them for review. This could result in unchecked disclosures of sensitive information and the potential for serious damage to our national security.' Ms. Knight’s letter states that the Bolton prepublication review process “entailed an unprecedented amount of interaction between the political appointees in the NSC Legal staff and the career prepublication review staff.”
Twitter’s Trump Fact Check Won’t Solve Much, but at Least It’s Something (Dahlia Lithwick, Future Tense, Slate, 5-27-2020) Twitter took the unprecedented step of attaching warning labels accompanied by links to fact checks to two of the president’s false tweets. The president then went on to threaten that Twitter was “completely stifling FREE SPEECH, and I, as President, will not allow it to happen!” although anyone with a brain quickly pointed out that private companies are not state actors and Trump has no First Amendment claims here.
The First Amendment: what it really means for free speech and why Donald Trump is trampling on it (Eliza Bechtold, The Conversation, 8-5-19) "...there is no First Amendment right to use Twitter or have a Facebook page. As private entities, social media companies are free to adopt policies relating to user content and to remove users who violate such policies without implicating the First Amendment. Moreover, the First Amendment protects the expression of corporations and other associations, as well as individuals. This means that Facebook, Twitter, and others have free speech rights."

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Judges toss lawsuit alleging anti-conservative bias on social media (Marc DeAngelis, Engadget, 5-28-2020) In 2018, the nonprofit organization Freedom Watch and a conservative YouTuber named Laura Loomer tried to sue social media companies. They alleged that Twitter, Facebook and Google -- which owns YouTube -- broke antitrust laws and violated their First Amendment rights by conspiring to suppress conservative viewpoints. Their case was dropped last year, but they appealed the decision. According to Bloomberg, a federal appeals court today affirmed the decision to drop the suit, leaving the tech companies in the clear.The plaintiffs say that tech companies conspired to suppress conservative views. See also Freedom Watch and Laura Loomer Lose Lawsuit Against Social Media Platforms (Eugene Volokh, The Volokh Conspiracy, 5-27-2020) No, said the Court. The plaintiffs' First Amendment claim failed because "the First Amendment 'prohibits only governmental abridgment of speech," because there was no evidence of an anticompetitive behavior by platforms, and because D.C.'s public accommodation statute doesn't apply to online service providers.
The Billion-Dollar Disinformation Campaign to Reelect the President (McKay Coppins, The Atlantic, 2-10-2020) How new technologies and techniques pioneered by dictators will shape the 2020 election. After the 2016 election, much was made of the threats posed to American democracy by foreign disinformation. Stories of Russian troll farms and Macedonian fake-news mills loomed in the national imagination. But while these shadowy outside forces preoccupied politicians and journalists, Trump and his domestic allies were beginning to adopt the same tactics of information warfare that have kept the world's demagogues and strongmen in power.
Literary Group Goes to Court to Stop Donald Trump From Violating the First Amendment (Eriq Gardner, Hollywood Reporter, 10-16-18) The Pen America Center says Trump is using his power to unconstitutionally punish and intimidate The Washington Post, CNN, NBC, the White House press corps and others who cover his administration.

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Why Bill Barr Turned on Trump (Donald Ayer, The Atlantic, 9-19-22) No one should think he’s having second thoughts about the awful things he did in office. Remember that Barr sought out the opportunity to serve as Trump’s attorney general by submitting a memorandum in June 2018, expanding upon his long-held, breathtaking vision that the Founders created an all-powerful president immune from virtually any limitation on his powers.
Almost 2,000 former Justice officials condemn department for dropping Flynn case (Rebecca Klar, The Hill, 5-11-2020) 'Nearly 2,000 former Department of Justice (DOJ) officials who served under Republican and Democratic administrations condemned the DOJ and Attorney General William Barr on Monday for moving to drop charges against former national security adviser Michael Flynn. The former officials said Barr “once again assaulted the rule of law” and accused the attorney general of using the department “as a tool to further President Trump’s personal and political interests.” ' See also ‘A constant battle of you against the leadership of your country’: Justice Dept. rattled as Flynn fallout reaches FBI (Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky, and Josh Dawsey, Washington Post, 5-8-2020) 'While the president continued to criticize the FBI’s conduct, multiple federal law enforcement officials interviewed Friday expressed varying degrees of anger, resignation and alarm over the decision by Attorney General William P. Barr to abandon the prosecution of Flynn for lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the United States before Trump took office. “The attorney general is supposed to be above reproach and apolitical in terms of how the department operates and how he or she as an individual operates, and he’s just completely lost that,” said one veteran Justice Department lawyer who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation. “He’s Trump’s attorney. He’s not the country’s attorney.” '
How Trump Supporters Came to Hate the Police (Luke Mogelson, New Yorker, 9-10-22) At the Capitol riot and elsewhere, MAGA Republicans have leaped from “backing the blue” to attacking law-enforcement officials."One way to think about January 6th is as the consummation, in real time, of a tumultuous shift between two distinct eras of conservatism. Before 2020, most conservatives celebrated law enforcement as the protectors of a system that was, on balance, reliably favorable to their interests. By the end of 2020, after the lockdowns and the election, many conservatives had come to see that system the same way that right-wing extremists did—as corrupt and tyrannical, perhaps even satanic. At the same time, so long as Trump was still in power and weaponizing law enforcement against leftists, neither conservatives nor the police were forced to confront what this meant for their alliance. That reckoning could no longer be avoided on January 6th, and it is understandable that people on both sides of the line persisted in respecting the terms of a compact that was now obsolete."

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Kelly and Pompeo: How A Journalist Masterfully Combated Gaslighting (Stephanie Sarkis, Forbes, 1-25-2020) A brief demo on how to address gaslighters talking over you, spouting misinformation, acting as if they're being bullied, lying to make you look unreasonable, etc.
Donald Trump’s Ghostwriter Tells All (Jane Mayer, The New Yorker, 7-18-16) “The Art of the Deal” made America see Trump as a charmer with an unfailing knack for business. Tony Schwartz helped create that myth—and regrets it. Over the decades, Trump appeared to have convinced himself that he had written the book. Schwartz recalls thinking, “If he could lie about that on Day One—when it was so easily refuted—he is likely to lie about anything.” “He has no attention span.” “. . .it’s impossible to keep him focussed on any topic, other than his own self-aggrandizement, for more than a few minutes, and even then . . . ” Trump’s short attention span has left him with “a stunning level of superficial knowledge and plain ignorance.” He said, “That’s why he so prefers TV as his first news source—information comes in easily digestible sound bites.” Edward Kosner, the former editor and publisher of New York, where Schwartz worked as a writer at the time, says, “Tony created Trump. He’s Dr. Frankenstein.”
Defending Rights & Dissent Opposes Trump Executive Order Equating Support for Palestinian Rights with Anti-Semitic Discrimination (Defending Rights & Dissent, 12-11-19) Anti-Semitism is a real threat, but it is a distortion of civil rights to use federal civil rights law to suppress speech in support of Palestinian rights.
Judgment days (Stephanie McCrummen, Washington Post, 7-21-18) In a small Alabama town, an evangelical congregation reckons with God, President Trump and the meaning of morality. How can people who purport to disapprove of sinfulness of all kinds vote for a twice-divorced alleged adulterer who has boasted of sexual assault? What was important was not the character of the president but his positions, they said, and one mattered more than all the others. “Abortion,” said Linda, whose eyes teared up when she talked about it. Read that and then read this: Avoiding false judgments in journalism about Trump’s evangelical supporters (Brook Wilensky-Lanford, Nieman Storyboard, 4-11-19) A religion scholar assesses how the Washington Post's Stephanie McCrummen avoids predictable pitfalls in "Judgment Days."

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‘A Terrible Mistake’: Trump Criticizes DeSantis on Abortion Ban (Jonathan Swan and Maggie Haberman, NY Times, 9-17-23) The former president, while denouncing his chief rival for the Republican nomination, also largely evaded questions on the issue. "Mr. Trump's advisers are mindful that abortion was a political loser for Republicans in the 2022 midterm cycle."

       "Since announcing his candidacy — just a week after Republicans underperformed expectations in midterm elections shaped by a backlash against the overturning of the abortion ruling — there has been no policy issue on which Mr. Trump has appeared more uncomfortable than on abortion. "In interview after interview since the repeal of the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, Mr. Trump has ducked questions about whether he would support a federal ban on most abortions at 15 weeks — the baseline position of many Republicans, including the leading anti-abortion group, Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America....

      "In reality, Mr. Trump — who years ago said he supported abortion rights before switching his position in 2011 as he considered a presidential campaign that year — appointed three conservative justices to the Supreme Court, providing a majority to reverse the Roe ruling. Democrats have made clear they plan to make Mr. Trump’s role in Roe’s end a key focus in the 2024 general election if he is the nominee." 
ICE Has Kept Tabs on ‘Anti-Trump’ Protesters in New York City (Jimmy Tobias, The Nation, 3-6-19) Documents reveal that the immigration enforcement agency has been keenly attuned to left-leaning protests in the city. “If [the Department of Homeland Security] is specifically focusing on those who are against the current president, it gets into the realm of what fascist regimes do,” says Jody Kuh, a volunteer organizer with Rise and Resist. “If they are watching us because we are against the current president’s policies, it is more than a little disturbing.”

A Brief History of Fascist Lies by Federico Finchelstein (University of California Press, 2020) Excerpt: "The same lies that motivated the El Paso killer are at the center of Trumpism and the so-called effort to Make America Great Again. Lying about things that are part of the permanent record has become part of the American president’s daily routine. Trump continuously has used specific propaganda techniques, lying with-out consequence, replacing rational debate with paranoia and resentment, and casting reality itself into doubt. Trump’s attacks on the mainstream media and the extensive documented instances where he claims he didn’t say something that is in fact in the public record are related to the history of fascist lies analyzed in this book."

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Inside the Steele Dossier & The Fusion GPS Investigation Of Trump (listen to Terry Gross, Fresh Air, 11-26-19) During the 2016 campaign, Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch hired former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele to investigate Donald Trump's involvement with Russia. Their book about this topic is Crime in Progress (the inside story of the high-stakes, four-year-long investigation into Donald Trump’s Russia ties—culminating in the Steele dossier, and sparking the Mueller report—from the founders of political opposition research company Fusion GPS) This Washington Post review of the book may help you decide whether to read further.
The Summer of Chaos and God (Dahlia Lithwick, Slate, 9-5-19) 'A preference for chaos on the far right is connected to God in ways Democrats can barely talk about, much less comprehend, whether it’s the fundamental disconnect around evangelical support for unfettered gun rights or the right’s rejection of environmental protection or immigrants’ rights. But the more morally discordant Trump’s policies and politics are, the more he is seen as fighting for religious rights. This is not a claim that all or even most religious belief is nihilist—it is just a recognition that there is a deeply nihilist strain in some religious quarters, one that dovetails perfectly with the impulse to “blow it all up.”'
Trump Can’t Block Critics From His Twitter Account, Appeals Court Rules (Charlie Savage, NY Times, 7-9-19) "Because Mr. Trump uses Twitter to conduct government business, he cannot exclude some Americans from reading his posts — and engaging in conversations in the replies to them — because he does not like their views, a three-judge panel on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in New York, ruled unanimously." "The decision may have broader implications for how the First Amendment applies to officials’ accounts in the social-media era."
The Invention of the Conspiracy Theory on Biden and Ukraine (Jane Mayer, New Yorker, 10-4-19) How a conservative dark-money group that targeted Hillary Clinton in 2016 spread the discredited story that may lead to Donald Trump’s impeachment. See also the book Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency by Joshua Green, as well as the article “Stupid Watergate” Is Worse Than the Original (David Remnick, New Yorker, 10-4-19) "...his corruption is totally as we see it, out front. He doesn’t try to hide it. He doesn’t try to hide the conflicts of interest or the lying. He is not a secretive conspirator. Donald Trump’s behavior echoes Nixon’s in one sense: he and his confederates appear to have been engaged in an effort to undermine the integrity of a Presidential election."

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The Difference Between Leaking and Whistle-Blowing in the Trump White House (Masha Gessen, New Yorker, 10-4-19) 'A whistle-blower often speaks out with the aim of halting some wrongdoing, but a leaker’s motives are generally self-serving....We have normalized Trumpism to such an extent that journalists and politicians didn’t know how to think about the Ukraine story until the whistle-blower framed it as an egregious abuse of power....Yet it took two and a half years for someone with significant access to the Administration to go through the process of systematically collecting information and transmitting it through the institutional channels created specifically for the purpose of saying, “This is not normal.”'
What is Trumpcare? (Larry Levitt, news@JAMA, 9-25-19)
Who Are Donald Trump's Supporters? Trump Nation (USA Today Interactives) They’re not clichés. The USA TODAY NETWORK interviewed voters in every state to find out. Read their comments.
Trump the Truth: A Timeline of Assaults on Free Expression (Pen America) The Trump the Truth timeline, maintained and updated by PEN America during the first year of the Trump Administration, was used to track important developments during the Trump Administration that posed a threat to undermine free expression and press freedoms (or, from another viewpoint, express his opinion). See also PEN America's Trump the Truth report and timeline (PDF in standard prose format).
PolitiFact's Truth-o-Meter report on Trump. See especially All statements by Trump, rated as true or false or somewhere in between. (36 pages as of 7-25-19)
•“My father never got so much as a speeding ticket in his life,” says Eric Trump, whose father paid $25 million to people he defrauded through Trump University.
Under Trump, LGBTQ Progress Is Being Reversed in Plain Sight (Kirsten Berg and Moiz Syed, ProPublica, 11-22-19) Donald Trump promised he would fight for LGBTQ people. Instead, his administration has systematically undone recent gains in their rights and protections. Since taking office, Trump’s administration has acted to dismantle federal protections and resources for LGBTQ Americans, particularly those gained under President Barack Obama. Here are 31 examples.
'Times' Journalists Puncture Myth Of Trump As Self-Made Billionaire (Terry Gross interviews investigative reporters Susanne Craig and David Barstow, who say the president received today's equivalent of $413 million from his father's real estate empire, through what appears to be tax fraud. See also Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes as He Reaped Riches From His Father (Susanne Craig and David Barstow and Russ Buettner, NY Times, 10-2-18) The president has long sold himself as a self-made billionaire, but a Times investigation found that he received at least $413 million in today’s dollars from his father’s real estate empire, much of it through schemes to avoid paying taxes on multimillion dollar gifts in the family.
Mueller report suggests the ‘fake news’ came from Trump, not the news media (Paul Farhi, WaPo, 4-18-19) Mueller's report cites multiple instances in which Trump and White House aides misled or lied to journalists or in public statements as the investigation was unfolding....In fact, according to Mueller’s report, Trump’s first reaction [to news of Mueller's appointment] was anything but calm. According to notes taken by an aide, Trump responded by saying, “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m f-cked. . . . This is the worst thing that ever happened to me.”
Donald Trump Fact Check (Toronto Star)

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When Donald met Scott: a reporter's view of Trump and his White House wonderland (Katharine Murphy, The Guardian, 9-27-19) Australian PM Scott Morrison received a full-blown welcome from the US president. " If he doesn’t understand, the president will say: “Say it.” This means ask the question again, she says."
Why PEN America Is Suing Donald Trump (Jennifer Egan, LitHub, 10-18-18) "Trump's vitriol against reporters has made political journalism a more dangerous practice....President Trump’s frank admiration for authoritarian rulers makes his efforts to hobble a free press here in America all the more alarming. His actions conform to what some call an 'authoritarian playbook' for modern tyrants, in which the curtailing of free speech occurs subtly and gradually through a system of governmental rewards and punishments that encourage cooperation and gradually chill opposing voices."
Hundreds of Newspapers Denounce Trump's Attacks on Media in Coordinated Editorials(James Doubek, NPR, 8-16-18) Over 300 newspapers published editorials against Trump’s attack on the press. The President responded by calling the media “the opposition party,” and many believe this will only bolster his current platform. Will a united media be enough to reaffirm the First Amendment? NPR does not have an editorial board, and did not take part in Thursday's coordinated effort. The project was spearheaded by staff members of the editorial page at the Globe. See
---A Free Press Needs You (Editorial, NY Times, 8-15-18)
--- "Americans may not like the news they see or hear but they should not hold that against those who report it. In short, don’t shoot the messenger." --TriCorner News, LakeVille Journal, 8-15-18)
---Journalists are not the enemy (Boston Globe editorial board, 8-15-18)
---"Self-governance demands that our citizens need to be well-informed and that's what we're here to do. ... Some think we're rude to question and challenge. We know it's our obligation."--The Times of North Little Rock
---"Journalists are used to being insulted. It comes with the job ... But being called an enemy — and not of a politician or cause, but of the whole people of a nation — that's something else entirely."-- Topeka Capital-Journal
EPA Lets AP Reporter Back Into Summit After She Was Shoved Out Of Building (DAvid Bauder, Talking Points Memo, 5-22-18) AP journalist Ellen Knickmeyer and reporters from CNN and E&E News were told they could not attend an invitation-only event, a summit on a class of chemicals present in dangerous amounts in many water systems around the country. Knickmeyer "was earlier barred and shoved out of the building by a security guard." “We understand the importance of an open and free press and we hope the EPA does, too,” CNN said. Scott Pruitt apparently does not.

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Trump admin tightens media access for federal scientists: report (Ali Breland, The Hill, 6-21-18) The Trump administration is directing federal scientists in the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to get approval from the Department of the Interior, its parent agency, before speaking to reporters, according to the Los Angeles Times. "The employees said that they believe the new policies were established to control the voices of Interior employees. They believe the move is a part of larger efforts to quell discourse about climate change, which the agency has produced research on."
"It's the law, stupid," and seven other lessons from the EPA's botched media blackout. (Indira Lakshmanan, Poynter, 5-24-18) The Federal Advisory Committee Act requires that any advisory group making recommendations to the federal government “shall be open to the public.” Journalists protect their interests if they’re versed in open records and open meetings laws.
Board objects to EPA press office action (National Association of Science Writers, 3-26-18) Inpart: "With the March 20 “press release,” EPA effectively limited its discussion of a major science policy story to a handpicked, partisan outlet. It also encouraged journalists to learn details about this story from a published article, which can never be a basis of responsible news reporting.
"When reporters contact the EPA Press Office asking for information regarding the activities of a taxpayer-funded organization, those queries should be answered swiftly by knowledgeable staff. The same holds when journalists request public documents from an agency."
Judge: Trump Can’t Block Twitter Users(Mark Joseph Stern, Slate, 5-13-18).S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald ruled that President Donald Trump violated the First Amendment by blocking Twitter users who criticized him and his policies. Her ruling is an extraordinary victory for free speech on the internet and a harsh rebuke to Trump’s effort to prevent his critics from engaging with him online.

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The White House's attack on scientists could manipulate public opinion (Lauren Kurtz and Romany Webb, Opinion, The Hill, 2-28-18) "The Trump administration’s FY2019 budget, unveiled last Monday, proposes cuts in essential funding for scientific research and education. Unfortunately, this attack on science is not an isolated incident. Barely a year into President Trump’s term, there have already been 111 attempts by the federal government to censor, misrepresent, or stifle science. Many appear intended to gain support for the administration’s efforts to prop up the fossil fuel industry... At the Department of the Interior (DOI), a website discussing the environmental and other risks of fossil fuel development was changed to emphasize economic benefits [and to argue against human causes of climate change]. A few months later, large swaths of land previously protected from coal mining and oil and gas drilling were opened to development. Shortly after this, DOI’s Bureau of Land Management changed the image on its homepage from a scenic park vista to a pile of coal, presumably to reinforce the message that public lands are for mining."
Words banned at multiple HHS agencies include ‘diversity’ and ‘vulnerable’ (Lena H. Sun and Juliet Eilperin, WashPost, 12-10-17) "The Trump administration has informed multiple divisions within the Department of Health and Human Services that they should avoid using certain words or phrases in official documents being drafted for next year’s budget. The words to avoid: “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.” Participants at HHS were also told to use “Obamacare” instead of ACA, or the Affordable Care Act, and to use “exchanges” instead of “marketplaces” to describe the venues where people can purchase health insurance. At the CDC, budget analysts were told they could use an alternative phrase instead of “evidence-based” or “science-based” in budget documents. That phrase is “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes.”
The CDC analyst said it was clear to participants that they were to avoid those seven words but only in drafting budget documents.

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Homeland Security Used a Private Intelligence Firm to Monitor Family Separation Protests (Ryan Devereaux, The Intercept, 4-19-19) In the last two years, law enforcement agencies executing the Trump administration’s immigration agenda have cracked down on critics of the president’s policies. Among the targeted: humanitarian volunteers providing food, water, and medical aid to migrants trekking through the desert, and immigration attorneys, journalists, and activists working with, and around, migrant caravans.“This is a chilling revelation, but follows an even scarier trend of constant government surveillance and policing of immigrant communities, and targeting of activists and journalists,” Jesse Franzblau, a senior policy analyst with the National Immigrant Justice Center.
The police threw the book at Trump Protesters in DC but sat and watched White Supremacists terrorize Charlottesville (Sandra Fulton, HuffPost, 8-29-17) "Last week, the Department of Justice altered a sweeping warrant, which sought to collect personal information on every visitor to an anti-Trump website that organized protests on Inauguration Day....The demand seems to be in line with a broader trend within the Trump Administration—a harsh crackdown against any group that disagrees with President Trump. For his part, Trump has categorized these protesters as the “Alt-Left,” a term that doesn’t seem to apply to any easily-defined entity beyond the paranoid imaginings of Trump and his allies." "The administration and law enforcement are using a range of tactics — from electronic surveillance to a growing number of anti-protest laws — to criminalize anyone that organizes in the streets to protest the president and his policies. But how are law enforcement and the administration responding to the very real threats coming from white supremacists like those who marched earlier this month on Charlottesville?'

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Leaked FBI Documents Reveal Bureau’s Priorities Under Trump (Ken Klippenstein, The Young Turks, 8-8-19) Under President Trump, the FBI’s official counterterrorism priorities have included “Black Identity Extremists,” “anti-authority” extremists, and “animal rights/environmental extremists,” according to leaked Bureau documents.... When an August 2017 internal FBI report referencing the counterterrorism threat posed by “Black Identity Extremists” was published by Foreign Policy, the FBI became the subject of intense criticism for adopting what critics alleged was a racially loaded term....While the documents depict concerns about violent black extremist attacks, they do not cite a single specific attack — unlike white supremacist attacks, of which several prominent examples are provided....So grave did the Bureau consider the threat of black extremists that from 2019 to 2020, using new designations, it listed the threat at the very top of its counterterrorism priorities — above even terror groups like Al Qaeda."
Justice demands 1.3M IP addresses related to Trump resistance site (Morgan Chalfant, The Hill, 8-14-17) "DreamHost claimed that the complying with the request from the Justice Department would amount to handing over roughly 1.3 million visitor IP addresses to the government, in addition to contact information, email content and photos of thousands of visitors to the website, which was involved in organizing protests against Trump on Inauguration Day. “That information could be used to identify any individuals who used this site to exercise and express political speech protected under the Constitution’s First Amendment,” DreamHost wrote in the blog post on Monday. “That should be enough to set alarm bells off in anyone’s mind.”
Trump Administration Starts Returning Copies of C.I.A. Torture Report to Congress (Mark Mazzetti and Mathew Rosenberg, NY Times, 6-2-17) "The Trump administration has begun returning copies of a voluminous 2014 Senate report about the Central Intelligence Agency’s detention and interrogation program to Congress, complying with the demand of a top Republican senator who has criticized the report for being shoddy and excessively critical of the C.I.A....The committee, which was then run by Democrats, also sent copies of the entire classified report to at least eight federal agencies, asking that they incorporate the report into their records — a move that would have made it subject to requests under the Freedom of Information Act. That law, which allows citizens, the media and other groups to request access to information held by the federal government, does not apply to congressional records...The full report is not expected to offer evidence of previously undisclosed interrogation techniques, but the interrogation sessions are said to be described in great detail. The report explains the origins of the program and identifies the officials involved, and also offers details on the role of each agency in the secret prison program."

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How Can Journalists Protect Themselves During a Trump Administration? (Kaveh Waddell, The Atlantic, 11-10-16) The president-elect’s attacks on the press hint at an unfriendly atmosphere for reporters.
Trump Hates the Press? Take a Number. (Jack Shafer, Politico, 2-17-17) "No matter how grievous the sins of the press may be—and as a press critic, let me tell you, they are grievous—a president can’t forever blame everything on “dishonest reporters,” the “mess” the previous president left behind or the dug-in elites. Reckonings tend to take a while to form, as Nixon and Agnew learned. Trump’s will come."
Trump, who received hundreds of millions of dollars from his father's real estate empire, calls John Fetterman spoiled: 'He lived off his parents' money' (Isabella Zavarise, Yahoo, 9-4-22)
Journalists around the country are joining a Slack channel devoted to FOIA and Trump (Krysten Hare, Poynter, 1-25-17) A few days before President Trump's inauguration, MuckRock opened up a Slack channel to help journalists better cover him and his administration. Sign up here: www.muckrock.com.
How far will President Trump’s media blackout spread? The Sunlight Foundation is trying to find out (Kelly Hinchcliffe, Poynter, 1-25-17)
Trump tried to ban top aides from penning tell-all books (Nancy Cook and Andrew Restuccia, Politico, 8-13-18) After the controversy surrounding the Omarosa Manigault Newman tell-all, the President’s use of non-disclosure/disparagement agreements is facing public criticism. The idea that top government officials could be censored from speaking out against abuse of power is frightening. What happens in a world where important political stories cannot be told?

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The Memory Hole 2, run by Russ Kick, and The Internet Archive (The Wayback Machine) save pages that disappear from the Web. Kick's site has been good about saving items deleted by the Trump Administration (including Trump's error-filled Tweets).
Trump shares Twitter accounts linked to conspiracy theory QAnon (Tony Romm and Colby Itkowitz, WaPo, 7-30-19) How QAnon, the bizarre pro-Trump conspiracy theory, took hold in right-wing circles online. (And how Trump tweets its latest claim.
Unsolicited Advice for the White House Press Corps (Jack Shafer, Fourth Estate, Politico, 2-6-17) And keep up to date on Shafer's Twitter feed.
Poll: Trump More Trusted Than the Media (by Republicans) (Curt Mills, US News, 2-9-17) Views on the press and the administration break down along clear party lines. ""The partisan split on this topic is clear – 89 percent of Republicans find the Trump administration truthful, versus 77 percent of Democrats who find the administration untruthful. Conversely, 69 percent of Democrats find the news media truthful, while a whopping 91 percent of Republicans consider them untruthful. Independents consider both untruthful," according to a poll conducted by Emerson College." Mind you, this was in 2017.'
The Private Trump Angst of a Republican Icon (Susan B. Glasser and Peter Baker, New Yorker, 9-27-2020) James Baker thinks Trump is “nuts,” but he voted for him once—and may soon do so again?

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The Invention of Thanksgiving (Philip Deloria, The New Yorker, 11-18-19) Massacres, myths, and the making of the great November holiday--in which white Americans have from the start tended to play a villainous role. 'Today, Wampanoag people debate whether Thanksgiving should be a day of mourning or a chance to contemplate reconciliation. It’s mighty generous of them....“American Indian” is a political identity, not a racial one, constituted by formal, still living treaties with the United States government and a long series of legal decisions. Today, the Trump Administration would like to deny this history, wrongly categorize Indians as a racial group, and disavow ongoing treaty relationships.'
Trump organizations agree to pay $750,000 to settle lawsuit with D.C. (Keith L. Alexander, WaPo, 5-3-22) The city alleged the groups misused nonprofit funds donated for inauguration to benefit Trump and his family. Lawyers for the District also accused Trump’s organization of improperly using nonprofit funds to throw a private party on Jan. 20, 2017, for Trump’s children — Ivanka, Donald Jr. and Eric — which cost $300,000. The city also alleged that the Trump Organization, the inaugural committee and the Trump International Hotel misused $1.1 million.
With New Trump Policy, Is the Moon for the Taking? (Ramin Skibba, Undark, 5-30-19) The Trump administration has been vague about what it hopes to accomplish on the moon, but mining may be on the agenda. "Worse yet, the 2024 target date suggests a selfish motive — an attempt by Trump to conjure a dramatic legacy before he leaves office, assuming he is reelected next year. Indeed, recent comments by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine suggest the deadline was chosen with little, if any, consideration of the scientific and engineering challenges."

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Free speech (including protest and dissent)

"Dissent is the highest form of patriotism"
"What could possibly go wrong with an oligarch determining what constitutes free speech?"
~Robert Reich


Outcry after Michigan university announces plan to restrict protest rights (Ava Sasani, The Guardian, 4-6-24) University of Michigan president Santa J Ono proposes ‘disruptive activity policy’ after pro-Palestinian group cuts his speech short. The “disruptive activity policy”, announced last week in a campus-wide email from the university president, Santa J Ono, would create strict punishments for anyone who interrupts official university events, including speeches, classes, athletic events, field trips, performances, graduation and award ceremonies. Students and faculty who violate the rule could face expulsion or firing.
As Alabama Republicans Target DEI, They Propose ‘Gag Order’ on Professors (Ryan Quinn, Inside Higher Ed, 3-1-24) Free speech groups and students have raised alarm about a bill that flew through the state’s Senate last week and awaits action in the House. "State lawmakers have been targeting diversity, equity and inclusion efforts for years now. Bills from different states that seek to curtail DEI programs or the spread of arguably DEI-related, so-called divisive concepts—such as the idea that meritocracy is racist—can all seem to blend together.
     "But Alabama’s Senate Bill 129, which suddenly appeared Feb. 20 and passed the Senate two days later, might break new ground if it ultimately becomes law. The bill includes provisions curbing DEI programs, “divisive concepts” and even transgender individuals’ access to campus bathrooms. While it’s moved quickly, so have its opponents."

      Free speech groups say "the measure could limit faculty members' speech to such an extent that even professors who disagree with the bill's list of "divisive concepts" couldn't teach students about these ideas—even to criticize them."
If Berkeley Wants to Protect Free Speech It Will Expel Its Rioters (Greg Lukianoff and Angel Eduardo, The Free Press, 2-28-24) Campuses must have the highest tolerance for expression, but no tolerance at all for violence like that exhibited by an anti-Israel mob this week.
Northwestern Students Face Criminal Charges for Pro-Palestine College Newspaper Parody (Connor Echols, The Intercept, 2-5-24) Students at Northwestern University, in the Chicago suburbs, faced an unexpected allegation. “Northwestern complicit in genocide of Palestinians,” declared the school’s venerable student newspaper, the Daily Northwestern, in a front-page story. In the Northwestern Daily, a parody newspaper, the students had attacked the school’s stance on Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip. Publishers of the school newspaper notified police. Now the students, charged under an obscure anti-KKK law, face a year in jail.

     "If this was done about literally any other topic, there would not be this amount of blowback....It's always a concern when colleges and universities appear to be disproportionately targeting one form of political speech."
---Students Publishing Company: We will intercede with State’s Attorney on charges (John Byrne, Daily Northwestern, 2-6-24) The story behind the story.
Free speech groups condemn suppression of LGBTQ expression in Florida (National Coalition Against Censorship) 'Florida’s hostility to LGBTQ communities stands out amid an onslaught of attacks on LGBTQ literature in schools and libraries across the country. Florida’s Parental Rights in Education statute forbids classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity up through Grade 3, and a new bill, HB 1223, proposes to extend this prohibition through Grade 8 and restrict the use of students’ pronouns to those matching their assigned sex at birth. Another bill, HB 999, proposes to eradicate “radical gender theory” and queer theory from syllabi at Florida state colleges.
      'Most recently, Florida’s DPBR filed administrative complaints against Hyatt Regency Miami and Plaza Live in Orlando, alleging that their presentations of “A Drag Queen Christmas” constitute “lewd or lascivious exhibition[s],” the contents of which represent “indecent or obscene act[s],” that are “injurious to the morals” of the people, including the minors in the audience. Citing these purported violations, the DPBR is pursuing the revocation of the businesses’ liquor licenses. [Hit them where it hurts?]
      A Drag Queen Christmas” is a holiday-themed variety show that has been running for eight consecutive years, and tours nationwide. 'Sexual arousal is clearly not the goal of the campy, humorous, and exaggerated aesthetics of drag performance. This was clear even to undercover state agents who were in attendance at the performance of “Drag Queen Christmas” at Plaza Live, and who acknowledged in their incident report that the show did not meet the state’s legal standards for indecency, and did not include any lewd acts.'
How Free Speech Saved Democracy: The Untold History of How the First Amendment Became an Essential Tool for Securing Liberty and Social Justice by Christopher M. Finan (just published, April 2022)
How To Tell If You're Being Canceled (Nick Gillespie, Reason, 11-1-20) Rauch: "I would argue that structurally, the 1989 fatwa against Salman Rushdie was in fact the prototype of the modern cancel campaign....Criticism is expressing an argument or opinion with the idea of rationally influencing public opinion through public persuasion, interpersonal persuasion.Canceling comes from the universe of propaganda and not critical discourse. It's about organizing or manipulating a social environment or a media environment with a goal or predictable effect of isolating, deplatforming, or intimidating an ideological opponent."  He talks about the six warning signs of canceling.

     See Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought by Jonathan Rauch. This influential defense of free speech and open inquiry takes aim at would-be censors on campus and off and makes a staunch case for the virtues of radical speech. Attacks on free thought have "in some ways become even more pervasive as cancel culture has become part of the American lexicon."
Is Encouraging Unauthorized Immigration Free Speech or a Felony? (Adam Liptak, NY Times, 1-9-23) The Supreme Court will decide whether a 1986 law that makes it a crime to urge people to stay in the United States unlawfully can be squared with the First Amendment. See also the links to related articles:

Migrant Expulsion Policy Must Stay in Place for Now, Supreme Court Says;

Supreme Court Weighs Reviving Biden Immigration Guidelines;

Supreme Court Sides With Biden’s Efforts to End ‘Remain in Mexico’ Program; and

Supreme Court Rejects Bail Hearings for Jailed Immigrants.
Supreme Court rules against Boston in Christian flag case (Mark Sherman, AP News, 5-2-22) A unanimous Supreme Court ruled Monday that Boston violated the free speech rights of a conservative activist when it refused his request to fly a Christian flag on a flagpole outside City Hall. The case hinged on whether the flag-flying is an act of the government, in which case Boston can do whatever it wants, or private parties like Shurtleff, Breyer wrote. See SCOTUS decision (Supreme Court of the United States, 5-2-22)
Houston area student wins $90,000 settlement after being bullied by teacher for not standing for Pledge of Allegiance (Ariana Garcia, Chron, 3-29-22) Klein ISD teacher Benjie Arnold allegedly threatened to fail the student after she refused to stand for the pledge, objecting to the words 'Under God.'
We Still Stand With Daniel Hale Defending Rights & Dissent stands with Daniel Hale, a courageous whistleblower. "Hale’s crime is exposing the human rights abuses of US drone strikes, including that during a given time period nearly 90% of those killed by drone strikes were not the intended target....Whistleblowers charged under the Espionage Act have an almost impossible chance of mounting a fair defense, which is why Defending Rights & Dissent has repeatedly urged Congress to amend this draconian and antiquated law....It is outrageous that a law ostensibly designed to target spies and saboteurs is used to jail journalists’ sources and even journalists who act in the public interest to reveal official abuses of power. Hale’s case spans three administrations, including presidents from both major parties. Espionage Act abuse to prosecute whistleblowers is a bi-partisan disgrace."
Animal Rights Activists Rescued Two Piglets From Slaughter. They Wanted to Get Caught. (Andrew Schwartz, TNR, 2-23-22) Liberating the pigs from a Smithfield facility was just the first step in Wayne Hsiung and Paul Darwin Picklesimer’s grand plan. Now they want their legal case to start a sea change in animal rights.
A Cheerleader’s Vulgar Message Prompts a First Amendment Showdown (Adam Liptak, NY Times, 12-28-2020) A Pennsylvania school district has asked the Supreme Court to rule on whether students may be disciplined for what they say on social media. In urging the justices to hear the case, the school district said administrators around the nation needed a definitive ruling from the Supreme Court on their power to discipline students for what they say away from school.
Court narrows federal Anti-Riot Act (Josh Gerstein, Politico, 8-24-2020) A federal appeals court has narrowed an anti-riot law the Trump administration is wielding to bring federal charges against individuals accused of fueling civil unrest following the death of George Floyd in an encounter with Minneapolis police. However, the Richmond-based 4th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the use of the federal statute against two California men convicted of spurring violence in connection with the white supremacist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., in August 2017. Here's a good explainer ("The case — United States v. Daley — illustrates how procedural meta-issues can limit the fortunes of individual litigants even as courts resolve the big substantive issues in favor of the First Amendment.") (Ken White, The Popehat Report)

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FIRE statement regarding Trump's executive order on campus anti-Semitism (12-10-19) "According to news reports, President Trump will sign an Executive Order directing the Departments of Education and Justice to employ a specific definition and examples of anti-Semitism in evaluating institutional responses to alleged violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. If true, the Executive Order would threaten freedom of expression on campus.
      "Adopted by the U.S. Department of State and later in expanded form by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, the definition and examples reach core political speech protected by the First Amendment. Directing federal agencies to rely on this framework in enforcing Title VI would effectively order nearly every campus in the country to censor its students and faculty on the basis of viewpoint—in this case, constitutionally protected speech that is critical of Israel. (The vast majority of American campuses, public and private, receive federal funding and would be subject to the order.) This result would be sharply at odds with our national commitment to freedom of speech and academic freedom, decades of First Amendment precedent, and the President’s stated concern for protecting free speech on campus."
•  On Campus Speech: Thanks, Mr. President — But No Thanks (Gene Policinski, Freedom Forum Institute, 3-7-19) Conservatives have long complained — in my view, with justification at some higher-ed institutions — that liberal academics have created an atmosphere where views of faculty or outside speakers from “the right” are unwelcome. In recent years, a number of high-profile, controversial speakers claiming conservative credentials have been heckled, harassed or prevented from speaking. Trump’s approach is to tie freedom of speech to federal funding for universities: “If they want our dollars, and we give it to them by the billions … Free speech. If they don’t, it will be costly. That will be signed soon,” he told the Conservative Political Action Conference annual convention. Similarly, Trump Order Designed to Fight Anti-Semitism Risks Chilling Free Speech (PEN America press release, 12-11-19)

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Statement on Trump’s Campus Speech Executive Order (National Coalition Against Censorship, 3-21-19) "The order does not specify how government agencies will measure an institution’s compliance, nor how political bias will be eliminated from those measurements. As a result, the opportunity for politically-motivated decisions about what speech should or should not be permitted on university campuses is far too great. Government control of campus speech under the guise of protecting free speech is more likely to chill academic freedom than to encourage greater diversity of thought. Colleges and universities will continue to be bound by the First Amendment and their own commitments to academic freedom and freedom of inquiry." See also Proposed Executive Order Threatens Academic Freedom (NCAC, 3-4-19)
Free Speech and Racial Justice: Friends or Foes? Episode 41 on Clear and Present Danger: A History of Free Speech , which also posts a Timeline ["not secure']
Here’s What Trump’s Executive Order on Free Speech Says (Andy Thomason, Chronicle of Higher Education, 3-21-19) "President Trump will sign an executive order on Thursday that he has said will mandate that colleges uphold free speech or risk jeopardizing federal research funds....The order will direct federal agencies to “take appropriate steps” to ensure that colleges receiving federal research funds “promote free inquiry.” But public colleges are already legally bound to do so by the First Amendment....The order also will direct the Education Department to do two things: Add program-level outcomes data to the College Scorecard and produce a report examining “policy options” for the idea of risk sharing on student-loan debt." (Executive order included.) In short, Trump wants the federal government to control and supervise campus speech--which is the opposite of free speech.
Censored story: Athletes transfers in question. That story was originally published Oct. 30, 2018 in the Har-Ber Herald, as was this editorial, but both were censored and ordered taken offline by school officials affiliated with Har-Ber High School in Springdale, Ark. The Student Press Law Center published the censored story 12-3-18 as a public service. The censored story was also covered by Buzzfeed News: A High School Newspaper Was Suspended For Publishing An Investigation Into Football Players’ Transfers (Amber Jamieson, 12-1-18, They are like, ‘Well, you raised an uproar, we’re going to try and silence you,’” said Halle Roberts, 17, the editor-in-chief of the Har-Ber Herald in Arkansas.), AP (12-3-18), The Hill (12-1-18), Arkansas Times (12-2-18), and 5 News KFSM (12-2-18), among others.
Journalism Education Assocation (JEA). "[JEA] denounces the practice of administrative prior review as serving no legitimate educational purpose. Prior review leads only to censorship by school officials or to self-censorship by students with no improvement in journalistic quality or learning."
New Voices State Tracker New Voices USA is a network of state-by-state campaigns to pass anti-censorship legislation that will grant extra protections to student journalists.
High school teachers: Bring FIRE to class this fall (Bonnie Snyder, Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, 9-26-18) See FIRE’s FAQ for Political Speech on Campus.
FIRE's Guide to Free Speech on Campus (educational materials for high schools on the history, law, and philosophy of freedom of speech)

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Robert Post’s Arguments Draw Replies from Erwin Chemerinsky & Will Creeley on Campus Speech Issue (Ronald K.L. Collins, Concurring Opinions, 10-25-17) Post is devoted to recent developments concerning free speech on college campuses. This sampling reveals just how controversial and widespread this debate has become.
Free Speech on Campus by Erwin Chemerinsky and Howard Gillman
A brief history of free speech at Yale (Allison Pohle, Boston.com, 12-6-15) Freedom of speech didn’t become officially protected at the Ivy League school until 1974. 'A debate over free speech has been raging at Yale ever since a professor sent an email defending students’ rights to wear potentially offensive Halloween costumes as an expression of free speech. After backlash from students, she recently announced that she will no longer teach at the college. But, before that announcement, more than 60 faculty members signed an open letter in her defense, emphasizing that of all the university’s values, “none is more central than the value of free expression of ideas.’’ It hasn’t always been that way. Freedom of speech wasn’t protected at Yale until 1974, when the university created a document called the Woodward Report. The report’s central premise is that intellectual growth and discovery “clearly demonstrates the need for unfettered freedom, the right to think the unthinkable, discuss the unmentionable, and challenge the unchallengeable.’’ That idea was a long time coming.' Read the story behind the creation of an official policy on freedom of speech on campus.
Report of the Committee on Freedom of Expression at Yale (The Woodward Report, 12-23-74)
Free Inquiry on Campus: A Statement of Principles by Over One Hundred Middlebury College Professors (3-6-17)
"Campus free expression" bills may benefit protestors, but offer little new hope for college journalists ( Lindsie Trego, SPLC, 6-30-17) "The usefulness of Campus Free Speech legislation is severely limited by language that limits application only to that speech already protected by the First Amendment, found in three bills and three enacted statutes....while these statutes do a good job of setting aside outdoor areas as forums subject only to content-neutral restrictions, the longstanding issues with seeking First Amendment sanctuary for censored student journalists still may persist under these statutes.
Even among experts, consensus on campus free speech remains elusive (UCLA Newsroom, 10-19-17) "When it comes to free speech on college campuses, a panel of constitutional law experts, social scientists and a former longtime elected official had a difficult time even agreeing on the point of the argument, let alone agreeing on a solution that would satisfy the First Amendment’s strongest legal defenders and people who have been historically oppressed by the exercise of speech. But that failure to reach consensus was kind of the point. “I’m not going to promise you that you’ll agree with anything they say,” Carbado said. “What I will promise you is … we’re not going to run away from the hard issues. We’re going to put them on the table and we’re going to debate them, and that should be what a university does.”

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University of Wisconsin approves free speech policy that punishes student protesters [who use violence] (Todd Richmond, AP, Chicago Tribune, 10-5-17) University of Wisconsin System leaders approved a policy Friday that calls for suspending and expelling students who disrupt campus speeches and presentations, saying students need to listen to all sides of issues and arguments. The Board of Regents adopted the language on a voice vote during a meeting at the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie. The policy states that students found to have twice engaged in violence or other disorderly conduct that disrupts others' free speech would be suspended. Students found to have disrupted others' free expression three times would be expelled. [Emphasis added.]
If Berkeley Wants to Protect Free Speech It Will Expel Its Rioters (Greg Lukianoff and Angel Eduardo, 2-28-24) Campuses must have the highest tolerance for expression, but no tolerance at all for violence like that exhibited by an anti-Israel mob this week. Contrary to what many students—and embarrassingly too often, grown adults—argue, violence, heckling, and shutdowns of events are not free speech, but its hideous and counterproductive opposite.
Why It's a Bad Idea to Tell Students Words Are Violence (Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff, The Atlantic, 7-17) "Making the offline world “safer” by banning the occasional stress-inducing speaker will not help." "In sum, it was a radical enlightenment idea to tolerate the existence of dissenters, and an even more radical idea to actually engage with them. Universities are—or should be—the preeminent centers of Liberal Science. They have a duty to foster an intellectual climate that separates true ideas from popular but fallacious ones. The conflation of words with violence is not a new or progressive idea invented on college campuses in the last two years. It is an ancient and regressive idea. Americans should all be troubled that it is becoming popular again—especially on college campuses, where it least belongs." An excellent response to When Is Speech Violence? (Lisa Feldman, NY Times, 7-14-17)
Sessions says U.S. will intervene in campus free speech cases (Sadie Gurman, Chicago Tribune, 9-26-17) "Decrying what he sees as political correctness run amok, [Attorney General Jeff] Sessions said Tuesday the Justice Department will support students who sue universities claiming their free speech rights were violated. But during the same speech at Georgetown University's law school, Sessions condemned the NFL players who have been exercising their freedom of expression by kneeling silently during the national anthem before games....In declaring free speech 'under attack' on college campuses, [Sessions] dove into an issue that has become a cause celebre for conservatives who argue their voices are being drowned out on college campuses as speeches by right-wing figures have been derailed by protests and threats of violence.'..."The American university was once the center of academic freedom, a place of robust debate, a forum for the competition of ideas," Sessions told an invitation-only audience, as nearly 200 students gathered in protest outside. A few others sat in the auditorium with duct tape over their mouths. "But it is transforming into an echo chamber of political correctness and homogenous thought, a shelter for fragile egos."'

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A chilling study shows how hostile college students are toward free speech (Catherine Rampell, WaPo, 9-18-17) "Here’s the problem with suggesting that upsetting speech warrants 'safe spaces,' or otherwise conflating mere words with physical assault: If speech is violence, then violence becomes a justifiable response to speech." John Villasenor, a Brookings Institution senior fellow and University of California at Los Angeles professor, conducted a survey of students. "Many of his questions were designed to gauge students’ understanding of the First Amendment. Colleges, after all, pay a lot of lip service to 'freedom of speech,' despite high-profile examples of civil-liberty-squelching on campus. The survey suggests that this might not be due to hypocrisy so much as a misunderstanding of what the First Amendment actually entails....Speech promoting hatred — or at least, speech perceived as promoting hatred — may be abhorrent, but it is nonetheless constitutionally protected....Women are more likely than men to believe hate speech is not constitutionally protected (49 percent vs. 38 percent, respectively)." "In truth, lefties can do more to call out threats to civil liberties perpetrated by their ideological allies. And colleges can do more to promote freer debate. But many of Villasenor’s results — like those from other data sources — show that the right is also astonishingly open to shutting down speech."
How Trump Has Stoked the Campus Debate on Speech and Violence (Jeannie Suk Gersen, New Yorker, 6-4-17) From the protests of the Free Speech Movement in the sixties, "in which students fought restrictions on dissenting political speech, to the protests of today, in which students try to shut down political speech they despise, sometimes even by violent means. The easy criticism, both from the right and from liberal academia, has been to mock college students as sensitive 'snowflakes' refusing to hear—let alone engage with—differing viewpoints. But such criticism misses a change, one that has added a combustible element to the long-standing debates over speech on campus: the start of a Presidency that, for many people, stands for bigotry and hate expressed in casual violence. During his Presidential campaign, Donald Trump helped to normalize hateful speech by fellow-citizens. In the first months of his Presidency, there has been a rise in hate crimes, numerous threats of violence against synagogues and mosques, and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries." (On the other hand, see also Teacher Suspended After Trump References Were Removed From a Yearbook (Liam Stack, NY Times, 6-12-17)

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The New Censorship on Campus (Jeffrey Herbst and Geoffrey R. Stone, Chronicle of Higher Education, 6-5-17) "Wanting to censor those whose views one finds odious and offensive is understandable. Actually silencing them is dangerous, though, because censorship is a two-way street. It is an illusion for minority groups to believe that they can censor the speech of others today without having their own expression muzzled tomorrow....Even from a short-term perspective, efforts by minority groups to censor the expression of offensive and odious speech often backfires, because it makes those they oppose into ever-more famous martyrs, giving them larger audiences and growing book sales. Little has helped the brand of the likes of Ann Coulter and Milo Yiannopoulos more than their exclusion from speaking on college campuses."
‘So to Speak’ Podcast: David Baugh on ‘Defending My Enemy’ (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, FIRE, 6-2-16) Why would a black criminal defense attorney—who fought against segregation in high school and battled racism in the courtroom—volunteer to defend the First Amendment rights of an Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan?

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A Guide to Disinvitation: My Conversation with Williams College President Adam Falk (Peter Wood, National Association of Scholars, March 2016) A thoughtful essay on "disinvitations on college campuses, as well as other snubs, actions prompting invited speakers to cancel their own appearances, and speakers showing up only to be drowned out by protester." This is a 'long and careful laying out of distinctions between academic, intellectual, and First Amendment freedoms, and how all three relate to the broader purposes of higher education. It was NAS’s attempt to stand back from the current melee over Black Lives Matter, microaggressions, safe spaces, and the like, to see if we could find some answers to today’s discontents. President Falk’s email seemed to provide an opening. He discerned “a line” that had been crossed. The first step would be to see if he would say what that line is.'
• Download free Peter Wood's The Architecture of Intellectual Freedom (National Association of Scholars, 1-26-16) An interesting piece. From the conclusion: "[w]e are concerned over the recent emergence of versions of academic freedom that conflate it with intellectual freedom—and sometimes conflate both academic and intellectual freedom with First Amendment freedoms. This blurring of key distinctions puts all three at risk. Universities are not places where anything can be said anywhere and at any time. They are places where the truth is pursued by disciplined means; where a hierarchy of knowledge prevails; and where intellectual authority is maintained. These matters are sometimes rhetorically downplayed but in practice they are rigorously upheld."
Settlement Reached in Case of Professor Fired for “Uncivil” Tweets (Center for Constitutional Rights, 11-12-15) “Professor Salaita’s case galvanized champions of academic freedom and Palestinian rights activists alike, making clear that punishing speech―even speech that dares to criticize Israeli government atrocities―will not be tolerated." See also a href="http://www.fepproject.org/news/SalaitaSettlement.html"target="_blank">The Settlement in Steven Salaita's Lawsuit - Victory or Defeat for Free Speech? The Free Expression Policy Project, 11-13-15).

'I disapprove of what you say,
but I will defend to the death your right to say it.'~Voltaire
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Defamation, libel, and slander

See also Defamation, Libel, and #MeToo

Lawsuits are expensive even if you win. As one nonfiction writer puts it, "When you write about real people, you are open to their disapproval being expressed through the court system." 


From Pizzagate to the 2020 Election: Forcing Liars to Pay or Apologize (Elizabeth Williamson, NY Times, 3-31-24) Michael J. Gottlieb is part of a cadre of lawyers deploying defamation, one of the oldest areas of the law, against a tide of political disinformation. Michael J. Gottlieb can never remember the exact amount — it’s $148,169,000— that a jury ordered Rudolph W. Giuliani to pay the Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss.
     "Less than a decade ago, the two women would have struggled to find a lawyer. But Mr. Gottlieb, a partner at the firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher and a former associate counsel in the Obama White House, represented them for free. Convinced that viral lies threaten public discourse and democracy, he is at the forefront of a small but growing cadre of lawyers deploying defamation, one of the oldest areas of the law, as a weapon against a tide of political disinformation."
Defamation Privileges and Defenses (Digital Media Law) "The most important defense is 'truth.' If the statement at issue is substantially true, a defamation claim cannot succeed because you have a right to publish truthful information even if it injures another's reputation. But truth is not the only defense that may be available."
What Are Defamation, Libel and Slander? (Aaron Larson, ExpertLaw, August 2003) "Generally speaking, defamation is the issuance of a false statement about another person, which causes that person to suffer harm.

Slander involves the making of defamatory statements by a transitory (non-fixed) representation, usually an oral (spoken) representation.

Libel involves the making of defamatory statements in a printed or fixed medium, such as a magazine or newspaper." And what you need to know about how to avoid trouble in those areas.
Libel Law for Copyeditors (Arati Bechtel, presentation slides) Bechtel explains six elements of libel (for analysis): defamatory content, identification, publication, false statement of fact, injury, and fault (actual malice, knowledge of falsity, reckless disregard, etc.), and explores cases, issues (including why newspapers use middle initials along with first and last names). "The bearer of tales is as guilty as the teller of tales," which is why newspapers can be held liable for defamatory letters to the editor, etc.
Defamation Suit About Election Falsehoods Puts Fox on Its Heels (Jeremy W. Peters, NY Times, 8-13-22) In the weeks after President Donald J. Trump lost the 2020 election, the Fox Business host Lou Dobbs claimed to have “tremendous evidence” that voter fraud was to blame. A lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems could be one of the most consequential First Amendment cases in a generation.

The Unsettling Truth at the Heart of the Giuliani Case (Andy Kroll, Opinion, NY Times, 12-23-23) "No sooner did a jury deliver a nearly $150 million defamation judgment against the former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani than he went out and again started smearing the two Georgia election workers at the center of the case. Within days, he filed for bankruptcy, shielding himself in the near term from having to surrender whatever assets he has to his creditors. His brazen thumbing of his nose at the jury and the legal system laid bare some unsettling truths about justice....Recouping any money in a defamation judgment can take time....But victory for plaintiffs in cases like these is not limited to money. A trial gives victims of viral disinformation a chance to confront their tormentor in a court of law, where facts and procedures still matter, offering them a real sense of catharsis and vindication. Especially in cases that involve major news events, defamation suits can also help correct the public record."

Alex Jones' $49.3M verdict and the future of misinformation (Michael R. Sisak, Associated Press, 8-8-22, via Free Speech Center, MTSU) "Libel law deals with a very particular kind of fake news," said Eugene Volokh, a First Amendment professor at the UCLA School of Law.

     "U.S. courts have long held that defamatory statements — falsehoods damaging the reputation of a person or a business — aren't protected as free speech, but lies about other subjects, like science, history or the government, are. For example, saying COVID-19 isn't real is not defamatory, but spreading lies about a doctor treating coronavirus patients is.
    "That distinction is why Jones, who attacked the parents of Sandy Hook victims and claimed the 2012 shooting was staged with actors to increase gun control, is being forced to pay up while Holocaust deniers, flat-earthers and vaccine skeptics are free to post their theories without much fear of a multimillion-dollar court judgment. 'Alex Jones was attacking individuals'...

   "These kinds of damages and verdicts do have a chilling effect," Volokh said. "They're intended to have a chilling effect on lies that damage people's reputations."
Legal Vetting for Manuscripts to Manage Risk (recording of webinar, Carolyn Schurr Levin, Business Bootcamps for Writers, Authors Guild Foundation, 10-28-21, 48 minutes) Whether you’re writing about family, acquaintances, or a major celebrity, there is always a risk that someone will sue you for how they are depicted. A lawyer can review your manuscript to identify content that might open the door to a lawsuit and recommend whether you need to edit phrasings or obfuscate identities. Carolyn Schurr Levin, a lawyer with deep experience in prepublication legal review and editorial risk management, will explain why authors should consider legal vetting and what to expect from the process.
What to Know About the Alex Jones Defamation Case (Daniel Victor, NY Times, 8-6-22. This page links to several related stories.) The Infowars host has already been found liable in lawsuits filed by the families of the Sandy Hook school shooting victims. A trial this week will determine how much he owes them. "Mr. Jones said on his show and in interviews that the attack in 2012, in which 20 first graders and six educators were killed, was a hoax and that the victims’ families were actors. Just a few hours after the shooting, he began calling it a “false flag,” a secretive plot planned by the government as a pretext for taking away Americans’ guns." See also the next entry.
The Alex Jones Verdict and the Fight Against Disinformation (Sabrina Tavernise interviews Elizabeth Williamson, The Daily, NY Times, 8-8-22) Listen and/or read but it's a fascinating listen. What is the significance of the defamation case against America's most prominent conspiracy theorist? His theories took a particularly dark turn in 2012 when he said that the Sandy Hook shooting was a conspiracy, a plot by the government as a pretext to confiscate American’s firearms. The parents of a six-year-old who was killed in the attack took Jones to court. A horrible story of the damage a fabricated story can cause, ending with some justice at last. Mr. Jones learns that defamation is not protected by the First Amendment.
The Legal Risks Of Writing Memoirs (Matt Knight, Sidebar Saturdays, 3-31-18) The four areas of legal risk (and the risk is mostly of being sued) are defamation, invasion of privacy, the right of publicity, and fraud.

 

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State Time Limits to File a Defamation Lawsuit (All Law) Understand the statutory time limits for filing a defamation lawsuit in your state.       

       "Each state has laws called "statutes of limitations," and in these laws you'll find a time limit for the filing of different kinds of cases. Anyone who wants to bring a lawsuit in their state's civil court system needs to understand and abide by the statute of limitations.

     "In the context of injuries from defamation -- including harm to your reputation, financial losses, and other damages -- if the time 'window' closes before you get your libel or slander lawsuit filed, the court will almost always throw the case out as time-barred under the statute. That means you'll lose your right to a civil remedy over the matter. So it's easy to understand why it's crucial to pay attention to these laws."
---Time Limits to File a Defamation Lawsuit under state laws. (AllLaw) Learn how long you have to make a claim for defamation (libel or slander) in your state before the statute of limitation expires.
---Is There a Federal Defamation Statute of Limitations? (Mullen Law) There is no specific federal defamation statute of limitations, other federal or state law areas may determine your defamation claim time limit.
What is the Statute of Limitations for My Defamation Claim? (MINC Law) The statute of limitations for filing your defamation claim will depend on several key factors:
    The jurisdiction where you file your defamation lawsuit;
    Whether any legal exceptions apply to your defamation matter, such as John Doe claims, exigent circumstances, when you discovered the defamation, or if the victim is a minor; and
    Whether you have other potential legal claims (like business disparagement, harassment, or revenge porn).
Libel in fiction (David L. Hudson Jr. and Andrew Gargano, First Amendment Center, Freedom Forum Institute, 11-29-17). "Sometimes, creators of fictional works are sued by persons who claim that certain characters in the stories refer to them and defame them. For example, the publisher of the best-selling novel Primary Colors, the producer of the motion picture “Hardball” and the producers of the movie “Sandlot” have all been sued for defamation. “If you have to go through very expensive discovery and the case cannot be dealt with by a motion to dismiss, then you’re talking about a lot of money and expense,” said Chicago attorney Debbie Berman. Excellent piece, worth reading if libel for fiction is a potential issue.
When Art Imitates Life: Suing for Defamation in Fiction (Jane Kleiner, Digital Media Law Project, 11-4-10) While a disclaimer can help a publisher or author demonstrate lack of malicious intent and demonstrate to readers that the work is fiction (and thus assist in defending against a libel suit), a disclaimer will not prevent readers from interpreting a fictional work as containing defamatory falsehoods if the information is specific enough and reasonably identifies the plaintiff.

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How to Use Real People in Your Writing Without Ending Up in Court(Helen Sedwick) Must reading. "First, a simple rule. If what you write about a person is positive or even neutral, then you don’t have defamation or privacy issues....Even if you publish the truth, you may still be sued for invasion of privacy if you disclose private information that is embarrassing or unpleasant about an identifiable, living person and that is offensive to ordinary sensibilities and not of overriding public interest....Another flavor of invasion of privacy is called false light. An important post.
The Legal Consequences of Using Real People in Fiction (Lloyd J. Jassin, Ask a Lawyer series, Copylaw) "If you conflate fact with fiction, give some thought to the words you stuff into your character's mouth. If you don't, it's not hard to imagine your character's real life double doing something dreadful. While the First Amendment may be the patron saint of thinly veiled fiction, it can't stop a punch in the nose."
A Writer’s Guide to Defamation and Invasion of Privacy (Amy Cook, Writer's Digest, 1-22-16) An excellent overview of what to avoid doing when writing a novel or memoir, with particularly good attention to invasion of privacy, about which writers may show less concern. This is a pretty long article with lots of ads interspersed, so read past the ads to make sure you're getting it all. Among the takeaways: "Don’t mention private or embarrassing facts about others unless you can honestly say they are of legitimate public concern and essential to telling your story. Ditto with bringing up a long-passed crime."
Digital Journalist's Legal Guide (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press)
Roman Abramovich settles libel claim over Putin biography (Luke Harding, The Guardian, 12-22-21) Russian oligarch ends his case against journalist Catherine Belton over her book Putin’s People.
One legal case could open a can of worms for defamation suits against writers (Meg Dalton, CJR, 4-23-18) Four not-so-simple words words—“deemed to have received”—might determine the future of defamation suits against journalists in the United States. Journalist Ryan Goldberg’s case is a continuation of Gawker-related suits since disgruntled billionaire Peter Thiel sued the legendary gossip site into oblivion.

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Libel and Slander Cases (46 cases, summarized, The First Amendment Encyclopedia, online)
Top 10 Libel Lawsuits from 2017 (Sidney Smith, iMediaEthics, 12-30-17) iMediaEthics logo: Media Ethics News & Investigative Reports)
Top 10 Defamation Cases of 2018: a selection (Suneet Sharma, Inforrm, 1-4-19) English-language cases, only one of which is US.
Landmark Libel Cases (described briefly):

New York Times Co. v. Sullivan (1964)  

Harte-Hanks Communications v. Connaughton (1989)-- This case refined the actual malice standard. (See below.)

Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc. (1974)

Milkovich v. Lorain Journal Co. (1990)

Kaelin v. Globe Communications Corp. (1998)

Zeran v. America Online (1997)

Grace v. eBay Inc. (2004)

'In the Harte-Hanks Communications v. Connaughton case, it's worth going over what the Supreme Court determined was "actual malice." According to the Court:
1. The paper relied on a questionable source.
2. It did not seek out other, more reliable sources.
3. It ignored taped evidence to the contrary.
4. It ignored Connaughton's statements to the contrary
5. It ignored the probability of questionable facts.
6. It published an editorial that seemed to indicate prejudice, as it contained opinions that were harbingers of conclusions reached in the news article.
7. The newspaper's management and its reporters gave differing accounts of assignments concerning the story.'
Nixon’s ghost and why populist attacks against New York Times v. Sullivan fail (Gabe Rottman, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, 3-13-23) 'For anyone following the news, the legislative proposals in the Sunshine State to weaken constitutional protections for political speech established in New York Times v. Sullivan and its progeny should be familiar. Gov. Ron DeSantis has called for revisiting the “actual malice” standard — the requirement that a public figure defamation plaintiff prove that a speaker knew a statement was false or seriously doubted its truth — and allies in the Florida House and Senate have introduced bills to do just that....At the end of the day, the populist argument for revisiting Sullivan is simply unintuitive.'
How a Politically Motivated Tax Charge Led to New York Times v. Sullivan (Gabe Rottman, The Nuance, 3-19-23) "That’s the background behind Sullivan — a popular social reform movement of limited means facing not just the legal and literal firepower of the state, but a law of defamation unchecked by the common sense reality that “erroneous statements, honestly made,” as Justice William Brennan put it, are inevitable in public debate and must be protected in a free society. Finally, just as a post-script, the tax case against [Martin Luther King Jr] fell apart."
Lawyers call libel suit against journal and critic “lawless” but “well written” (Retraction Watch, 11-13-17). "In addition to asking for monetary damages and attorney’s fees, Jacobson has asked the court to order NAS to retract the article....He told us the legal concept of 'prior restraint' should prevent that from happening: A court can award a money judgment against you for defamation but, in general, can’t order you not to say things or to take statements down."

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Canadian defamation law (Wikipedia's good overview)
A Writer’s Guide to Defamation and Invasion of Privacy (attorney Amy Cook, on The Writer's Dig, Brian Klems's website, 1-22-16) An excellent overview of issues a writer must be familiar with.
Defamation of Character: Libel and Slander in a Writers World (Emily K. Bivens, The Dabbling Mum)
Russian parliament votes to recriminalize defamation.(Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), 7-11-12) (Adam Liptak, Sidebar, Politics, NYTimes, 4-2-18) When Donald J. Trump was running for president, he promised to “open up our libel laws.” Las month, Trump was on the losing side of a court decision that will help victims of sexual misconduct sue when they are called liars. 'Before the #MeToo movement, libel lawsuits from people accused of lying were in decline. Indeed, a 2016 law review article chronicled what it called “the slow, quiet and troubled demise of liar libel.” These days, a remarkable number of libel suits, including ones against Bill Cosby, Bill O’Reilly, Roy S. Moore and Mr. Trump, have been filed by women who say they were defamed by men who denied their accusations of sexual misconduct.'
‘A Bit of Divine Justice’: Trump Vowed to Change Libel Law. But Not Like This. (New York times, 4-2-2018)
Judge Tosses Drug Company's Libel Lawsuit Against Medical Society (Kristina Fiore, Director of Enterprise & Investigative Reporting, MedPage Today, 2-8-22) U.S. District Court Judge Madeline Cox Arleo ruled that statements made in articles in the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) journal Anesthesiology about Pacira's pain drug Exparel (bupivacaine) were scientific opinions that by their nature can't constitute defamation. "The peer-review process -- not a courtroom -- thus provides the best mechanism for resolving scientific uncertainties," Arleo wrote in her opinion.
Clarence Thomas Calls for Reconsidering Libel Standards As Supreme Court Rejects Cosby Case (Eriq Gardner, Hollywood Reporter, 2-19-19) Thomas signals he'd reject the "actual malice" standard established in a landmark 1964 opinion. But it won't be in a case that presented the issue of whether an individual becomes a public figure by simply making an accusation of being victimized.
In Ecuador, defamation case could set dangerous precedent (Sara Rafsky, Committee to Protect Journalists, 1-17-12). A defamation decision against a newspaper in Ecuador contradicts a mounting body of international legal opinion that affirms that public officials should not enjoy protection from scrutiny. (Several more such reports on the CPJ site.)
Jury finds reporter, Rolling Stone responsible for defaming U-Va. dean with gang rape story ( T. Rees Shapiro, Washington Post, 11-4-16)

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Mother Jones stood up to a billionaire political donor who sued us—and we won (Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery, Mother Jones, 10-8-15). Quoting from the story: This was not a dispute over a few words. It was a push, by a superrich businessman and donor, to wipe out news coverage that he disapproved of. Throughout this lawsuit, VanderSloot appeared to be engaged in rewriting his own history of opposing the expansion of civil rights to LGBT people....This kind of legal onslaught is enormously taxing. Last year, Lowell Bergman, the legendary 60 Minutes producer (whose story of exposing Big Tobacco was chronicled in the Oscar-nominated film The Insider), talked about a "chill in the air" as investigative reporters confront billionaires who can hurt a news organization profoundly whether or not they win in court: "There are individuals and institutions with very deep pockets and unaccountable private power who don't like the way we report. One example is a case involving Mother Jones…A superrich plaintiff is spending millions of dollars while he bleeds the magazine and ties up its staff." Litigation like this, Bergman said, is "being used to tame the press, to cause publishers and broadcasters to decide whether to stand up or stand down, to self-censor."
She called the man who sexually assaulted her a rapist. Then he sued her for defamation. (Lindsey Bever, WaPo, 10-4-16) "Laura Dunn, executive director of SurvJustice, a nonprofit organization that advocates for victims of sexual violence, told the AP that victims should avoid naming their attackers outside the courtroom. But Emily Austin, from the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, added that the issue is when the threat of defamation lawsuits keeps victims quiet."
Supreme Court Denies Review of Olivia de Havilland’s ‘Feud’ Lawsuit (Eriq Gardner, Hollywood Reporter, 1-7-19) The U.S. Supreme Court rejected her petition to review the dismissal of her lawsuit brought against the makers of FX's 'Feud: Bette and Joan.' She objected to "how Catherine Zeta-Jones’ portrayal of her made her seem like a vulgar hypocrite and gossip. De Havilland claimed the series put false words in her mouth."
Alan Dershowitz claims a fictional lawyer defamed him. The implications for novelists are very real. (Ron Charles, WaPo, 8-6-2020) 'Since that time, we’ve continued to relish the portrayal — laudatory and malicious — of famous people in works of art, and courts have extended special protection to such amalgamations. Just two years ago, an appellate court in California ruled against Olivia de Havilland when she sued FX Networks over the miniseries “Feud: Bette and Joan.” The legendary actress claimed that the TV show violated her privacy, misappropriated her identity and harmed her reputation. But the court shot down those complaints, writing that “viewers are generally familiar with dramatized, fact-based movies and miniseries in which scenes, conversations, and even characters are fictionalized and imagined.” The judges referred to an earlier decision from 2001, which concluded that “the right of publicity cannot, consistent with the First Amendment, be a right to control the celebrity’s image by censoring disagreeable portrayals.”'

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When a doctor threatened to sue this California reporter, he did what journalists do best (Ron Shinkman, AHCJ, 2-22-16) If someone cheerfully calls to say you’re about to be sued, check it out. You might be pleased with the results. Here's his piece (PDF): The Many Stories Of One Highly Litigious Physician (Payers & Providers White Paper, 5-31-12).

Defamation
Frequently asked questions (and answers) about defamation (Chilling Effects). The Chilling Effects clearinghouse is a collaborative archive created by several law school clinics and the Electronic Frontier Foundation to combat legal threats used to silence Internet activity.
What are the elements of a defamation claim? (Chilling Effects)
How to Address Defamatory Online Content (Meridith Levinson, ComputerWorld, 4-6-09)
Blogger jailed in Anna Nicole Smith defamation suit (Kate Murphy, AFP--noting that in court a blogger is a publisher, not a writer)
A Selective Review of Defamation Cases in 2009 Involving Professional Reputation (need not be libelous). Oxford University Press blog, 2010
A Writer's Guide to Defamation and Invasion of Privacy (Amy Cook, Writer's Digest, 9-15-10)
How to Avoid Libel and Defamation as an Author (Orna Ross, Self-Publishing Advice, Alliance of Independent Authors, 2-22-21)
Faith and Free Speech: Defamation of Religions and Freedom of Expression. International PEN, warning against regulations prohibiting criticism of any religion or any set of ideas, organized a side-session panel discussion at a U.N. meeting in Geneva, with statements made by Wole Soyinka, Ariel Dorfman, Azar Nafisi, and Kwame Anthony Appiah.

Libel and libel suits
Is truth an absolute defense against libel? Yes, but if someone sues you for libel, you shoulder the burden of proving what is true. Read these stories.
New York Times Co. v. Sullivan New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964),[1] was "a landmark United States Supreme Court case that established the actual malice standard that must be met for press reports about public officials to be considered libel. A plaintiff public official or public figure alleging defamation must prove that the publisher of the statement in question knew that the statement was false or acted in reckless disregard of its truth or falsity. Because of the extremely high burden of proof on the plaintiff, and the difficulty of proving the defendant's knowledge and intentions, such claims by public figures rarely prevail." But that applies only to public figures.
Twitter and libel law: A little bird told me (The Economist, 11-24-12). "When everyone is a publisher, everyone can be sued."
Twitter users face libel claims for spreading false accusation (Jeff Sonderman, Poynter, 11-26-12)

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Could I Be Liable for Libel in Fiction? (Mark Fowler, Rights of Writers blog, 12-18-10)
Oops, Maybe I Shouldn't Have Written That: A Modest Guide to Libel and Biography (James McGrath Morris, Biographer's Craft)
Libel Insurance Providers (Student Press Law Center, a list of companies that have offered libel insurance to student media in recent years)
Are Insurance Companies Redlining Journalists? (Carol Napolitano, American Journalism Review, Jan/Feb 1995)
'Libel Tourism': When Freedom of Speech Takes a Holiday (Adam Cohen, Editorial Observer, NY Times Opinion page, 9-14-08)
Britain to Seek Curbs to 'Libel Tourism' (Eric Pfanner, NY Times, 5-9-12)

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Libel and Slander U.S. Legal's webpage
Libel and Privacy Invasion (Tips from Student Press Law Center)
Libel in fiction (David L. Hudson, First Amendment Center 1-19-05)
The Case Against Lillian Hellman: A Literary/
Legal Defense
(Daniel J. Kornstein, Fordham Law Review Vol. 57, issue5, article 1, 1-1-89, PDF)
Lillian, Mary, and Me (Dick Cavett, New Yorker, 12-16-02) Who would guess that by uttering a few harmless words you could trigger lawsuits in the millions, a furor in the literary world, and a Broadway show? How an innocent question launched a life-altering lawsuit.
From a Campus Romance to a $160 Million Libel Suit (David Margolick, Ny Times, 11-23-83) "More specifically, the court must decide when, if ever, the portrayal of a fictitional character is defamatory." See links to many other New York Times stories about libel and slander.
Think you know libel law? Think Again (Robert J. Abrogi, Media Law, on Noonan vs. Staples); and 1st Circuit Denies Review of Libel Ruling (Media Law 3-18-09).
Judge dismisses libel suit against Washington Post brought by Covington Catholic High School student (Richard Leiby, Washington Post, 7-26-19) 'U.S. District Judge William O. Bertelsman ruled that seven Post articles and three of its tweets bearing on Nicholas Sandmann — who was part of a group of Catholic students from Kentucky who came to Washington to march against abortion — were protected by the First Amendment. In analyzing the 33 statements over which Sandmann sued, the judge found none of them defamatory; instead, the vast majority constituted opinion, he said. “Few principles of law are as well-established as the rule that statements of opinion are not actionable in libel actions,” Bertelsman wrote, adding that the rule is based on First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech.'
Dead Villains Don’t Sue (Jessi Rita Hoffman, Why Only Old Folks Should Publish Their Memoirs) You may have to wait till it's safe to publish that memoir.
Libel Ruling Protects Anonymous Comments (Media Law, Maryland case, 3-1-09)
Since when were memoirs non-fiction?. Subtitled "Lawsuits contesting the factual accuracy of autobiographies threaten a compelling pleasure for readers." The British (Guardian) take on the Turcottes' lawsuit about Augusten Burroughs' memoir Running with Scissors.

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Defamation and Libel (Wikipedia)
Rules, Britannia! The Growing, Chilling Reach of Commonwealth Libel Laws (transcript of important Authors Guild panel discussion on the long arm of British libel law 9-25-06).
Keep libel courts out of science: British Chiropractic Association v Simon Singh
The British Chiropractic Association brought a libel case against science writer Simon Singh at the Royal Courts of Justice in London for his criticism of chiropractic procedures in the book Trick or Treatment: The Undeniable Facts About Alternative Medicine and in a Guardian article, "Beware the Spinal Trap" (now removed from the Guardian site, but available through a link in this article on Lay Scientist: Simon Singh vs. British Chiropractic Association . Legal blogger Jack of Kent is following the case, providing expert analysis, and posting updates through his Twitter feed @JackOfKent. Click here to read and/or sign the Sense About Science petition stating: "The law has no place in scientific disputes: We the undersigned believe that it is inappropriate to use the English libel laws to silence critical discussion of medical practice and scientific evidence."
Libel Law Has No Place in Scientific Disputes (Jack of Kent 6-4-09 on the libel case brought against Simon Singh by the British Chiropractic Association). Sense About Science filed a petition to keep Britain's ultrastrict libel law from limiting free speech in scientific disputes about evidence. Simon Singh wins libel battle against chiropractors (Andy Coghlan, New Scientist, 4-15-10) The British Chiropractic Association (BCA) 'dropped its case against Singh, effectively conceding defeat. The outcome will have implications for freedom of speech in the UK, which has notoriously strict libel laws. It will free journalists and scientists to criticise medical claims as “bogus” or unscientific without the risk of having to prove in court that their criticisms are factually correct.''

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Defamation, Libel, and #MeToo

"To prevail in a defamation case, the plaintiff must show that the speech against them was factual and not opinion." ~ First Amendment Coalition


#MeToo Cases’ New Legal Battleground: Defamation Lawsuits (Julia Jacobs, NY Times, 1-12-2020) The Weinstein trial is rare because most sexual misconduct allegations are too old to litigate. But women, and men, are finding an alternative way to get to court. Ashley Judd could not successfully sue Harvey Weinstein for sexual harassment, but like other women with claims against powerful men, she turned to a defamation lawsuit.
She Said, He Sued (Madison Pauly, Mother Jones, Feb. 2020) Defamation lawsuits are being used “more and more to try to silence people from coming forward,” says Sharyn Tejani, director of Time’s Up. “It was not something that we expected would take as much of our time and money as it has.”
Men are suing women who accused them of harassment. Will it stop others from speaking out? (Kara Fox and Antoine Crouin, CNN, 6-12-19) "Defamation law varies from country to country. In countries like Australia, France and the UK, the burden of proof lies entirely upon the defendant, whereas in the United States, when the plaintiff is a public figure, they must prove that the defendant's statements are untrue and made with intentional malice. And while defamation suits are often taken to civil court, where accusers can face fines, in countries with criminal-defamation statues, defendants can also face jail time."
#MeToo journalist Michael Balter sued for $18 Million by Danielle Kurin (Leonid Schneider, For Better Science, 6-23-2020) Michael Balter, a veteran science journalist who uncovered many cases of sexual harassment and bullying in academia worldwide, is now being sued for $18 million, accused of libel by Kurin. Because publishers hesitate to publish such stories, Balter post some stories on his blog, A #STEMToo Rogue's Gallery of sexual harassers, predators, and bullies in the sciences See I now publish #MeToo stories on my blog, for free. Here’s why. (Michael Balter, Columbia Journalism Review, 9-4-19)
The sexual misconduct case that has rocked anthropology (Michael Balter, Science, 2-9-16)
#MeToo investigation of famed paleoanthropologist David Lordkipanidze sees light of day at long last (Balter's Blog, 9-7-18)

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Censorship vs. Freedom of Expression

What's up with the surge in banned and challenged books?

"Censorship is the child of fear and the father of ignorance."
~ Laurie Halse Anderson

 

'I disapprove of what you say,
but I will defend to the death your right to say it.'~Voltaire

 

“Censorship is to art as lynching is to justice.”
~ Henry Louis Gates Jr., 2 Live Crew, Decoded 

 

The urge to ban books

What you can do to fight book bans and challenges
Banned & challenged books
Banned & challenged books (lists)
Censorship vs. freedom of expression
Timelines of censorship history
Censorship by the numbers

 

See also
Academic freedom
Cancel culture
Educational gag orders
Prior restraint (government censorship)

 

The urge to ban books

It comes and goes, and right now it's red hot
in some places--libraries and schools, especially--but not others
and one political party leans more toward it than the other. 


• PEN America’s Index of School Book Bans (2021-2022) is a searchable index of each documented book ban in the school year.

     From July to December 2022, PEN America found 1,477 instances of individual books banned, affecting 874 unique titles. This represents an increase from the prior six months, from January to June 2022, in which 1,149 instances of book banning were recorded. The bans occurred in 37 states, with Texas, Florida, Missouri, Utah, and South Carolina leading the nation, according to PEN America's latest Banned in the USA report. The list of banned books makes for a good reading list, in the view of many.
New Report Links Rise in Book Bans to Anti-LGBTQ Groups (Claire Woodcock, Vice, 9-20-22) PEN America has found that relatively obscure conservative groups are driving efforts to ban books from school and libraries. It details the role at least 50 advocacy organizations play in censoring LGBTQ-themed books in classrooms and libraries across the country.
Books on Black history, immigration found in trash by Staten Island school, sparking investigation (Jessica Gould, Gothamist, 3-11-24) Until this incident, New York City had seemed largely immune from the high-profile efforts to ban books that are roiling school communities in Florida, New Jersey and other parts of the country.
Everyone Likes Reading. Why Are We So Afraid of It? (A.O. Scott, NY Times, 5-18-23) Some of the best sentences from an interesting long essay: Book bans, chatbots, pedagogical warfare: What it means to read has become a minefield. While we binge and scroll and D.M., the robots, who are doing more and more of our writing, may also be taking over our reading. Our attention spans have been chopped up and commodified, sold off piecemeal to platforms and algorithms. We’re too busy, too lazy, too preoccupied to lose ourselves in books.
      "Maybe the real problem is that children aren’t being taught to read at all. As test scores have slumped — a trend exacerbated by the disruptions of Covid — a long-smoldering conflict over teaching methods has flared anew. The reading crisis reflects a deep ambivalence about reading itself.
      "Frederick Douglass grasped that ‘the pathway from slavery to freedom’' ran through the printed word. Schools exist to stifle freedom, and also to inculcate it, a dialectic that is the essence of true education. Reading, more than any other discipline, is the engine of this process, precisely because it escapes the control of those in charge.

       "Lawful reading rests on the certainty that reading is good for us, and that it will make us better people. Across the country, Republican politicians and conservative activists are removing books from classroom and library shelves, ostensibly to protect children from “indoctrination” in supposedly left-wing ideas about race, gender, sexuality and history. Reading, like democracy or sexual desire, is an unmanageable, inherently destabilizing force in human life."

A case study in unethical journalism (Judd Legum, Popular Information, 10-4-23) On September 26, Popular Information reported that librarians in Charlotte County, Florida, public schools were instructed to remove books with LGBTQ characters from school and classroom libraries. (Florida school district orders librarians to purge all books with LGBTQ characters (Popular Information, 9-26-23) Vianello and McKinley advised "teachers must ensure that books with LGBTQ characters and themes do not enter the classroom, even if they are self-selected by students for silent reading. According to Vianello and McKinley, books with '[t]hese characters and themes cannot exist.' "

   See also Talk It Out (10-19-23), which includes reactions to the infamous book-purging incident, many readers insisting it was hard-right Republicans, not conservatives, who purged the libraries of books with LGBTQ characters or themes.
Everyone Likes Reading. Why Are We So Afraid of It? (A.O. Scott, NY Times, 6-21-23) Book bans, chatbots, pedagogical warfare: What it means to read has become a minefield. "Across the country, Republican politicians and conservative activists are removing books from classroom and library shelves, ostensibly to protect children from “indoctrination” in supposedly left-wing ideas about race, gender, sexuality and history. These bans have raised widespread alarm among civil libertarians and provoked a lawsuit against a school board in Florida, brought by PEN America and the largest American publisher, Penguin Random House."
School librarians face a new penalty in the banned-book wars: Prison (Hannah Natanson, Washington Post, 5-18-23) Several states have passed laws that could sentence people for years if they provide ‘obscene’ books to minors. Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota and Oklahoma enacted laws mandating fines or imprisonment, or both, for school employees and librarians.

     The consequences vary. The Indiana law, signed by the governor in May, says school staffers can be forced to pay up to $10,000 or serve 2½ years in prison for providing obscene or harmful material to minors. A 2022 Oklahoma law says school employees and public library staffers can be fined up to $20,000 or serve up to 10 years in prison for facilitating “indecent exposure to obscene material or child pornography.” Tennessee has passed two measures, one that targets schools and another that targets book publishers or vendors selling to schools. One of the Tennessee laws says book publishers, distributors and sellers can face up to six years in prison and up to $103,000 in fines for providing obscene matter to K-12 schools.
      "All 50 states maintain obscenity laws, which typically prohibit the distribution of obscene material to minors and impose heavy fines and prison sentences for violations. But the vast majority adopted exemptions for schools, public libraries and museums in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s to ensure educators could provide full information to children on topics such as biology, health and sex education without facing expensive litigation."


They Checked Out Pride Books in Protest. It Backfired. (Jill Cowan, NY Times, 7-22-23) Two San Diego residents cleared out the Pride month display at their library and said such materials shouldn’t be available to children, one of several recent clashes over L.G.B.T.Q. issues in California.

       Soon "stacks of Amazon boxes containing new copies of the books the protesters checked out started to arrive at the library after The San Diego Union-Tribune reported on the protest. Roughly 180 people, mostly San Diegans, gave more than $15,000 to the library system, which after a city match will provide over $30,000 toward more L.G.B.T.Q.-themed materials and programming, including an expansion of the system’s already popular drag queen story hours. In an ever divided nation, Americans are waging battles in big ways and small, right down to turning their library cards into protest weapons."


Banned in the USA: The Growing Movement to Censor Books in Schools (Jonathan Friedman and Nadine Farid Johnson, PEN America, 9-19-22) This is an update on its earlier report, Banned in the USA: Rising School Book Bans Threaten Free Expression and Students’ First Amendment Rights (April 2022) which covered the first nine months of the school year (July 2021 to March 2022).

     "PEN America has identified at least 50 groups involved in pushing for book bans (or removals) at the national, state, or local levels. Of the national groups, Moms for Liberty, formed in 2021, has spread most broadly, with over 200 local chapters identified on their website. Other national groups with branches include US Parents Involved in Education (50 chapters), No Left Turn in Education (25), MassResistance (16), Parents' Rights in Education (12), Mary in the Library (9), County Citizens Defending Freedom USA (5), and Power2Parent (5). [Emphasis added.] Another 38 state, regional, or community groups advocating for book removals appear unaffiliated with the national groups or with one another."

     "While some of these groups have existed for years, the overwhelming majority are of recent origin: more than 70 percent (including chapters) were formed since 2021."

      Among the 1,648 unique banned book titles in the Index,
---674 banned book titles (41 percent) explicitly address LGBTQ+ themes or have protagonists or prominent secondary characters who are LGBTQ+ (this includes a specific subset of titles for transgender characters or stories—145 titles, or 9 percent);
---659 banned book titles (40 percent) contain protagonists or prominent secondary characters of color;
---338 banned book titles (21 percent) directly address issues of race and racism;
---357 banned book titles (22 percent) contain sexual content of varying kinds, including novels with some level of description of sexual experiences of teenagers, stories about teen pregnancy, sexual assault and abortion as well as informational books about puberty, sex, or relationships;
---161 banned book titles (10 percent) have themes related to rights and activism;
---141 banned book titles (9 percent) are either biography, autobiography, or memoir; and
---64 banned book titles (4 percent) include characters and stories that reflect religious minorities, such as Jewish, Muslim and other faith traditions.


A closer look at Florida’s rejected social studies textbooks (Marlene Sokol, Ian Hodgson, and Divya Kumar, Tampa Bay Times, 5-13-23) . When Florida education officials announced Tuesday they had rejected more than 30 social studies textbooks for next school year, they also revealed they had worked with publishers to edit at least 47 others. Gone from one book were passages about Black Lives Matter and the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. In another, the state removed a prompt asking students to discuss people who knelt in protest during the national anthem.

  

The Rise of a Culture of Censorship (Gary Drevitch, Psychology Today, 3-17-21) Part 1: Censorship by government and lesser authorities. Censorship generally involves shutting people up, rather than refuting their ideas. This usually takes either of two main forms:
      ---Deplatforming people, i.e., not permitting them to use a platform to express themselves.
      ---Some sort of threat of (or actual) punishment for expressing those ideas.
"One might think that the U.S. is a bastion of free speech with only extremely limited government censorship. The truth is more complex. The First Amendment does offer some of the strongest legal protections for speech on the planet. And yet, it is often cultural norms, rather than laws, that offer the strongest protection.

      "For example, before the Civil War, in some Southern states, you could be jailed for publicly calling for emancipation. As late as the 1960s, you could be jailed for protesting against Jim Crow segregation laws in some of those same states. And just this month, the Kentucky state legislature passed a law declaring it a crime to insult the police. The three P'sprofanity, pornography, and protest — have long been flashpoints for battles over free speech and censorship. In 2021, countries with some of the strongest laws on the books protecting free speech include N. Korea, Russia, and Turkey." The first in a three-part series.
---Part 2: How Social Norms Create a Culture of Censorship (3-25-21) Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky described it this way: "Can you express your individual views loudly, in public, without fear of being punished legally, formally, in any way? If yes, you live in a free society; if not, you’re in a fear society." "Free speech culture is more important than the First Amendment... because free speech culture is what gave us the First Amendment in the 18th century... It's what informs the First Amendment today—and it is what will decide if our current free speech protections will survive into the future."
---The Rise of Self-Censorship (Matthew Legge, 7-5-21) Self-censorship is on the rise among those on both the right and left in the U.S., regardless of how moderate or extreme their views are.
Alabama Education Director Ousted Over Book's Stance on Race (Kim Chandler, AP, US News, 4-21-23) Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced she replaced her director of early childhood education over the use of a teacher training book, written by a nationally recognized education group, that the Republican governor denounced as teaching “woke concepts.” Ivey’s statement comes as conservative politicians have made a rallying point out of decrying so-called “woke” teachings, with schools sometimes emerging as a flashpoint over diversity training and parents’ rights. One example a discussion of white privilege and that “the United States is built on systemic and structural racism” and another that Ivey’s office claimed teaches LGBTQ+ inclusion to 4-year-olds. Those sections, according to a copy of the 881-page book obtained by The Associated Press, discuss combating bias and making sure that all children feel welcome. The book is a guide for early childhood educators. It is not a curriculum taught to children
Chinese Censorship Is Quietly Rewriting the Covid-19 Story (Mara Hvistendahl and Benjamin Mueller, NY Times, 4-23-23) Under government pressure, Chinese scientists have retracted studies and withheld or deleted data. The censorship has stymied efforts to understand the virus.
Lawmakers jeopardize future of Arizona schools (Heather Mace, Arizona Daily Star, 3-12-23) If SB1323 passes the current Arizona state legislative session, it would be a felony for teachers to expose students to these books without written parental consent: 1984 by George Orwell; Beloved by Toni Morrison; Night by Elie Wiesel (his account of the Holocaust); The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan (with its cast of Chinese mothers and daughters).

    It’s important for schools to consider families’ educational preferences, but the state government should not legislate that process. This bill expands upon last year’s HB2495, which forbade schools from teaching any books with “sexually explicit content” without parent permission--taking it one giant step further by charging teachers who violate that rule with a class 5 felony. That means a teacher could serve a mandatory six-month prison sentence and lose her voting rights for exposing a student to Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew” without permission.

    Topics like sex, gender, and diversity — hallmark issues in the nation’s culture wars — play an outsized role in this new wave of bills. SB1700, proposed by Sen. Justine Wadsack, R-Tucson, would allow parents to ban books from a school if they personally found them to be “lewd or sexual in nature, to promote gender fluidity or gender pronouns or to groom children into normalizing pedophilia.”
Florida teachers told to remove books from classroom libraries or risk felony prosecution (Judd Legum, Popular Information, 1-23-23) Florida Governor Ron DeSantis's responses to reports of his book bans:
---Exposing the ‘book ban’ hoax;
---Florida teacher fired for video of empty bookshelves after DeSantis complaint (2-21-23)
---Florida school board bans three books at the request of allegedly racist and homophobic teacher (3-22-23): And Tango Makes Three, When Aidan Became a Brother (a story about a trans boy), and All Boys Aren't Blue (about growing up black and gay).
Censorship battles’ new frontier: Your public library (Annie Gowen, WashPost, 4-17-22) Conservatives are teaming with politicians to remove books and gut library boards.'In early November, an email from a citizen dropped into the inbox of Judge Ron Cunningham, the silver-haired head chair of the governing body of Llano County in Texas's picturesque Hill Country. The subject line read "Pornographic Filth at the Llano Public Libraries."'
Missouri GOP proposes a frighteningly efficient way to ban books (Jarvis DeBerry, MSNBC, 4-11-23) By definition, a law requiring certain books to be removed from shelves is a book ban. Targeting particular library books for removal was bad enough. Now some Republican lawmakers in Missouri have proposed withholding state money from libraries. Republicans who control the Missouri House have passed a budget that doesn’t give its public libraries a single cent of state money. The lawmakers were angered that the Missouri Association of School Librarians and the Missouri Library Association had the temerity to challenge a law Missouri lawmakers passed last year removing certain material deemed too sexually explicit from school libraries.
A Texas county that was ordered to return banned books to its shelves is set to consider shutting down its library system ( Andy Rose, CNN, 4-12-23) A Central Texas county might shut down its entire public library system rather than comply with a federal court order to restock books it removed from shelves.
The Librarians Are Not Okay (Xochitl Gonzalez, The Atlantic, 3-15-23) “I’ve been called a pedophile. I’ve been called a groomer. I’ve been called a Communist pornographer. Nearly every tumultuous movement in American politics has coincided with a call to ban books.”
Florida teachers told to remove books from classroom libraries or risk felony prosecution (Judd Legum, Popular Information, 1-23-23) 'Teachers in Manatee County, Florida, are being told to make their classroom libraries — and any other "unvetted" book — inaccessible to students, or risk felony prosecution. The new policy is part of an effort to comply with new laws and regulations championed by Governor Ron DeSantis (R). It is based on the premise, promoted by right-wing advocacy groups, that teachers and librarians are using books to "groom" students or indoctrinate them with leftist ideologies.

     'In Florida, school librarians are called "media specialists" and hold media specialist certificates. A rule passed by the Florida Department of Education last week states that a "library media center" includes any books made available to students, including in classrooms. This means that classroom libraries that are curated by teachers, not librarians, are now illegal'.
Inside the SCOTUS Case on School Library Censorship (podcast, Brooke Gladstone, On the Media, NYC Studios, 2-4-22) Hard of hearing? Read my blog post on this story about this case.
Case Study: In The Night Kitchen (Comic Book Legal Defense Fund) "This popular book [not a comic book] "upset many librarians and adults because its young protagonist, Mickey, was depicted in the nude. Many librarians censored the book by painting diapers over the boy's genitals, and in some cases the book was even burned. Maurice Sendak, the author, responds with Why Mickey Wears No Pants (L.A. Times, 6-16-91) "A critic peevishly queried: “Why couldn’t Mickey have at least kept his underpants on?” Apparently, this critic had never dreamt himself naked..."
• See more CBLDF Case Files of Banned and Challenged Comics (and books).
What Is “Soft” Censorship? When School Districts Don’t Ban Books, They Still Limit Student Access (Nadra Nittle, Them, 8-24-22) Districts are separating books about sex, gender and race in school libraries, slapping warning labels on them and requiring parental permission for student access.

• Watch this 6-minute video from PBS NewsHour with PEN America CEO Suzanne Knossel articulating succinctly what's wrong with what's going on with book bans, explaining and showing the heat with which some groups are pushing book bans, suggesting the level at which this movement is politically manufactured, tapping into the frustration parents are feeling after three years of pandemic-hindered education--on both the right and the left.

Banned in the USA: Rising School Book Bans Threaten Free Expression and Students’ First Amendment Rights (PEN America. A must-read if you're worried about what's going on in the schools. Click on the link and you'll see a list of contents, so you can cherry-pick which sections you want to read. Interesting and important content. "While this is the first time PEN America has conducted a formal count of books banned, the organization has fought back against book bans for decades. In 2016, PEN America published Missing from the Shelf: Book Challenges and Lack of Diversity in Children’s Literature, which described instances of ‘soft censorship’ taking place in schools and libraries in response to parents’ challenges of books.

        The report also highlighted the disproportionate targeting of books by or about people whose identities and stories have traditionally been underrepresented in children’s and young adult literature, such as people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, or persons with disabilities. "Today, state legislators are introducing — and in some cases passing — educational gag orders to censor teachers, proposals to track and monitor teachers, and mechanisms to facilitate book banning in school districts.

        At the same time, the scale and force of book banning in local communities is escalating dramatically. In recent years PEN America has typically encountered a handful of such cases each year. The findings in this report demonstrate a profound increase in both the number of books banned and the intense focus on books that relate to communities of color and LGBTQ+ subjects over the past nine months."
What Is “Soft” Censorship? When School Districts Don’t Ban Books, They Still Limit Student Access (Nadra Nittle, Them, 8-24-22) Some districts are separating books about sex, gender and race in school libraries, slapping warning labels on them and requiring parental permission for student access.

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Banned Books, Censored Topics: Teaching About the Battle Over What Students Should Learn (Katherine Schulten, NY Times, 9-22-22) In the last two years, dozens of state legislatures introduced bills that would limit what teachers can say about race, gender, sexuality and inequality. All of this is part of a larger debate over politics in public school education. Across the United States, parents have demanded more oversight over curriculums, and school board meetings have erupted into fiery discussions. What's happening right now, and why? And DO take the True or False quiz. Suggestions for using recent Times and Learning Network articles, videos, podcasts, student forums and more.
A Mich. library refused to remove an LGBTQ book. The town defunded it. (Danielle Paquette, Wash Post, 8-24-22) "People in this western Michigan farming town said the Patmos Library was “grooming” children and, according to fliers that one group printed, promoting an “LGBTQ ideology.” They said bookshelves meant for young readers featured same-sex pornography. They called the staff pedophiles, McLaughlin said. Then one August morning, they voted to defund Jamestown’s only public library, jeopardizing the institution’s future as neighbors clashed over who gets to decide free speech in this deep-red corner of America."

     "Americans have long sought to censor literature — “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” was an 1852 target for its anti-slavery message — but debates over transgender rights and critical race theory have lately spawned aggressive grass-roots movements to control the worldviews shared with children....In Jamestown, the library director resigned earlier this year because of online harassment she had been subjected to by a small, well-coordinated group. The interim director who replaced her also resigned, citing harassment."

Why I Quit the Writers’ Room (Walter Mosley, Opinion, NY Times, 9-6-19) A pleasant-sounding young man said, “Mr. Mosley, it has been reported that you used the N-word in the writers’ room.” I replied, “I am the N-word in the writers’ room.”  

     The worst thing you can do to citizens of a democracy is silence them.
A Librarian Is Being Threatened for Creating LGBTQ Book Displays (Claire Woodcock, Motherboard, Vice, 8-23-22) Cara Chance was told she could be fired after making a Pride month display featuring books about queer teen romance. Her community is pushing back. Among teen romance novels displayed that depicted LGBTQ relationships were Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, and Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O’Neill. The display led the library’s board to accuse Chance of willful insubordination, and place her job on the agenda for the next closed-session meeting.
There’s More Than One Way to Ban a Book (Pamela Paul,NY Times, 7-24-22) 'Though the publishing industry would never condone book banning, a subtler form of repression is taking place in the literary world, restricting intellectual and artistic expression from behind closed doors, and often defending these restrictions with thoughtful-sounding rationales. As many top editors and publishing executives admit off the record, a real strain of self-censorship has emerged that many otherwise liberal-minded editors, agents and authors feel compelled to take part in.  "For those on the illiberal left to conduct their own campaigns of censorship while bemoaning the book-burning impulses of the right is to violate the core tenets of liberalism (e.g. free expression)."
     ' “It’s happening on both sides,” said John Sargent, who was chief executive of Macmillan until last year. “It’s just a different mechanism. On the right, it’s going through institutions and school boards, and on the left, it’s using social media as a tool of activism. It’s aggressively protesting to increase the pain threshold, until there’s censorship going the other way.”
       'Now, many books the left might object to never make it to bookshelves because a softer form of banishment happens earlier in the publishing process: scuttling a project for ideological reasons before a deal is signed, or defusing or eliminating “sensitive” material in the course of editing." Internal links in this excellent story will take you to many other insights into the pressure to self-censor. 
• “There are so many more books being published—diverse titles, inclusive books,” Herz said, adding, “Books can offend one person, but can then be a source of information to another person. That’s part of intellectual freedom.”~Kate Herz, Weber Middle School Librarian, Port Washington, NY (Censorship Stories From SLJ’s Tips Hotline, 2-8-22)
The Students’ Right to Read (NCTE). McCarthyism spurred NCTE to take a more active stance against censorship, and in 1953, NCTE’s Committee on Censorship of Teaching Materials published Censorship and Controversy, condemning McCarthy’s tactics and championing freedom of thought. In 1962 NCTE published its seminal intellectual freedom guideline The Students’ Right to Read, which has been updated multiple times since its publication. You'll find many resources for educators on this site.

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Judge Tosses Virginia Obscenity Cases, Declares State Law Unconstitutional (Andrew Albanese, Publishers Weekly, 8-30-22) In a resounding victory for the freedom to read, a Virginia state judge on August 30 swiftly dismissed two closely watched cases that sought to bar the public display and sale of two books alleged to be obscene under an obscure state law. The suits alleged that the graphic memoir Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe and A Court of Mist and Fury by bestselling author Sarah J. Maas—were “obscene for unrestricted viewing by minors.” In dismissing the cases the court struck down the Virginia law upon which the cases were brought, finding it unconstitutional.

      "The court agreed that the Virginia statute in question does not allow a court to find a work "obscene for minors" and thus the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction. In addition, the plaintiffs failed to prove the works in question are in fact obscene. And in an unexpected (but one welcomed by freedom to read advocates) portion of the ruling, the court struck down the Virginia statute upon which the case is based."
Dragnets: Tracking Censorship and Surveillance ProPublica investigates the threats to privacy in an era of cellphones, data mining and cyberwar, including how citizens are digitally tracked by governments and corporations. Links to articles, including
An Iranian American writer makes a case against censorship and for Rushdie (Steve Inskeep, NPR, 8-23-22) Following the attack on author Salman Rushdie, NPR's Steve Inskeep talks to Iranian American writer Azar Nafisi about attempts to silence writers. Her latest book is: Read Dangerously: The Subversive Power of Literature in Troubled Times Inskeep asks, What advice would you give a parent who hears these debates and is concerned about what their kids are reading in school and wants to have some control over it?Nafisi responds that we should talk about what we are scared of. Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye was banned because she talked about incest and rape. But the whole point is that if we cannot tolerate reading about reality in books, how can we tolerate standing up to ugly realities that are happening every day?
      Inskeep makes the point that the political right and the political left in the United States each have their own programs and approaches. "Right now the political right has been using state power to limit what is taught or read in schools. People on the political left tend more often to use cultural power to push against expressions that they don't like." Some on both sides tend to have "a mindset that is ideological, that only hears itself."
        Nafisi: "...the whole idea behind fiction, the whole idea behind journalism, actually, is seeking for truth no matter where it leads you. And truth is always dangerous because once you hear it, if you remain silent, you become complicit. Look at banning books and censoring books and even burning books, taking them off the shelves in libraries. Fiction humanizes what the tyrants dehumanize. And that is why writers like [Salman] Rushdie are so dangerous."
Liberals, Radicals, and the Making of a Literary Masterpiece (Keith Gessen, New Yorker, 9-5-22) Russian author Ivan Turgenev achieved greatness with a novel [Fathers and Sons] detested by almost everyone he cared about. "These years, in the eighteen-forties, were difficult ones, Turgenev later recalled; censors would leave writers’ proofs marked up with red ink, “as if bloodied.” The start of Nicholas I’s reign, in 1825, had been met by a failed uprising of Army officers who came to be known as the Decembrists; its ending, three decades later, was accompanied by the humiliating Russian defeat in the Crimean War. The intervening years were a period of intense repression and censorship. The generation that came of age with Turgenev was aware of Russian backwardness and subjugation, but did not know what to do about it, or even, under conditions of police surveillance, how to talk about it."
10 Most Censored Countries (Special report from the Committee to Protect Journalists, 9-10-19) Repressive governments use sophisticated digital censorship and surveillance alongside more traditional methods to silence independent media. This list is based on CPJ’s research into the use of tactics ranging from imprisonment and repressive laws to surveillance of journalists and restrictions on internet and social media access. The 10 most censored countries, in descending order: Eritrea, North Korea, Turkmenistan, Saudi Arabia, China, Vietnam, Iran, Equatorial Guinea, Belarus, Cuba. The list addresses only those countries where the government tightly controls the media.
Banned: 10 popular social networks and websites that are (or were) blocked in other countries (Saima Salim, Digital Information World, 10-29-18) Wikipedia in Turkey; Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia; WhatsApp, Skype, SnapChat, FaceTime, and Telegram – in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and UAE; Vimeo – Indonesia; Telegram and Instagram – Iran; Archive.org and 74,000 other websites, in Russia; most Western websites in China; YouTube in China, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Syria, Sudan, and South Sudan; etc.
The Spread of Book Banning (Claire Moses, Morning Briefing, NY Times, 7-31-22) A discussion between Alexandra Alter and Elizabeth Harris, who cover the publishing industry.The debate on book banning has gone from a school or community issue to a polarizing political issue. Complaints on social media about inappropriate material go viral, leading to more complaints in schools and libraries. Elected officials turn book banning into another wedge issue in the culture wars. Republicans lean toward banning books, Democrats contend parents should decide what their kids read. 'It’s hard to disentangle the banning surge from other conservative efforts to use the government to limit expression, including what critics call Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law. Those are all movements that have overlapped and spurred book-banning debates.' 'Book banning is part of a wider political context right now, of extreme polarization, of heightened political tensions and the amplification of certain messages by the kinds of media — social or otherwise — that people consume.' Librarians are trained to present a range of viewpoints. Some have left their jobs; some have been fired for refusing to remove books.
“Banned” books study has surprising results (Stetson Today, Stetson University, 3-6-14) Chris Ferguson, best known for his study of the effects on students of violent video games, conducted research on “banned” books because so little is known about the effects such books have on readers. “Many books targeted toward young readers are banned or challenged in school and public libraries because of ‘edgy’ violent, sexual or occult content,” reported Ferguson in Is Reading “Banned” Books Associated With Behavior Problems in Young Readers? Among the results:
---Reading of banned books did not predict GPA or violent/non-violent crime.
---GPA was predicted by increased reading for pleasure, not by required school reading.
---Reading banned books was associated with increased civic behavior (doing good for society) and low risk of antisocial behavior.
How Free Is Free Expression? (Gayle Feldman, PW, 7-24-22) "...many longtime book people have said what makes the present unprecedented is a new impetus to censor—and self-censor—coming from the left. The desire to heal historical wounds and promote social justice is conflicting with the right to speak and write freely. Call it political correctness, cancel culture, wokeness—and the fear of challenging it—this is the censorship that, as the phrase goes, dare not speak its name....

       Looking for explanations, some turn to campuses not wanting to “discomfort” students by engaging in real debate. At a time with such an impetus for group identity, it becomes more difficult to think for oneself."      

     "An added challenge is that all of this is happening against the backdrop of a recent spate of shameful book bans that comes largely from the right: The Fight to Ban Books (Amelia Nierenberg, Education Briefing, NY Times, 10-6-21) The fight over critical race theory has reached the library, as some parents try to ban books that address certain ideas about race, as well as those that address sex and L.G.B.T.Q. issues.

     A diversity committee in York County, PA, created a list of resources "to help students and teachers grapple with the racial and social turmoil. Some parents objected. They claimed the materials could be used to “indoctrinate” students or make white children feel guilty. So, in a little-noticed vote last November, the school board banned the all items on the list from classrooms."

     Students and teachers protested and the ban, never enforced, was lifted. But "in states where Republican governors have signed legislation banning critical race theory, books are disappearing from shelves."
• A curious transition. On Journalist's Toolbox, under Education, I clicked on The Youth Free Expression Network (Y-FEN), An anti-censorship coalition to challenge Internet filters, v-chips, abstinence-only education, etc., and was taken to Snoopza, a free cell phone tracker, your chance to track your kids and workers.

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Censorship battles’ new frontier: Your public library (Annie Gowen, Washington Post, 4-17-22) Conservatives are teaming with politicians to remove books and gut library boards. “It came to my attention a few weeks ago that pornographic filth has been discovered at the Llano library,” wrote Bonnie Wallace, a 54-year-old local church volunteer. Wallace had attached an Excel spreadsheet of about 60 books she found objectionable, including those about transgender teens, sex education and race, including such notable works as “Between the World and Me,” by author and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates, an exploration of the country’s history written as a letter to his adolescent son. Wallace's list was the opening salvo in a censorship battle that is unlikely to end well for proponents of free speech in this county of 21,000 northwest of Austin. Conservative activists in several states, including Texas, Montana and Louisiana have joined forces with like-minded officials to dissolve libraries' governing bodies, rewrite or delete censorship protections, and remove books outside of official challenge procedures.
An assistant principal read the children’s book ‘I Need a New Butt!’ to second-graders. He was fired. (Jaclyn Peiser, Washington Post, 3-11-22)
With Rising Book Bans, Librarians Have Come Under Attack (Elizabeth A. Harris and Alexandra Alter, NY Tims, 7-6-22) Caustic fights over which books belong on the shelves have put librarians at the center of a bitter and widening culture war. "As highly visible and politicized book bans have exploded across the country, librarians — accustomed to being seen as dedicated public servants in their communities — have found themselves on the front lines of an acrimonious culture war, with their careers and their personal reputations at risk.
"They have been labeled pedophiles on social media, called out by local politicians and reported to law enforcement officials. Some librarians have quit after being harassed online. Others have been fired for refusing to remove books from circulation."

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Report Censorship (National Coalition Against Censorship) One of the best ways to fight censorship is to call it out as it happens.
School Book Challenge Resource Center (NCAC)
Standing Committee Against Censorship (National Council of Teachers of English)
Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) . See its case files.
Changing the World, One Word at a Time! (powerful video of three teenagers on the wrong lessons we learn from society, on Queen Latifah show)
Campaign for Core Freedoms (PEN American Center)
Katherine Anne Porter Award for First Amendment Defender (new $10,000 award from PEN American Center)
PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award (projects to further their work against censorship or to writers who have been in dire financial straits as a result of political persecution, often consisting of imprisonment)
The Freedom to Read Statement (American Library Association)
Citizen Media Law Project blog
Free speech blog, blog archved as Index on Censorship. Check out its blog roll.

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The Download: A million-word novel got censored before it was even shared. Now Chinese users want answers. (Zeyi Yang, MIT Technology Review, 7-15-22) After a writer was locked out of her novel for including illegal content, Chinese web users are asking questions about just how far the state’s censorship reaches. "Imagine you are working on your novel on your home computer. It's nearly finished; you have already written approximately one million words. All of a sudden, the online word processing software tells you that you can no longer open the draft because it contains illegal information. Within an instant, all your words are lost."
6 Dr. Seuss books will stop being published because of racist imagery (Mark Pratt, Associated Press, PBS, 3-2-21) Six Dr. Seuss books — including “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” and “If I Ran the Zoo” — will stop being published because of racist and insensitive imagery, the business that preserves and protects the author’s legacy said Tuesday. The other books affected are “McElligot’s Pool,” “On Beyond Zebra!,” “Scrambled Eggs Super!,” and “The Cat’s Quizzer.” The decision to cease publication and sales of the books was made last year after months of discussion, the company told AP.
Outcry after Tennessee school board unanimously votes to remove Maus (Heidi MacDonald, The Beat: the Blog of Comics Culture, 1-27-22) The school board was concerned about mild swearing and a single panel of a naked woman in a non sexual situation. Art Spiegelman, the author of Maus, "suspected that its members were motivated less about some mild curse words and more by the subject of the book, which tells the story of his Jewish parents’ time in Nazi concentration camps, the mass murder of other Jews by Nazis, his mother’s suicide when he was just 20 and his relationship with his father." Feb. 7, his Zoom Q&A session in response to this ban, was attended by more than 10,000 participants (I was one of them). "Resist these forces," he said. "This gesture is important. This is proof that the school board's attitude is not universal."
Intellectual Freedom and Censorship Q & A (American Library Association)

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Librarians are resisting censorship of children’s books by LGBTQ+ and Black authors (Nadra Nittle, Education reporter. 19th News, 11-16-21) “Gender Queer.” “Sex Is a Funny Word.” “The Hate U Give.” Those are a few of the hundreds of books targeted for banning amid a revived movement to limit students’ access to literature about race, sex and gender and to challenge curricula that broach these topics. Librarians (our heroes) are resisting attempts to censor books on race, sex and gender.
Censorship of Children’s Books (Banned Books Week Coalition, YouTube video, 57 minutes) Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard, the authors of “Something Happened in Our Town: A Child's Story About Racial Injustice,” and Laurin Mayeno and Robert Trujillo, the author and artist of “One of a Kind, Like Me,”discuss the circumstances behind the censorship challenges to the books, how the attacks on diverse literature harm students, and what we can do to defend children’s books.
Aren’t There Some Kinds Of Expression That Really Should Be Censored? (American Library Association, Intellectual Freedom and Censorship Q & A) "The United States Supreme Court has ruled that there are certain narrow categories of speech that are not protected by the First Amendment: obscenity, child pornography, defamation, and “fighting words,” or speech that incites immediate and imminent lawless action. The government is also allowed to enforce secrecy of some information when it is considered essential to national security, like troop movements in time of war, classified information about defense, etc."
Censored Books and Art poster (American Library Association online store)
Far-Right Group Wants to Ban Kids From Reading Books on Male Seahorses, Galileo, and MLK (Kelly Weill, Dangerous Minds, The Daily Beast, 9-24-21) Moms for Liberty is raising hell in a Tennessee school district over books that teach about race in American history—and also books that teach about wild animals and science. “We are seeing what appear to be coordinated efforts to challenge books, not purely based on the content of the individual book, but based on the fact that they teach history from a particular viewpoint,” Pelizzari said. “There’s a politicized approach to challenging books. We’re also seeing entire lists of books being challenged, as opposed to individual titles.”
A group of teachers in the Philippines has launched an internet archive of “subversive” books. (Walker Caplan, The Hub, 11-3-21) In the Philippines, educators and researchers are responding to a military crackdown on “subversive” books and documents by launching an internet archive of endangered books and materials frowned upon by the government. Clement Camposano, chancellor of University of the Philippines Visayas, who refused to remove subversive materials from his university’s library, said to the Inquirer: “When we are afraid of books, then we have a problem.”

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Authors Guild Statement on W.W. Norton’s Removing Blake Bailey’s Books from Circulation (4-29-21) "Freedom of expression and the freedom to publish are the bedrock principles upon which literary culture and civil society are built. Removing a published book from circulation because of the authors’ conduct and resulting adverse public opinion against the author or the subject, no matter how strong and justified, contradicts important principles of free speech and open discourse. The book may, for example, serve as a historical document of Roth’s treatment of women and his own misbehavior, and of conduct that some have even found acceptable in the past. It provides food for discussion about these important topics as well as other aspects of Roth’s life. We cannot rewrite history."

        From The Biographer's Craft: "W. W. Norton announced in late April that it was halting shipments of Blake Bailey’s Philip Roth: The Life after allegations emerged that Bailey had sexually assaulted two women and acted inappropriately toward several of his female students while teaching English in a New Orleans middle school during the 1990s.

        "The publisher, calling the charges 'serious,' also said it was suspending a planned second print run of the book and ending all marketing efforts for it. Then, Norton went further, pulling the biography out of print completely, halting sales of Bailey’s 2014 memoir, and announcing it would make a donation in the amount of the advance it paid Bailey to organizations that fight sexual assault or harassment and help survivors. The publisher’s moves came after Bailey’s literary agency, the Story Factory, announced that it was no longer representing the writer....

        "Vintage, the book’s publisher in the United Kingdom, said it will continue selling the book, and the book is scheduled to be released in Australia in June."
You Can Read Yuval Noah Harari’s Book in Russian, Except for the Parts About Russia (Ivan Nechepurenko and Alexandra Alter, NY Times, 7-30-19) The New York Times found that the Russian version of the book “21 Lessons for the 21st Century” was heavily censored, with mentions of the fighting in Ukraine and Crimea removed and criticism of the Russian government toned down or cut, among other changes. The Russian version didn’t mention any of the changes.
"Big Brother" issues.  Jeffrey Bezos of Amazon apologized for remotely deleting digital editions of George Orwell's 1984 from customers' Kindle reading devices after a copyright dispute, writes Brad Stone in Amazon Faces a Fight Over Its E-Books (NY Times 7-26-09) Stone quotes some critics on the advantages of such "tethered systems"--for example, for restoring content customers inadvertently lose, or for helping companies enforce copyright laws. "But critics say that any device capable of interfering with how its owner uses media is potentially dangerous. 'I worry that systems like these tethered appliances are gifts to regulators,' said Jonathan Zittrain, a professor at Harvard Law School and author of the book, The Future of the Internet — and How to Stop It. Mr. Zittrain predicts that governments in some parts of the world will want to use it 'like a line item veto for content,' removing objectionable sentences or chapters in some books."

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Librarians Could Face Charges for ‘Age-Inappropriate’ Material Under Proposal (Johnny Diaz, NY Times, 3-2-2020) A bill introduced in Missouri is aimed at events like “Drag Queen Story Hours,” the measure’s sponsor said. "Parental oversight boards" for libraries in Missouri and Tennessee focus on keeping certain types of materials out of the hands of minors. See also A Missouri bill would cut off aid to libraries that allow kids to access 'age-inappropriate sexual materials' (Harmeet Kaur, CNN, 1-16-2020) Librarians who don't comply with the Parental Oversight of Public Libraries Act could face up to a $500 fine or one year in jail.
NCAC Statement on Missouri Library Bill (National Coalition Against Censorship, January 2020) "The bill requires each library to create a committee of untrained local adults with no qualifications to make decisions regarding what books local children can and cannot read. The committee is given power to decide, among other things, whether a particular book, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors. It is dangerous and constitutionally impermissible to allow a group of otherwise unqualified individuals to determine whether a book has serious value. To make matters worse, library and school employees, who are trained to help children learn from books and other material, are banned from being members of the committee." Elsewhere NCAC explained: "Public libraries already have procedures in place that assist parents in selecting materials that fit their family’s information needs, while not censoring materials or infringing upon the rights of other families or patrons to choose the books they want and need."
The Coddling of the American Mind (Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, The Atlantic, Sept. 2015) In the name of emotional well-being, college students are increasingly demanding protection from words and ideas they don’t like. Here’s why that’s disastrous for education—and mental health. The article, expanded, became a book: The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure. (Not sure this belongs here, but...)

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Book Censorship Toolkit (National Coalition Against Censorship)
Responding to Censorship (Student Press Law Center) SPLC also has excellent Quizzes (about the First Amendment, student press law, access law, copyright, cyberlaw, invasion of privacy, libel, press freedom, and reporter's privilege) and Legal Guides (about the American court system; press freedom and censorship; access to records, meetings, & places; cyberlaw (internet and online media); libel & privacy; protecting sources & information; copyright; broadcasting; yearbooks; advertising & distribution; and advisers.
Blacklisted in Cyberspace: Spam Filters Threaten Free Speech on the Internet (James McGrath Morris on spam-checking software as the new censors), Washington Post, 11-29-08
Ex-National Security Officials Sue to Limit Censorship of Their Books (Charlie Savage, NY Times, 4-2-19) Anuradha Bhagwati, a former United States Marine, is one of five people suing the government over a prepublication review system they call “dysfunctional.” The system is plagued by a patchwork of ambiguous policies and vague standards that puts too much discretionary power in the hands of reviewing officials, who can delay or discriminate against lower-ranking people who criticize government actions, while speedily clearing favorable memoirs and other writings by retired senior officials, the lawsuit said. “This far-reaching censorship system simply can’t be squared with the Constitution,” said Jameel Jaffer, executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, which is jointly representing the plaintiffs with the American Civil Liberties Union.

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The Government Had to Approve This Op-Ed (Mark Fallon, Opinion, NY Times, 4-2-19) Prepublication review of the writings of current and former federal employees violates their First Amendment rights. "At its best, then, this review should confirm that employees are not inadvertently disclosing information that would actually harm national security. My own experience shows, however, that this is not always the way the system works."
The Silencing of Prison Legal News (Victoria Mckenzie, The Crime Report, 6-12-18) Florida is the only state to ban Prison Legal News (PLN), and does so on the grounds that it carries ads for services prohibited in Florida correctional facilities (e.g., three-way calling, pen pal services, and selling postage stamps for cash). "The decision contained many pages of anecdotes about fraud schemes perpetrated by inmates, but did not cite testimony or evidence suggesting that viewing advertisements incites criminal activity. While Florida is currently the only state to ban the monthly publication, the decision highlights similar disputes over prison censorship now in play across the country. In practice, the burden of accommodating prisoners’ rights to access legal and other reading material across the United States—as well as the First Amendment rights of a publisher to access its audience—has largely fallen on the shoulders of one man...

      Paul Wright, founder and director of the Human Rights Defense Center (HDRC),who has devoted the past 28 years to getting legal news and resources to inmates....Wright started the magazine from inside a maximum security prison in Washington state with another inmate and just $300....Since then, it’s grown into a 72-page authoritative and unmatchable resource for inmates seeking legal advice for their complaints, ranging from medical neglect, beatings and excessive use of force, to abuse of solitary confinement and sexual assault behind bars." "Tom Julin, a First Amendment attorney based in Miami, tried to submit an amicus brief in 2016 on behalf of the Florida Press Association and several other media organizations. But the state vehemently opposed the brief and, in a rare move, barred the press from weighing in on a case about the First Amendment rights of a news publication."
An 87-year-old’s obituary said Trump ‘hastened’ her death. A local paper wouldn’t run it. (Meagan Flynn, WaPo, 1-16-19) The Courier-Journal declined to publish: The Trump quip would need to be removed, the family was told, or the $1,684 obituary wouldn’t run at all. Now, more than two weeks after Williams’s memorial services, the paper and its owner, Gannett, are apologizing following a backlash on social media.

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The U.K. Is About to Regulate Online Porn, and Free Speech Advocates Are Terrified (Billy Perrigo, Time, 8-20-18) 'By the end of 2018, all commercial porn sites [in the UK} will have to find a way to “effectively verify” that their users in the U.K. are over 18 years old, and block access to everyone else. That doesn’t mean just ticking a box – it means advanced verification systems where online porn users must prove their identity. “This is the first example in a western country of an official state Internet censor being introduced,” Jerry Barnett, a campaigner for free speech and sexual freedom, tells TIME....Once the U.K.’s block is in place, other types of legal content could be put behind barriers or even removed from the Internet, according to the non-profit Open Rights Group, which campaigns for digital civil liberties. It warns that websites containing content on suicide, anorexia or unpalatable political views could be next. That, it says, “poses a major threat to the free speech of U.K. citizens.... some of the most ardent critics of the block who TIME spoke to still agreed that young children should, somehow, be protected from accessing pornography. The core of the dispute is over how to do it, and what the side-effects will be.”
Censorpedia: An Interactive Database of Censorship Incidents (National Coalition Against Censorship). A participatory wiki of censorship incidents from the Iron Age to the 21st Century. The archive builds on The File Room, an internationally renowned 1994 art project by Muntadas, which contains over 1000 censorship incidents from around the world.
CMS threatens to bar Modern Healthcare from press calls after reporter refuses to alter story (Felice J. Freyer, Covering Health, AHCJ, 2-5-18) The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services threatened to ban reporter Virgil Dickson from participating in the federal agency’s telephone news conferences after he refused to delete three sentences from a published story that apparently had rankled CMS Administrator Seema Verma.
Caravaggio killed a man. Should we therefore censor his art? (Svetlana Mintcheva, The Guardian, 2-3-18) To remove art because it is tainted by the sins of its maker sets an impossible standard for art institutions. Yet that is what is happening. "In these politically polarized times, we need to value art institutions as places where we can think about complexity – including about how artists of such creative gifts can be such awful human beings - rather than treat them as churches obligated to issue judgments about who merits salvation and who doesn’t."
The First Amendment in Schools: A Resource Guide (National Coalition Against Censorship)

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Judge: Racism behind Arizona ban on TUSD's Mexican-American studies (Astrid Galvan, AP, Tucson.com, 8-23-17) Racism was behind an Arizona ban on ethnic studies that shuttered a popular Mexican-American Studies program at Tucson Unified School District, said U.S. District Judge A. Wallace Tashima. The state enacted the ban with discriminatory intent, he said. TUSD dismantled its program to avoid losing state funding. The district hasn't responded to questions from The Associated Press about whether it would revive the program if the law is thrown out.
The Last Book Seller (Mei Fong, PEN Hong Kong, 1-10-17) Chinese censorship has surrounded Chinese publication of Mei Fong's book One Child: The Story of China's Most Radical Experiment with drama. Publication by a Chinese publisher meant leaving key parts of the book out. "Authorities cracked down on advocacy of issues as innocuous as calls for clean air and calls to reduce sexual harassment. They have not only jailed these movement’s advocates, but in some cases their lawyers as well." And those controls extend now to Hong Kong. Many publishers have folded. The author has decided to make the self-published digital edition of a Chinese translation available for free in China. Another author who had difficulty getting a Chinese translation published is Tan Hecheng, a Chinese journalist, who this month published the English edition of his book, The Killing Wind, the riveting and deeply researched account of the mass killings that took place in a southern China county during the Cultural Revolution.... Tan spent decades researching the story, which documented the widespread and systematic killing of hundreds of people deemed class enemies— landowners, for example– under Mao’s diktats....A Chinese language edition was published in Hong Kong in 2011. It’s likely it would not be published there today."
The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce's Ulysses by Kevin Birmingham
Still more City Paper content censored (Fern Shen, Baltimore Brew, 3-1-14). An advertiser pressures withdrawal of a fairly withering review, eliciting outrage and probably wider readership of the story than there might have been without censorship. Here's the review.
Project Censored (The News That Didn't Make the News)
The banned 400-year-old Shakespearean speech being used for refugee rights today (Anne Quito, Quartz, 9-21-16)

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French Censorship: Copyright Laws, "Private Life," and Biography (Hazel Rowley, The American Scholar, Winter 2009). Fascinating.
Spam Filters Threaten Free Speech on the Internet (James McGrath Morris, WaPo, 11-28-08) In most cases, both the intended e-mail sender and recipients remain unaware of the censorship that spam filters impose. Only rarely is the sender informed when e-mail is quarantined or diverted. Such behind-the-scenes machinations make fighting back almost impossible. Go to Spamhaus for threat intelligence and a lookup tool for IP addresses. See Spamhaus FAQs.
Internet black holes: where storytelling waits (13 countries where Internet access is restricted through censorship), map from Reporters Sans Frontieres, as posted on "Write now is good"
Global Campaign Against Impunity. The countries with the highest rates of murder of journalists (censorship by murder): Russia and the Philippines (Committee to Protect Journalists)
Censorship in China A long Wikipedia entry, part of a series: Censorship by country
Diario de Juarez editorial, in translation (LA Times, 9-24-10, a front-page editorial published by the main newspaper in Ciudad Juarez, publicly offers to the Juarez drug gangs what news organizations across Mexico practice widely for their survival: self-censorship in exchange for no more assassinations of journalists.
Internet Filtering: Beware the Cybercensors (Barbara Miner, Rethinking Schools, compares blocking software to the banning of books from libraries). Partial article for nonmembers.
Freedom of the press

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Timelines of censorship history


The National Coalition Against Censorship hosts several timelines that chart the history of efforts to suppress speech on a variety of topics:
A Selective Timeline of the Internet and Censorship (National Coalition Against Censorship)
A Timeline of Legislation Aiming to Protect Youth Online
A Timeline of Video Game Controversies
The 19th-Century Troll Who Hated Dirty Postcards and Sex Toys (Annalee Newitz, Opinion, New York Times, 9-20-19) Before Gamergate, Anthony Comstock was the original anti-feminist crusader. "In the 1870s, New York City was a haven for artists and radicals. But it was also the nursery for a new kind of moral activism. Led by Anthony Comstock, the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice became a media sensation by targeting feminists in a culture war over obscenity and birth control. He then used his fame to lobby Congress for laws that arguably halted the progress of reproductive rights for almost a century."
Art and Culture Censorship Timeline (1989-2019) (National Coalition Against Censorship)
Music Censorship In America: An Interactive Timeline (1934-2019) (National Coalition Against Censorship)
Timeline of Abstinence-Only Education in U.S. Classrooms (how over $1.5 billion in federal funds have been spent on 26 years of censorship in schools)
A Brief History of Film Censorship, includes a selected list of censored and challenged films.

Other organizations have also posted censorship timelines:
Manuscripts Don’t Burn: a Timeline of Literary Censorship, Destruction, and Liberation (PEN America)
History of Censorship Timeline (Preceden, a world timeline going back to Socrates' execution)
Bannings and Burnings in History (Freedom to Read)
Censorship in the United States: An Illustrated History and Timeline
Freedom of the Press in the United States: A Short History
Indecency and the FCC (About News, on Civil Liberties)
"The basic story in the American past, the only story ultimately worth the telling, is the story of the struggle between the creative and the frustrating elements in the democratic adventure."~ Max Lerner (1939)

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The urge to ban books
What you can do to fight book bans and challenges
Banned & challenged books
Banned & challenged books (lists)
Censorship vs. freedom of expression
Censorship by the numbers
Academic freedom
Cancel culture
Prior restraint (government censorship)


 

 How protected is your online privacy
and some steps you can take for data protection

(identity theft, data privacy and data protection, GDPR)
See also Privacy, Online Privacy, and Invasion of Privacy


The Ultimate Online Privacy Guide for Journalists (Lucca RF, Wizcase, 3-20-21) The online threats facing journalists: Astroturfing, denial-of-Information attacks, deep fakes, doxxing, doubleswitch, email bombing, hashtag poisoning, mass reports, memes, social bots, phishing. Explained.
Data Privacy vs. Data Protection (Rick Robinson, Ipswitch, 1-29-18) "In a nutshell, data protection is about securing data against unauthorized access. Data privacy is about authorized access — who has it and who defines it. Another way to look at it is this: data protection is essentially a technical issue, whereas data privacy is a legal one.
The Hidden-Pregnancy Experiment (Jia Tolentino, New Yorker, 5-4-24) We are increasingly trading our privacy for a sense of security. Becoming a parent showed me how tempting, and how dangerous, that exchange can be. During pregnancy, and in the early days of parenthood, one is both the object and the conductor of intense surveillance.

    'Nearly every time we load new content on an app or a Web site, ad-exchange companies—Google being the largest among them—broadcast data about our interests, finances, and vulnerabilities to determine exactly what we’ll see; more than a billion of these transactions take place in the U.S. every hour. Each of us, the data-privacy expert Wolfie Christl told me, has “dozens or even hundreds” of digital identifiers attached to our person; there’s an estimated eighteen-billion-dollar industry for location data alone. In August, 2022, Mozilla reviewed twenty pregnancy and period-tracking apps and found that fifteen of them made a "buffet" of personal data available to third parties, including addresses, I.P. numbers, sexual histories, and medical details.'
---Supervision: On Motherhood and Surveillance, edited by Sophie Hamacher and Jessica Hankey. In this age of surveillance, mothers' behaviors and bodies are observed, made public, exposed, scrutinized, and policed like never before. Through our phones, we are under perpetual surveillance by companies that buy and sell data about what kind of person we are, whom we might vote for, what we might purchase, and what we might be nudged into doing.
How to Control Annoying or Upsetting Ads Online (Thomas Germain, Consumer Reports, 5-11-22) Change settings on Facebook, Google, and Instagram and you can adjust your ad experiences across a lot of the internet. Consumers see thousands of ads a day (as many as 10,000 by some estimates) and there’s nothing you can do to avoid them entirely. Using a few little-known tools, however, you can fine-tune which ads you’re exposed to and avoid many ads showing certain topics and brand. "Together, Google and Meta (the parent company of Facebook) control the vast majority of digital advertising. It’s not just content you see on Google Search or your social media feed. Most of the ads you see in apps, on websites, and across the web are served through Google and Meta’s advertising networks."
---How to Use Instagram Privacy Settings (Thomas Germain, Consumer Reports) Instagram shares your location data and other information with Facebook. These steps will control how much data is collected and some of the ways it gets used. "The corporation that owns Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp used to be called Facebook. When the company changed its name to Meta, a lot of other things didn’t change. For one, those apps continue to share infrastructure, technology, and user data. And if you’re an Instagram user, your personal information is used for a variety of business purposes, including targeting ads to you across the internet and throughout the Facebook platform."
---How to Use Facebook Privacy Settings (Thomas Germain, Consumer Reports) These controls and techniques give users a measure of control over how Facebook collects and uses personal data. Instructions on how to:
   “Clear” the Data Facebook Gets From Tracking You Around the Web
   Keep Your Location Data Private
   Limit Data Collection by Facebook’s Partners
   Guard Your Account From Hackers
   Limit Who Sees Your Photos and Posts
   Take Some Control Over Targeted Ads
---How to Use Google Privacy Settings (Thomas Germain, Consumer Reports) "The first step is to take advantage of Google’s own privacy settings, and you can fine-tune them with a bit more precision thanks to some recent updates. There are also several outside tools you can use to take more control. "Most of the instructions are for a computer browser, but the steps are similar if you’re working on your phone. And one of these settings is specific to Android, Google’s smartphone platform."

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Hands off my data! 15 default privacy settings you should change right now Geoffrey A. Fowler, The Switch, WashPost, 6-1-18) Say no to defaults. A clickable guide to fixing the complicated privacy settings from Facebook, Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple.
Data vs. Data Integrity: Why Backup as a Service Costs More than Cloud Storage (Justine Kurtz, Carbonite, 3-11-21) The main differences between cloud storage and cloud backup. Differences in data restoration. Differences in ransomware recovery. Differences in issue or threat detection. Differences in admin support.


Security Planner: Keep Your Data Secure With a Personalized Plan (Consumer Reports) Cut down on data collection and protect your sensitive personal information, health data, and geolocation. Answer a few simple questions to get customized recommendations to help you:
   Safely back up files
   Browse online without tracking
   Avoid phishing scams
   Prevent identity theft
Guide to Digital Security & Privacy (Consumer Reports, 5-31-23) Get expert advice on how to stay safe online, protect your phone and laptop from hackers, and control online tracking by tech companies.
---30-Second Privacy Fixes: Simple Ways to Protect Your Data (Thomas Germain, Consumer Reports, 10-3-22) How to quickly limit location tracking, smart speaker recordings, and other data collection.
---How to Control Annoying or Upsetting Ads Online (Thomas Germain, Consumer Reports, 5-11-22)
---How to Use Google Privacy Settings (TG, Consumer Reports, 9-7-18)  Completely avoiding Google's data collection machinery is extremely difficult, but it's not hard to place some limits on how Google gathers and uses your data. The first step is to take advantage of Google's own privacy settings, then fine-tune them with a bit more precision thanks to some recent updates. There are also several outside tools you can use to take more control. You can also give Google Chrome a privacy tune-up.
---How to Use Facebook Privacy Settings (TG, Consumer Reports, 7-31-22) It can even be hard to find the Facebook settings that do work as you'd expect. Facebook has 22 pages of settings, and many privacy controls aren't on the page labeled "Privacy." These controls and techniques give users a measure of control over how Facebook collects and uses personal data
---How to Use Instagram Privacy Settings (TG, Consumer Reports, 11-2-18) Instagram shares your location data and other information with Facebook. These steps will control how much data is collected and some of the ways it gets used. Most users access Instagram through the app, but some of the platform's privacy settings are accessible only when you log in using a browser.

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A Dad Took Photos of His Naked Toddler for the Doctor. Google Flagged Him as a Criminal. (Kashmir Hill, Technology, NY Times, 8-21-22) Google has an automated tool to detect abusive images of children. But the system can get it wrong, and the consequences are serious.
Blacklight A Real-Time Website Privacy Inspector (Surya Mattu, The Markup) Who is peeking over your shoulder while you work, watch videos, learn, explore, and shop on the internet? Enter the address of any website, and Blacklight will scan it and reveal the specific user-tracking technologies on the site—and who’s getting your data. You may be surprised at what you learn.
Apple, Meta And The $10 Billion Impact Of Privacy Changes (Daniel Newman, Forbes, 2-10-22) Exploring Cloud, AI, Big Data and all things Digital Transformation. "What Apple calls IDFA was a bold move that was set to potentially disrupt advertisers that had depended on relatively easy to gain access to user data to help target advertisements. As Apple implemented these new policies there were many questions as to which advertisers would be most significantly impacted. If these past few weeks of earnings have shown us anything, it is that Facebook and its parent Meta, are perhaps the biggest loser in this transition—and the cost to Meta and its shareholders are already proving to be substantial. "David Wehner, Chief Financial Officer of Facebook’s parent company Meta said that the company anticipates losing more than $10 billion in sales revenue, as the company continues to feel the lasting impact of Apple’s changes to the App Tracking Transparency feature, namely the Identifiers for Advertisers (IDFA) policy."
This outed priest’s story is a warning for everyone about the need for data privacy laws (Sara Morrison, Vox, 7-21-21) "Supposedly anonymous gay dating app data was apparently sold off and linked to a Catholic priest, who then resigned from his job.... Your location data is for sale, and it can be used against you."
How to Control and Delete Cookies on Your Browser (Eric Griffith & Chandra Steele, PC Magaine, 8-19-2020) Most of the time, cookies are a good thing, but they can also track you. Take control of a tiny bit of your online privacy by blocking, deleting, and allowing only select cookies.
More data breaches in 2017 could mean more tax identity theft in 2018 (Tam Harbert)
What can I do to manage cookies stored on my computer? (All About Cookies.org)
The Motherboard Guide to Not Getting Hacked (Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai and Joseph Cox,Vice, 11-12-18) The basic steps to take to keep yourself, and your data, safe online.
Alerts and Tips (CISA, Dept. of Homeland Security)
Internet privacy by country (VPN)
KeePassX (a free, open source, cross-platform password manager)
HTTPS Everywhere (Electronic Frontier Foundation) HTTPS Everywhere is a Firefox, Chrome, and Opera extension that encrypts your communications with many major websites, making your browsing more secure.
The Investigatory Powers Bill would increase cybercrime (Martin Kleppmann, 11-10-15) "I post this piece from the UK because of its good explanation of the difference between encryption in transit, end-to-end encryption (via a service provider), and end-to-end encryption (with no service provider)."
Myths and fallacies of “Personally identifiable information” (Arvind Narayanan and Vitaly Shmatikov, Viewpoints, Communications of the ACM, June 2010).Developing effective privacy protection technologies is a critical challenge for security and privacy research as the amount and variety of data collected about individuals increase exponentially. Any information that distinguishes one person from another can be used for re-identifying data.
Privacy and Identity Theft (Identity Theft Resource Center, 888-400-5530) Links to practical tip sheets.
Do Internet-Connected Toys Pose a Privacy Risk? Tanya Rivero interviews Georgia Wells, WSJ video, 12-7-16) Advocacy groups allege that Internet-connected toys, including several children's dolls, pose a privacy risk to consumers. Is Genesis Toys recording children's voices and what they say, without parental knowledge or consent?

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Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security, and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance by Julia Angwin
Disconnect Search: Google In Private (Thomas Claburn, Information Week, 3-24-14) Disconnect app delivers search engine privacy, with "pay what you want" pricing.
Facebook: Where Your Friends Are Your Worst Enemies (Packet Storm, 6-21-13)
Online Shopping Safety Guide (Steve Weisman, Coupon Chief). Easy to understand advice about avoiding online data and security breaches.
Open Source Privacy Tools – Complete Guide to Online Safety (Sam Bocceta, Privacy Australia). Scan this whole website, as it is full of invaluable-looking resources (apparently not so secure: Microsoft, Google, Apple's OSX). See, for example, Recommended Email Clients, Make Sure Your Browser Is Not Leaving Fingerprints As You Browse The Web, Info about Browser Fingerprinting, Search Engines That Respect Your Privacy, Instant Messengers with Encryption, Video and Voice Messengers with Encryption, Cloud Storage Services with Privacy Features, Applications That Let You Host Your Own Cloud Server, File Syncing Applications with Privacy Features, Password Management Applications, File Encryption Applications, International Laws Regarding Key Disclosure, Networks Outside of the Surface Web, Domain Name Services for Greater Security, Secure Note Taking Applications, Security Enhanced Operating Systems, Privacy Enhanced Mobile Operating Systems, Open Source Router Applications, Links to articles that discuss how Windows 10 is violating your privacy, Recommended Resources on Privacy. Above all: To protect your privacy, avoid services based in the United States. Read Global Mass Surveillance – The Fourteen Eyes.
A guide to the security of voice-activated smart speakers (Candid Wueest, An ISTR Special Report, Symantec, Nov. 2017) Voice assistants and smart speakers: What you need to know. What are voice assistants and smart speakers? Siri, Alexa, Amazon Echo Dot, Google Assistant, etc. What are the risks? For example: "The voice purchasing option is enabled on the Alexa assistant by default, which means that anyone can use the assistant to order goods if the linked account is a Prime account with one-click ordering enabled." The mimicry of the curious child, the tale of the mischievous neighbor, the case of the talking television, the clever burglar's tricks. What to do to protect yourself.
What does the US government know about you? (Privacy.net)
•  Did Cambridge Analytica Help to Create ‘Digital Wokeness’? (Manoush Zomorodi, Internet Citizen, Mozilla, 4-22-19) How and what you post about your child is a personal choice, but trusting that tech companies aren’t building dossiers on our children, starting with that first birth announcement, is a modern-day digital civil right we need to demand. Solving the privacy problem is possible, but will require both individual and collective action.
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
Stay Safe Online (National Cybersecurity Alliance)
Postal Banking: An Idea Whose Time Has Returned? (CATO Institute) The idea is to provide a consumer‐friendly alternative to the (state‐regulated) payday lending and check‐cashing services presently used by the unbanked. As As Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) contend: “Being poor in America was expensive before the pandemic, and this unprecedented crisis has made it even harder for underserved communities to access the financial services they need. In addition, the administration’s relentless attacks on the Postal Service and push for privatization is compounding the challenges faced by American families,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The USPS is the only institution that serves every community in the country, from inner cities to rural America. The Postal Banking Act would reinforce the Postal Service, provide critical revenue, and establish postal banking for the nearly 10 million American households who lack access to basic financial services. I’m proud to reintroduce this legislation with my friend Senator Sanders, a leader in the fight against predatory financial institutions.”
Netflix's 'Black Mirror' Creates Same Privacy Problems It Warns Against ( Mark Epstein, RealClear Policy, 1-11-19) "Netflix acknowledges it tracks its subscribers' decisions within the show to "see what resonates with audiences and what doesn't," as Vice President for Product Todd Yellin explained. But the company does not merely aggregate viewing data to see what’s popular as TV producers analyze the Nielsen Ratings....viewer data was most useful "not in picking the perfect content" but "marketing it more efficiently."...Implemented properly, data collection and personalized marketing does not inevitably lead to tech-dystopia and can benefit consumers. However, Netflix should offer subscribers more transparency and control over their data."
House passes bill undoing Obama internet privacy rule (Harper Neidig, The Hill, 3-28-17) The House passed a bill blocking internet privacy rules passed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2016. "The FCC rules would have given consumers greater control over what their internet service provider can do with their data by requiring those companies to get permission from customers before using their information to create targeted advertisements." A fairly detailed explanation of the issues.
States stumble on internet privacy (Elaine S. Povich, GCN, 5-21-18) "When President Donald Trump signed the repeal of Obama-era internet service provider privacy rules last year, states rushed in to craft privacy legislation of their own. But most of those 2017 and 2018 bills have floundered, done in by the same business and industry forces that opposed the federal rules. The Obama-era rules were intended to restrict internet service providers from selling or disseminating users’ personal information without permission. But industry representatives said those rules were burdensome and would stifle innovation and curb growth. Trump agreed." If you don't want ISPs (internet service providers) tracking your data, sign up for a virtual private network (VPN) (see section immediately after this one).

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Net neutrality: Who owns the internet?
Europe's new privacy law will change the Web, and more (Nitasha Tiku, Business, Wired, 3-18-18) On May 25, 2018, a European privacy law starts restricting "how personal data is collected and handled. The rule, called General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR, focuses on ensuring that users know, understand, and consent to the data collected about them. Under GDPR, pages of fine print won’t suffice. Neither will forcing users to click yes in order to sign up."
Authors, Are You GDPR Ready? (Authors Guild, 4-26-18) From writers' viewpoint. Links to several other pieces on GDPR. As the AG Web Services team explains it: "GDPR refers to privacy laws that were put in place in the EU. If visitors to your website come from the EU, then your website needs to follow these laws. As you can’t control whether someone visits your website from the EU or not, everyone needs to comply with these laws. The basic premise of the laws is simple: do not collect or share personal information about website visitors without their *expressed* permission." The AG Sitebuilder websites are compliant, BUT you must be sure to do two things:
      "Newsletters. If you have a newsletter on your site, you must allow people to opt-in and out of your newsletter. Sitebuilder newsletter has always had a double opt-in approach. Users must sign up for the newsletter and then opt-in again from an email they receive in their inbox. If they don’t opt-in, their email address is not activated and you cannot send them newsletters. As long as you send emails and manage subscribers from Sitebuilder, then your newsletters are GDPR compliant.
       "Google Analytics or any other 3rd party software. Sitebuilder is great in that it allows you to add 3rd party code to your website. Many of our members use Google Analytics tracking tools to get better stat data about visitors to their websites. However, Google Analytics uses cookies to track visits, and the use of cookies is something that you must put a notice on your website about if your website uses them. If you are using cookies, we recommend posting a notice on your site. If you have already migrated to the refreshed Sitebuilder software, then the easiest place to add this notice is in your footer. (If you want more information about migrating to the refreshed software, please let us know). Otherwise, you can just add a notice on your site by using a text box."
Groups.io's privacy statement (as an example of more transparency on what, how, and why the site uses your data and to comply with the GDPR). Here's what Groups.io is about.

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Hands off my data! 15 more default privacy settings you should change on your TV, cellphone plan, LinkedIn and more. (Geoffrey A. Fowler, The Switch, WashPost, 6-15-18) Default privacy settings often aren’t very private. Our tech columnist is back with round two of his clickable guide to improving your privacy on all sorts of devices and online services. Clickable instructions for televisions, LinkedIn, Twitter, Yahoo, cellphone carriers and WiFi routers.
It’s time to get smarter about data privacy (Anne Glover & David Beard, Poynter, Morning Mediawire, 3-27-18)
Computer security (elsewhere on this site)
Here’s how you can see and delete your entire Google search history (Triana Kalmanoff, PBS News Hour, 4-25-15) Google now allows you to download an archived list of everything you have ever searched for.
How to Muddy Your Tracks on the Internet (Kate Murphy, Personal Tech, NY Times 5-2-12). "You know that dream where you suddenly realize you’re stark naked? You’re living it whenever you open your browser." Lots of practical tips for keeping your private messages private.
What Is Data Privacy and Why Is it Important? (Cory Warren, LifeLock, 8-23-17) See 5 simple tips.
How to Protect Your Personal Data (Charity Navigator)
Guide to data protection (ICO, UK's independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.)
I Know What You Think of Me (Tim Kreider, NY Times Opinion section, 6-15-13). Reason No. 697 Why the Internet Is Bad — the dreadful consequence of hitting “reply all” instead of “reply” or “forward.”
EPIC Online Guide to Practical Privacy Tools (there's a whole new world here!)

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Internet privacy: Is it overrated? (Jessi Hempel, Fortune, 8-26-11) Hempel weighs in on Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live, Jeff Jarvis’s argument that we all need to loosen up over Internet privacy.

Scroogle, an ad-free Google search proxy that prevents the searcher's data being stored by Google (as explained on Technically Speaking Radio).
Disconnect Search: Google In Private (Thomas Claburn, Information Week, 3-24-14) Disconnect app delivers search engine privacy, with "pay what you want" pricing.
EFF's Top 10 Ways to Protect Your Online Privacy (Stanton McCandlish, Electronic Frontier Foundation, 4-9-02).
Tor Project (a browser that allows you to search the Internet anonymously, or pseudonymously)
Anonymizer International(Torproject.org) "keeps your online activities safe, private, and secure"
Do Internet-Connected Toys Pose a Privacy Risk? Tanya Rivero interviews Georgia Wells, WSJ video, 12-7-16) Advocacy groups allege that Internet-connected toys, including several children's dolls, pose a privacy risk to consumers. Is Genesis Toys recording children's voices and what they say, without parental knowledge or consent?
Edward Snowden Explains How To Reclaim Your Privacy (Michah Lee, The Intercept, 11-12-15)

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A simple step to make news sites more secure (Susan McGregor, CJR, 12-5-16) "The vast majority of mainstream news organizations still publish to HTTP domains, making it impossible to guarantee either their readers’ privacy or the authenticity and accuracy of what those readers are seeing. News sites that publish on HTTPS domains, however, can guarantee all of this–without additional effort from users." A good explanation of information I didn't realize I needed!
Legalized sale of browser histories should worry journalists (Susan McGregor, Columbia Journalism Review, 4-12-17) "The blowback has been intense to President Trump’s decision last week to back a congressional rollback of recently adopted FCC privacy rules—rules designed to protect web users from the reuse or sale of their online traffic histories without their explicit consent....The first step is for journalists and media organizations to privilege the use of HTTPS websites and services as much as possible: While your ISP can still see which domains you’re connecting to (such as duckduckgo.com), they cannot generally see which individual pages you’ve visited. Similarly, news organizations should protect their readers by implementing HTTPS on their own sites.
KeePassX (a free, open source, cross-platform password manager)
HTTPS Everywhere (Electronic Frontier Foundation) HTTPS Everywhere is a Firefox, Chrome, and Opera extension that encrypts your communications with many major websites, making your browsing more secure.

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AxisPro's Loss Prevention Guide (this PDF booklet provides basic info on defamation, defamation, invasion of privacy (more complex than you might expect), trademark infringement, and copyright infringement).
Online privacy for journalists by Michael Dagan (PDF) How to safeguard your communications, browsing, and data, from any unwanted "big brother" or intruder--indirectly how to protect a source.

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How Privacy Vanishes Online (Steve Lohr, NY Times Technology section, 3-16-10). Using bits of data from social network sites, researchers gleaned names, ages and even Social Security numbers.
Who owns your Twitter post? Judge Rules That Protester Can’t Oppose Twitter Subpoena (Colin Moynihan, City Room, NY Times 4-24-12). Tweeter Harris "lacked the standing to oppose the subpoena because Twitter’s policies required that he agree to grant the company a 'worldwide, non-exclusive royalty-free' right to distribute messages, which are publicly viewable. He labeled “understandable, but without merit” the defendant’s contention that he had a privacy interest in his tweets."
Data Marketers Know What You Bought Last Summer (Elise Hu, New York Public Radio, 9-4-13) Marketing technology company Acxiom is letting you see the data marketers have and use to advertise to you. Check out what they know about you, your household, your education or income or purchase preferences.
Give Me Back My Online Privacy (Elizabeth Doskin, WSJ, 3-23-14), Internet users tap tech tools that protect them from prying eyes.
How to Invent a Person Online (Curtis Wallen, Atlantic, 7-23-14). Is it possible to be truly anonymous in the digital world?
Can’t Hide in the Cloud (Vikas Bajaj, NY Times, 6-15-13). Most users could do more to safeguard themselves, but no software or service can protect them fully from determined government agencies, criminals or hackers.
Google Says It Collected Private Data by Mistake (Brad Stone, NY Times, 5-14-10, about Google's answers to questions from regulators in Europe about Street View).
Privacy Subtleties of GMail (Brad Templeton)

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Forget Privacy: What the Internet Knows About You by Jessica Bennett (Newsweek 10-22-10) and The Web's New Gold Mine: Your Secrets by Julia Angwin (first in Wall Street Journal series on the fast-growing business of spying on consumers). Watch your back!
10 Ways to Protect Your Privacy Online (Michael Fertik 10-22-10)
How to Muddy Your Tracks on the Internet (Kate Murphy, Personal Tech, NY Times 5-2-12). "You know that dream where you suddenly realize you’re stark naked? You’re living it whenever you open your browser." Lots of practical tips for keeping your private messages private.
The Candidates Are Monitoring Your Mouse -- privacy advocates are worried (Heather Green, BusinessWeek, 8-27-08)
How a Single Student Is Transforming Facebook’s Privacy Policy In Europe (Jamie Condliffe, Gizmodo, 2-8-12)
The Death of the Cyberflâneur (Evgeny Morozov, NY Times Opinion, 2-5-12) Mr. Schrems was intrigued and somewhat rattled. He wasn’t worried about anything in particular. Rather, he felt a vague disquiet about what Facebook could do with all that information about him in the future.
Internet Privacy *Wikipedia, a helpful overview of issues -- check its Notes.

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How to Cover Your Digital Trail


Your Digital Trail, And How It Can Be Used Against You (Daniel Zwerdling, All Tech Considered, NPR, 9-30-13) NPR and the Center for Investigative Reporting are documenting just how vivid the typical person's digital picture has become — and how easy it can be to access it. Co-reported by G.W. Schulz from the Center for Investigative Reporting.
Your Digital Trail: Private Company Access (Zwerdling, NPR, 10-1-13) Data we voluntarily provide online — such as on dating websites — may not stay with that site. While not always obvious, websites commonly allow other companies to track user behavior.
Encrypting Your Laptop Like You Mean It (Micah Lee, The Intercept, 4-27-15)
Your Digital Trail: Does The Fourth Amendment Protect Us? (Daniel Zwerdling, All Tech Considered, NPR, 10-2-13) Could government agents really get access to all your private data in less than a minute? Experts say no but warn we are moving in that direction.
Your Digital Trail: Data Fuels Political And Legal Agendas (Zwerdling, NPR, 10-3-13) Private attorneys are easily getting access to defendants' emails and texts. All it takes is a subpoena, which any attorney can do. Former Nixon administration attorney John Dean and a North Carolina divorce lawyer warn that if you think you have nothing to hide, think again.
Data Marketers Know What You Bought Last Summer (Elise Hu, New York Public Radio, 9-4-13) Marketing technology company Acxiom is letting you see the data marketers have and use to advertise to you. Check out what they know about you, your household, your education or income or purchase preferences.

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Virtual private networks (VPNs)

After linking to various articles recommending VPNs, I became curious about whether they are desirable, and found two articles that make me wonder. I'll link to them and after them to the positive articles, so you can read with a skeptic's eye: VPN - a Very Precarious Narrative (Dennis Schubert, 4-8-19) "Your internet connection, right now, is broadcasting your IP address, which is the way people track you online." And a much fuller explanation about how a lot of what you are being sold is hogwash. And Don't use VPN services. (joepie91 on GitHub Gist, 2019) Why not? Because a VPN in this sense is just a glorified proxy. The VPN provider can see all your traffic, and do with it what they want - including logging. So read what follows with a little skepticism.
****First, here's a link recommended by Lucas Hayes, who explained that most websites profit from their reviews, and base their reviews on which VPN will make them the most money. Here, he says, is "a website that isn't relying on money from the products they are reviewing, but rather donations from its readers": That One Privacy Site. Green is good and red is bad. Hover over "VPN comparison," for example, and find the fairly full explanations of things I didn't even know to wonder about. See Lifehacker review of site. And 9 Best VPNs to Browse the Internet More Securely (Lifehack editors)
5 Benefits You Will Get While Using a VPN (George Olufemi O, Lifehack)
Can a VPN be tracked? (Police or Employer Watching?) (John Marshall, FixScam) A VPN connection can be tracked by the police or your employer. The police would need a search warrant to obtain logs from your VPN provider. Your employer can view your traffic at any time since you are connecting to their network.
What Is VPN For? VPN Benefits Explained (Claudio R., Anonymster, 1-18-17) A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is basically a series of computers networked together over the Internet, so you bypass the server of your ISP (internet service provider), so that nobody can snoop into your personal affairs. Explains how VPN encryption and protocols work and how they can protect your internet connection. Reviews best VPN systems.

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Get a VPN (Digital Rights Watch, 4-12-17)
Tech tips to help stay safe in Trump’s America (Devin Coldewey, TechCrunch, 11-11-16)
Why Is Everyone Talking About VPNs? (Thorin Klosowski, Lifehacker, 3-29-17) See also The Biggest Misconceptions About VPNs (4-5-17)
Post-FCC Privacy Rules, Should You VPN? (KrebsonSecurity)
Understanding and Circumventing Network Censorship (Surveillance Self-Defense, Electronic Frontier Foundation) "This is an overview of network censorship, but it is not comprehensive." A fascinating site to explore. See also Here’s How to Protect Your Privacy From Your Internet Service Provider (Amul Kalia, EFF, 4-3-17)
What is a VPN? Full guide to complete privacy (VPN Room)
The Best VPN Services (PC Magazine)
5 best VPNs (The Best VPN) 30 service providers rated by speed, logging policies, and encryption.
The Ultimate Online Privacy Guide (Douglas Crawford, Best VPN.com, 1-16-19) How secure is encryption? What steps can you take to improve your privacy? Anonymizing your internet use, staying private online, and other security tips. See also Guides to VPNs.

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The Best VPN Services 2019 (TopVPNCanada)
The Motherboard Guide to Not Getting Hacked (Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai and Joseph Cox, Motherboard, 8-2-16) The basic steps to take to keep yourself, and your data, safe online. The easiest way to hide your internet browsing from your provider.is to use a commercial Virtual Private Network or VPN. VPNs add a layer between your computer and the internet, forcing your connection to go through another server before going out onto the internet, and hide your browsing habits to your ISP. 
The Motherboard Guide to VPNs (Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, Motherboard, 3-24-17) The easiest way to hide your internet browsing from your provider.is to use a commercial Virtual Private Network or VPN. VPNs add a layer between your computer and the internet, forcing your connection to go through another server before going out onto the internet, and hide your browsing habits to your ISP.
5 best VPNs (The Best VPN) 30 service providers rated by speed, logging policies, and encryption.
Best VPN Services (Comparitech.com). Torrenting anonymously, using Kodi, accessing US Netflix, Hulu or other geo-restricted services and protecting your privacy online are all common reasons for using a Virtual Private Network, more commonly known as a VPN. There’s no single outright best VPN service for everyone as each provider has pros and cons and which you choose should depend on your intended use. Tested for speed, privacy, security, usability and compatibility across multiple devices.
Tunnel Bear VPN Tunnel (browse the Internet wherever you are, around the globe, privately--your data secure, your IP address hidden behind a bear)
WAVE (web accessibility evaluation tool)
See also
Protecting your online privacy and data
Computer and online security

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Online privacy (and harassment), VPNs, plagiarism, SLAPP, media watchdogs,right of publicity,
the four freedoms, freedom of information (FOIA),
censorship, prior restraint, banned books,
sunshine laws, and protection for whistleblowers
Page contents, in alphabetical order


• Academic freedom, campus free speech, teacher tenure, student rights, educational gag orders (and Stop Woke Act)
• Anonymous sources
• Anti-SLAPP law
• Banned & challenged books
--- The urge to ban books
--- Banned & challenged books (lists)
--- What you can do to fight book bans and challenges
• Best practices for government communicators
• Blogging, digital journalism, and the law
• Bullying, cyberbullying, and online harassment
• Cancel culture
• Censorship
• Censorship by the numbers
• Censorship vs. freedom of expression
• Codes of Conduct

• Codes of Ethics, Standards and Guidelines, and Statements of Principle and Best Practices
• Defamation and #MeToo
• Defamation, libel, and slander
• The flag, the national anthem, and free expression
• Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
• Freedom of the press
• Free speech, freedom of expression, and censorship
Free speech (including dissent and protest)
• GDPR, or the 'right to be forgotten' (the battle between 'right to privacy' and 'right to know')
• HIPAA, electronic health records, medical privacy laws, and patient rights
• How to cover your digital trail and how it can be used against you
• Medical ghostwriting and ethical issues in medical publishing
• Organizations fighting for the four freedoms
• Plagiarism, recycling, patchwriting, and sloppy research
• Photographers' rights
• Prior restraint (government censorship)
• Privacy, online privacy, and invasion of privacy (including phone searches at border)
---• Online privacy: Steps you can take to protect data (data privacy vs. data protection)
---• GDPR, or the 'right to be forgotten' (the battle between 'right to privacy' and 'right to know')
• Protection for whistleblowers (right to protect confidential sources)
• Recording phone calls
• Right of publicity (personality rights)
• Sexual harassment
• Shield laws
• Social media monitoring
• Sunshine laws, government transparency, gag orders, and Sunshine Week
• Timelines of censorship history
• Transparency reporting (Getting Internet companies to report government takedowns)
• Trump, January 6, election lies, indictment, and fundraising
• Truth, accuracy, public trust, and accountability
• Virtual private networks (VPNs)

 

Search for:

Academic freedom, anti-SLAPP law, banned and 'challenged' books, cancel culture, censorship, codes of ethics, cyberbullying, data protection, defamation/libel/slander, publishing ethics, First Amendment issues, Fosta Sesta, freedom of expression, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), free speech, GDPR or the 'right to be forgotten', HIPAA, invasion of privacy, media watchdogs, medical ghostwriting, online privacy, plagiarism, protection for whistleblowers, right of publicity, Section 230, Stop Woke Act, transparency, virtual private networks (VPNs),etc.


See also
Criminal Justice, Injustice, Law, and the Courts
Politics, government, and military history

Plus Congressional records, tracking data, etc.

 

Codes of Conduct

"The beatings will continue until morale improves."

 

Codes of conduct seem to focus on inclusion and diversity, acceptable and unacceptable behavior, a safe environment, and respect for all, whatever a person's age, race, national origin, ancestry, gender, gender identity, trans status, sexual orientation, political party or beliefs, marital status, ability, disability, physical appearance, body size, medical condition, socioeconomic status, religion, or beliefs. As ONA puts it, "Remember that the boundaries of good taste, humor, personal space and physical interaction differ from person to person; if you sense someone feels uncomfortable — whether they explicitly state it or not — be respectful of those boundaries."


AAJA Code of Conduct (Asian American Journalists Association)
ACES Code of Conduct (ACES: The Society for Editors)
ALA Online Code of Content (American Library Association)
Google Code of Conduct

NABJ Code of Conduct (National Association of Black Journalists)
NAHJ Code of Conduct (National Association of Hispanic Journalists)
• NASW Online Code of Conduct (National Association of Science Writers)
ONA Event Code of Conduct (Online News Association)
Romance Writers of America's Industy Professional Code of Conduct and Chapter Code of Conduct
Guide to writing a code of conduct (Project Include)



See also Codes of Ethics, Standards and Guidelines, Statements of Principle, and Best Practices
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Social media monitoring

See also (applies in Europe) Digital Services Act and Digital Marketing Act

Further to Social media superpowers under the microscope

We’re Demanding the Government Come Clean on Surveillance of Social Media (Hugh Handeyside, ACLU, 5-24-18) The Trump administration is ramping up surveillance of what people say on social media — and it’s doing so largely in secret. The ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act request to find out how agencies like the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are collecting and analyzing content from Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. Research contradicts the notion that reliable indicators exist to identify would-be terrorists or other security threats.
SURVEY: 77% of colleges use secret social media blacklist to censor the public, in violation of First Amendment (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE)
Social Media/Networks Disinformation and Public International Law in the Context of Election Observation (Democracy Reporting International) The low barriers to participation in social media have been used by various state and not-state actors attempting to undermine electoral integrity by spreading disinformation, intimidating stakeholders, and suppressing free speech.
Law Enforcement Social Media Monitoring Is Invasive and Opaque (Rachel Levinson-Waldman and Sahil Singhvi, Brennan Center for Justice,11-6-19) Unbridled government surveillance using social media poses significant dangers to civil rights and civil liberties.
Capitol Police officer indicted for obstruction after riot (AP, 10-15-21, on WTOP) "The officer, Michael A. Riley, is accused of tipping off someone who participated in the riot by telling them to remove posts from Facebook that had showed the person inside the Capitol during the Jan. 6 attack, according to court documents.
      "Experts say the efforts to scrub the social media accounts reveal a desperate willingness to manipulate evidence once these people realized they were in hot water. They say it can serve as powerful proof of people’s consciousness of guilt and can make it harder to negotiate plea deals and seek leniency at sentencing.
       "But making digital content vanish isn’t as easy as deleting content from phones, removing social media posts or shutting down accounts. Investigators have been able to retrieve the digital content by requesting it from social media companies, even after accounts are shut down. Posts made on Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms are recoverable for a certain period of time, and authorities routinely ask those companies to preserve the records until they get court orders to view the posts."
Social Media: Where Voices of Hate Find a Place to Preach (Kianna Gardner, The Center for Public Integrity, 8-30-18) On Twitter, David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, sometimes tweets more than 30 times a day to nearly 50,000 followers, recently calling for the “chasing down” of specific black Americans and claiming the LGBTQ community is in need of “intensive psychiatric treatment.” On Facebook, James Allsup, a right-wing advocate, posted a photo comparing migrant children at the border to Jewish people behind a fence during the Holocaust with the caption, “They present it like it’s a bad thing #BuildTheWall.” On Gab, a censorship-free alternative to Twitter, former 2018 candidate for U.S. Senate Patrick Little, claims ovens are a means of preserving the Aryan race. And Billy Roper, a well-known voice of neo-Nazism, posts “Let God Burn Them” as an acronym for Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender. Facebook, Twitter and other social media companies offer billions of people unparalleled access to the world. Users are able to tweet at the president of the United States, foster support for such social movements as Black Lives Matter or inspire thousands to march with a simple hashtag.
Trump applauds far-right provocateurs during 'social media summit’ (Kari Paul, The Guardian, 7-10-19) During the summit, the president repeatedly bragged about his large Twitter following and congratulated conservative attendees for communicating online “without having to go through the fake news filter”.
Conservatives Use Social Media to Move Their Agendas Much More Than Liberals Do (Jen Schradie, Newsweek, 5-17-19) "While tea parties were the focus of the far-right grass-roots conservative movement, that was not the whole story in North Carolina. Tea parties were just the tip of a vast conservative iceberg. The depth and breadth of this digital juggernaut would not become popularly acknowledged until well after statewide elections in 2012 that sent the state careening even further to the right than it had been in decades." Excerpt adapted from The Revolution That Wasn't: How Digital Activism Favors Conservatives by Jen Schradie. "In this counterintuitive study of digital democracy, Jen Schradie shows how the web has become another weapon in the arsenal of the powerful, and a potent weapon for conservative activists. Rather than leveling the playing field, the internet has tilted it in favor of the Right, where only the most sophisticated and well-funded players can compete."
Statement of Civil Rights Concerns About Monitoring of Social Media by Law Enforcement On November 6, 2019, the Brennan Center, ACLU of Northern California, Free Press, and MediaJustice, together with 51 other civil society organizations, released a statement on civil rights concerns about monitoring of social media by law enforcement. The statement sets out six harmful impacts from social media surveillance that lawmakers and the public must take into account in any discussion about surveillance of social media users, including the chilling effect on First Amendment-protected activities, disparate impact on marginalized communities, lack of public input or approval, threats to privacy, heightened risks arising from undercover activity online, and the elevated stakes of using social media for criminal justice purposes.
Memphis police used fake Facebook account to monitor Black Lives Matter, trial reveals (Antonia Noori Farzan, Washington Post, 8-23-18)
Exclusive: ICE Has Kept Tabs on ‘Anti-Trump’ Protesters in New York City (Jimmy Tobias, The Nation, 3-6-19) Documents reveal that the immigration enforcement agency has been keenly attuned to left-leaning protests in the city. Please tell me about other articles on this topic!

 

SEE ALSO
Social media superpowers under the microscope (Manipulation, copyright violation, clickbait, blockchains, and other issues with the Internet "monopolies" Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon, YouTube, and Twitter)

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The American flag, the national anthem, and free expression


Timeline of Flag Desecration Issues (Independence Hall Association, Betsy Ross and the American Flag, USHistory.org) Timeline from the Committee on the Judiciary
Melissa Florer-Bixler@MelissaFloBix Mennonite pastor tweets: "FYI My Mennonite kids also don’t say the pledge because we don’t take oaths. This is coercive and illegal" She also tweets: "I’ll add this: when we make these universal principles we fail to acknowledge that these are teachings offered within particular cultures to address power. And without that attention they morph into piety." And later, "Radicalism is common sense rediscovered!"
Civil rights complaint being filed for Florida student who wouldn’t stand for Pledge of Allegiance (Kimberly C. Moore, The Lakeland (Fla.) Ledger, 2-19-19) An attorney for an 11-year-old Polk County student who was arrested for disrupting a school function and resisting arrest without violence after refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, said he is filing a civil rights complaint with the United States Department of Education. The substitute teacher told the boy to go back to where he came from if he wasn't happy here. “You don’t know that feeling of having to raise your kids on what to do if you’re stopped by police,” said Dhakira Talbot, the student's mother. She said her son was doing what she has taught him to do. “You standing up for yourself is not wrong.”
Sports, Race, and the First Amendment ( Sharon Shahid, Newseum, 9-1-16) With his protest, Kaepernick stands side by side with generations of black athletes who used the national anthem and the flag as a means to freely express their frustrations with the state of race relations in this country.'
They Took a Knee (Megan Garber, The Atlantic, 9-24-17) This weekend, a series of taunting messages from the president led to a widescale protest among players—in the NFL, and beyond. The president had, once again, misrepresented the situation. The players are not, as a whole, protesting the national anthem.
Kaepernick Won. The NFL Lost. (Jeleme Hill, The Atlantic, 2-17-19) Did the NFL and team owners conspire to keep Colin Kaepernick out of a job? The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, who hasn’t been signed to a team since the spring of 2017, officially reached a settlement on Friday with the league over allegations that he’d been blackballed for his spotlighting of issues of racial injustice, including police brutality. The NFL allowed its fear of Trump to influence how it dealt with Kaepernick and the other protesters. "That Kaepernick was the one to make the NFL eat crow is a special kind of karma....Had one league owner had the guts to sign Kaepernick, this collusion case would have been a nonstarter."
Some Religions Don’t Allow for Standing during the National Anthem (Chante'l Johnson, The Shavings, student newspaper of Calumet College of St. Joseph, 12-1-17)
For decades, religious groups such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses have never stood for the national anthem, and it has never caused the type of controversy we see today. Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t believe in idolizing things such as flags and songs; their beliefs put God first and nothing comes before....Willie L. Johnson 'considers the flag to be an idol. After quoting the first line of the Pledge of Allegiance, He explains that “I pledge my allegiance to the United States of America and to the republic.” In other words, “what you are saying that you are giving your all to this country and willing to put it before anything.” He says he refuses to stand for something like that.'
Criticism of the Pledge of Allegiance (Wikipedia) "Central to early challenges were Jehovah's Witnesses, a group whose beliefs preclude swearing loyalty to any power lesser than God. In the 1940 Supreme Court case Minersville School District vs. Gobitis, an 8–1 majority in the Court held that a school district's interest in promoting national unity permitted it to require Witness students to recite the Pledge along with their class mates. Gobitis was an unpopular decision in the press, and it led to a rash of mob violence and intimidation against Jehovah's Witnesses;[3] three years later in West Virginia State Board of Education vs. Barnette, the Court reversed itself, voting 6–3 to forbid a school from requiring the Pledge. As a result, since 1943 public schools have been disallowed from punishing students for not reciting the Pledge.
West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (Oyez) In 1942, the West Virginia Board of Education required public schools to include salutes to the flag by teachers and students as a mandatory part of school. West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624, argued and decided in 1943, is a landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court holding that the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment protects students from being forced to salute the American flag or say the Pledge of Allegiance in public school.
The Flag Salute Cases (PDF, Winston Bowman, Federal Judicial History Office, Federal Judicial Center, prepared for the project Federal Trials and Great Debates in United States History, 2017) See timeline of flag salute cases along left side.
When the Supreme Court ruled to allow American flag burning (National Constitution Center staff, 6-21-18) On June 21, 1989, a deeply divided United States Supreme Court upheld the rights of protesters to burn the American flag in a landmark First Amendment decision. In the controversial Texas v. Johnson case, the Court voted 5-4 in favor of Gregory Lee Johnson, the protester. Johnson’s actions, the majority argued, were symbolic speech political in nature and could be expressed even at the affront of those who disagreed with him. Justice William Brennan wrote the majority decision, with Justices Anthony Kennedy, Thurgood Marshall, Harry Blackmun and Antonin Scalia concurring. “Johnson was convicted for engaging in expressive conduct. The State's interest in preventing breaches of the peace does not support his conviction because Johnson's conduct did not threaten to disturb the peace,” said Brennan. “Nor does the State's interest in preserving the flag as a symbol of nationhood and national unity justify his criminal conviction for engaging in political expression.” “The hard fact is that sometimes we must make decisions we do not like. We make them because they are right, right in the sense that the law and the Constitution, as we see them, compel the result,” Kennedy said.
NY Quaker Senate Candidate Refuses to Recite Pledge of Allegiance (Rod Cackley, PJ Media, 7-18-16)

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Privacy and Invasion of Privacy

The 'right to be left alone'


Privacy Law for Copy Editors (slideplayer of presentation notes, Arati Bechtel). Bechtel explains privacy ("the right to be left alone") and gives examples (citing cases) of four types (or torts) of invasion of privacy: publishing private facts; intrusion; appropriation; and false light. With class exercises.
Consent the best defense against invasion of privacy lawsuits (Pat McNees, Writers and Editors blog). The right of privacy (essentially “the right to be left alone”) is your right to control and protect the public use of your identity. There are four types of invasion of privacy: false light, intrusion, disclosure, and misappropriation (explained here).
A Reporter's Guide to Medical Privacy Law (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, on medical privacy vs. the public interest)
Tape-recording laws at a glance (state by state, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press)
Reporters Recording Guide (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press) provides a state'by-state summary of each state’s laws governing the recording of phone calls and in-person conversations and how those laws affect newsgathering. Because many of these laws have criminal penalties and some also permit civil lawsuits, this guide should not take the place of legal advice from a lawyer. This site contains many helpful articles on privacy and journalism.
A Writer's Guide to Defamation and Invasion of Privacy (Amy Cook, Writer's Digest, 9-15-10)
Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security, and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance by Julia Angwin

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Electronic Frontier Foundation articles on privacy issues, including anonymity, biometrics, The Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA, the U.S. wiretapping law passed in 1994), cell tracking, cyber security legislation, digital books, Do Not Track, international privacy standards, locational privacy, mandatory data retention, mass surveillance technologies, national security letters, NSA spying, online behavioral tracking, PATRIOT Act, pen trap, printers, radio-frequency identification (RFID), search engines, search incident to arrest, social networks, travel screening.
Restoring the Right to Be Left Alone: Unfinished Business (Michael German, Brennan Center for Justice, cross-posted on HuffPost,1-11-16) In today’s electronically-enhanced world, Congress should not allow inflated fears of terrorism to justify encroachments on Americans’ privacy through weakened privacy protections of digital data.

    "Our nation’s founders under­stood that protec­tion from govern­ment snoop­ing on our person, our papers, our beliefs, and our asso­ci­ations was a corner­stone of liberty. But that bedrock under­stand­ing has been eclipsed. Congress has allowed inflated fears of terror­ism to justify unpre­ced­en­ted encroach­ments on Amer­ic­ans’ privacy, from the 2001 USA Patriot Act right up to the cyber­se­cur­ity legis­la­tion the U.S. House of Repres­ent­at­ives shoe-horned into the must-pass budget bill last month."
     "Repres­ent­at­ive govern­ment requires robust protec­tion of privacy to encour­age citizen parti­cip­a­tion, peti­tion, and censure. Who will dare to criti­cize the govern­ment if fear­ful of retali­at­ory actions based on dossiers assembled from indis­crim­in­ate surveil­lance?...Updat­ing privacy laws to protect our elec­tronic records, and reform­ing the third party doctrine by stat­ute or litig­a­tion to rees­tab­lish Fourth Amend­ment protec­tion over personal inform­a­tion wherever we store it are essen­tial steps toward creat­ing true secur­ity in the digital era."
HART: Homeland Security’s Massive New Database Will Include Face Recognition, DNA, and Peoples’ “Non-Obvious Relationships” (Jennifer Lynch, Electronic Frontier Foundation, 6-7-18) The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is quietly building what will likely become the largest database of biometric and biographic data on citizens and foreigners in the United States. The Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology (HART) database will include multiple forms of biometrics—from face recognition to DNA, data from questionable sources, and highly personal data on innocent people. So why do we know so little about it?
Power And The Internet (Bruce Schneier's essay appeared as a response to Edge's annual question: "What *Should* We Be Worried About?""Debates over the future of the Internet are morally and politically complex. How do we balance personal privacy against what law enforcement needs to prevent copyright violations? Or child pornography? Is it acceptable to be judged by invisible computer algorithms when being served search results? When being served news articles? When being selected for additional scrutiny by airport security? Do we have a right to correct data about us? To delete it? Do we want computer systems that forget things after some number of years? "'

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The Field Guide to Security Training in the Newsroom (in part, at least, a guide to digital security)
Why Surveillance Is the Climate Change of the Internet (Derek Thompson, The Atlantic, 5-9-19) “How does surveillance hurt me? Why should I care? What have I got to hide?” Derek Thompson asks on the third season of The Atlantic’s podcast Crazy/Genius, explaining how privacy became the most important idea on the internet—and why it’s still so confusing.
First Amendment defense claims could threaten ‘revenge pornography’ statutes (Lorelei Laird, ABA Journal, 12-19-19) In around 2013, states began passing laws outlawing revenge porn. In Illinois one party argued that Illinois's revenge porn law was an unconstitutional restriction on her freedom of speech. The trial court agreed. "Laws like the ones being challenged, started springing up in early 2010, when it started becoming common to see intimate images shared without the subject’s consent." Is the issue free speech or privacy? "The Vermont Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that personal privacy is a compelling enough state interest to keep its revenge porn law on the books. The Court of Appeals of Wisconsin also cited personal privacy when upholding its revenge porn law in 2018, although that court was analyzing whether the law was too broad, rather than looking for a compelling state interest." Worth a read. Not a simple issue.
Revenge Porn: The Latest Research and Law Enforcement Efforts An umbrella term for numerous offenses.
Samsung Phone Users Perturbed to Find They Can't Delete Facebook (Sarah Frier, Bloomberg, 1-8-19) Customers have been annoyed by Samsung's deal to pre-install Facebook on devices, including Galaxy phones, because the app can only be disabled, not deleted. Pre-install deals are common, but privacy concerns are rising.

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Grindr Sets Off Privacy Firestorm After Sharing Users’ H.I.V.-Status Data (Natasha Singer, NY Times, 4-3-18) An increasing number of online users in the United States, along with some members of Congress, are questioning the tech industry’s largely unfettered collection and data-mining of consumers’ personal details. The Grindr controversy also highlights the widening regulatory gap between the United States, which lacks a comprehensive federal consumer privacy law, and Europe, where privacy is viewed as a fundamental human right, with laws to back it up. Misappropriating the right of publicity, on the other hand, is an invasion (without their consent) of a person’s right to benefit from commercial exploitation of their name or likeness.
Online privacy for journalists by Michael Dagan (how to safeguard your communications, browsing, and data, from any unwanted "big brother" or intruder--indirectly how to protect a source. Proceeds go to Electronic Frontier Foundation)
Myths and fallacies of “Personally identifiable information” (Arvind Narayanan and Vitaly Shmatikov, Viewpoints, Communications of the ACM, June 2010). Developing effective privacy protection technologies is a critical challenge for security and privacy research as the amount and variety of data collected about individuals increase exponentially. Any information that distinguishes one person from another can be used for re-identifying data.
Coalition Letter to Homeland Security Secretary Kelly Opposing Collection of Passwords at the Border (Center for Democracy & Technology, CDT, 3-10-17) Lara B. Sharp.
A Tiny Scar, From Falling (Longreads, 5-21-18) Her efforts to gather information about what happened to her in foster care and as a ward of the state turn up nothing but incorrect records. "Why would anyone who was found guilty of abusing a child have the right to privacy related to the crimes? That doesn’t happen with other crimes."

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Gawker’s Demise and the Trump-Era Threat to the First Amendment (Jeffrey Toobin, New Yorker, 12-19/26-16) 'Ever since New York Times v. Sullivan, in 1964, established the rule that, in order to prevail, public figures must prove that stories about them are both false and were published with “actual malice,” libel cases have proved extremely difficult for plaintiffs to win. “We always felt that privacy was more of a fruitful ground for plaintiffs to sow, because in those cases they did not have to prove falsity or actual malice, the way they did in libel cases,” George Freeman, the executive director of the Media Law Resource Center, told me. “The whole celebrity culture just gives rise to more of these issues.” The Internet, with its absence of gatekeepers and its unlimited number of voices, has scrambled the traditional understanding of invasion-of-privacy cases. “We are in a different world now, sparked in part by the Hulk Hogan case and by a push-the-envelope media that doesn’t abide by traditional journalistic rules,” Gajda said.'
The Man Who Made Off With John Updike’s Trash (Adrienne LaFrance, The Atlantic, 8-28-14) Who really owns a great writer’s legacy? The ethics of collecting celebrity trash.
Facebook: Where Your Friends Are Your Worst Enemies (Packet Storm, 6-21-13)
HIPAA, electronic health records, medical privacy laws, and patient rights
A Writer’s Guide to Defamation and Invasion of Privacy (Amy Cook, Writer's Digest, 1-22-16) An excellent overview of what to avoid when writing a novel or memoir, with particularly good attention to invasion of privacy, about which writers may show less concern. This is a pretty long article with lots of ads interspersed, so read past the ads to make sure you're getting it all. Among the takeaways: "Don’t mention private or embarrassing facts about others unless you can honestly say they are of legitimate public concern and essential to telling your story. Ditto with bringing up a long-passed crime."

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Here's what the Feds have on you: Everything (Erik Sherman, MoneyWatch, CBS 6-7-13)
What makes government spies scarier than corporate snooping? (Timothy Noah, NSNBC, 6-11-13)
Herbert Mitgang's obituary (Douglas Martin, NY Times, 11-21-13) focuses on his expose of government spying. His "1988 book, Dangerous Dossiers: Exposing the Secret War Against America’s Greatest Authors, reported that the agencies were suspicious not just of radical views but also of liberal ones. Mr. Mitgang said the Nobel Prize winners Sinclair Lewis and William Faulkner were monitored in part because they favored racial equality." Ernest Hemingway's file "criticized his muscular writing style and, probably most damning, said that he had once likened the F.B.I. to the Gestapo." So much for freedom of the press.
A.C.L.U. Files Lawsuit Seeking to Stop the Collection of Domestic Phone Logs (Charlie Savage, NY Times, 6-11-13) Congress never openly voted to authorize the collection of logs of hundreds of millions of domestic calls, but some lawmakers were secretly briefed. Some members of Congress have backed the program as a useful counterterrorism tool; others have denounced it.
Should Google serve the state – or serve its customers? (John Naughton, The Guardian, 6-8-13) The web giant is stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to privacy for users. Eric Schmidt, Google's executive chairman, lectured about ideas at Cambridge. "The rock is that the national security state...The hard place is corporate terror that their users will become alienated by the realisation that personal communications cannot be safely entrusted to internet companies based in the US." "In the US, he argued, people worried more about the power of the state rather than that of corporations, whereas in Europe people seemed to trust the state but mistrust companies."

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The Problem With Europe’s Strict Privacy Laws (Christopher Wolf, Slate 3-14-12). An elderly German named Heinrich Boere recently invoked an EU privacy law to file a complaint against two Dutch reporters for secretly videotaping an interview with him at his nursing home. "The criminal invasion-of-privacy case against the reporters put into sharp focus the automatic and inflexible application of privacy law in circumstances where flexibility and discretion appear to be called for." Read this important article!
Should Personal Data Be Personal? Europe Moves to Protect Online Privacy (Somini Sengupta, NY Times Sunday Review 2-4-12)
SPLC Legal Brief: Invasion of Privacy Law (Student Press Law Center, SPLC, a helpful outline of key issues)
Naming Names: Identifying Minors (SPLC, aimed at student newspapers)
Facebook Is Using You (Lori Andrews, NY Times, 2-5-12). "We need a do-not-track law, similar to the do-not-call one. Now it’s not just about whether my dinner will be interrupted by a telemarketer. It’s about whether my dreams will be dashed by the collection of bits and bytes over which I have no control and for which companies are currently unaccountable." Andrews is author of I Know Who You Are and I Saw What You Did: Social Networks and the Death of Privacy

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Sexual harassment and other bad workplace behavior

 (see also Bullying, cyberbullying, and online harassment)


‘The Tip of the Iceberg’ (Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed, 2-9-22) Harvard faces a lawsuit by three graduate students who say for years it ignored their warnings and complaints about a prominent anthropologist's sexual misconduct before making minimal findings against him. “The findings that Harvard did make in this case are the tip of the iceberg. Our complaint sets out a long history of Harvard’s failure to protect students, and we look forward to showing that pattern in court.”
• And now we can read the book: She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey. From the two Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters who broke the news of Harvey Weinstein's sexual harassment and abuse for the New York Times, the untold story of their investigation and its consequences for the #MeToo movement. They name some of the people who turned against the influential producer, as well as some who helped cover up his alleged predation. As discussed in  'New York Times' Reporters Explain How They United Women, Helping Trigger #MeToo (Mary Louise Kelly, NPR, 9-9-19) '[E]ventually, the pair found the words that could break the ice. "We can't change what's happened to you," Twohey said she would say when she knocked on alleged victims' doors, "but if you work with us and we work to tell the truth, we may be able to prevent other people from getting hurt."
On Being a Woman in Media (Marisa Kabas, The Handbasket) Felicia Sonmez, the Washington Post, and the slow march of progress. "The men who, by and large, still run most media organizations care more about the potential harm to their publication than the hurt experienced by their female employees. After years of sexual violence and reproductive health and abortion and toxic relationships being designated as “women’s issues,” the male powers-that-be are uncomfortable when these issues play out with the women who work at their actual company. Misogyny and the historically poor treatment of women are something experienced by people interviewed by their reporters, but certainly not by the reporters themselves. And certainly not at the hands of people at their very own company."
From invisible to incorrigible: The demonization of marginalized women and girls (Meda Chesney-Lind and Michele Eliason, Crime, Media, Culture: An International Journal, April 2006) Two disturbing recent trends in the media and popular constructions of girls, women, and aggression are analyzed in this article: the media attention to ‘aggression’ and ‘violence’ of girls with the subsequent tendency to arrest and incarcerate girls, particularly those of color, and the depiction of lesbians as criminals, particularly as violent predators. Both of these trends are related to gender stereotypes about femininity and masculinity, and the increased power and visibility of women in contemporary society.
Hollywood’s Sexual Harassment Scandal Might End ‘Pay or Play’ Clauses (Robert Garson, Observer, 11-22-17) Contracts need to include clauses about Weinsteinian, Spaceyan, and C.K.ian conduct.
What is Workplace Sexual Harassment? (Equal Rights Advocates) The law defines sexual harassment as, unwelcome verbal, visual, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature or based on someone’s sex that is severe or pervasive and affects working conditions or creates a hostile work environment.
Sexual Harassment Resource Guide (Writers Guild of America East)
Statement of Principles on Sexual Harassment (Writers Guild of America West) See the Guild's FAQ as well as Nearly Two-Thirds of Female Writers Have Been Sexually Harassed, WGAW Survey Finds (Ross A. Lincoln, The Wrap, 7-25-18) By contrast, only 11 percent of male writers reported being harassed.
The Attorney Fighting Revenge Porn (Margaret Talbot, New Yorker, 11-27-16) Carrie Goldberg is a pioneer in the field of sexual privacy, using the law to defend victims of hacking, leaking, and other online assaults. See more links in section on Privacy.

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The Best of the Reckoning (Slate, 12-21-17) Links to the most searing, honest, forceful, precise, paradigm-shifting writing on sexual harassment at the end of 2017, when enough women complained about Harvey Weinstein's behavior to start the #MeToo movement.
How Associations Can Help End Sexual Harassment (Allison Torres Burtka, Associations Now, ASAE, March/April 2018)
National Academy of Sciences approves a new way to expel harassers (Megan Thielking, STAT, 6-3-19)
Sexual harassment is rampant in science — and current policies aren’t cutting it, landmark report finds (Megan Thielking, STAT, 6-12-18)
‘It’s time for systemic change’: Scientific leaders urge new efforts to curb sexual harassment in the field (Megan Thielking, STAT, 9-20-18) See AAAS Revocation Policy (American Association for the Advancement of Science)
Why We’re Writing a Book About Justice Brett Kavanaugh (Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, NY Times, 11-27-18) A weeklong F.B.I. investigation into the assault allegations, called unexpectedly by a Republican senator who had been confronted by a sexual-assault survivor in an elevator, was regarded by many as too short and too limited in scope to quell doubts about the judge’s character as a young man.
Bad Humor (Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Education, 5-7-18) When one scholar's “lame” joke in a crowded elevator was another’s offensive comment, a disciplinary society was asked to adjudicate. Now, a political scientist won't apologize. See also Is 'Ladies Lingerie' a Harmless Joke or Harassment? (Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic, 5-9-18) A dispute among international-relations scholars puts the spotlight on a system that serves everyone poorly.
Killing the Conference Interview (Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Education, 9-9-19) "Other professional organizations are [also] rethinking the way they approach hiring at their annual meetings. The American Economic Association, for example, recently came out against single hotel-room interviews, citing association policies against sexual misconduct and the potential for abuse (never mind the set-up's general awkwardness)."

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Dealing with bullying, cyberbullying, and online harassment


A Teenager Was Bullied. His Ancestors Saved Him. (John Leland, NY Times, 2-26-21) Dennis Richmond Jr. was a middle-schooler who took refuge in his family history, some of it very surprising. After watching "Roots," he delved into his genealogy and found meaning and identity there.
Biden’s top science adviser bullied and demeaned subordinates, according to White House investigation (Alex Thompson, Politico, 2-7-22) Fourteen current and former Office of Science and Technology Policy staffers who worked under Eric Lander described a toxic work environment. Rachel Wallace told POLITICO that Lander “retaliated against staff for speaking out and asking questions by calling them names, disparaging them, embarrassing them in front of their peers, laughing at them, shunning them, taking away their duties, and replacing them or driving them out of the agency. Numerous women have been left in tears, traumatized, and feeling vulnerable and isolated.”
Online Harassment Field Manual (PEN America) Tactics and Resources for writers, journalists, their allies and employers. Click on the topics and find individual chapters, such as Making sense of online harassment "Why some people are driven to commit acts of online hate and harassment is a complex question with a multitude of possible answers, many of them dissatisfying." (Ingrained bias? Disinhibition? Seeking community? Self-esteem issues/self-loathing? "Lulz" (explained)? Seeking attention?
Reporting online harassment to platforms often feels futile or labor-intensive, but it can also yield helpful results. (chapter from Online Harassment Field Manual)
A new manual for writers and journalists experiencing harassment online (Laura Macomber, Columbia Journalism Review, 4-20-18) "Men get attacked for their opinions, and women get attacked because they have opinions." More than a review of the PEN manual.

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Best Practices for Allies and Witnesses (PEN field manual)
Reporting online harassment to platforms often feels futile or labor-intensive, but it can also yield helpful results. (chapter from Online Harassment Field Manual)<
Prominently posted rules boost participation, cut harassment online (Princeton University, Phys.org, 4-29-19) Rules change behavior by influencing social norms- people's beliefs about acceptable conduct in online discussions.
The Psychology of Hate (Allison Abrams, Psychology Today, 3-9-17)
Frequently asked questions about hate groups (Southern Poverty Law Center). Fascinating, though appalling, reading. See also the SPLC's Hate Map, its Hatewatch blog (which monitors and exposes the activities of the American radical right), and its list of active hate groups in the U.S.. br />• Women in public-facing journalism jobs are exhausted by harassment (Rachel Schallom, Poynter, 6-28-18)
Online Harassment 2017 (Maeve Duggan, Pew Research Center, 7-11-17) Roughly four-in-ten Americans have personally experienced online harassment, and 62% consider it a major problem. Many want technology firms to do more, but they are divided on how to balance free speech and safety issues online
Tribeca doc 'Netizens' highlights the online harassment of women (Maria Garcia, Film Journal International, 4-25-18) Cynthia Lowen’s Netizens is about three women whose lives have been profoundly affected by cyber sexual harassment.
Online Harassment Survey: Key Findings (PEN America)
Why Women Aren't Welcome on the Internet (Amanda Hess, Pacific Standard, 1-6-14) "Ignore the barrage of violent threats and harassing messages that confront you online every day." That's what women are told. But these relentless messages are an assault on women's careers, their psychological bandwidth, and their freedom to live online. We have been thinking about Internet harassment all wrong.
What the Law Can (and Can't) Do About Online Harassment (Marlisse Silver, Sweeney, Atlantic, 11-12-14)
Alia Joyt, 10 Forms of Online Harassment (How Stuff Works)
5 Strategies for Dealing with Cyberbullying (Jessika Toothman, How Stuff Works)
The Death of Civility in the Digital Age (Mark Oppenheimer, New Republic, 3-6-18) I wrote a foolish take on Harvey Weinstein's Judaism, and was mobbed for days on social media. Then I rediscovered the joys of life offline, where humans treat each other with decency.
SOME ANALYSIS AND POSITIVE EXAMPLES, suggested by PEN America:
Analysis: Why nice people become mean online (Gaia Vince, Mosaic, CNN, 4-3-18)
Toxic Twitter: A Toxic Place for Women (Amnesty International, Chapter 1, Online Violence Against Women). As a company, Twitter is failing to respect women's rights online.
A sexist troll attacked Sarah Silverman. She responded by helping him with his problems. (Allison Klein, Inspired Life blog, WaPo, 1-8-18)

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The Price I’ve Paid for Opposing Donald Trump (David French, National Review, 10-21-16) Trump’s alt-right trolls have subjected me and my family to an unending torrent of abuse that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
Professors Are Targets In Online Culture Wars; Some Fight Back (Anya Kamenetz, All Things Considered, NPR, 4-4-18)
Dealing with cyberbullying – What would a feminist do? (Podcast, host Jessica Valenti, The Guardian, 5-28-16) What is it about the internet that makes people feel they have the freedom to say criminal, abusive things? Jessica Valenti – The Guardian’s most frequently targeted writer – talks about online harassment and what people can do about it.
Why Your Brain Hates Other People And how to make it think differently. (Robert Sapolsky, Nautilus, 6-22-17) Dividing the world into Us and Them is deeply hard-wired.
The Outrage Machine (video, The Retro Report, NY Times) How do we keep free speech on the internet without letting a mob take over. Jerry Springer, Oprah, Ricky Lake, Fox News, the aunt from hell, and other reminders of where we are.

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Endangered: Academic freedom, campus free speech, teacher tenure, student rights.
Trending: Educational gag orders, Stop Woke Act, Cancel Culture


America's Censored Classrooms (PEN America, 8-17-22) In PEN America’s latest report on the rise of educational censorship, we found that nearly 40% of all proposed educational gag orders introduced in 2022 targeted colleges and universities.
---Educational Gag Orders Educational gag orders are state legislative efforts to restrict teaching about topics such as race, gender, American history, and LGBTQ+ identities in K–12 and higher education. PEN America tracks these bills in our Index of Educational Gag Orders, updated weekly.
Consistent with last year’s trends, Republican legislators have overwhelmingly driven this year’s educational gag order bills. Only one bill out of the 137 introduced so far this year has had a Democratic legislative sponsor. Just a few years ago, Republican legislators were championing bills protecting free expression on college campuses; many are now focused on bills that censor the teaching of particular ideas.
---Champions of Higher Education Statement of Purpose We seek to advocate individually and collectively against efforts by public officials to censor and chill campus free expression and the right of students to learn, and against attempts to delegitimize and defund public colleges and universities.
Tracking Cancel Culture in Higher Education (David Acevedo, National Association of Scholars, 2-25-23) Professor Gordon Klein, a lecturer in accounting at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, declined to accommodate demands to award lenient grades to his African-American students in the wake of George Floyd’s death and explained why. He was “canceled” for his “woefully racist response”: he has been suspended, his classes have been assigned to other professors, and he is in police protection after receiving multiple death threats. In an effort to cancel the cancel culture, NAS will track these incidents in higher education and record them in a downloadable archive.
Academic Freedom in Crisis: Punishment, Political Discrimination, and Self-Censorship (Eric Kaufmann, Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology, 3-1-21)


Limiting academics’ freedom to tell the truth about racism is not new ( Eddie R. Cole, Perspective, Washington Post, 10-3-22) When academics try to advocate for racial equality or teach about race, it has often been labeled communism or un-American. Various incidents in U.S. history, briefly recounted.
Stop Woke Act
Florida All in for Assault on Academic Freedom (Keith E. Wittington, Reason/The Volokh Conspiracy, 9-26-22) To defend the Stop WOKE Act, Florida asks court to eliminate any academic freedom exception to government employee speech doctrine. "This past summer Florida adopted House Bill 7, better known as the Stop WOKE Act. The legislation blocks academic instruction and workplace training that "espouses, promotes, advances, inculcates, or compels" belief in a variety of race-related ideas. It is one of a number of so-called anti-"Critical Race Theory" bills that have been advanced by Republican policymakers in the states since 2020. Some have taken aim at workplace training. Others have focused on primary and secondary education. An emerging set of proposals are targeted at higher education. The Florida bill has elements of all three." Several lawsuits have already been filed against the enforcement of Stop WOKE Act
Free Speech Under Attack (Part II): Curriculum Sabotage and Classroom Censorship On Thursday, May 19, 2022, at 10:00 a.m. ET, Rep. Jamie Raskin, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, holds a hearing to examine the ongoing efforts to prohibit discussion in K-12 classrooms about American history, race, and LGBTQ+ issues, and to punish teachers who violate vague and discriminatory state laws by discussing these topics.
    "Over the past year, 17 states have passed legislation or enacted executive orders prohibiting the teaching of certain topics related to race, and many states are following Florida’s lead in introducing and passing so-called “Don’t Say Gay” legislation, which seeks to prohibit classroom discussion of gender and sexuality in many contexts. Proponents of these laws claim they are meant to promote parental rights and transparency, but they are being used to attack teachers, undermine public education, and impose the will of a minority of parents on the majority.
     "Much of the legislation that has been enacted or proposed recently around the country is vaguely written to ban a large swath of literature, curriculum, historical topics, and other media in classrooms. These laws are designed to have a chilling effect on how schools educate children and have resulted in the targeting of teachers.
    "The movement to censor classroom discussion is growing more extreme with proposed legislation that resembles policies implemented in authoritarian regimes. The hearing will examine the impact these laws have on teachers and students and the threat they pose to free speech."


The Threat to Academic Freedom … From Academics (Lee Jussim, Fest of Dangerous Ideas, Psychrabble, 12-27-19) "Here is a list of academics targeted for harm, i.e., punishment, by other academics for expressing ideas. Harm here refers not to vague allegations of unspecified damages, but real harms, such as being fired or having their papers retracted without evidence of fraud or rampant errors. Not all outrage mobs and denunciation petitions have been successful. Nonetheless, having to cope with such threats is a potentially major cost (in stress, time, and effort) even when the effort is ultimately unsuccessful." "This essay is about the mob psychology of punishment of, or attempts to punish, academics by academics, for expressing ideas." See also The Reality of the Rise of an Intolerant and Radical Left on Campus (Lee Jussim, Areo magazine, 3-17-18) "Are college campuses bursting with radical leftwing professors hell-bent on remaking the world in their own ideological image? Or is this image of campuses overrun by radicals overwrought rightwing propaganda?"


Florida Scoured Math Textbooks for ‘Prohibited Topics.’ Next Up: Social Studies. (Sarah Mervosh, NY Times, 3-16-23) Behind the scenes, one publisher went to great lengths to avoid mentions of race, even in the story of Rosa Parks. As part of the review process, a small army of state experts, teachers, parents and political activists have combed thousands of pages of text — not only evaluating academic content, but also flagging anything that could hint, for instance, at critical race theory.


Educational Gag Orders (PEN America). This report reflects 54 educational gag orders that state legislators introduced in the first nine months of 2021. We are actively tracking bills that emerged at later dates and updating our Index monthly.
America's Censored Classrooms (August 022) PEN America's new report analyzes educational gag orders in the 2022 state legislative sessions and how things escalated (250% greater than in 2021). Bills introduced in 2022 were more likely to implicate higher education (39% in 2022 vs. 30% in 2021); to include punishments (55% in 2022 vs. 44% in 2021); to target LGBTQ+ identities (though ideas about race were still the primary target); and to target private schools. In 2022, things got worse for free expression in the classroom.
Steep Rise in Gag Orders, Many Sloppily Drafted (Jeffrey Sachs, PEN America, 1-24-22) This post is part of a blog series from PEN America tracking the progress of educational gag orders and censorious legislative efforts against educational institutions nationwide. These bills are tracked in PEN's Index of Educational Gag Orders, updated monthly.
Educational Gag Orders: Legislative Restrictions on the Freedom to Read, Learn, and Teach. (report from PEN America) PEN analyzes 54 state-level bills introduced Jan-to-Sept 2021, which each aim to limit teaching and learning on topics related to racism, sexism, gender, and history in schools, colleges, and state agencies and institutions, and sound the alarm as a widespread attack on free speech and academic freedom." Listen to Virtual Round Table (Friday, November 19, 2021 | 11:00 am – 12:00 pm ET) and read press release (11-8-21)."PEN America reaches four overarching conclusions about these bills:
---They represent an effort to impose content- and viewpoint-based censorship.
---They have already had and will continue to have a chilling effect on the speech of educators and trainers.
---They are based on a misrepresentation of how intellectual frameworks are taught, and threaten to constrain educators’ ability to teach a wide range of subjects.
---They are often misleadingly framed as protecting free speech and academic inquiry, when their purpose and effect is to do the opposite."

Campus Free Speech Guide (PEN America)
Tenured Oklahoma Christian University professor is fired from his job of 41 years after he invited a gay man to speak at a presentation about overcoming struggles (Harriet Alexander, Daily Mail and widely reprinted, 3-15-22) Michael O'Keefe, who taught at Oklahoma Christian University for 41 years, was fired for bringing a gay speaker to his class. The guest speaker spoke only 'about his personal journey, not to promote any type of lifestyle' and gave a trigger warning, that explicit language would be used that was important to the context of the story.
An assistant principal read the children’s book ‘I Need a New Butt!’ to second-graders. He was fired. (Jaclyn Peiser, Washington Post, 3-11-22)

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AAUP President Warns of Investigation if Tenure Is Gutted in the University System of Georgia (American Association of University Professors, 10-13-21) "The principal purpose of tenure is to safeguard academic freedom, which is indispensable for the quality of teaching and research in higher education." The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia is considering proposed changes to the system’s post-tenure review policy that would severely compromise tenure and academic freedom at the twenty-five tenure-granting colleges and universities in the system. "At reputable institutions of higher education, academic freedom is protected because tenured professors can be dismissed only for reasons related to professional fitness and only after a hearing before a faculty body at which the administration must make its case that the faculty member's conduct or performance warrants dismissal."
Classrooms Gone Wild: The push to control what your kids read and write is intensifying nationwide (Sharyn Vane, Book & Film Globe, 9-20-21) Book bans, particularly on books that center racism, history, or diversity, have emerged as the latest battlefront in an ongoing nationwide debate about who is allowed to be heard in our classrooms. This week, a school district in York, Pennsylvania rolled back a book ban that had focused almost entirely on titles by or about people of color, including Jacqueline Woodson, Ijeoma Oluo, and Ibram X. Kendi.
21 Excellent Stories of Student Journalism Against the Odds (Allison Schatz and Sian Shin, editors, Student Press Law Center, 1-29-21) In 2020, high school and college journalists dealt with the consequences of a life-changing pandemic, the sudden shift to remote learning, an outpouring of protests against racism, a contentious election and more. They had to report profoundly important stories while confronting unprecedented health and safety concerns which changed the way in which journalism was produced, and against the backdrop of unprecedented public hostility against the media. Despite these challenges, student journalists produced incredible journalism.
Education Dept. issues new Title IX regs with crucial campus due process protections, adopts Supreme Court sexual harassment definition The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE)
Largest ever free speech survey of college students ranks top campuses for expression (also FIRE, 9-29-2020) University of Chicago #1 for free speech, DePauw worst, Ivy League underperforms."The Ivy League offers students sterling credentials, but is miserly when it comes to offering them free speech — try the University of Chicago instead. That’s just one of the findings from the first-ever rankings of the free speech climates at 55 of America’s largest and most prestigious campuses, based on the largest free speech survey of college students ever performed."

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FIRE statement on campus censorship during nationwide protests. George Floyd’s death and the subsequent reaction has provoked a wide variety of responses in college communities, including some that many find deeply offensive or that involve the use of racial slurs. FIRE will continue to defend speakers’ right to exercise their expressive rights regardless of viewpoint. Universities committed to free expression must do so as well.
As critics call for deplatforming, defunding, and prosecution over Leila Khaled discussion, San Francisco State University president gets it right (Adam Steinbaugh, FIRE, 9-26-2020) "In 1969, Leila Khaled hijacked her first airliner, commandeering TWA flight 870 and becoming the first woman to hijack an airplane. The hijacking was undertaken in support of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine....Our society extends freedom of expression to angels and sinners alike, and history’s participants are not always lawful or unambiguously moral." Despite heavy pressure from some Jewish groups, the university refused to cancel the event. See SFSU’s president, Lynn Mahoney (in Jewish News of Northern California) on why she refused to cancel the event. "I condemn hate but cherish a diversity of opinions."
In Defense of Knowledge and Higher Education (Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, American Association of University Professors) In this statement, the AAUP calls attention to the threats posed by attacks on expert knowledge. How can a government develop effective policy when it rejects informed, dispassionate studies of climate change, suppresses its own data collection on white supremacist domestic terrorism, or imposes gag orders on doctors under regulations prohibiting discussion of abortion or contraception, merely because they contradict ideological belief? “We cannot eat ideological belief; wishful thinking will not keep us safe,” the statement asserts.

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Professor exonerated for quoting iconic black writer at The New School (FIRE, Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, 8-16-19) The New School has cleared a professor of charges of racial discrimination for quoting literary icon James Baldwin during a classroom discussion. Sheck assigned “The Creative Process,” a 1962 essay in which Baldwin argues that Americans have “modified or suppressed and lied about all the darker forces in our history” and must commit to “a long look backward whence we came and an unflinching assessment of the record.” In her graduate seminar, classroom discussion involved the Baldwin statement, “I am not your nigger,” which was made during an appearance as a guest on The Dick Cavett Show. Sheck noted how the title of an Oscar-nominated 2016 documentary based on Baldwin’s writings, “I Am Not Your Negro,” intentionally altered Baldwin’s words. She asked her students what this change may reveal about Americans’ ability to reckon with what Baldwin identified as “the darker forces of history.” Students complained. The university reversed course late Wednesday after the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education intervened on behalf of professor Laurie Sheck’s academic freedom rights. The New School’s own policies make clear it will not punish speech protected by the First Amendment and basic tenets of academic freedom.
Statement on Trump’s Campus Speech Executive Order (National Coalition Against Censorship, 3-21-19) "The order does not specify how government agencies will measure an institution’s compliance, nor how political bias will be eliminated from those measurements. As a result, the opportunity for politically-motivated decisions about what speech should or should not be permitted on university campuses is far too great. Government control of campus speech under the guise of protecting free speech is more likely to chill academic freedom than to encourage greater diversity of thought. Colleges and universities will continue to be bound by the First Amendment and their own commitments to academic freedom and freedom of inquiry." See also Proposed Executive Order Threatens Academic Freedom (NCAC, 3-4-19)
Here’s What Trump’s Executive Order on Free Speech Says (Andy Thomason, Chronicle of Higher Education, 3-21-19) "President Trump will sign an executive order on Thursday that he has said will mandate that colleges uphold free speech or risk jeopardizing federal research funds....The order will direct federal agencies to “take appropriate steps” to ensure that colleges receiving federal research funds “promote free inquiry.” But public colleges are already legally bound to do so by the First Amendment....The order also will direct the Education Department to do two things: Add program-level outcomes data to the College Scorecard and produce a report examining “policy options” for the idea of risk sharing on student-loan debt." (Executive order included.)

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Defining Academic Freedom (Cary Nelson, Inside Higher Ed, 12-21-10) Sometimes academic freedom is invoked in situations where it doesn't actually apply. But many within and without higher education are not well-versed in all the protections it does provide. This statement is designed to help clarify both what academic freedom does and doesn't do. For example, academic freedom means that both faculty members and students can engage in intellectual debate without fear of censorship or retaliation. (Excellent explanation follows.)
Academic Freedom Primer (pdf, Ann Franke, Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges)
Learn more about student rights (FIRE) Topics: Unprotected Speech Cheat Sheet. Due Process on Campus. Freedom of Conscience and Thought Reform on Campus. Religious Liberty on Campus. Free Speech in High School. Free Speech at Private Universities. First Amendment Library. First Amendment Library Free Speech Glossary. Disinvitation Database. FIRE’s Guides to Student Rights on Campus. So to Speak: The Free Speech Podcast.
Academic freedom (Wikipedia's entry is a good overview, plus there are links)
Resources on Academic Freedom (American Association of University Professors, AAUP)

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China’s bid to block my journal’s articles is a new attack on academic freedom (Tim Pringle, The Guardian, 8-21-17) Cambridge University Press was asked to suppress articles in China Quarterly. It has now resisted, but it is a worrying development
IPA urges China to 'respect the decision' of Cambridge University Press to restore articles (Alison Flood, The Guardian, 8-22-17) The International Publishers Association has urged the Chinese government not to take punitive action against Cambridge University Press following the publisher’s decision to restore online access to hundreds of academic articles it had been asked to remove by Chinese authorities.
Boston College ordered by US court to hand over IRA tapes (Henry McDonald, Ireland correspondent, The Guardian, 4-25-16). Police in Northern Ireland have long sought to obtain taped interviews of former IRA prisoner Anthony McIntyre made for academic archive. Academic community fears chilling effect of honoring subpoenas for sealed oral history transcripts. Moloney and McArthur warned that academic freedom was “under siege” due to the pressure on Boston College and challenged the university to resist the subpoena.From a Boston Globe editorial 8-1-11: "BOSTON COLLEGE is justifiably proud of its relationship with Ireland and its role in helping to shepherd the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. Those close ties are one reason the college has been waging a court battle against a US government subpoena, requested by British authorities, which seeks testimony from a sealed oral history project about the war in Northern Ireland. Boston College’s concerns are valid, but the interests of justice and diplomacy outweigh any claim for special protection. The promise that was made to participants in the oral history project -- that their testimony wouldn’t be released until they died -- must be rescinded in light of a murder investigation."

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College Fights Subpoena of Interviews Tied to I.R.A. (Katie Zezima, NY Times, 6-9-11). "Boston College filed a motion this week to quash a federal subpoena seeking access to confidential interviews of paramilitary fighters for the Provisional Irish Republican Army."
US college requests quashing of oral history subpoenas (Kevin Cullen, Irish Times 6-11-11). "In a case being watched closely by academics around the world, Boston College has asked a judge to quash subpoenas demanding it turn over to British authorities records from an oral history project involving republican and loyalist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland. In papers filed in court in Boston, the college said releasing audio tapes and other materials connected to the confidential interviews could jeopardise the safety of former paramilitaries who were interviewed, the two former paramilitaries who conducted the interviews, and college staff involved in an oral history known as the 'Belfast Project'.”
The Unwritten Code of Conduct (The Research Whisperer, 12-15-15) "Each day this week, my supervisor has walked into my office and made verbal demands that I remove content from my beloved blog. Each day, the boundaries of appropriate social media usage shift a little, and my requests for some clear written guidance are rebuffed. I’m a postdoc at a research-intensive organisation....If universities are intent on monitoring, moderating and censoring the social media presence of academic staff, then it’s only fair to actually write these unwritten rules and work together towards some transparent and fair guidelines."

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Unacademic Freedom? (Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed, 3-1-16) Academic freedom is supposed to protect unpopular views. A case involving an Oberlin professor who claimed that ISIS is really the CIA and Mossad asks whether that freedom extends to falsehoods.
Kitzmiller v. Dover: Intelligent Design on Trial (National Center for Science Education: Defending the teaching of evolution & climate science). As the first trial over "intelligent design," the case received national media attention and has since been the subject of several books
More criticism of 'Academic Bill of Rights' (Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, 1-9-06) "Ellen Schrecker, a professor of history at Yeshiva University, called the Academic Bill of Rights a "cleverly written document" that was designed to pressure faculty members to hire more conservatives and to avoid topics and views that offend conservatives. "We should not seek to protect students from hearing uncomfortable views," she said."
Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) (mission: to defend and sustain individual rights at America’s colleges and universities, including rights to freedom of speech, legal equality, due process, religious liberty, and sanctity of conscience)

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How to Cover Your Digital Trail


Your Digital Trail, And How It Can Be Used Against You (Daniel Zwerdling, All Tech Considered, NPR, 9-30-13) NPR and the Center for Investigative Reporting are documenting just how vivid the typical person's digital picture has become — and how easy it can be to access it. Co-reported by G.W. Schulz from the Center for Investigative Reporting.
Your Digital Trail: Private Company Access (Zwerdling, NPR, 10-1-13) Data we voluntarily provide online — such as on dating websites — may not stay with that site. While not always obvious, websites commonly allow other companies to track user behavior.
Encrypting Your Laptop Like You Mean It (Micah Lee, The Intercept, 4-27-15)
Your Digital Trail: Does The Fourth Amendment Protect Us? (Daniel Zwerdling, All Tech Considered, NPR, 10-2-13) Could government agents really get access to all your private data in less than a minute? Experts say no but warn we are moving in that direction.
Your Digital Trail: Data Fuels Political And Legal Agendas (Zwerdling, NPR, 10-3-13) Private attorneys are easily getting access to defendants' emails and texts. All it takes is a subpoena, which any attorney can do. Former Nixon administration attorney John Dean and a North Carolina divorce lawyer warn that if you think you have nothing to hide, think again.
Data Marketers Know What You Bought Last Summer (Elise Hu, New York Public Radio, 9-4-13) Marketing technology company Acxiom is letting you see the data marketers have and use to advertise to you. Check out what they know about you, your household, your education or income or purchase preferences.

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Best practices for government communications directors


This section was assembled before Trump was elected. My guess is the rules will change.

NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco explicitly tells NOAA scientists that they are free to speak to the public, including the media, without permission from anyone at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (that is, without being "handled" and censored).
Federal Agency Encourages Its Scientists to Speak Out (Mark Fischetti, Scientific American blog, 12-8-11, on NOAA's policy of promoting open science)
NOAA's Scientific Integrity Commons and FAQs
Can agencies stop employees from talking to media? Brechner Center says no (Madeline Laguaite, Covering Health, AHCJ, 11-19-19) "Public employees have the right to speak to the press without going through the boss, but workplace gag orders continue to violate their freedom of speech, says a report from The Brechner Center for Freedom of Information, a nonprofit educational center....Federal, state or local agencies often impose policies that restrict an employee’s ability to speak with reporters. In a report released in October that examines employees’ First Amendment rights, the center urges news organizations to challenge those rules. “It’s not legal for a public agency to tell its employees they are forbidden from speaking to the media,” said Frank LoMonte, Brechner Center director and a journalism professor at the University of Florida. “And if you encounter a policy like that, you should know that the agency is breaking the law.”
Climate.gov (NOAA science information for a climate-smart nation)
NOAA state of the science fact sheet on Air Quality

Example:
Public Communications and the Media
May I take phone calls from media and give interviews?
Yes. There are no exceptions here. However, you are not required to give media interviews. You can always refer media to your public affairs officer. Similarly, you should always feel free to consult with your public affairs officer prior to an interview and/or include them in the interview.

What should I do if I am asked to give an interview?
You are not required to do anything. However, good practice suggests you should notify your public affairs officer and/or the head of your operating unit prior to or just after you give an interview. Why? Common courtesy. You wouldn't want somebody surprising you with detailed questions about your work, and your managers are no different. Nobody enjoys being made to look foolish or uninformed in public. If you don't tell your managers you said something, it is possible they could be called out and made to look bad. Situational awareness is not a requirement, but it can be a good thing. Use your best judgment.
[Thanks to Andrew Holtz for drawing journalists' attention to this. HHS should be following a similar policy.]
See PROBLEMS FOR JOURNALISTS COVERING THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND ITS AGENCIES

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Bias in journalism vs. political correctness. Juan Williams Fired For Admitting He Is Afraid of Flying Muslims (Riley Waggaman, Wonkette, 10-21-10) and In wake of NPR controversy, Fox News gives Juan Williams an expanded role (Matea Gold, in Los Angeles Times, 10-21-10)

Blogging, digital journalism, and the law


Digital Journalist's Legal Guide (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press). for anyone disseminating news online, from an independent blogger to a reporter for a major media outlet, as well as media lawyers. Topic areas (from from RCFP press release) include:
* Gathering News and Information (e.g., rules for open records and meetings, access to courts, and newsgathering right of access to events/places)
* Protecting and Defending Your Work (e.g., what to do to protect sources and fight subpoenas, steps to take if there’s a threat or actual lawsuit libel, and how to handle invasion of privacy concerns)
* Knowing Legal Restrictions (e.g., understanding basic Internet regulation and how to protect a domain name, and copyright and trademark law covering both original work and “fair use” of other materials).
A Citizen's Guide to Reporting on #OccupyWallStreet (Citizen Media Law Project)
Digital Media Law Project's blog posts on legal issues relevant to bloggers. If I were a blogger wondering about legal issues, I'd start by going through this site's many blog posts.
Making Google the Censor (Daphne Keller, NY Times, 6-12-17) Can sites like Google, Facebook, and Wikipedia be asked to build tools to identify and remove extremist content? and so on.
Can I use that? A legal primer for journalists (Jonathan Peters, Columbia Journalism Review, 10-1-15)
Blogger's Guide to Copyright and DMCA (Natalie Mootz, Blogging.com)
A Legal Guide for Bloggers: Copyright, the DMCA, and Fair Use Images (Ben Mulholland, process.st, 10-9-17)
U.S. court rules Oregon blogger not a journalist (Summer Harlow, Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas 12-7-11).
Judge: Blogger not a reporter, must turn over information (Steve Schmadeke, Chicago Tribune 1-13-02)
No, the Sky Is Not Falling: Explaining that Decision in Oregon Eric P. Robinson (Citizen Media Law Project 12-12-11).
Blogger jailed in Anna Nicole Smith defamation suit (Kate Murphy, AFP--noting that in court a blogger is a publisher, not a writer)
Blogging Between the Lines (Dana Hull, American Journalism Review, December 2006). "The mainstream media have fallen in love with blogs, launching them on everything from politics to life in Las Vegas to bowling. But does the inherent tension between the blogosphere’s anything-goes ethos and the standards of traditional journalism mean this relationship is doomed?"

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Free speech, freedom of expression, and censorship

Including GAG rules, censorship in the name of political correctness
and FOSTA/SESTA

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."--First Amendment, one of ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution that constitute the Bill of Rights

‘A time comes when silence is betrayal.’
~Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.


Press freedom under fire as political pressure on journalists intensifies worldwide, rankings reveal (Carmen Molina Acosta, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, 5-3-24) In the biggest global election year in history, the 2024 World Press Freedom Index shows a chilling pattern of political disregard for journalists’ safety — from Europe to the Middle East.
Hailer v. Allegheny County
Case Number: 2:23-cv-01480-PLD
Court: U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania
      Background: Brittany Hailer, the director and co-founder of the Pittsburgh Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, has reported extensively on problems at the Allegheny County Jail. Since April 2020, 20 men have died after entering the jail. Among other issues, the jail has a shortage of staff and medical personnel qualified to provide incarcerated people with proper care, subjecting them to health risks.
      But understanding the full extent of the jail’s problems is hampered by policies that prevent employees from speaking with members of the press unless granted permission by the warden. By effectively silencing jail employees, these “gag” rules delay Hailer’s reporting by weeks or months and, in some cases, prevent her from writing important public-interest stories altogether.
---SPJ hails lawsuit to challenge gag rules in public agency (SPJ News, Society of Professional Journalists, 8-18-23) The lawsuit is believed to be the first brought by a journalist on this issue. Investigative journalist Brittany Hailer for her efforts challenging the Allegheny County Jail in Pennsylvania for its policies prohibiting staff and contractors from speaking to the media or others about the jail without approval. Hailer filed "what is believed to be the first such lawsuit brought by a journalist. Such restrictions have been found to be unconstitutional in past cases brought by employees or their unions. Journalism groups have been actively decrying such gag rules for at least a decade.
      “These speech bans, which journalists have seen grow more pervasive and controlling, are among the most damaging threats to free speech and public welfare today,” said SPJ National President Claire Regan. “SPJ has repeatedly led in opposing these restrictions which it has called censorship and authoritarian. Hailer’s suit shows journalists themselves can fight back in court against people in power silencing subordinates in terms of talking to reporters or forcing them to report conversations to authorities.”
21st-century editors should keep their hands off 20th-century books (Opinion, Washington Post Editorial Board, 6-12-23) "A number of beloved novels, for both children and adults, are being “retouched” — updated to remove overtly racist, sexist or otherwise offensive language." But the trend of rewriting "them for today’s mind-set, particularly with little explanation of process or limiting principles"...raises uncomfortable questions about authorship and authenticity, and it ignores the reality that texts are more than consumer goods or sources of entertainment in the present. They are also cultural artifacts that attest to the moment in which they were written — the good and the bad." Includes examples of appropriate and inappropriate editorial tinkering.
The Twitter Decision Is About More Than the Internet (Gabe Rottman, The Nuance: Tackling the Legal Issues at the Forefront of a Free Press, 5-28-23) The U.S. Supreme Court handed down decisions in Twitter v. Taamneh and Gonzalez v. Google, companion cases that shared an underlying question: Can social media platforms that are “generally aware” terrorists may be using their services be sued for “aiding and abetting” specific terrorist acts? The Reporters Committee joined a friend-of-the-court brief led by the Center for Democracy and Technology in the Twitter case and filed a brief alone in Google. In Google, the court issued a brief, unsigned opinion, finding that the question there had likely been resolved by the full — and much more interesting — opinion in Twitter.
     'The topline in Twitter is that the platform won pretty resoundingly. In a unanimous opinion authored by Justice Clarence Thomas, the Supreme Court held that allegations that a platform had generalized knowledge that terrorists may be using a service open to all-comers is not enough for a lawsuit under the federal Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, which permits victims to sue anyone “who aids and abets, by knowingly providing substantial assistance, or who conspires with the person who committed [] an act of international terrorism.”   And more....
Why civility should not trump free expression: Part 10 of 14 answers to bad arguments against free speech (Greg Lukianoff and Nadine Strossen, FIRE, 1-27-22) Nadine Strossen provides responses to some important misconceptions about freedom of speech. This is a follow-up to Answers to 12 Bad Anti-Free Speech Arguments: Featuring That XKCD Cartoon Everyone Likes to Quote! (Areo, 5-25-21)
SPJ releases top 10 urgent threats to freedom of information (Society of Professional Journalists, 3-14-23) Quoting the headlines:
---Most Indigenous people in the United States do not have access to vital governmental records within their own tribes.
---Lawmakers in Missouri are considering legislation that would substantially weaken the Missouri Sunshine Law.
---Two bills in Washington State would make it more difficult for requesters to appeal denials and allow courts to penalize requesters.
---In Hawaii, lawmakers are considering legislation to keep budget documents and other records secret.
---Arizona state legislators in January adopted new rules shielding their own records from disclosure under the state’s open records law.
---The Wisconsin Supreme Court issued a decision in 2022 weakening the right of requesters to recover fees from recalcitrant agencies.
---In Iowa, state lawmakers are considering a measure that could lead to substantial delays to litigation over public records cases in court.
---In Georgia, lawmakers have advanced legislation that “would require redaction of names and property ownership from state data bases of law enforcement personnel, politicians, and hundreds of thousands of other government officials,” the Georgia Recorder reported.
---State lawmakers in Virginia last month struck down a proposal that would have required disclosure by state agencies of the names of government officials using taxpayer-funded credit cards.
---New Mexico state lawmakers are considering legislation that would reduce the transparency of the hiring process for government executive positions.
Free Speech Out Loud (FIRE's First Amendment Library) Audio recordings of famous First Amendment court opinions and other primary source documents that serve as the backbone of the free speech rights we enjoy today.
Freedom of Association: The Lesser-Known First Amendment Right (Freedom Forum) The right to meet, organize and plan with others. "After losing 14 classmates and three faculty members in a shooting at their school on Valentine’s Day in 2018, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students organized the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C. The Florida teens spread the word about their protest against gun violence via social media. More than one million people participated across the nation — one of the largest protests in U.S. history. Behind the scenes of this now annual march is a youth-led movement, powered by freedom of association, to change gun policies and encourage lawmakers to address issues that contribute to violence.

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Far-Right Group Wants to Ban Kids From Reading Books on Male Seahorses, Galileo, and MLK (Kelly Weill, Long Read, Daily Beast, 9-24-21) Moms for Liberty is raising hell in a Tennessee school district over books that teach about race in American history—and also books that teach about wild animals and science. School books about Martin Luther King Jr., Ruby Bridges (the first Black child to integrate an all-white public elementary school), protests during the Civil Rights Movement, Native Americans, and school segregation are too “divisive."
SESTA Bill Will Not Prevent Sex Trafficking But Will Silence Online Speech "While the sponsors of these bills contend that they are aimed at stopping sex trafficking, neither bill actually helps sex trafficking victims confront their abusers and instead both focus on curtailing online speech. Even sex workers oppose the bills, which are likely to make consensual sex work more dangerous. The National Coalition Against Censorship joins with our allies in the free speech community to oppose this bill." See From Section 230 to The EARN IT Act and still controversial (blog post with links to more on this issue)

Campus Free Speech Guide (PEN America)

DARE: Daily Alert on Rights and Expression, an excellent daily-curated roundup of the most pressing threats and notable goings-on in free expression today, from the U.S. and abroad--a project of PEN America's #LouderTogether campaign. See also the PEN America Digital Archive , an archive of resources for and about literature and advocacy for free expression.
So to Speak: The Free Speech Podcast (FIRE, Foundation for Individual Rights in Education).
Free public data: The lifeblood of press freedom (Poynter) Let's celebrate our freedom by finding and reporting information. Wonderful links to resources.
'The Talk': How to 'do' free speech (video, Aaron Reese and Chris Maltby, FIRE, free speech explained for young people)
The Skokie Case: How I Came to Represent the Free Speech Rights of Nazis (David Goldberger, ACLU, 3-2-2020)
ACLU100 History Series This essay collection explores many critical moments in the organization’s history. Together, it tells not only the ACLU’s story, but America’s as well.
10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech: 2020 from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and here are The 10 Worst in previous years. Harvard made the list for the fifth year.

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Pentagon Outlines What Qualifies as Extremism After Service Members Charged in Jan. 6 Riot ( Zoe Strozewski, Newsweek, 12-20-21) In the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, the military is considering new guidelines on extremism in the military. "Some of the activities banned in the [new Pentagon] rules include advocating terrorism, backing an overthrow of the government, fundraising or rallying for an extremist group and even "liking" or reposting extremist views on social media platforms."
Judges Are Playing ‘Calvinball’ With the Constitution Because They’re Mad Trump Was Banned From Twitter (Mike Masnick,Daily Beast, 9-24-22) A Federalist Society judge in the 5th Circuit deciding that private companies have no editorial discretion and that the state can compel them to host content they wish not to associate with is Calvinball. The ruling reads like an uninformed social media thread that actual lawyers would mock. The cynical will point to things like the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs (which overturned Roe v. Wade) and note that we’ve entered an era of Calvinball jurisprudence—in which precedents are no longer an impediment to whatever endgame Federalist Society judges want. (The beloved comic strip Calvin and Hobbes introduced us to the concept of “Calvinball”—a sport in which the participants make up the rules as they go, never using the same rules twice.) It's worth reading whole column.
Free Speech Lessons for Freshman Orientation & First-Year Experience Programming FIRE, in partnership with New York University’s First Amendment Watch, has developed a series of free-to-use modules, videos, and other resources for universities to use when teaching incoming students about their free speech rights and the principles behind the First Amendment.
Holocaust book Maus hits bestseller list after Tennessee school board ban (Maya Yang, The Guardian, 1-31-22) Author Art Spiegelman says decision to ban Pulitzer-winning novel that depicts Jewish people as mice is ‘demented’ Art Spiegelman sees the new ban of his book ‘Maus’ as a ‘red alert’ (Michael Cavna, WaPo, 1-28-22) ;

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Laugh at the outrage over ‘sexy seahorses’ – but there’s nothing funny about conservatives trying to rewrite history (Arwa Mahdawi, The Guardian, 9-25-21) The rightwing playbook: outrage, leading to the passage of deliberately vague laws and advocacy groups diligently weaponizing those laws. The Moms for Liberty have been methodical: they’ve sent the Tennessee department of education a detailed spreadsheet outlining their complaints about the books being foisted on their children. A book about Galileo is “anti-church.” Over the past year, US conservatives have become obsessed with “critical race theory” (CRT). "None of the people raving about CRT are actually able to explain what the academic concept means; to them it just means anything that is less than complimentary about white people."
How censorship became the new crisis for social networks (Casey Newton, Platformer, 6-2-21) "It's not just conservatives complaining any more. The crackdowns are real, and getting worse....What’s clear is that in a world where authoritarianism is on the rise, people around the world continue to view social networks as critical venues for protest and debate. One of the biggest questions of the next-half decade will be in how many places Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others can live up to that ideal."
FOSTA/SESTA. A new law intended to curb sex trafficking threatens the future of the internet as we know it (Aja Romano, Vox, 7-2-18) Trump signed into law a set of controversial bills intended to make it easier to cut down on illegal sex trafficking online. Both bills — the House bill known as FOSTA, the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, and the Senate bill, SESTA, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act — have been hailed by advocates as a victory for sex trafficking victims, but the law doesn’t appear to do anything concrete to target illegal sex trafficking directly, and instead threatens to “increase violence against the most marginalized.” And makes it a lot easier to censor free speech on small websites — as evidenced by the immediate ramifications the law has had across the internet, affecting such sites as Reddit, Craigslist, and Google.
A First Amendment Agenda for the New Administration (Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, 12-9-2020) How the Biden administration can reaffirm the freedoms of speech, association, and petition in its first 100 days.
Dan O'Brien on Writing, Trauma, and Optimism; Plus, Tough Questions with Suzanne Nossel (The PEN Pod, PEN America) Updates and conversations about literature and free expression, and an outlet for literary celebration as in-person events remain few and far between.
Lifetime Censorship Award to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute from Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE, 2020) "For its unashamed, years-long record of censoring its critics and utter disinterest in protecting students’ rights.
What some reporters get wrong about the First Amendment (Jonathan Peters, Columbia Journalism Review, 2-5-18) One of them: "There are very few constitutional protections for newsgathering, and virtually none that apply just to journalists."

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First Amendment Rights: A Conversation with Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn (video, University of Rhode Island lecture, 6-16-2020)
The CDC's Employee Speech Policies (2020) Documents released in our FOIA lawsuit for the CDC's policies on employee speech. Our FOIA lawsuit was prompted by widespread reporting that the CDC has been sidelined in the government’s public response to the COVID-19 pandemic and that the Office of the Vice President has been controlling CDC communications and limiting the ability of CDC scientists to speak to the public or to the press. There is a statement from May 22 that all inquiries and press materials must go through his office. That would mean ALL requests and statements for an 80,000 person department (including FDA, CDC, CMS, etc) going through a 100 person office.
If the University of Kentucky destroys Memorial Hall mural, it will actually nullify two works of art (Christopher Finan, Opinion, Lexington Herald Leader, 7-30-2020) NCAC's executive director outlines the stakes of the ongoing mural controversy at the University of Kentucky. By agreeing to remove the 1930's-era mural from campus, he argues, the University of Kentucky is in danger of losing an opportunity to advance racial understanding and of nullifying the work of a Black artist who was commissioned to respond to the mural.

     Eli Capilouto, the university's president, announced it would remove Ann O’Hanlon’s 1930’s-era mural from Memorial Hall because students consider its depiction of Blacks and Native Americans offensive. Two years earlier the university responded to complaints about the mural by commissioning a renowned Black artist, Karyn Olivier, to create an installation in the dome above the mural that highlights the important contributions made by people of color in Kentucky history. As Capilouto explained, the purpose of the installation was to encourage conversation about the history of slavery and the changing ways in which it has been represented in art. “It sets up a dialogue between the two pieces of art,” he said. It is heartbreaking to hear that a bold effort to encourage dialogue about the problem of race is being abandoned, especially when those words are spoken by a professional educator.
Free Speech ‘Meltdown’ (Jeremy Bauer-Wolf, Inside Higher Ed, 4-23-19) Williams plans to revise its policies after a faculty petition to adopt free speech guidelines enraged student activists.
Immigration judges’ union sues to block DOJ speech restrictions (Alison Frankel, Reuters, 7-1-2020) U.S. immigration judges contend they’ve been muzzled by the Department of Justice—and now they’re doing something about it. The union, representing more than 460 immigration judges, sued three Department of Justice officials in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, challenging a policy edict from DOJ’s Executive Office for Immigration Review that allegedly bars almost all immigration judges from speaking in their personal capacity about immigration issues, including the operations of the courts they preside over. Immigration judges are actually employees of the Justice Department, not members of the federal judicial branch.

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On Freedom of Expression and Campus Speech Codes (American Association of University Professors)
Virtual First Amendment Classroom (National Coalition Against Censorship) NCAC, an alliance of over 50 national non-profit organizations, has advocated for the free speech rights of students, artists, teachers and librarians for over 45 years.NCAC is now offering teachers who are teaching remotely the opportunity to host virtual classroom presentations on free speech and the First Amendment by guest speakers from our staff of experts. Topics: Free Speech Fundamentals, Student Speech Rights, Symbolic Speech, History of Free Speech Rights in the US, Offensive Speech, Limits on Free Speech.
A Supreme Court case has Internet companies running scared (Alison Frankel, Internet of Things, Reuter,12-13-18) In the case Manhattan Community Access Corporation v. Halleck, a NY public access cable television station, operated by the nonprofit Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN) via a long-running agreement with New York City, took disciplinary action against two contributors for allegedly inciting violence against station employees. The contributors sued, claiming MNN was violating their First Amendment free speech rights. The Internet Association fears that the owner of a private platform can be converted into a state actor just because it operates a site encouraging free speech.

     See EFF To U.S. Supreme Court: Rule Carefully In Free Speech Case About Private Operators, State Actors, and the First Amendment (Karen Gullo and David Greene, Electronic Frontier Foundation, 12-12-18) "Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter provide an opportunity for everyone to have a voice on the Internet, to communicate with friends, post their views, and comment on movies or the president. However, the fact that they provide a broad, open platform for speech doesn’t automatically mean they are “public forums” in the sense your town’s official Facebook page or @realDonaldTrump are. Those are run by the government or its officials, who, when it comes to the First Amendment, are “state actors” and can’t block people from the forum without complying with First Amendment standards. Facebook and Twitter, on the other hand, are platforms created and run by corporations, which are private entities that can curate and edit content. The distinction between private entities and state actors providing forums for communication is crucial for the free speech rights of Internet users and the platforms they use."

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The Santa Clara Principles on Transparency and Accountability in Content Moderation (PDF) David Greene:
"These principles advance three key goals: numbers (companies should publish the number of posts removed and accounts suspended); notice (companies should provide notice and an explanation to each user whose content is removed); and appeal (companies should provide a meaningful opportunity for timely appeal of any content removal or account suspension)." As stated in an excellent piece: Alex Jones is far from the only person tech companies are silencing (David Greene, WashPost, 8-12-18) Content moderation systems do but should not operate in secret with no public accountability.
Violent Protests and Free Speech: Who’s to Blame for an Officer’s Injuries? (Adam Liptak, NY Times, 12-9-19) The A.C.L.U. asked the Supreme Court to hear an appeal from DeRay Mckesson, a Black Lives Matter activist sued by a Louisiana police officer. The lawsuit, a federal judge found, bordered on the delusional. A Louisiana police officer injured in a protest tried to sue the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, which amounted, wrote Judge Brian A. Jackson of the Federal District Court in Baton Rouge, to picking a fight with an idea. “A hashtag,” Judge Jackson wrote, “is patently incapable of being sued.” The officer also sued Black Lives Matter, which the judge said was also a nonstarter. It is, he wrote, “a social movement rather than an organization or entity of any sort” that could be a defendant in a lawsuit. A third part of the lawsuit — seeking to hold a leader of the movement liable for the officer’s injuries — reached the Supreme Court on Friday.
How To Tell If You're Being Canceled (Nick Gillespie, Reason, 11-1-2020)Kindly Inquisitors author Jonathan Rauch on the never-ending battle to defend free speech. Rauch's book: Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought
A Shameful Season for American Journalists (Chriustopher M. Finan, Opinion, Wall Street Journal, 9-24-18--behind a paywall). The Nation, the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books all run scared from criticism. "Ian Buruma was forced out last week as editor of the New York Review of Books after publishing an essay by a man who admitted that he has abused women. Mr. Buruma’s sudden departure caps a shameful season of American journalism.

     In July, the Nation apologized for a poem for the first time in its 153-year history. In August, the New Yorker canceled a conversation at its annual festival between editor David Remnick and former White House aide Steve Bannon....

     "The journalist’s job is to ask difficult questions, prompting what can be uncomfortable conversations. This can be complicated. Presenting objectionable views could suggest one is condoning them. Yet learning something about the experience and views of those we dislike or with whom we disagree is crucial to understanding the deepening—and dangerous—divisions in our society." As some observers put it, When does poor editorial or educational judgment cross over into censorship? And: "Engagement is not endorsement."
• "NFL owners have employed players who killed other men, beat wives & girl friends, took part in a dog-fighting ring, and more. Yet they've effectively banned Colin Kaepernick for speaking his mind. Agree with his views or not, free speech is at stake." @ClydeHaberman
Gatekeepers or Censors? How Tech Manages Online Speech (NY Times, 8-7-18) Apple, Google and Facebook this week erased from their services many — but not all — videos, podcasts and posts from the right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his Infowars site. And Twitter left Mr. Jones’s posts untouched....The tech companies’ approach to Alex Jones, the right-wing conspiracy theorist, exposed how unevenly tech companies enforce their rules....Of all the tech companies, Facebook has faced the biggest public outcry over what it allows on its platform."
How Conservatives Weaponized the First Amendment (Adam Liptak, NY Times, 6-30-18) 'The court’s five conservative members, citing the First Amendment, had just dealt public unions a devastating blow. The day before, the same majority had used the First Amendment to reject a California law requiring religiously oriented “crisis pregnancy centers” to provide women with information about abortion. Conservatives, said Justice Kagan, who is part of the court’s four-member liberal wing, were “weaponizing the First Amendment.” The two decisions were the latest in a stunning run of victories for a conservative agenda that has increasingly been built on the foundation of free speech. Conservative groups, borrowing and building on arguments developed by liberals, have used the First Amendment to justify unlimited campaign spending, discrimination against gay couples and attacks on the regulation of tobacco, pharmaceuticals and guns.'
Facebook and Apple just made Alex Jones a martyr: It's better to counter bad speech with good speech (Nadine Strossen, NY Daily News, 8-8-18) "A 2016 report about counterspeech on Twitter concluded that hateful and other “extremist” speech was most effectively undermined by counterspeech rather than by censoring, in part because of the futility of trying to remove anything once it’s been posted."
Defusing Hate: A Strategic Communication Guide to Counteract Dangerous Speech (download free PDF, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum). Three workbooks: Understand Context and Conflict. Select and Guide Audiences. Design Medium, Speakers, and Message Content. Author: Rachel Brown.

Facebook’s Secret Censorship Rules Protect White Men From Hate Speech But Not Black Children (Julia Angwin and Hannes Grassegger, ProPublica, 6-28-17) A trove of internal documents sheds light on the algorithms that Facebook’s censors use to differentiate between hate speech and legitimate political expression.

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Alex Jones and Online Content Regulation (National Coalition Against Censorship, 8-9-18) It's not about Alex Jones...The removals shine a harsh light on the challenges tech companies face in applying their own content regulations.
Why kicking Alex Jones off social media is not legally censorship (PBS, 8-8-18) Listen or read transcript.
Liberals, Don’t Lose Faith in the First Amendment (David Cole, NY Times, 8-1-18) "In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Roberts court deployed the First Amendment to guarantee that corporations can engage in unlimited campaign spending....[But] the amendment’s core requirement is that the government must remain neutral regarding the content and viewpoint of speech. As a result, a decision protecting conservative speech will equally support liberal speech....government officials continue to be tempted to silence people for their views....In a democracy, the rich and those in the majority don’t need constitutional protections; they can generally enact their desires through ordinary political processes. The targets of censorship are typically dissidents, outsiders, the marginalized." This opinion piece is once-over-lightly on cases.
Everything we think about the political correctness debate is wrong (Matthew Yglesias, Vox, 3-12-18) Support for free speech is rising, and is higher among liberals and college graduates. Among the public at large, meanwhile, the group whose speech the public is most likely to favor stifling is Muslims.
The State of the First Amendment: 2017’s Top Free Speech Offenders and Defenders (National Coalition Against Censorship, 12-20-17)
Books for Understanding: Freedom of Expression and the First Amendment Book lists on The idea of free expression in history and philosophy; A free press; Religious freedom (General; and Separation of church and state); The First Amendment and free speech in America; Limits on free speech (hate speech and obscenity; commercial and electoral speech); free expression in education (in the classroom; academic freedom); Freedom of association, assembly and petition.

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The Delete Squad (Jeffrey Rosen, The New Republic, 4-29-13) Google, Twitter, Facebook and the new global battle over the future of free speech.
Older people and Republicans, threatening free speech (Catherine Rampell, WaPo, 11-2-17) Various free speech surveys reveal that "lefty undergrads hold no monopoly on illiberalism." Depending on the survey source and the question, any group can appear to be illiberal. "For example, a [Cato Institute survey's] series of questions asked about whether executives and employees should be fired for holding various beliefs or participating in various kinds of political dissent. Liberals were more likely to support firing for racist beliefs and so on; but conservatives were more likely to support firing for political dissent such as flag-burning...a majority of Republicans says that Americans who burn the American flag — a constitutionally protected act — should have their citizenship revoked....Speaking of flagrant violations of the First Amendment, nearly half of Republicans would favor a law banning the building of mosques in their community...All of which is to reiterate that democratic values are under threat from many more sources than just socialist 19-year-olds."
One Year In: Trump and Trauma, Threats and Tribalism: Art Censorship and a Divisive Presidency (Svetlana Mintcheva, National Coalition Against Censorship, 1-17-18) Protests opposing alt-right and other controversial speakers have turned violent on college campuses, museums face threats of violence, artists call for the destruction of work by other artists and outrage is replacing reasoned debate (that apparently outdated darling of liberals). A new culture war?

      "From the demise of net neutrality to extreme media consolidation, both accomplished by a Trump-appointed Federal Communications Commission, and including a range of legislative changes in-between, structural changes in the United States promise long-term shifts in who is able to be heard and who shapes public opinion."
First Amendment Watch New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute launched this online resource that "goes beyond the headlines to provide much-needed coverage and context to the debate over freedom of expression."
---Under News Gathering: Access, Secrecy, Leaks, Subpoenas, FOIA, Fake News.
---Under Speech: Offensive Speech, Campus Speech, Symbolic Speech, Artistic Speech.
---Other Sections (no subcategories yet): Libel, Threats, Censorship, Assembly, Privacy, Emotional Distress, Hate Speech, Prior Restraint, Reporter's Privilege, Public Forums, Privacy Versus Free Speech.
Spam Filters Threaten Free Speech on the Internet (James McGrath Morris, WaPo, 11-29-08) "The inclusion of "young adult," "getting nasty" and "hot" among the thousands of words in my publication [a newsletter, Biographer's Craft] was like poison. Indiscriminate spam-blocking software would spot those words, ignore the context and group my newsletter with unsolicited e-mails from purveyors of smut. "
Lawmakers in Ten States Have Proposed Legislation Criminalizing Peaceful Protest (Spencer Moodman, The Intercept, 1-23-17)
The Worst Time for the Left to Give Up on Free Speech (Michelle Goldberg, Op-Ed, NY Times, 10-6-17) "It’s certainly true that it’s easier to enjoy free speech when you’re privileged. It doesn’t follow from that, however, that eroding free speech protections helps the vulnerable. When disputes about free speech are adjudicated not according to broad principles but according to who has power, the left will mostly lose.... Luckily, if they ever do come face to face with forces determined to shut them up, the A.C.L.U. will be there."

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Junk science': experts cast doubt on widely cited college free speech survey (Lois Beckett, The Guardian, 9-22-17) Survey saying 20% of US college students believe it’s appropriate to use violence against offensive speech was was not administered to a randomly selected group of college students nationwide, what statisticians call a “probability sample.” Instead, it was given to an opt-in online panel of people who identified as current college students.
Cake Is His ‘Art.’ So Can He Deny One to a Gay Couple? (Adam Liptak, NY Times, 9-16-17) "Jack Phillips bakes beautiful cakes, and it is not a stretch to call him an artist. Five years ago, in a decision that has led to a Supreme Court showdown, he refused to use his skills to make a wedding cake to celebrate a same-sex marriage, saying it would violate his Christian faith and hijack his right to express himself....At first blush, the case looked like a conflict between a state law banning discrimination and the First Amendment’s protection of religious freedom. But when the Supreme Court hears the case this fall, the arguments will mostly center on a different part of the First Amendment: its protection of free speech."
When free speech devolves into violence (Roy S. Gutterman, editorial, Syracuse.com, 8-17-17) "Where do you draw the line between free speech and censorship, suppression or punishment? In Charlottesville, Virginia, that line was smashed. What started as a seemingly lawful, yet emotional and heated, protest exploded into a full-blown riot with chaos, three deaths and neo-Nazis, KKK and other white supremacists clad in helmets, brandishing shields and weapons. First Amendment rights to speak, assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances are fundamental, but not absolute. Showing up to a protest with armor and weapons crosses the line and the rioting loses its constitutional protection."
The Ugly Business of Defending Free Speech in 2017 (Priscilla Frank, HuffPost, 11-21-17) Clay Hansen, of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression (TJC) is proud to defend pro athletes around the country exercising their First Amendment rights by kneeling during the national anthem to support "49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who in 2016 began protesting racial injustice in America by taking a knee during the national anthem." It's tougher defending Nazis and funeral protesters, but he has to, because, in his mind, “If we don’t defend these people now, it could be you next.” “The First Amendment applies to everyone,” Hansen said. “It applies to the ignorant and the hateful and everybody else, regardless of how much you disagree with them personally.”
How to Make Fun of Nazis (Moises Velasquez-Manoff, NY Times, 8-17-17) "For decades, Wunsiedel, a German town near the Czech border, has struggled with a parade of unwanted visitors. It was the original burial place of one of Adolf Hitler’s deputies, a man named Rudolf Hess. And every year, to residents’ chagrin, neo-Nazis marched to his grave site. The town had staged counterdemonstrations to dissuade these pilgrims....in 2014, the town tried a different tactic: humorous subversion....nonviolent struggles were resolved much sooner than violent ones....nonviolent struggles attracted more allies more quickly. Violent struggles, on the other hand, often repelled people and dragged on for years."

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John Lewis: NFL players kneeling 'are following a long tradition' (Brandon Carter, The Hill, 9-25-17) Players across the NFL knelt and locked arms during the playing of the national anthem this weekend in response to President Trump’s criticism of athletes who don’t stand for the anthem. The NFL hoped Colin Kaepernick would go away, but they couldn't keep him off the field (Adam Kilgore, National Post, 9-26-17) Donald Trump's caustic remarks and tweets left players with little choice but to respond. Many took their cues from Kaepernick. The Martyring of Colin Kaepernick (Ben Strauss, Politico, 9-3-17) How the NFL botched the quarterback’s protest and guaranteed the controversy will live on, whether he plays or not. Reporters had begun to openly suggest Kaepernick, good enough to sign a $127 million contract in 2014, was being blackballed—retaliation by a famously autocratic organization against a player who had dared to embarrass it. The point: Dear Conservatives: Do You Really Believe in Free Speech? (Benjamin L. Corey, Patheos, 9-25-17) "...in situations like this you prove you don’t really believe in free speech at all– because you can’t say you believe in free speech, but also believe in compelled speech." An important summary: This video is the best 5 minutes you will see on the NFL protests. (German Lopez, Vox, 9-28-17) Nick Wright: “When people march, they are not protesting traffic.” What are you actually mad at? Are you angry about the form of protest? Or what is being protested? Kneeling IS a form of peaceful protest. The players have been uniform that they have been using the anthem to protest inequality, police brutality, and racial injustice. Trump and others have hijacked the protest and made it about the anthem.
Transcript: Colin Kaepernick addresses sitting during national anthem (Chris Biderman, Ninerswire, 8-28-16) A transcript from 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s media session Sunday Aug. 28, 2016 – his first public appearance after telling NFL Media why he decided to sit during the national anthem during the first three preseason games.
Defining Hate Speech (Andrew Sellars, Boston University School of Law, on Social Science Research Network, SSRN, a website devoted to the rapid dissemination of scholarly research in the social sciences and humanities) Downloadable. Common traits of hate speech: 1) Targeting a group, or individual as member of a group; 2) Content in the message that conveys hate; 3) The speech causes a harm; 4) The speaker intends harm or bad activity; 5) The speech incites bad actions beyond the speech itself; 6) The speech is either public or directed at a member of a group; 7) The context makes violence response possible; 8) The speech has no redeeming purpose.
What Does Facebook Consider Hate Speech? Take Our Quiz (Audrey Carlsen and Fahima Haque, NY Times, 10-13-17) The answers to the quiz are interesting, especially if you get one wrong.
Hate Speech court cases (6 cases, The First Amendment Encyclopedia)

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Gag Orders and Free Speech cases (4 cases, The First Amendment Encyclopedia) Look at Case Categories for links to case summaries on other, related subjects in the First Amendment Encyclopedia, a very handy addition to our online reference library.
Why We Must Still Defend Free Speech (David Cole, NY Review of Books, 9-28-17) "Free speech, in short, is exposing white supremacists’ ideas to the condemnation they deserve. Moral condemnation, not legal suppression, is the appropriate response to these despicable ideas."
• DOCS V. GLOCKS. Florida Doctors May Discuss Guns With Patients, Court Rules (Lizette Alvarez, NY Times, 2-16-17) A number of doctors and medical organizations sued Florida in a case that came to be known as Docs v. Glocks, after the popular handgun. The Florida law was the first in the country to try to restrict the First Amendment rights of medical providers to discuss the safe storage of guns with patients, and the court ruling will probably make it more difficult for other states to pass a similar measure. The Republican-controlled Florida legislature, with the support of the state’s Republican governor, Rick Scott, passed the restrictions in 2011, aimed primarily at pediatricians. Under the law, doctors could lose their licenses or risk large fines for asking patients or their families about gun ownership and gun habits. The National Rifle Association viewed the medical community’s gun-related questions as discriminatory and a form of harassment, a position that the state took in court when it argued the queries violated the right to bear arms. Florida to Pay Legal Fees in Case That Kept Doctors From Discussing Guns (Matthew Haag, NY Times, 7-24-17)

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How To Leak To ProPublica (ProPublica) "We’re investigative journalists devoted to exposing abuse of power. If you’ve got evidence showing powerful people doing the wrong thing, here’s how to let us know while protecting your identity."
Leaked policies guiding moderators on what content to allow are likely to fuel debate about social media giant’s ethics (Nick Hopkins, The Guardian, 5-21-17) Leaked policies guiding moderators on what content to allow are likely to fuel debate about social media giant’s ethics
Making Google the Censor (Daphne Keller, NY Times, 6-12-17) Can sites like Google, Facebook, and Wikipedia be asked to build tools to identify and remove extremist content? and so on.
Free Speech Rights of Public Employees (Exploring Constitutional Conflicts, The issue: May the government use the speech of a public employee as the basis for discharge or denying promotion? A few interesting cases. Here's one, from Oyez: Garcetti v. Ceballos.

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Human Rights and Encription (PDF of report, UNESCO 2016) "UNESCO “recognizes the role that anonymity and encryption can play as enablers of privacy protection and freedom of expression, and facilitates dialogue on these issues.” The principles of Internet Universality (R.O.A.M.) "advocate for a human-Rights-based, Open and Accessible Internet, governed by Multi-stakeholder participation." Advocates for "encryption literacy."
Oyez Database on major constitutional cases heard by the United States Supreme Court, with multimedia resources including digital audio of oral arguments.
Talent Wants to Be Free: Why We Should Learn to Love Leaks, Raids, and Free Riding by Orly Lobel, who challenges conventional business wisdom about competition, secrecy, motivation, and creativity. Combining original behavioral experiments with sharp observations of contemporary battles over ideas, secrets, and skill, Lobel identifies motivation, relationships, and mobility as the most important ingredients for successful innovation.
Will Fair Use Survive? Free Expression in the Age of Copyright Control (Freedom of Expression Project). Download free PDF. Practices that threaten free expression and fair use: cease and desist letters, DMCA take-down notices, the "clearance culture," negotiated guidelines.
Online Censorship: A Global Map & Ranking of Every Country’s Internet Restrictions (Infographic, VPN Mentor)

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Seattle Muralist Crystal Barbre Alters Her Work to Skirt Obscenity Laws (Sarra Scherb, Vanguard Seattle, 9-27-16). Who’s Afraid of the Female Nipple? The State of Washington.
Timeline: a history of free speech (David Smith and Luc Torres, Media, The Guardian, 2-5-06
Mizzou, Yale and Free Speech (Nicholas Kristof, OpEd, NY Times, 11-11-15) "On university campuses across the country, from Mizzou to Yale, we have two noble forces colliding with explosive force. One is a concern for minority or marginalized students and faculty members, who are often left feeling as outsiders in ways that damage everyone’s education." Student photographer Tim Tai, who was trying to document the protests unfolding in a public space, "represented the other noble force in these upheavals — free expression. He tried to make the point, telling the crowd: 'The First Amendment protects your right to be here — and mine.'”

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Who Is Entitled to Be Heard? (Suzanne Nossel, Op Ed, NY Times, 11-12-15) "Some of the most potent threats to free speech these days come not from our government or corporations, but from our citizenry. Pitched battles being waged at Yale and the University of Missouri pit speech versus speech in a contest of who and what is entitled to be heard."
Freedom of Speech (Wikipedia--some useful points made here)
Tolerance, Free Speech Collide on Campus ( Dan Frosch and Tamara Audi, WSJ, 11-13-15) A philosophical divide is at the heart of recent protests that have roiled campuses around the country. Universities are struggling to balance the free exchange of ideas with students’ growing desire to be shielded from offensive views.
How a high school student’s painting caused congressional Republicans to act like campus snowflakes (Jonathan H. Adler, WaPo, 1-14-17) Taking it down, wrong. Allowing expression of an opposing opinion, right.

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Kelly Carlin, Rain Pryor, and Kitty Bruce, daughters of three major stand-up comedians, speak about their fathers' (George Carlin, Richard Pryor, and Lenny Bruce's) experiences fighting for free speech in comedy, on campus and off. (YouTube video of the three women, supported by FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education). Or listen to the So To Speak podcast.
That's Not Funny! (Caitlin Flanagan, The Atlantic, Sept 2015) Stand-Up Comics have to censor their jokes on campus. "College gigs pay easily a grand a night—often much more—and they can come in a firecracker string, with relatively short drives between schools, each hour-long performance paid for (without a moment’s ugliness or hesitation) by a friendly student-activities kid holding out a check and hoping for a selfie." Chris Rock no longer plays colleges because "they were far too eager 'not to offend anybody.'"
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Organizations fighting for

First Amendment Rights and Four Freedoms

(and sites)


First Amendment Timeline (Middle Tennessee State University)

Notable First Amendment Cases (ALA) An invaluable summary of landmark and notable court cases, organized by category:
    Foundations of Free Expression: Historic Cases
    The Right to Read Freely
    Freedom of Expression in Schools
    Minors' First Amendment Rights
    Free Press
    The Right to Dissent
    The Right to Free Association and the Freedom of Religion
    Right to Privacy and Anonymity
When is speech unprotected:

   Obscenity and Indecency

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Organizations:
Academic Freedom Alliance
Access Now (an international human rights, public policy, and advocacy group dedicated to an open and free Internet: defends and extends the digital rights of users at risk around the world)
American Association of University Professors (AAUP) (Academic Freedom for a Free Society)
American Booksellers for Free Expression (ABFE)
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), especially the ACLU's Project on Speech, Privacy, and Technology and People Power, the ACLU’s effort to engage grassroots volunteers across the country, partly with Resistance Training. And tracking Legislative attacks on LGBTQ rights
American Library Association (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom and The Universal Right to Free Expression (An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights) Independent journalists, authors, and content writers.
American Society of Journalists & Authors (ASJA)
Amnesty International, which among other things provides Tips for Writing Op-eds and Letters to the Editor
Art and Culture Censorship Timeline, hosted by the National Coalition Against Censorship.
Article 19 (UK) ARTICLE 19 envisages a world where people are free to speak their opinions, participate in decision-making, and make informed choices about their lives.

AAPI Victory Alliance a network of Asian American and Pacific Islander Americans

The Authors Guild has commissioned a series of essays by writers on what the First Amendment means to them. T.J. Stiles starts it off with Dissent Shall Set You Free.
Banned Books Week Coalition (BBWC)

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Center for Constitutional Rights
Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT), a champion of global online civil liberties and human rights, driving policy outcomes that keep the Internet open, innovative, and free. Has blog and podcasts.
Center for Popular Democracy works to strengthens our collective capacity to envision and win an innovative pro-worker, pro-immigrant, racial and economic justice agenda.
Center for Protest Law and Litigation We defend democracy by protecting protest and enforcing constitutional rights, in the courts and in the streets.
• Chilling Effects Clearinghouse. See Lumen.
Columbia Journalism Review: Watchdog
Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF). Resources include Case Files and a History of Comics Censorship (in six parts).
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
crImmigation (The Intersection of Criminal Law and Immigration Law) Published since 2009 by César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández.

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Daily Alert on Free Expression (DARE, PEN America) A daily-curated roundup of the most important free expression-related threats, news, and notable goings-on -- a daily briefing on free expression hot spots (one of the best ways to stay on top of current issues/events).
Defending Rights and Dissent (organization formed when the Bill of Rights Defense Committee and the Defending Dissent Foundation joined forces)
Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF, Defending digital privacy, free speech, and innovation)
The Ethical Journalism Initiative
EveryCRSReport.com. "We’re publishing reports by Congress’s think tank, the Congressional Research Service, which provides valuable insight and non-partisan analysis of issues of public debate. These reports are already available to the well-connected — we’re making them available to everyone for free." See, for example, Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh: His Jurisprudence and Potential Impact on the Supreme Court (R45293, 8-21-18)

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FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting)
First Amendment Coalition (FAC), originally California First Amendment Coalition (and California-focused), an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization whose purpose is to "promote and defend the people's right to know"--that is, our freedom of information (to find out) and freedom of expression (to speak out) about matters of public interest.
First Amendment News (FAN). Weekly update of news about freedom of speech, press, assembly, and petition, now hosted by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and available on its website.
First Amendment Project (a nonprofit organization providing free legal services on matters relating to free speech and free press)
First Amendment Watch New York University;s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute launched First as an online resource that goes beyond the headlines to provide much-needed coverage and context to the debate over freedom of expression.
Fix the Court An advocacy group that seeks reform of the U.S. federal court system. Taking the Supreme Court to task for its lack of openness and accountability.
Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). Help FIRE protect the speech rights of students and faculty. Among interesting resources on FIRE's site are a database of disinvitation attempts, "from the left" and "from the right" and a database of leader statements (higher education leaders quoted in the media articulating their institutions’ positions on guest speakers, academic freedom, speech policies, free speech, due process, etc. (as explained here).
#FReadom Resources
The Freedom Forum Institute (education and outreach partner of the Freedom Forum and the Newseum. The Institute includes the First Amendment Center, the Religious Freedom Center, the Newseum’s education department and diversity and inclusion programs. See First Amendment FAQs
Freedom House (works globally to defend human rights and promote democratic change, with a focus on political rights and civil liberties) See especially The Global Drive to Control Big Tech "In the high-stakes battle between states and technology companies, the rights of internet users have become the main casualties." See also Policy Recommendations.
Freedom of the Press Foundation (protects and defends adversarial journalism in the 21st century; uses crowdfunding, digital security, and internet advocacy to support journalists and whistleblowers worldwide)
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA official site) enacted by Congress in 1966 to give the public access to information held by the federal government -- the law that keeps citizens in the know about their government. See also Freedom of Information and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA, links to many articles, explanations, and answers to questions)
Freedom to Read Foundation
Free Expression Network (FEN) (National Coalition Against Censorship), an alliance of organizations dedicated to defending the right of free expression and the values it represents and to opposing governmental efforts to suppress constitutionally-protected speech. FEN members provide a wide range of expertise, resources and services to policymakers, the media, scholars, and the public at large. See archives and list of member organizations. There used to be lively discussions on current issues and problems, as members from various fields meet every other month. During the pandemic it went to Zoom and met less often.) See valuable links and resources and sign up for FEN emails.
Free Expression Project (Center for Democracy & Technology)
Free Press As we confront state-sanctioned violence against Black people, protesters and journalists, on top of a deadly pandemic, the fight for a free press has never been more crucial.
Free Press Action Created to give people a voice in the crucial decisions that shape our media.

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Government Information Watch "Tracking Openness and Accountability in Government" Read "How we operate" section for links to letters, reports.
GovTrack.us tracks the United States Congress and helps Americans participate in their national legislature. Use GovTrack to track bills for updates by getting alerts and understand the broader context of legislation through our statistical analyses.
Index on Censorship: A voice for the persecuted (X Index, UK, international audience)
Indivisible, a nationwide movement of thousands of volunteer-led local groups that engage in progressive advocacy and electoral work.
Institute for Free Speech
The Intercept investigates powerful individuals and institutions to expose corruption and injustice.

 

Journalism organizations Many links on that list probably belong on this list, too. (Give me time.)


Kids’ Right to Read Project (KRRP) (National Coalition Against Censorship) The Kids’ Right to Read Project is a signature part of NCAC’s Youth Free Expression Program. In response to the rapid expansion of organized politically partisan efforts to remove books from school and public library shelves, KRRP spearheads a collaborative effort to oppose the growing trend to “red flag” and label books like movies and video games.
Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University We defend the freedoms of speech and the press in the digital age through strategic litigation, research, and public education.
Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights
Lumen (formerly Chilling Effects) A collaborative archive created by several law school clinics and the Electronic Frontier Foundation to combat legal threats used to silence Internet activity. The Lumen database collects and analyzes legal complaints and requests for removal of online materials, helping Internet users to know their rights and understand the law. These data enable studying the prevalence of legal threats and let Internet users see the source of content removals. Lumen's website allows recipients of cease-and-desist notices to submit them to the site and receive information about their legal rights and responsibilities. A "project" of the Berkman Klein Center.


Media and Democracy Project Demands pro-democracy government. a media advocacy organization that urges news outlets and journalists adopt more aggressive left-of-center stances on issues such as abortion, climate change, and election integrity.
The Media Coalition Fights to protect the First Amendment rights of producers and distributors of books, movies, magazines, recordings, home video, and video games.
Media Law Resource Center (Model briefs and practice guides)
Media Justice (formerly Center for Media Justice) is the home of the MediaJustice Network.
Muckrock, a U.S. -based organization that assists anyone in filing governmental requests for information through the Freedom of Information Act, then publishes the returned information on its website and encourages journalism around it. Sign up for daily news reports.
National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC). See NCAC's important list/links on resources (check all the subtopics!), including
---NCAC and National Teacher Organizations’ Statement on The Freedom to Teach (with the National Council of Teachers of English, National Council for the Social Studies, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, National Science Teaching Association)
---NCAC's Book Censorship Toolkit
---Youth Censorship Database
---Smart Tactics: Curating Difficult Content
---Defend LGBTQ Stories  (plus other resources)
NCTE Intellectual Freedom Center (National Council of Teachers of English) offers advice, helpful documents, and other support to teachers faced with challenges to texts (e.g. literary works, films and videos, drama productions), to student writing, or to teaching methods used in their classrooms and schools. "All students have the right to materials and educational experiences that promote open inquiry, critical thinking, diversity in thought and expression, and respect for others." Blog: Literacy and NCTE.
National Freedom of Information Coalition (NFOIC), about the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), state FOI and open government issues.
National Security Archive (NSA), on whose website you can find the Text of the Freedom of Information Act, a Timeline of FOIA legislative history, How to file a FOIA request , and winners of the Rosemary Awards, for "for worst open government performance." See a particularly enlightening NSA article about the Rosemary Awards in 2015.

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OpenSecrets.org (Center for Responsive Politics)
OpenTheGovernment.org (Americans for Less Secrecy, More Democracy)
Partnership for Civil Justice Fund The fight for democracy, civil rights and social justice -- in the courts and in the streets.
PEN America's Tip Sheet on Educational Gag Orders (3-28-22) Educational Gag Orders In Your Community: A Tip Sheet for Changing the Conversation. Download printable version.
PEN Campaign for Four Freedoms. Particularly valuable: Defending Free Expression: A Toolkit For Writers and Readers. You can also subscribe to the excellent DARE: Daily Alert on Rights and Expression.
People For the American Way (PFAW, working to fight right-wing extremism and defend constitutional values under attack.)
Politiwoops (tracks deleted tweets by public officials, including people currently in office and candidates for office)
Project Censored (The News That Didn't Make the News) -- monitors the media and compiles an annual Top 25 Censored Stories.
Project on Government Secrecy (Federation of American Scientists)
ProPublica, an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest


RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty
Regional Reporters Association (RRA) Excellent links.
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP). The Reporters Committee regularly files friend-of-the-court briefs and its attorneys represent journalists and news organizations pro bono in court cases that involve First Amendment freedoms, the newsgathering rights of journalists and access to public information.

    Under Reporting Resources see links to RCFP's important legal guides, including

---the Election Legal Guide (an overview of legal issues that journalists may face while reporting on the 2024 election cycle)

---the Reporter's Recording Guide (presenting a summary of each state’s laws governing the recording of phone calls and in-person conversations and how those laws affect newsgathering)

---the Open Government Guide (information on every state’s open records and open meetings laws)

---the Open Courts Compendium

---the Reporter’s Privilege Compendium (on the right not to be compelled to testify or disclose sources and information in court — in each state and federal circuit)

---A Reporter’s Guide to Pre-Publication Review (or “vetting,” the process of reviewing news articles, scripts, and footage to address legal concerns)

---RCFP's Anti-SLAPP Legal Guide (providing defendants a way to quickly dismiss meritless lawsuits — known as SLAPPs or strategic lawsuits against public participation — filed against them for exercising speech, press, assembly, petition, or association rights).

    Journalists with additional questions or who need to find a lawyer can contact the Reporters Committee’s legal hotline.

    Every Sunday evening, RCFP's Technology and Press Freedom Project issues an important electronic newsletter The Nuance ("Tackling the Issues at the Forefront of a Free Press," formerly 'This Week in Technology and Press Freedom'). Sign up here for the Reporters Committee newsletter and updates. 
Reporters Without Borders (for freedom of information).
Resistance Recess (excellent Move.on.org resources for activists)
Roots Action is dedicated to galvanizing people who are committed to economic fairness, equal rights for all, civil liberties, environmental protection -- and defunding endless wars -- -- independent of both party leaderships.

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SCOTUS blog Independent news and analysis on the U.S. Supreme Court. Fascinating and helpful.
Simon & Schuster's "Banned and Challenged Books" Being banned as a marketing tool!
Student Press Law Center (SPLC) "Thousands of times a year, student journalists in crisis call the SPLC’s hotline. They may have had a camera confiscated by police, or had their public-records requests denied, or be facing censorship or stonewalling...." When student journalists need defending, these lawyers swoop in. For free. (Margaret Sullivan, WaPo, 6-18-17)

   SPLC  hailed the adoption in West Virginia of SB121, the Student Journalist Press Freedom Protection Act. The bill was signed into law by Governor Jim Justice on Thursday, March 23. West Virginia becomes the 17th state to adopt this type of legislation, known nationally as a “New Voices” law.
      The law ensures that "high school and college student journalists determine the content published in school-sponsored media –– including newspapers and yearbooks –– and protects them from censorship except in narrow, well-defined circumstances. The law also shields student media advisers from professional retaliation for refusing to unlawfully censor their students’ work."
Sunlight Foundation Advocates for open government globally, using technology to make government & politics more accountable & transparent.
Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (S.T.O.P.) fights to end discriminatory surveillance, serves those targeted by surveillance abuse. New York based. Our legislative priorities include the Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology (POST) Act and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.
Texas Library Association See Intellectual Freedom Resources and Intellectual Freedom Helpline.
Transformations Project We protect trans kids one bill at a time, together. Finds and tracks hateful and helpful legislation proposals that impact the health and safety of vulnerable youth and their families. ACLU is also tracking such legislation: Legislative attacks on LGBTQ rights


The Volokh Conspiracy Mostly law professors, blogging on whatever we please since 2002 · Hosted by The Washington Post, 2014-2017 · Hosted by Reason 2017 · Sometimes contrarian · Often libertarian · Always independent. For example: Important Fourth Circuit Ruling on Cell Phone Border Searches (Reason, 5-9-18)
The Whistleblower and Source Protection Program (WHISPeR) at ExposeFacts facilitates investigative journalism in the public interest by providing pro bono, direct legal representation to whistleblowers and media sources with a focus on human rights and civil liberties.
Woodhull Freedom Foundation (Affirming Sexual Freedom as a Fundamental Human Right) Legislators are introducing broad and sweeping legislation to limit sexual expression online. The Censoring of Sexual Freedom” is a monthly community virtual gathering featuring conversations with free speech experts and activists discussing the threats of censorship to our Democracy and to our daily lives, and to discover actions we can take to stop the attacks.See its Censorship Series


Xlab , an open community dedicated to open-source research and innovation. Mission: Making open source and digitalization simpler.

Youth Free Expression Film Contest (National Coalition Against Censorship, NCAC)

 


"Read whatever they're trying to keep out of your eyes and your brain,

because that's exactly what you need to know." ~ Stephen King

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Cancel culture

Cancel culture or call-out culture is a contemporary phrase used to refer to a form of ostracism in which someone is thrust out of social or professional circles – whether it be online, on social media, or in person. Those subject to this ostracism are said to have been "cancelled". ~Wikipedia


The Canceling of the American Mind:Cancel Culture Undermines Trust and Threatens Us All―But There Is a Solution by Greg Lukianoff and Rikki Schlott. To many, the proper takes on Cancel Culture are either that it’s a blip sensationalized by certain contrarians or just bad people being duly dismissed. Um, no. Read this book and find out what a scourge Cancel Culture has been, and what we can do to get past it. ~ John McWhorter, Columbia University linguistics professor and New York Times columnist

      "Greg Lukianoff and Rikki Schlott make a compelling case that the answer to this question is one of the most important in American life today. Their book is a humanizing and passionate cry for intellectual independence and those who want to think and speak for themselves." ~ Andrew Yang, co-founder of the Forward Party
The Plot to Cancel Drag Queens (Eesha Pandit, In These Times, 3-15-23) Drag Shows under attack by far-right groups. See Drag events faced at least 141 protests and significant threats in 2022 (Mary Emily O'Hara, GLAAD, 11-22-22) The states with the highest number of drag events targeted by protests and threats in 2022 were: Texas (20), North Carolina (10), Illinois (8), Tennessee (6), California (6), Georgia (5). A number of the drag events targeted by threats and protests in person were first targeted by right-wing media outlets like Fox News and the Daily Wire, and social media accounts like LibsOfTikTok. The outlets and accounts often misrepresented what would occur at upcoming drag events, spinning them as harmful to children, and protests or threats would follow.
Scholars Under Fire: 2021 Year In Review (FIRE, Foundation for Individual Rights in Education)
* Over the past seven years, 537 incidents targeting a scholar for some form of professional sanction over constitutionally protected speech have occurred. Almost two-thirds of these targeting incidents have resulted in a sanction, and just over one-fifth have resulted in a scholar’s termination.
* Scholars were most often targeted for expressing a personal view or opinion on a controversial social issue (65 incidents; 59%).
*Over one-third of targeting incidents occurred because of a scholar’s scientific inquiry (20 incidents; 18%) or teaching practices (27 incidents; 24%).
*Almost half of scholars were targeted for expression regarding race or racial issues (54 incidents; 49%). And so on.
What It Means to Get 'Canceled' (Merriam-Webster)
The Long and Tortured History of Cancel Culture (Ligaya Mishan, NY Times, 12-3-20) The public shaming of those deemed moral transgressors has been around for ages. As practiced today, though, is the custom a radical form of citizen justice or merely a handmaiden to capitalism? This thoughtful piece gives examples from the right and the left.
Bean Dad Redemption Arc (podcast episode 75, John Roderick, on the podcast Labyrinths: Getting Lost with Amanda Knox, Nov. 2023, 1 hr 22 min) Musician and podcaster John Roderick's most unenviable accomplishment was becoming Twitter’s main character from January 3rd through January 5th of 2021. A story about surviving cancellation, losing friends, and what we can learn about broader cultural trends.

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Mutually Assured Cancellation (Helen Dale, Not On Your Team, But Always Fair blog,1-4-24) "Ever had people petitioning your publisher to pull your book? Check. Ever had people try to get you sacked for your views? Check. Ever had people deluge you with abuse over something you’ve written? Check. And because you don’t frighten easily, you’ve responded to them with the single digit rampant? Check. "I’ve had all the above, and more. The pattern—put pressure on publishers, companies, professional associations, employers, etc to shut someone up—is now, as my mother used to say, as common as cat-dirt.'
The sting of outrage is the price we pay for living in a free society (Helen Darville, The Guardian, 4-30-15) Civil society must draw lines about just and unjust outrage. When Australians don’t defend the right to offend, the result is Scott McIntyre-style sackings.

Katy school district pulls books, cancels author’s visit after parents petition claiming subject matter teaches ‘critical race theory’ (Syan Rhodes, Click2Houston News, 10-4-21) Katy Independent School District said they have “temporarily” removed books by an award-winning children’s author from their library shelves after an outcry from parents claiming the subject matter promotes critical race theory. Jerry Craft is the writer and illustrator of “New Kid” and its sequel “Class Act”. He is the winner of the 2020 Newberry Medal, the Coretta Scott King Author Award, and the Kirkus Prize. Craft’s website describes the books, which feature young Black boys, as an “honest graphic novel about starting over at a new school where diversity is low and the struggle to fit in is real” and as a laugh-out-loud funny, powerful and important story about being one of the few kids of color in a prestigious private school.”
         Scholars said critics have critical race theory all wrong. “Critical race theory is definitely not about teaching white kids that they are inherently racist. It’s really more about understanding how institutional racism is instituted in society, organizations and government,” said Darius Benton, an assistant professor at the University of Houston Downtown who contributed to a book about critical race theory in 2021.

Don’t Stop Using the Term ‘Cancel Culture’ (Komi T. German and Greg Lukianoff, Words Have Meanings, The Daily Beast, 3-25-22) The phrase has been overused and abused, but it describes an undeniably real problem that’s getting worse. "We work on college campuses, where cancel culture hit first and hardest, so we know that cancel culture is more than just a “feeling” people have. Since 2015, we documented 563 attempts (345 from the left, 202 from the right, 16 from neither) to get scholars canceled. Two thirds (362 incidents; 64 percent) of these cancellation attempts were successful, resulting in some form of professional sanction leveled at the scholar, including over one-fifth (117 incidents; 21 percent) resulting in termination.... in 2001, the idea of one tenured professor being fired for protected speech seemed impossible, yet since 2015 there have been 30.
       "The problem has only gotten worse, particularly over the past few years. Just since the start of 2020, there have been 283 cancellation attempts. Scholars are canceled most often for expressing a personal opinion (338 incidents; 60 percent), encouraging discussion of sensitive material (145 incidents; 26 percent), or presenting a scientific argument (136 incidents; 24 percent).
       "Since 2015, there have been 163 investigations, 117 terminations, 109 suspensions, 48 resignations, 45 censorship incidents, 33 demotions, 18 retractions, and 13 mandatory trainings—all for ideological reasons."

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A Guide to Disinvitation: My Conversation with Williams College President Adam Falk (Peter Wood, National Association of Scholars, March 2016) A thoughtful essay on "disinvitations on college campuses, as well as other snubs, actions prompting invited speakers to cancel their own appearances, and speakers showing up only to be drowned out by protester." This is a 'long and careful laying out of distinctions between academic, intellectual, and First Amendment freedoms, and how all three relate to the broader purposes of higher education. It was NAS’s attempt to stand back from the current melee over Black Lives Matter, microaggressions, safe spaces, and the like, to see if we could find some answers to today’s discontents. President Falk’s email seemed to provide an opening. He discerned “a line” that had been crossed. The first step would be to see if he would say what that line is.'
Trump: Americans Who Died in War Are ‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers’ (Jeffrey Goldberg,The Atlantic, 9-3-20) The president has repeatedly disparaged the intelligence of service members, and asked that wounded veterans be kept out of military parades, multiple sources tell The Atlantic. President Donald Trump canceled a visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris in 2018, saying “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.”

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How To Tell If You're Being Canceled (Nick Gillespie, Reason, 11-1-2020)Kindly Inquisitors author Jonathan Rauch on the never-ending battle to defend free speech. Rauch's book: Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought.
A Shameful Season for American Journalism (Christopher M. Finan, Opinion, Wall Street Journal, 9-24-18) The Nation, the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books all run scared from criticism. "Ian Buruma was forced out last week as editor of the New York Review of Books after publishing an essay by a man who admitted that he has abused women. Mr. Buruma’s sudden departure caps a shameful season of American journalism. In July, the Nation apologized for a poem for the first time in its 153-year history. In August, the New Yorker canceled a conversation at its annual festival between editor David Remnick and former White House aide Steve Bannon....The journalist’s job is to ask difficult questions, prompting what can be uncomfortable conversations. This can be complicated. Presenting objectionable views could suggest one is condoning them. Yet learning something about the experience and views of those we dislike or with whom we disagree is crucial to understanding the deepening—and dangerous—divisions in our society." As some observers put it, When does poor editorial or educational judgment cross over into censorship? And: "Engagement is not endorsement."

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What is cancel culture? Everything to know about the toxic online trend (Brooke Kato, NY Post, 8-31-21) A gossipy rundown on some of the most prominent cancellations.
Why we can’t stop fighting about cancel culture (Aja Romano, Explainer, Vox, 12-30-20) Is cancel culture a mob mentality, or a long overdue way of speaking truth to power? See also The second wave of “cancel culture” ( Aja Romano, Vox, 5-5-21) How the concept has evolved to mean different things to different people. In the rhetorical furor, a new phenomenon has emerged: the weaponization of cancel culture by the right. Across the US, conservative politicians have launched legislation seeking to do the very thing they seem to be afraid of: Cancel supposedly left-wing businesses, organizations, and institutions; see, for example, national GOP figures threatening to punish Major League Baseball for standing against a Georgia voting restrictions law by removing MLB’s federal antitrust exemption.

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What you can do to fight book bans and challenges
Banned & challenged books
Banned & challenged books (lists)
Censorship vs. freedom of expression
Timelines of censorship history
Censorship by the numbers
Prior restraint (government censorship)

Freedom of Information and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

Scroll down for entries about court cases.

 

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA official site) enacted by Congress in 1966 to give the public access to information held by the federal government -- the law that keeps citizens in the know about their government.

     To get documents from a municipal, county, or state government organization, make the request according to the state's public records laws.  "An attorney could help you with this, but you could probably find the proper procedures by doing an Internet search using the terms '[name of state] public records request.' Some states even have an ombudsman or similar person in the state's attorney general office that may be able to assist." (H/T Bert Krages)

     You may also request information through police departments and other local departments. Try googling "FOIA [city or municipal] [state] police department), which will often take you to their online request form. ] Send a copy of your request to their legal counsel as well; that name will usually appear on their website.

     Responses to these requests typically move at a snail's pace.(H/T authors Bryanne Salazar, Anne Dalton). Some of the most useful links here are not at or toward the top, so skim the whole batch and look for what's best for your purposes.

New FOIA tip sheet can help you get the government information you need (Barbara Mantel, Covering Health, AHCJ, 9-8-21)
AHCJ's Right to Know Committee (Association of Health Care Journalists) When you're hitting roadblocks in your reporting, a good way to reach the committee is by going to its "trouble getting information" link: https://healthjournalism.org/trouble-getting-information/

You can also find that link on AHCJ's homepage https://healthjournalism.org/ and in AHCJ's email newsletter. Entering information in this portal: https://healthjournalism.org/trouble-getting-information/ allows AHCJ's right-to-know committee to track the issues and allows you to provide as much or as little information as you wish (though of course more is always better).
Reporters Committee, AP continue fight against FBI’s FOIA non-compliance (Simren Verma, RCFP, updated 7-27-21)

      After a long battle in court, the Reporters Committee has settled a pair of Freedom of Information Act lawsuits against the FBI for information about an agent impersonating a reporter and creating a false news story as part of its investigation of a 15-year-old student it suspected of sending bomb threats to high school administrators. An undercover agent sent the student the fake story, which installed surveillance malware on his computer. After the FBI did not return any records in response to FOIA requests originally filed in late 2014, the Reporters Committee and the AP filed suit and succeeded on appeal at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which established a high bar for the government to clear before withholding records under FOIA’s “foreseeable harm” provision.

       FBI and DOJ have refused to produce adequate records regarding the FBI's impersonation of the media, RCFP argues.

      "In 2007, the FBI posed as an Associated Press editor during an investigation of a 15 year-old student suspected of sending anonymous bomb threats to school administrators at his high school outside Seattle, Washington. The undercover agent sent the student a link to a fake AP news story in order to deliver surveillance malware to the student’s computer. The student did not immediately respond to the undercover agent’s e-mails, and only clicked the link after the agent, posing as a journalist, assured him that journalists “are not allowed to reveal their sources.” The student clicked the link, downloading the malware that identified his location to authorities.
      "When use of this investigative technique was discovered in October 2014, it was questioned by high-ranking members of Congress, members of the public and the press, who expressed concern that the use of this technique endangers the media’s credibility.

      Since then, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the AP have been fighting to obtain information regarding the FBI’s practice of impersonating members of the news media through the Freedom of Information Act. Separately, the Reporters Committee has been litigating another FOIA matter seeking access to records related to the FBI’s impersonation of documentary filmmakers."
FOIA your way around the world (Samantha Sunne, Tools for Reporters, 5-4-22)
---The RTI Rating analyses the quality of the world’s access to information laws (Centre for Law and Democracy) RTI is missing some countries entirely, like Cuba and North Korea.
---Global Freedom of Information Laws (Global Investigative Journalism Network) This Global Right to Information Rating Map lists international FOI laws. More than 100 countries have laws that require officials to turn over public records; many other countries have no laws specifying whether those records should or should not be made available.
---Open Government Guide (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press) A compendium of information on every US state’s open records and open meetings laws
---FOIA Wiki A free and collaborative resource on the United States federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
D.C. Circuit: FOIA’s ‘foreseeable harm’ standard has teeth (RCFP--Special Analysis: FOIA and the 'foreseeable harm' standard)
     The D.C. Circuit began its examination of the foreseeable harm provision by affirming that it “imposes an independent and meaningful burden on agencies” if they are to withhold records from the public; “generalized assertions” are not sufficient, nor are “mere speculative or abstract fears, or fear of embarrassment.” And with respect to the deliberative process privilege in particular, the Court noted that Congress was particularly focused on “overuse and abuse of Exemption 5 and the deliberative process privilege.”
      With that backdrop, the Court articulated the following test that must be satisfied for the government to withhold information under the deliberative process privilege and the foreseeable harm provision:
      [T]he foreseeability requirement means that agencies must concretely explain how disclosure “would” — not “could” — adversely impair internal deliberations. … A “perfunctory state[ment] that disclosure of all the withheld information — regardless of category or substance — would jeopardize the free exchange of information between senior leaders within and outside of the [agency]” will not suffice. … Instead, what is needed is a focused and concrete demonstration of why disclosure of the particular type of material at issue will, in the specific context of the agency action at issue, actually impede those same agency deliberations going forward. Naturally, this inquiry is context specific.
FOIA for pros: A step-by-step guide (Society of Professional Journalists, SPJ)
FOIA fact sheet (Globe1234, lots of links, general focus Medicare) Worth checking.
Finding state FOIA information (National Freedom of Information Coalition) States have distinct rules for how you get information from state and local government, including schools, etc. (NFOIC, RCFP)
State FOI Resources (National Freedom of Information Coalition)
FOIA fact sheet (Paul Burke's excellent links, geared slightly to Medicare)
Working with Whistleblowers: A Guide for Journalists (Government Accountability Project)
FOIA Mapper aims to make it easier for journalists to know where to look for public documents (Joseph Lichterman, Nieman Lab, 3-20-16) Independent data journalist Max Galka launched FOIA Mapper, a Knight Foundation-backed site, to streamline the FOIA process by helping users figure out the best ways to request the documents they need.
FOIA Mapper.
FOIA Machine This tool to automate and streamline FOIA requests (funded by a successful 2013 Kickstarter campaign and the Center for Investigative Reporting) contains the contact information for federal, state, and city agencies and can help you draft the letter, get related fees waived, and send your request. Create an account for free. (H/T AHCJ)
MuckRock A tool to help you file, track, and share public records requests.
MuckRock's Freedom of Information database
Muckrock archives Full of useful resources, including
---FOIA with friends: A MuckRocker’s guide to requesting public records (4-27-22)
---How you can use eviction data and public records to report on housing during the pandemic (3-3-22)
---How you can find more details about COVID-19 breakthrough cases in your hometown (Dillon Bergin)
---Requester’s Voice: Kris Newby, author of Bitten: The Secret History of Lyme Disease and Biological Weapons
History Lab's Freedom of Information Archive
FOIA 101: Tips and Tricks to Make You a Transparency Master (Muckrock's compilation of links to many practical fact sheets and tips about FOIA. For example, FOIA FAQ: How to get media requester status (What you should know about FOIA fee categories - and how to make sure you end up in the correct one) and How open is your government? Find out. An interactive database drawn from MuckRock's database and from work by journalist Miranda Spivack, who developed data on open government in collaboration with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, students at Marquette University's Diederich College of Communication and Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting.
The Freedom of Information Act (2016 stories about FOIA, Electronic Privacy Information Center, epic.org)
Sample FOIA Request Letters (National Freedom of Information Coalition)
Combating Government Secrecy Through Freedom of Information: A Best Practices Guide to FOIA Collaboration (PDF, Open the Government)
How journalists can navigate privacy laws Annie Waldman, NASW, 6-14-18)
Technology + Press Freedom (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press) The Technology and Press Freedom Project uses integrated advocacy — combining legal efforts, policy analysis and public education — to defend and promote press rights on issues at the intersection of technology and press freedom, such as reporter-source confidentiality protections, electronic surveillance law and policy, and content regulation online and in other media.
FOIA exemptions (explained literally and by implication, by FOIAdvocates) "The FOIA maintains nine exemptions to the general presumption of mandatory disclosure. 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(1)-(9). Generally, Congress intended the exemptions to protect against disclosure of information which would substantially harm national defense or foreign policy, individual privacy interests, business proprietary interests, and the efficient operation of governmental functions." As the 9th Circuit wrote in one court decision: "The Freedom of Information Act embodies a strong policy of disclosure and places a duty to disclose on federal agencies. As the district court recognized, 'disclosure, not secrecy, is the dominant objective of the Act.'" See also FOIA Exemptions (Dept. of Homeland Security)
What is a Vaughn Index in a Government FOIA Request? (John Davis, ClearanceJobs, 10-29-18) "A plaintiff’s challenge of the government’s use of an exemption in a FOIA case triggers the need for the government to produce a Vaughn. The Vaughn Index can take many forms such as a straight affidavit, a narrative document, an affidavit with a chart or index detailing the withholdings attached, or a hybrid of any of these examples. All Vaughns serve the same purpose; give a meaningful justification for any withheld materials, explaining under what authority of the nine exemptions of the FOIA it was withheld."
Coping with rejection: a guide to federal FOIA exemptions

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In the hunt for sustainability, DocumentCloud and MuckRock are joining together as one organization (Christine Schmidt, NiemanLab, 6-11-18) MuckRock and DocumentCloud are joining into one organization on the quest for sustainability as a hub for some of journalism’s most widely-used tools for transparency. MuckRock has a payment system for users and organizations, which DocumentCloud is eager to introduce. DocumentCloud has brand recognition and is good at showing it’s important to the journalism community and getting foundational support. MuckRock users have also asked for annotation and others features that DocumentCloud already has.
Muckrock, a U.S. -based organization that assists anyone in filing governmental requests for information through the Freedom of Information Act, then publishes the returned information on its website and encourages journalism around it. Fascinating and essential. See MuckRock makes FOIA requests easy, but will reporters use it? (Justin Ellis, Nieman Lab, 10-21-10).
On the health beat, public records can be a lifeline (Michael Morisy, Covering Health, AHCJ, 3-1-18) AHCJ invited organizations devoted to government transparency to write about how their work can help health care reporters.
Public Records (AHCJ, Right to Know portal) Invaluable. Reporters can encounter obstacles in obtaining documents that reveal what the government is doing, or failing to do – on the local, state and federal levels. Some public record laws are weak, and they may also be poorly enforced. Here are resources and stories to guide you in accessing public records.
From veteran State House reporters to brand new bots, everyone loves FOIA (Michael Morisy, MuckRock, 3-30-18) Tips from a reporter who has used FOIA for over 20 years.
How one AP veteran exposes corruption in Illinois (Jackie Spinner, CJR, 3-27-18) Over 20 years, Associated Press’ John O’Connor has exposed corruption at nearly every level of Illinois government. His reporting on lies and government waste across five administrations have been one of few constants in a statehouse press corps that, like most others, is a shell of what it was a decade ago....O’Connor had presumed the Department of Veterans Affairs would deny his FOIA request under a section that exempts documents considered to be “preliminary,” and in which opinions are expressed. However, that exemption is overridden if the head of the public body describes the document in public, which the director of the VA had done before a legislative committee. O’Connor got the report, he says, “because I know the law.”
In FOIA decision, Supreme Court rules that food stamp data is confidential (Pia Christensen, Covering Health, AHCJ, 6-25-19) Much info on the case linked to here, including what's wrong about the decision, in AHCJ's view. "This decision is a serious blow to government transparency," said Felice J. Freyer, AHCJ's vice president and chair of its Right to Know Committee. "I hope Congress will revise the Freedom of Information Act to clarify its original intent. I'm pretty sure that most Americans want to know how their tax dollars are being spent, and believe they have a right to such information. 

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US sets new record for censoring, withholding gov’t files (Ted Bridis, Associated Press, 3-12-18) The federal government censored, withheld, or said it couldn’t find records sought by citizens, journalists, and others more often last year than at any point in the past decade, according to an analysis of new data. The surge of people who sought records but ended up empty-handed was driven by the government saying more than ever it could not find a single page of requested files and asserting in other cases that it would be illegal under U.S. laws to release the information.
OTG Releases New Report Highlighting Challenges to Transparency in Washington, a Growing Surveillance State, and Attacks on Press Freedoms (Open the Government, 3-9-18)
FOI FYI (a Society of Professional Journalists blog)
iFOIA Resources (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, iFOIA.org). Dig deep for more resources, including iFOIA Letter Generator (produce a customized request letter in just a few easy steps--registration required to make next letter easier, I assume)
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Freedom of Information: Prison Access Policies (Jessica Pupovac, SPJ) Restrictive prison policies continue to be an issue — and a problem — for journalists. SPJ is working to keep prisons accessible and has developed this online resource of state access policies relating to the media.
**** Freedom of Information resources (Investigative Reporters & Editors, IRE) . Check out its tipsheets, story packs, videos, audio, listservs, and so on.
Right to Know: A Historical Guide to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) (Ammo.com)
iFOIA.org (a free online system for creating, sending, and tracking federal and state freedom of information requests) and iFOIA tutorials (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press) Generate requests, appeals, complaints and Vaughn motions.
Effective FOIA Requesting for Everyone: A National Security Archive Guide
Free Expression Network (FEN) (an alliance of organizations dedicated to protecting the First Amendment right of free expression and the values it represents, and to opposing governmental efforts to suppress constitutionally-protected speech)
Freedom of Information resources for journalists (NewsLab)
Transparency Watch (an IRE blog tracking the fight for open records)

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Center sues in an effort to make Medicare Advantage files public (Fred Schulte, Center for Public Integrity, 5-27-14) Freedom of Information Act suit targets government oversight of health care program and HHS's failure to respond to requests for information.
HHS releases guidelines for handling media requests (AHCJ, updated 6-8-12)

HHS Takes Steps to Improve Transparency with New FOIA Regulations (HHS.gov, 10-28-16)
---The new HHS rules on FOIAs (10-28-16). 90 days to appeal (not 30) and they stop processing a FOIA appeal when a requester files a lawsuit, among other changes.
---The previous HHS FOIA regulations
---CMS has its own rules on FOIA requests: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). See alsoCMS policies and procedures on processing FOIA requests.
Who Uses FOIA? – An Analysis of 229,000 Requests to 85 Government Agencies (Max Galka, FOIA Mapper, 3-13-17) Excellent graphics. Covered in Who files the most FOIA requests? It’s not who you think. (Cory Schouten, CJR, 3-17-17)
It Took a FOIA Lawsuit to Uncover How the Obama Administration Killed FOIA Reform (Jason Leopold, Vice News, 3-9-16)

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The Strange Politics of ‘Classified’ Information (Beverly Gage, NY Times Magazine, 8-22-17) "The new system also weighted the political scales in favor of officials adept at hiding unflattering facts and publicizing useful ones. At the F.B.I., the former director J. Edgar Hoover insisted that investigative files be kept secret, waging repeated battles to keep them away from the courts and Congress. But he also became a master of the leak, parceling out choice tidbits to reporters at strategic moments. The competing factions in today’s White House appear to understand this technique..."
Where the Sun Don't Shine (Paul D. Thacker, Slate, 3-2013) President Obama promised transparency and open government. He failed miserably. So why do Washington watchdog groups look the other way?
Why it's OK for taxpayers to 'snoop' on scientists (Charles Seife and Paul Thacker, L.A. Times, 8-21-15) If the public pays your salary, citizens have the right -- the duty, within limits -- to see and try to understand what you're doing. Scientists should be subject to the same rules as every other civil servant.
NYT’s Sarah Cohen will make you realize how much better your public records game could be (Ryan White, Center for Health Journalism, 12-15-15) "Statistics are a starting point, not an end....think of statistics as a signpost: They can point you to the “micro data” underlying them. Once you’ve obtained such data through a records request, you can perform your own analysis, without worrying over how the data were massaged into shape....According to Cohen, the real problem for most reporters is that they know more than the public information officers (PIOs). As a result, reporters should do everything they can to help PIOs find what they’re looking for — help them help you."

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PIO Censorship in the Era of Trump (Kathryn Foxhall, SPJ's FOI committee, Sunshine Week, 3-13-17) "President Trump has already labeled major press outlets the “fake news media” and the “enemy of the people.” His administration has blocked major news outlets from a briefing because it didn’t like what they published."
Excellence in Journalism conference Sept. 27-29, 2018 The SPJ - RTDNA conference in Baltimore, will include a session on Censorship by PIO. "Policies forbidding employees from unapproved communications with journalists are being enforced with
increasing aggressiveness, but they are almost certainly unconstitutional in
the government workplace and they may well violate federal labor laws in the
private sector."
Open Records, Shuttered Labs: Ending Political Harassment of Public University Researchers (Claudia Polsky, SSRN, 3-14-18) Every U.S. state has an open records law — a statute that permits any person, for any reason, to access the records of public agencies. This article focuses on the "political harassment of public university professors by activists on the right and left, through the mechanism of open records requests." Polsky "argues that professors should never have been subject to public records laws in the first instance, both because they are not engaged in public governance, and because open records laws are fundamentally incompatible with academic freedom. It further argues that the best way to stanch the present records request intrusion into scholars’ work is to create a broad scholar-records exemption from existing state laws."
Tips on prying loose records using FOIA requests, lawsuit (Fred Schulte, Association of Health Care Journalists Tip Sheet)

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Journalist Laura Belin Sues Iowa House Clerk over Denial of Press Credentials (Institute for Free Speech, 1-19-23) The Iowa House Chief Clerk has repeatedly denied credentials even though Belin qualifies under the credential criteria. The First Amendment rights to a free press and free speech ensure that government officials can’t unequally apply rules to deny a journalist access.
Muckrock Projects include The Private Prison Project, Subjects Matter: FBI Files, FOIA the Trump Administration, Counting the Uncounted: The Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kit Project.
Muckrock News
FOIA legislative history
FOIA (Wikipedia entry, a good overview, but always double-check Wikipedia entries, as anyone can change the content)
Stanford Libraries FOIA archive (Preserved collection of sites that deal with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and documents. This includes government sites that receive and distribute FOIA documents (aka "FOIA reading rooms") as well as non-profit organizations and government watchdogs that request large numbers of FOIA documents on specific topics like national security and civil rights.)
Your Right to Federal Records (Electronic Privacy Information Center) Questions and Answers on the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act, 1992.

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National Freedom of Information Coalition (NFOIC) (a nonpartisan coalition, protecting your right to open government--news and analysis about "Open government is not a natural phenomenon. It's the law."
Freedom of Information Act and Government Transparency (Public Citizen)
Thanks to FOIA, you can (kinda) play the CIA’s collectible card game (JPat Brown, Muckrock, 12-6-17) Agency’s “Collection Deck” game is ready for you to print out and play - it’s just that some of the cards are a matter of national security
FOIA Clinics (Better Government Association, BGA, promotes reform in Illinois through investigative journalism, civic engagement and advocacy. We're a watchdog, shining a light on government and holding public officials accountable.
FOIA offices for various federal agencies

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Freedom of the Press

vs. escalating press office censorship in federal government, unjustly detained or imprisoned journalists, erosion of judicial respect, among other things

"If the press didn't tell you, who would?" (an old SPJ slogan)


Freedom of the Press (report) (Wikipedia) Features a wonderful map showing stages of freedom of the press (or not) around the world (color coded: green: free; yellow: partly free; pink: not free.
2021 World Press Freedom Index: Journalism, the vaccine against disinformation, blocked in more than 130 countries "The 2021 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) shows that journalism, the main vaccine against disinformation, is completely or partly blocked in 73% of the 180 countries ranked by the organisation." Here's The Ranking.
Last Vestiges of Russia’s Free Press Fall Under Kremlin Pressure (Anton Troianovski and Valeriya Safronova, NY Times, 3-3-22) “Everything that’s not propaganda is being eliminated,” a Nobel Prize winning editor said as Russian authorities moved to control the narrative in the Ukraine war... Precipitating the outlets’ demise were plans by the Russian Parliament to take up legislation on Friday that would make news considered “fakes” about Russia’s war in Ukraine punishable by yearslong prison terms. The Russian authorities have already made it clear that the very act of calling it a “war” — the Kremlin prefers the term “special military operation” — is considered disinformation.
Criminalizing journalism, spooking gun buyers, and fashioning the destiny of the community. (John Ross, Institute for Justice, 1-26-24) See section that starts "After journalist asks Laredo, Tex. police officer to confirm facts that were part of a developing story, and the officer willingly did so, the journalist is … arrested! Her questions ran afoul of a Texas law that prohibits asking for information that hasn't been released to the public (a law that has been on the books for decades and never used before now, rather suspiciously against a critic of law enforcement)."

       Can the state criminalize routine newsgathering of the kind that reporters do every day? Fifth Circuit (en banc, by a vote of 9-7): You betcha, First Amendment notwithstanding. [Institute for Justice filed an amicus brief urging a different course of action.] [Institute for Justice filed an amicus brief urging a different course of action. For some in-depth journalism, here's the Texas Observer (The Judges Who Ruled Against La Gordiloca Are Criminalizing Watchdog Journalism (Jason Buch, 1-24-24). One dissenting judge said the decision guarantees the media “will only be able to report information the government chooses to share.” Judge Willett: "In the upside-down world of qualified immunity, everyday citizens are demanded to know the law’s every jot and tittle, but those charged with enforcing the law are only expected to know the “clearly established” ones. Turns out, ignorance of the law is an excuse—for government officials." Here's the decision: VILLARREAL v. CITY OF LAREDO TEXAS (2024)

RTDNA Calls On Florida Representatives To Pass Journalist Protection Act (Radio Television Digital News Association, 3-13-23) The legislation, first introduced in 2018, would make it a federal crime to intentionally intimidate or cause bodily harm to a journalist or media organization in the course of newsgathering or reporting. It would also allow the Justice Department to prosecute those who intimidate or assault journalists when local prosecutors decline to do so. “Years of anti-journalist rhetoric trumpeted by those in power has caused a dramatic and disturbing increase in attacks on the media. Unfortunately our members are increasingly at risk of serious harm.”
Press freedom and government transparency during COVID-19 (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press). A white paper that looks at the implications of public health interventions for press freedom.
The Cigarette Smoking Man (Aymann Ismail, Slate, 8-12-21) I filmed inside the Capitol riot. When I heard from the FBI, I faced a vexing dilemma. “It’s a little tense, right? Because you guys have your job and we have ours,” he said.
The Patriot Act Threatens Freedom of the Press (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Encyclopedia.com) Following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on America, Congress passed the Patriot Act, which President George W. Bush signed into law on October 26, 2001. Congress enacted the law with little debate just six weeks after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. This law makes it easier for the government to conduct wiretapping and other intelligence gathering in an attempt to prevent terrorist attacks. In the following selection the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press describes the law and examines its impact on press freedoms. According to the committee, the law allows the government to require journalists to turn over their notes upon demand, potentially forcing them to reveal the identities of secret sources. In addition, journalists' communications could come under FBI surveillance without their knowledge.
      "The USA PATRIOT Act's impact on newsgathering is still largely unknown nearly two years after Congress rushed to enact the law. Journalists should be concerned about certain provisions of the law, which grant broad new powers to government agents to investigate terrorism."


Tape recording laws at a glance (U.S., state by state)
First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (Wikipedia's useful entry)


RCFP's Leak Chart: Federal cases involving unauthorized disclosures to the news media, 1778 to the present (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press) A comprehensive and comparable list of federal cases involving the leakage of classified information to the news media.
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press Free press topics: Content Restrictions, Court Access, Freedom of Information, Libel and Privacy, Newsgathering,Prior Restraint, Reporter’s Privilege. Resources: Press freedom and government transparency during COVID-19; Election Legal Guide; Reporters’ Recording Guide; Open Government Guide; Open Courts Compendium; Reporter’s Privilege Compendium; A Reporter’s Guide to Pre-Publication Review; FOIA and Federal Open Government; Anti-SLAPP Legal Guide.
Press Freedom 2020: Eleven questions for presidential candidates to answer (National Press Club Journalism Institute, in partnership with the National Press Club, Society of Professional Journalists and other organizations)
PEN's Writers at Risk Database. About its launch in 2019: During 2019, according to data collected for the inaugural edition of PEN America’s Freedom to Write Index, "at least 238 writers, academics, and public intellectuals were in prison or held in detention unjustly in connection with their writing, their work, or related activism. Writers and intellectuals are often among the canaries in the coal mine who, alongside journalists and human rights activists, are first targeted when a country takes a more authoritarian turn. The unjust detention and imprisonment of writers and intellectuals impacts both the individuals themselves and the broader public, who are deprived of innovative and influential voices of dissent, criticism, creativity, and conscience. For this reason, the targeting of writers and public intellectuals for exercising their freedom of expression should be a source of grave concern to all."
Freedom to Write Index 2019 (PEN) "During 2019, at least 238 writers and public intellectuals were in prison or held in detention unjustly in connection with their writing....Just three countries—China, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey—held 141 of the 238 cases in the 2019 Index....A fifth of the writers and public intellectuals in the 2019 Index are scholars held in detention or imprisoned by governments for their work."
Media’s legal defeats trouble First Amendment advocates (Josh Gerstein, Politico, 9-23-19) 'A string of recent court setbacks for news organizations is prompting jitters among First Amendment advocates who fear that it could signal an erosion of the deference press outlets have enjoyed for decades in cases challenging their reporting. Some legal experts view the rulings as signs that the courts’ view of the media is beginning to change, with more judges embracing the notion that major news outlets are partisan combatants rather than engaged in a dispassionate search for the truth....The recent rulings involved well-known, national media outlets: National Public Radio, The New York Times and Fox News. All the decisions evinced serious doubts about the media’s actions.'
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press Updates Subscribe to monthly updates, This Week In Technology + Press Freedom, updates about its reports or special analyses. See also these special guides:
---First Amendment Handbook (download PDF, free) A basic primer on the laws affecting reporters’ rights to gather and disseminate news.
---Police, Protesters and the Press This guide helps journalists understand their rights at protests and how to avoid arrest when reporting on these events.
---Election Legal Guide (in English or in Spanish)
---Open Government Guide A compendium of information on every state’s open records and open meetings laws.
---Open Courts Compendium A general guide to court access issues, with specific additional information for each state and federal circuit. Providing updated chapters as authors deliver them.
---Anti-SLAPP Legal Guide A general introduction to each state’s anti-SLAPP law, to the extent one exists. Read Overview of Anti-SLAPP Laws Anti-SLAPP laws give defendants a way to quickly dismiss meritless lawsuits—known as “SLAPPs” or “Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation”—filed against them for exercising their First Amendment rights. These laws aim to discourage the filing of SLAPP suits and prevent them from imposing significant litigation costs and chilling protected speech.
---Additional legal resources: Map showing current state legislation status and police department policies regarding public access to police worn body camera footage; a comprehensive and comparable list of federal cases involving the leakage of classified information to the news media; press freedom on tribal lands; a reporter's guide to pre-publication review; Electronic Communications Surveillance: What Journalists and Media Organizations Need to Know, etc.
Nothing to declare: Why U.S. border agency's vast stop and search powers undermine press freedom (Report Summary, Committee to Protect Journalists, 10-22-18) The ability of a government agent to scour a phone or laptop without any legal process is a chilling prospect, particularly for journalists working with whistleblowers. But that is exactly the prospect journalists crossing a U.S. border face thanks to the wide powers granted to Customs and Border Protection agents, who can search electronic devices without warrant, and question reporters about past and current work. To measure the impact these warrantless searches have on the media, CPJ and its partners at Reporters Without Borders sent an open call to journalists who have been stopped at a U.S. border. They identified 37 journalists who said they found the secondary screenings invasive. Of these cases, 20 said that border agents conducted warrantless searches of their electronic devices. You can download the full report.
U.S. Press Freedom Tracker (Freedom of the Press Foundation, Committee to Protect Journalists, and a coalition of media partners) A database of press freedom incidents in the United States — everything from arrests of journalists and the seizure of their equipment to assaults and interrogations at the U.S. border. The Press Freedom Tracker documents incidents across the country, involving national, state and local authorities,  especially by governmental bodies and elected officials....The report pins part of the blame for the U.S. slide on President Trump and his regular attacks on the media. The president often uses the term "fake news" in describing the American media.
What Does Julian Assange's Indictment Under the Espionage Act Mean for Journalism? (Ofer Raban, Pacific Standard, 5-28-19) Originally published in The Conversation (5-25-19) as Assange’s new indictment: Espionage and the First Amendment What goes for Assange may also go for any person who obtains or discloses classified information—even journalists.
The Constitutional Rubicon of an Assange Prosecution (Elizabeth Goitein, Just Security, 5-9-17) 'In general, an employee who signs a non-disclosure agreement in order to gain access to classified government information may be prosecuted for leaking that information. Drawing the line between those who leak classified information and those who publish it thus makes constitutional sense in a way that drawing the line between “good” publishers and “bad” publishers does not....Allowing the FBI to determine who is allowed to publish leaked information based on the bureau’s assessment of their patriotism would cross a constitutional Rubicon. If that giant step were to become a precedent, it could very well spell the end of independent, objective national security reporting.'
Inchoate Liability and the Espionage Act: The Statutory Framework and the Freedom of the Press (Stephen Vladeck, Harvard Law and Policy Review, 2007, via Digital Commons) Parsing of the statutory text, and why it raises a First Amendment issue in cases like Julian Assange and Wikileaks.
Revealed: The Justice Dept's secret rules for targeting journalists with FISA court orders (Trevor Timm, Exec. Director, Freedom of the Press Foundation, 9-19-18). Read Targeting Journalists Under FISA: New Documents Reveal DOJ’s Secret Rules (Ramya Krishnan, Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, 9-17-18) "For years, press advocates suspected that the government was relying on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to monitor the communications of journalists and news organizations. New documents appear to confirm that suspicion." See also Secret Rules Make It Pretty Easy for the FBI to Spy on Journalists (Cora Currier, The Intercept, 6-30-18)

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Even the FBI Agrees: When Undercover Agents Pose as Journalists, It Hurts Real Journalists’ Work (Trevor Aaronson, The Intercept, 8-7-18) ... The government acknowledged in a court filing that FBI agents who pretend to be journalists create a chilling effect, making it harder for real journalists to gain trust and cooperation from sources. The astonishing admission came as the FBI attempted to fend off litigation from Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, which has filed requests for documents under the Freedom of Information Act....
US falls to 45th on press freedom index, Trump labeled 'media-bashing enthusiast' (Joe Concha, The Hill, 4-25-18) Reporters Without Borders has dropped the United States to No. 45 in its annual ranking of press freedom for 180 countries around the world.
Reporters Without Borders press freedom index 2018 Norway and North Korea were first and last again in 2018. "Hatred of journalism threatens democracies."
Committee to Project Journalists (CPJ)
First Amendment Handbook (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press)
Digital Journalist's Legal Guide (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press). for anyone disseminating news online, from an independent blogger to a reporter for a major media outlet, as well as media lawyers.
Student Press Law Center (SPLC, an important advocate for student press rights). One of its most important efforts, the New Voices campaign, is a student-powered grassroots movement to give young people the legally protected right to gather information and share ideas about issues of public concern. See how your state is doing on this New Voices State Tracker.
FAQs About Covering Student Walk-Outs and Protests (SPLC)

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Press Freedoms in the United States 2017 (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, A Review of the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, March 2018) There were 45 physical attacks on journalists in the U.S. last year, and 34 arrests. There were at least
15 cases where law enforcement seized and in some cases even searched a journalist’s equipment, such as cellphones and cameras. At about p. 8, see How to Protect Yourself When Covering a Protest.
One dangerous year: Journalists under threat in 2017 (Christie Chisholm, Denise Southwood, and Alexandra Ellerbeck, CJR, Winter 2018) Seventy-six percent of the journalists arrested in the US in 2017 were apprehended during just three events: protests in St. Louis, Missouri, following the acquittal of former police officer Jason Stockley; in Washington, DC, during Donald Trump’s inauguration; and at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota, in response to the Dakota Access Pipeline. (Source: The US Press Freedom Tracker)
Independent journalists account for 75 cases, or 29 percent of all members of the press who were imprisoned in 2017. Fifty-one percent of journalists jailed for their work are detained in Turkey, China, or Egypt. Thirty-three percent of the journalists killed (worldwide, and mostly outside of the US) in 2017 were independent journalists. This is one article in The Fear Issue: Threats of CJR.
When it comes to press freedom, America is no longer a ‘beacon’ for the world (Jon Allsop, CJR, 2-13-18) “We depend on the US to stand up for press freedom at the United Nations....It’s very hard when you have a president with this rhetoric and lack of normative power.” “The US has also been exporting press threats unrelated to Trump. Facebook and other social networks, for example, are US-based and often have a US-centric view of how their services should operate. Ingram touched on Facebook’s experiments in countries like Cambodia, where it recently removed news articles from users’ main feeds. While Facebook saw this as a kind of product-centric A/B test, it had serious consequences for citizens: In Cambodia, most people get their news from Facebook, and the country’s autocratic prime minister, Hun Sen, has made the site a key plank of his communications strategy. 'Facebook is a massive double-edged sword,' Ingram said. 'In fact, if there’s a sword that has more than two edges, Facebook is that sword.'”

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The absurdity of World Press Freedom Day: A brief history (Joel Simon, CJR, 5-2-18) "At the moment when information is being weaponized, the historic defenders of press freedom, the US and Europe, are failing to step up... the president of the United States is engaged in permanent war with the media and declares journalists to be enemies of the American people. Donald Trump shows no interest in defending the international system that has supported press freedom for the past two decades. Without global leadership, there is little consequence for countries that violate press freedom norms–whether it’s the Turkish government jailing journalists in record numbers or Israeli snipers shooting reporters as they cover the ongoing protests in Gaza, or a suicide bomb in Kabul targeted at journalists."
Censorship Creep Is Setting In as Social Media Companies Try to Stay Ahead of European Lawmakers (Tim Cushing, TechDirt, 3-15-18) "...much of the content being taken down by Google and others isn't even illegal under more extreme speech laws passed in European nations. The laws written in response to tragedies have managed to turn social media platforms into tools of government oppression....Companies headquartered in the nation with the most free speech protections are turning their back on protecting free speech. Overblown fears of radicalization have resulted in the removal of content with inherent journalistic value (not to mention possible investigative value) and efforts to clamp down on something no one can seem to define ("fake news") is turning American companies against American values....More speech is always better than less speech. But the snowballs rolling downhill from Google, Facebook, and Twitter are gathering speed. And those who feel the only speech worth protecting is speech they like are winning, in some cases without even having to lift a legislative finger."
A Libel Suit Threatens Catastrophe for the Climate of Public Debate (Michael A. Carvin and Anthony Dick, WSJ, 2-5-17) Michael Mann sues to silence critics, and errant courts ignore the First Amendment to help him. He reports on climate change (which he believes in) but critics question his numbers. So he sues them for defamation.
BookExpo 2017: At PEN America First Amendment Panel, Different Takes On Protecting Speech (John Maher, Publishers Weekly, 6-2-17) "BookExpo and PEN America's joint panel on Thursday afternoon, "The First Amendment Resistance," found activists and speech advocates from various industries debating the ethical and civil responsibilities writers and publishers have in an era of partisan enmity and so-called alternative facts."

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Access denied: Reporters say federal officials, data increasingly off limits (Paul Farhi, Wash Post, 3-30-15) Reporters often encounter closed doors when seeking data and interviews from the administration.
The Memory Hole 2, run by Russ Kick, saves important documents from oblivion, so when an important government web page disappears (e.g., EPA and FAA regulations that were withdrawn/deleted when the Trump Administration took office), you may find it here. Likewise, the deleted Trump tweets. You may also find many things on The Internet Archive (The Wayback Machine).
Open the Government.org . Its focus issues: Improving access, opening government, preserving records, reducing secrecy, surveillance transparency.
The Press Should Skip the White House Briefings (John A. Farrell, Op-ed, NY (1-24-17) "Get out of the press room, and look for access elsewhere."
Holding Government Accountable (Open the Government.org's links to partners in Holding Government Accountable; Ensuring and Improving Access to Information; Reforming National Security Secrecy; Protecting Civil Liberties; Opening State and Local Government)
That R. Kelly ‘cult’ story almost never ran. Thank Hulk Hogan for that. (Margaret Sullivan, WaPo, 7-30-17) After Jim DeRogatis, the veteran Chicago rock critic, reported for months on a stunning story about R&B singer R. Kelly and the young women said to be under his psychological and sexual control, it came time to get it published. Many venues turned it down, for fear of lawsuits like Hulk Hogan's invasion-of-privacy suit "bankrolled by billionaire Peter Thiel, a confidant of President Trump."

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2017 World Press Freedom Index -- tipping point (Reporters Without Borders). The U.S. again ranks 47th in press freedom. "The 2017 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reflects a world in which attacks on the media have become commonplace and strongmen are on the rise. We have reached the age of post-truth, propaganda, and suppression of freedoms – especially in democracies. " "Donald Trump’s rise to power in the United States and the Brexit campaign in the United Kingdom were marked by high-profile media bashing, a highly toxic anti-media discourse that drove the world into a new era of post-truth, disinformation, and fake news."
Talk to the Hand (Jenni Bergal, Nieman Reports, Spring 2014). Public health reporters say federal agencies are restricting access and information, limiting their ability to cover crucial health issues. Transparency crucial for reporting on health stories.
When Censorship Becomes a Cultural Norm (Kathryn Foxhall, Editor & Publisher, 5-16-14)
Judge Says Reporter for New York Times Must Testify at ‘Baby Hope’ Trial (James C. McKinley, NY Times, 8-4-16) When journalists witness or report on criminal activities, can they be forced to testify in court?
2013 World Press Freedom Index: Dashed hopes after spring (Reporters Without Borders) 2013 World Press Freedom Index
Reporters Without Borders launches media freedom “indicator”

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Freedom of the press worldwide 2013 (map- -how is your government doing?)
Freedom of the press worldwide, 2013, full report from Reporters Without Borders
Freedom House, among other things, publishes results of annual surveys ranking countries in terms of freedom and freedom of the press. Many excellent resources, including country rankings and maps.
Running into a brick wall with your FOIA request? Take it public (Kelly Hinchcliffe, Poynter, 5-4-16). A story about this story: Foiled by FOIL: How One City Agency Has Dragged Out a Request for Public Records for Nearly a Year ( Joaquin Sapien, Pro Publica, 4-21-16)
Charlie Hebdo shooting (Wikipedia) On 7 January 2015 at about 11:30 local time, two brothers, Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, forced their way into the offices of the French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Armed with rifles and other weapons, they killed 12 people and injured 11 others. Perpetrator: Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
Stand up for press freedom by wearing a 'Je suis Charlie' T-shirt (The Guardian, 1-8-15) PR calls on people to show their support for the Charlie Hebdo victims
a FOIA primer ("Your right to data") by investigative journalist Djordje Padejski, from The Data Journalism Handbook (free, online)
Requesting data from public agencies: A primer (Kristen Hare, Poynter, 3-18-15)
• Freedom of information in UK: Open Secrets (Martin Rosenbaum's blog for BBC News)
National Freedom of Information Coalition (NFOIC), protecting your right to open government.

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Resources on obstruction of reporting by public affairs offices (Kathryn Foxhall, 7-7-14)
Examples of interference with reporting (Kathryn Foxhall, 7-7-14)
Mediated Access: Public Information Officers’ Perceptions of Media Control (PDF, Carolyn S. Carson and Roberta Jackson, NAGC 3-11-13)
Mediated Access: Education Writers’ Perceptions of Public Information Officers’ Media Control Efforts (Carolyn S. Carlson & Megan Roy, SPJ report, 2014)
Mediated Access: Local Reporters’ Perceptions of Public Information Officers’ Media Control Efforts (PDF, Carolyn S. Carlson & Megan Roy, SPJ report, 2014)
VA Honesty Project (House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, highlighting the Department of Veterans Affairs’ lack of transparency with the press and the public about its operations and activities)
Sunshine Week website (Open government is good government) Sunshine Week is a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Participants include news media, civic groups, libraries, nonprofits, schools and others interested in the public’s right to know.
Government Public Affairs Offices: More Hindrance Than Help? (C-Span records panel of journalists and former govt affairs officers talking about transparency and the role of government public affairs officers, 8-12-13)
Stonewalling by government PIOs is one problem reporters face; some are responding to it by writing about it.
Sunshine Week (SPJ)

See also
Censorship, banned books, and freedom of expression

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Sunshine laws and Sunshine Week, government transparency, open government, shield laws, and fighting gag rules


As US company registry stalls, New York forges its own path toward transparency (Brenda Medina, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, 8-17-23) A new state bill modeled on the federal Corporate Transparency Act aims to expose company owners and share the information in a publicly searchable database. "In an op-ed published by the Albany Times Union in May, state Rep. Emily Gallagher, who co-sponsored the bill, said it was intended to “strike a blow against slumlords, human traffickers, fentanyl importers, tax cheats, terrorists, political corruption, kleptocrats and Russian oligarchs.” “This move by the New York legislature is an important sign that the United States no longer wants to be a home to the world’s dirty cash,” Erica Hanichak, government affairs director at the FACT Coalition, a transparency advocacy group, told ICIJ. But "some experts have warned the current proposal relies on weak civil penalties for enforcement."
• *** SPJ-NE: Fighting Gag Rules on Government Employees (recording of Kathryn Foxhall and Brittany Hailer, moderated by Frank LoMonte, speaking to the SPJ-NE, 10-19-23, with transcript along right side of video). DEFINITELY LISTEN TO THIS ONE. [This entry is long because this recording got me fired up!]  If the 1st Amendment didn't exist, government could run more efficiently. The 1st Amendment, however, protects free speech, not a government agency's efficiency. What are the First Amendment rights of government employees?

       Covering the county jail in Allegheny County, Brittany Hailer (director of the Pittsburgh Institute for Nonprofit Journalism) reported about restrictions on employee speech. Deaths in custody, for example, are a black box of information, and jails are even more opaque than prisons on policy about speaking about deaths in custody. (They don't even always report such deaths to the state or federal government.)  Did they conduct an autopsy? Will employees who actually care for people in such facilities lose their jobs if they speak to the press about problems in correctional facilities? Who will not get approval to speak to the press? Whistleblowers, critics of the system, and people with dissenting views. But, says Kathryn Foxhall, even if we are fishing over a 20-foot wall (restrictive policy), reporters need to get authoritative statements from officials.  It took Brittany three years to get one "not autopsy," which she got with the help of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. 
       Why have news organizations hesitated to take on restrictive policies? As director of PINJ, Brittany investigated how the pandemic impacted the Allegheny County Jail, including the jail's kitchen, its use of solitary confinement, and isolation of the sick. For three years, she tracked the deaths of those in custody in the Allegheny County Jail. Her work on deaths in custody was funded by The Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting. It's hard, says Brittany, and in another county she might not have been forced to become an investigative journalist. You have to keep filing for records and keeping your ear to the ground on such beats. If you can't get the info you need through the front door, you look for side doors to it. 

       Frank talks about the great work philanthropic organizations have done to provide resources serious looks at issues: the Stanton Foundation, Knight Foundation at Columbia, an excellent one at the University of Georgia...almost every part of the country has some degree of coverage, providing co-counsel to newspapers trying to help journalists get around restrictive policies.

     On the beat, you learn to file requests using the right words--e.g., "right to know"  "death" "hospital release," -- and to look thru civil documents to see if someone has sued.

Sometimes you go through the courts. Figuring out your beat includes learning which piece of paper is produced in connection with which kinds of events, so you know what to request. Find out who has left the agency (look through old government and commercial phone books). It's our skills sometimes that camouflage what is going on. A skilled reporter WILL find a way to get a story and yet there are still people in the agency who can't talk. There are people who will die because of something we don't know. Frank suggests interrogating restrictive policies, because sometimes when you learn that a rule is not officially a rule at all, and publicize that knowledge, people will open up. He talks about challenging policy. 

Kathryn adds: Editorialize about an issue. For instance, if a private or nonprofit company has certain rules, if they are silencing everyone who knows anything about what they are doing, why would we want to give money to them?

---First Amendment challenge to ‘gag’ rules in Allegheny County Jail (Emily Hockett, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, 8-29-23) "Journalist Brittany Hailer’s lawsuit alleges the policies mean that many problems in the jail go underreported. The Allegheny County Jail, in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has adopted policies that bar its employees and contractors from speaking publicly about the jail without the warden’s approval. Problems at the jail — an alarmingly high death rate, frequent personnel turnover and understaffing, and deficient medical care — have garnered attention in recent years. 'Brittany Hailer, director and co-founder of the Pittsburgh Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, is one of the local journalists who has been reporting extensively on conditions at the jail. Earlier this month, lawyers at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and Yale Law School’s Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic sued Allegheny County on Hailer’s behalf, arguing that the “gag” rules prohibiting personnel from speaking out about the goings on at the jail violate the First Amendment.

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LLC Transparency Act will expose the criminals (Emily Gallagher, Opinion, Times Union, 5-1-22) The LLC Transparency Act (A9415 / S8439) would require the disclosure of the beneficial owners of limited liability companies operating in New York. [LLCs are legitimate business structures that shield their owners from personal liability. They’re popular in the financial secrecy world.]
Sunshine Laws (U.S. open meeting laws, often referred to as “sunshine laws,” requiring agency officials to hold certain meetings in public) "These laws do not necessarily ensure that members of the public will be allowed to address the agency, but they do guarantee that the public and the media can attend the meetings."
State Secrets: Open government laws across the nation (Journal Sentinel) How open is your state government? Select a state to see its report card. With state and local government secrecy on the rise in many U.S. jurisdictions, this database offers a view of state open records and open meetings laws, and provides information about how to get what you are looking for, as well as ensure that government is operating in the sunlight.
Open Government Guide (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press) A compendium of information on every state’s open records and open meetings laws, detailing the rights of reporters and other citizens to see information and attend meetings of state and local governments. Each state’s section is arranged according to a standard outline, making it easy to compare laws in various states.
The Foilies 2021: Recognizing the Year’s Worst in Government Transparency (MuckRock, recognizing the year’s worst in government transparency, together with the Electronic Frontier Foundation). A roundup of some of the most outrageous redactions, absurd reasoning, and other obstacles to openness agencies around the United States put up — as well as a number of times persistent requesters overcome the odds to get their documents.
The Santa Clara Principles On Transparency and Accountability in Content Moderation These principles are meant to serve as a starting point, outlining minimum levels of transparency and accountability that we hope can serve as the basis for a more in-depth dialogue in the future. Three principles were proposed: initial steps that companies engaged in content moderation should take to provide meaningful due process to impacted speakers and better ensure that the enforcement of their content guidelines is fair, unbiased, proportional, and respectful of users’ rights.

1) Numbers: three principles as initial steps that companies engaged in content moderation should take to provide meaningful due process to impacted speakers and better ensure that the enforcement of their content guidelines is fair, unbiased, proportional, and respectful of users’ rights.

2) Notice: Companies should provide notice to each user whose content is taken down or account is suspended about the reason for the removal or suspension.

3) Appeal: Companies should provide a meaningful opportunity for timely appeal of any content removal or account suspension.

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•  As First Federal Execution in 16 Years Nears, Will the Government Follow the Law? (John Wonderlich, Sunlight Foundation, Bloomberg Law, 11-26-19) "The federal government recently signaled its intention to resume executions following a 16-year hiatus by simultaneously announcing its new lethal injection procedure and scheduling five execution dates, with the first to take place in early December.Unfortunately, the federal government unveiled its new execution procedures without going through the required rulemaking process that allows for public scrutiny and accountability. It is essential that the government’s new procedure follow the rulemaking process of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) before any execution may proceed....Lethal injection is a complex undertaking, and getting it right requires due diligence. Over the last decade, we have seen too many botched executions across the country. Execution drugs have failed to work as intended, leaving condemned prisoners alive and struggling for as long as two hours. Executioners have failed to set functioning IVs, injecting drugs into the prisoner’s flesh and potentially inflicting grievous pain. Some attempted executions, including one in Alabama in 2018, have been so mishandled and gone so wrong that the execution team had to abandon the effort altogether."
Local governments hide public records, face few consequences (Miranda S. Spivack, The Center for Investigative Reporting, Journal Sentinel, 11-16-16)
• (Rachel Bergman,
Web Integrity Project (Sunlight Foundation) Monitors changes to government websites, holding US government accountable by revealing shifts in public information and access to Web resources, as well as changes in stated policies and priorities. See New tools aim to help journalists track removal of information from federal websites (Rachel Bergman, AHCJ, 2018)
Learn How to File a FOIA Request (Public Citizen) See also FOIA section on this Writers and Editors website)
•   Rosemary Awards, "for worst open government performance." See NSA article about the Rosemary Awards in 2015. The National Security Archive established the "not-so-coveted" Rosemary Award in 2005, named for Rose Mary Woods, President Nixon's secretary, who claimed in testimony that she accidentally erased 18-and-a-half minutes of a crucial Watergate tape. "Bestowed annually to highlight the lowlights of government secrecy, the Rosemary Award has recognized a rogue's gallery of open government scofflaws, including the CIA, the Treasury Department, the Air Force, the FBI, the Justice Department, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper." Among tidbits: "The unfortunate silver lining of Hillary Clinton inappropriately appropriating public records as her own is that she likely preserved her records much more comprehensively than her State Department colleagues, most of whose e-mails have probably been lost under [State Department CIO Steven] Taylor's IT leadership."
Watchdog group charts open government winners and losers
Defusing Hate: A Strategic Communication Guide to Counteract Dangerous Speech (download free PDF, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum). Three workbooks: Understand Context and Conflict. Select and Guide Audiences. Design Medium, Speakers, and Message Content. Author: Rachel Brown.  [I realize this doesn't quite belong here, but I couldnt' figure out where else to put it!--PMc]

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Open Government Plans Audit (OpenTheGovernment.org, "Americans for Less Secrecy, More Democracy", 2010 )
Public contracts shrouded in secrecy (Miranda S. Spivack, The Center for Investigative Reporting and Journal Sentinel, 11-16-16)
Sunshine Week. NPC, SPJ and the Education Writers Association presented two surveys on press office interference, which show that the problem is pervasive. Most reporters said they felt the public is not getting the information it needs because of the barriers.
State Sunshine Laws Promise More Transparency (Carol Cruzan Morton, The Lund Report, 9-6-17) Less than a month after Anthony Montwheeler was released from state psychiatric custody, he was charged with kidnapping and stabbing to death his ex-wife and killing a Vale, Oregon, man in a car crash while eluding police. At the December 2016 public hearing that led to his discharge, Montwheeler testified he had faked mental illness 20 years earlier to avoid prison for kidnapping and other crimes. "The case points to a gap in the legal system," writes Malheur Enterprise. "There is no provision – no consequences — for what to do with someone who fakes a mental illness after criminal conduct." Morton: "The next question was: How could a person feign mental illness for 20 years and then be released back into the community, despite being considered a threat? To help answer that, Zaitz had asked for the exhibits, including the mental health assessments, considered at the discharge hearing held by the Oregon Psychiatric Security Review Board (PSRB). He also directed a request to the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), the agency with oversight for the State Hospital. Both agencies disagreed with the AG’s assessment that public interest outweighed health privacy....This disclosure tussle may have been the most extreme case in recent years of clashes and complaints about public records and meetings in Oregon related to healthcare. Interestingly, it occurred against a backdrop of broad new reforms in the public records laws that promise greater government transparency."
Sunshine Week (SPJ)
New tools aim to help journalists track removal of information from federal websites (Rachel Bergman, Covering Health, AHCJ, 3-15-18)
Web Integrity Project (WIP) "Government websites are changing the information they supply related to topics such as sexual orientation and women’s health, and the Web Integrity Project (WIP) at The Sunlight Foundation, a national nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., has been on a mission to track those changes."
How federal agencies are quietly removing government Web resources, and why it matters (Toly Rinberg and Andrew Bergman, Sunlight Foundation, 11-15-17)
Sunshine Week website (Open government is good government) Sunshine Week is a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Participants include news media, civic groups, libraries, nonprofits, schools and others interested in the public’s right to know.
U.S. government secrecy making historical research difficult (James McGrath Morris, Aljazeera America, 10-23-13). By redacting all documents, no matter how benign, the government is throwing its past down the memory hole....It will not be long before the government will include all of its historical past among its secrecy prerogatives."
Mediated Access: Local Reporters’ Perceptions of Public
Information Officers’ Media Control Efforts
(PDF, Carolyn S. Carlson & Megan Roy, SPJ report, 2014)
Transparency Watch (an IRE blog tracking the fight for open records)

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Prior restraint

(government censorship)


Opinion: A judge is restraining the New York Times from reporting on Project Veritas. That sets a dangerous precedent. (Stephen J. Adler and Bruce D. Brown, Washington Post 12-15-21) A court in the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court stayed a Dec. 24 judicial order requiring the New York Times return or destroy copies of material Project Veritas claims is protected by attorney-client privilege, and will hear arguments next week on provisions of the order preventing further dissemination. The Reporters Committee, along with 50 news media organizations, filed a friend-of-the-court letter in support of the Times at the trial court, and RCFP Chairman Stephen Adler and Executive Director Bruce Brown penned an op-ed noting that the prior restraint in this case had been in place for far longer than the Pentagon Papers.
The Skokie Case: How I Came to Represent the Free Speech Rights of Nazis (David Goldberger, ACLU, 3-2-2020) A first-person account of an event that happened in Illinois in 1977, with interesting repercussions. See also the American Nazi Leader's Application for assembly in Skokie, IL, June 22, 1977
CDC Should End Censorship on Journalists, Says D.C. Chapter of SPJ (Release from the Washington, D.C. Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, PR Office Censorship, 2-26-21) The gist: restrictions on staff speaking to reporters without notifying authorities amount to a human rights abuse, withholding critical perspective from the public and from health professionals.
A reporter went public when denied an interview. Here’s what happened next … (Felice J. Freyer, Covering Health, AHCJ, 5-20-19) "The Boston Globe’s environmental writer was used to being denied interviews with state scientists and officials. But this latest refusal from the administration of Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker was just too absurd. Abel had been forbidden to speak with the state ornithologist"...about birds!...So he went public in a big way and, in so doing, provided an example for health care reporters, who often face similar frustrations at the state and federal levels."
How to deal with obstructive public information officers? Challenge them. (Cinnamon Janzer, CJR, 5-20-19) "The Public Information Officer is a frequently obstructive mechanism thinly veiled by a helpful sounding title. PIO-approved comments shape the narratives of their news coverage across the country on matters that range from the mundane to the extremely consequential....'LoMonte’s advice to journalists facing uncooperative agencies and their PIOs is to get a written copy of the agency’s media policy. See what it actually says and whose signature is on it, he says; public information officers often have little or no authority themselves to enforce the policies they write. “There’s a real legal question as to how enforceable a memo like that is,” he says. In the meantime, Carlson says journalists should be writing about obstruction by PIOs directly. “When the government is obstructing your ability to get those answers, the public needs to know exactly what they’re doing,” she says. “You have to make it clear early in the story… It’s not that they’re too busy or whatever BS answer they gave you. You have to call it what it is and tell the public what happened.”'
Seven attempts by PIOs to stymie journalism (Kathryn Foxhall, SPJ FOI Committee)
Prior restraint (useful section on Wikipedia) Prior restraint (also referred to as prior censorship or pre-publication censorship) is censorship imposed, usually by a government, on expression that prohibits particular instances of expression.
Indonesia to investigate death of journalist being held for defaming palm oil company (Hans Nicholas Jong, Mongobay, 6-21-18) Muhammad Yusuf, a journalist in Indonesia, reportedly died of a heart attack earlier this month while being held on charges of hate speech -- defaming a palm oil company owned by a powerful tycoon. Activists and fellow journalists question the circumstances surrounding Yusuf’s arrest and death, and suspect the company used the defamation charges to silence Yusuf. (Clearly I need a new section for these threats to human rights.)
Government Censorship (Prior restraints) (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, from The First Amendment Handbook)
Nevada court ruling on Vegas victim’s autopsy raises prior restraint concerns (Pete Vernon, CJR, 2-16-18)
Near v. Minnesota (1931) (Bill of Rights Institute) This Landmark Supreme Court Cases and the Constitution eLesson focuses on the 1931 Supreme Court case Near v. Minnesota. In this landmark freedom of the press case, the Court struck down a state law allowing prior restraint (government censorship in advance) as unconstitutional. In so ruling, the Court applied the First Amendment’s protection of press freedom to the actions of state governments through the doctrine of incorporation.
Digital Journalist's Legal Guide (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press)
The Doctrine of Prior Restraint (FindLaw, Annotation 9--First Amendment)
Prior restraint vocabulary quizlets (oddly helpful)
Sedition, Incitement and Prior Restraint Chp.3 (vocabulary flashcards)

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What's up with shield laws

Laws to protect reporters' privilege

including the journalists' right to protect confidential sources

 

A shield law is legislation designed to protect reporters' privilege.

This privilege involves the right of news reporters to refuse to testify as to the information and/or sources of information obtained during news gathering and dissemination.

It includes journalists' right to protect confidential sources.


PRESS Act unanimously passes the House. Now on to the Senate! (Freedom of the Press Foundation, 1-18-24) A coalition of nearly 40 press freedom, civil liberties and other organizations led by Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) has urged Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to advance the PRESS Act to a vote before Congress adjourns. The bipartisan act, which unanimously passed the House in September 2023, is a "shield" bill that would protect journalists from surveillance or compelled disclosure of source materials except in emergency situations.

What some reporters get wrong about the First Amendment (Jonathan Peters, CJR, 2-5-18) "The truth is that although the Supreme Court has not closed the door on a First Amendment-based right of journalists to protect their confidential sources’ identities, it has yet to embrace such a right in so many words. And in the absence of a definitive ruling from the Supreme Court, some lower courts have rejected the notion of [such a] right in a number of contexts.

      “The result has been that, in at least some cases, reporters have either gone to jail or been ordered to pay significant, escalating fines. The federal shield law that then-Congressman Pence championed during the Bush and Obama administrations would have been a comparatively good deal for working journalists. The next time there is an opportunity to get it passed (and there will be one), journalists would be well served to line up enthusiastically behind that legislation.” 
House Judiciary Committee Clears Bill That Shields Journalists from Federal Government Efforts to Compel Them to Reveal Sources (Ted Johnson, Political Editor, Deadline, 7-23) A bill to protect journalists from revealing their sources amid pressure from the federal government cleared the House Judiciary Committee in a unanimous vote today.
     The legislation passed 23-0, an unusual show of bipartisanship on a committee often at loggerheads.
     The Protect Reporters from Exploitive State Spying Act, or PRESS Act, is a response to instances of law enforcement agencies secretly seeking court orders emails and phone records from reporters in an effort to determine their sources. Lawmakers noted that such instances took place during the Trump and Obama administrations.
      Under the terms of the legislation (read it here), the federal government cannot compel reporters to disclose their sources or notes. Exceptions are made if disclosure of the information is necessary to prevent terrorism of “a threat of imminent violence, significant bodily harm, or death, including specified offenses against a minor.”
FTC overreaches by demanding Twitter identify journalists (Freedom of the Press Foundation) "We were disturbed by the revelation that the Federal Trade Commission, as part of its investigation into Twitter’s privacy and data practices, demanded Twitter identify all journalists granted access to company records, including in connection with the release of the “Twitter Files.”

    "Government-compelled identification of journalists is dangerous on its own and enables further surveillance of those identified. Administrations from both political parties have overreached to spy on journalists — especially journalists investigating those in power. The Department of Justice has adopted policies against surveilling journalists, but other agencies like the FTC have not. Congress should pass the PRESS Act and prohibit all presidential administrations, and all government agencies, from abusing their power to spy on journalists."
Why all Republicans should support the PRESS Act (Seth Stern, Director of Advocacy, Freedom of the Press Foundation, 1-27-23) The bipartisan PRESS Act is the strongest federal shield bill we’ve ever seen. It would combat government overreach by ending surveillance of journalists except in national security emergencies. While the PRESS Act was introduced by a Democrat, Sen. Ron Wyden, it is by no means partisan legislation.
      "Conservatives, from Lindsey Graham to Mike Pence to Jim Jordan, have a long history of supporting similar “shield” legislation prohibiting newsroom surveillance by any administration. Forty-nine states, red and blue, protect reporters against government snooping, leaving the federal government — which has surveillance capabilities far superior to local authorities — as the outlier.
       "The PRESS Act protects all journalists – regardless of politics. Conservative journalists are often targets of government surveillance. The PRESS Act would help independent and alternative media thrive. The PRESS Act is strong anti-surveillance legislation. The PRESS Act recognizes national security concerns. Most harassment of journalists isn’t political. Protecting journalists from government overreach is absolutely vital and cannot wait."
The Press Just Got a Big Win. Let’s Make It Permanent. (Stephen J. Adler and Bruce D. Brown, NY Times, 7-20-2021) In May and June 2021, "the Justice Department notified CNN, The New York Times and the Washington Post that the Trump administration had authorized the secret seizure of eight reporters’ phone and email logs as part of sweeping national security leaks investigations....while most states have laws protecting media sources in state courts, Congress has never passed a federal shield statute....

     "After decades in which federal prosecutors took steps to try to unmask confidential sources who speak to reporters, Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday largely removed that threat and enhanced the free flow of information to the public....When sources fear that their confidences may be compromised by law enforcement — even if actual seizures of records are relatively rare — they may decline to come forward, leaving the public in the dark about vital issues. That’s why the new rule, which replaced a policy that was more favorable to the purposes of law enforcement, is so important to the press and the public....

     "The new Justice Department rule marks the latest chapter in a 50-year struggle between the press and the federal government over protection for journalists’ sources. If Congress acts promptly, the Justice Department policy, rather than just a temporary fix, can become a durable part of our nation’s core press freedoms."

 


Journalist Shield Law. (C-Span) Kurt Wimmer, counsel for the Newspaper Association of America, talked about the the Free Flow of Information Act of 2013, being sponsored by bipartisan members of Congress, and answered questions.See S. 987 (113th): Free Flow of Information Act of 2013 The text of the bill to create a Federal Shield Law, Nov 6, 2013 (Reported by Senate Committee). The bill was not enacted into law.
Shield Laws (Jane E. Kirtley, The First Amendment Encyclopedia, 2020) A useful overview. "There is no federal shield law. As of 2018, 49 states and the District of Columbia had enacted some form of shield law. Congress has attempted to pass a federal shield law since 2005, named the Free Flow of Information Act. In 2017, efforts were renewed with another bill, co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Maryland and U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio. However, the bill was never passed.
     States can enact shield laws 'within First Amendment limits.' Details of shield law protection vary by state.
On shame and shield law (Sonny Albarado, SPJ, on fight for a federal shield law to protect journalists and their sources from unwarranted snooping by government prosecutors and other lawyers, 5-20-13)
Reporter’s Privilege Compendium (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press) A compendium (and map) of information on the reporter’s privilegethe right not to be compelled to testify or disclose sources and information in court — in each state and federal circuit. Each section is arranged according to a standard outline, making it easy to compare the law in various states. The map shows which states have no shield law; have no shield law, but recognize a privilege for sources that is qualified or contains exceptions; have a shield law, but privilege for sources is qualified or contains exceptions; have a shield law and absolute protection for sources, except in certain circumstances.
Shield Law 101: Frequently Asked Questions (Society of Professional Journalists) What is a shield law?
The limits of promising confidentiality (very practical overview and advice from Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press)
Shield laws and protection of sources by state (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press)
Shield laws and journalist’s privilege: The basics every reporter should know (Jonathan Peters, Columbia Journalism Review, 8-22-16) "What is a shield law, exactly? When can a government official require a reporter to disclose sources or information? Who counts as a journalist under a shield law? What types of sources or information are protected? Is there a big difference between a subpoena and a search warrant? Why a reporter’s privilege exists (sometimes). Excellent primer for journalists (and those who count on their maintaining confidentiality).
State Shield Laws (Digital Media Law)
Shield Laws in the United States (Wikipedia)
Federal shield law supporters examine whether law would protect James Risen (Jeff Zalesin, Reporter's Privilege, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, 7-22-13)
Number of states with shield law climbs to 40 (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, 2011, sidebar)
Reporter Shield Laws, Jun 14, 2007 Witnesses testified about the Free Flow of Information Act of 2007. The act included procedures through which disclosure of confidential information from a journalist or a communication service provider may be compelled. They talked about proposals for federal shield laws, source confidentiality, recent investigations into reports activities and actions by government personnel, free speech concerns, and possible exceptions for national security cases.
Clymer on Media Shield Law Steven Clymer, a former D.A. and U.S. attorney, testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the proposed media shield law. Clip from 2005.
Proposed Media Shield Law Leads to Debate Over Who Is a “Journalist” (Doug Mataconis, Outside the Beltway, 9-13-13) He asks, Is the First Amendment irrelevant to a discussion of media shield laws? " The "Senate is debating a bill that would extend a testimonial privilege to a certain class of people and, in order to do so, they have to come up with some definition that can guide the Courts. Given the fact that testimonial privileges are generally frowned upon in the law, and that there is a price to be paid if someone with relevant information in a criminal case is able to withhold that information, it makes sense that the definition should not be overly broad."
Support grows for journalist shield law after Justice Dept. snoops on The Associated Press (Ben Wolfgang, Washington Times, 5-16-13)
Federal media shield law makes prosecuting journalists even easier (Al Stefanelli, Syndicated News Services, 5-18-13). Obama wants exception on national security issues.

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Codes of Ethics, Standards and Guidelines, Statements of Principle, and Best Practices (for media and writer organizations and publications)

If you get a "page could not be found" message, search for the name or the organization plus "code of ethics." Updated websites often produce error messages.


AAA Principles of Professional Responsibility (American Anthropological Association, AAA Ethics Blog
American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) Code of Ethics
American Society of News Editors (ASNE) Statement of Principles and ASNE's excellent links to ethics codes of various U.S. newspapers and news organizations
Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America Code of Ethics and Standards
AP News Values & Principles (Associated Press)
ASEAN Journalists Code of Ethics (Accountable Journalism)
Association of Health Care Journalists Statement of Principles (AHCJ also endorses the SPJ code of ethics
Association of Personal Historians Code of Ethics
Association of Professional Communication Consultants Code of Ethics
B2B Journalist Ethics: An ASBPE Guide to Best Practices (American Society of Business Publication Editors)
Blogger Code of Ethics (From the Left)
BuzzFeed News Standards And Ethics Guide
Canadian Association of Journalists Ethics Guidelines. Particularly well-outlined and -detailed. Revised in 2002, in wake of the News of the World phone-hacking scandals.
CBC Radio Code of Journalistic Practices (Canada)
Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries (Center for Media & Social Impact, formerly Center for Social Media)
Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Poetry (Center for Social Media)
A Code of Ethics for IT (Tam Harbert, for Computerworld). See also Ethical issues for IT security professionals (Deb Shinder, Computerworld, 8-2-05)
Code of Conduct and Best Practice Guidelines for Journal Editors (COPE, Committee on Publication Ethics)
Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) Guidelines. There are several of these, as PDFs, including
~Code of Conduct and Best Practices Guidelines for Journal Editors
~Guidelines for Retracting Articles
~A Short Guide to Ethical Editing for New Editors
~Code of Conduct for Journal Publishers
~How to handle authorship disputes: a guide for new researchers (Tim Albert and Elizabeth Wager)
Code of Ethics for Science Writers (National Association of Science Writers). See also NASW's Online Code of Conduct
Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Code of Ethics and Business Conduct for Employees of the (PDF). See also
Independence and Integrity II:The Updated Ethics Guide for Public Radio Journalism (PDF, 2004, 55KB); and the earlier version: Independence and Integrity: A Guidebook for Public Radio Journalism (1995)
Council of Science Editors Code of Conduct
Documenting Tragedy: The Ethics Of Photojournalism (NPR, Talk of the Nation, 12-6-12). Audio and transcript. When the New York Post published a freelancer's photograph of a man trapped in the path of an oncoming subway train, many photojournalists, editors and consumers decried the decision as unethical. Others argue that the photo was essential to the story.
Dramatists Guild of America Bill of Rights (in process and production, in compensation, and in ownership)
Editorial Integrity for Public Public Media: Principles, Policies, & Practices
Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA) Code of Fair Practice
Editors Canada Professional Editorial Standards
Ensuring editorial excellence:The SfEP code of practice (Society for Editors and Proofreaders, UK)
Ethical guidelines for editing audio (The Canadian Journalism Project). See also: Truth in audio: Have you crossed an ethical line? (Mindy McAdams, Teaching Online Journalism, 6-8-07)
Ethical Guidelines to Publication of Chemical Research (American Chemical Society)
Ethics in Science Journalism (Reported features, The Open Notebook) How to Report International Stories Ethically, What to Do When a Source Asks to See Your Unpublished Copy, and other articles.
Ethics resources (World Association of Medical Editors, WAME) Excellent sets of links to guidelines for editors of medical journals. The list is divided generally into Research Ethics and Publication Ethics, although the two topics are closely related.
Food Blog Code of Ethics. See also The Food Ethics Blog
Graphic Artist's Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines
Guidance for BBC Global News on Marketing Events (This guidance applies to commercial services operated by BBC Global News including BBC World News and bbc.com/news.) Interesting A to Z Guidance
A Historian's Code by Richard Stewart (Writers and Editors)
HON Code of Conduct for medical and health Web sites (HONcode) (Health on the Net Foundation, or HON)
IFJ Global Charter of Ethics for Journalists (International Federation of Journalists)
Internet Society Code of Conduct (for Individual Members...Engagement, Community Rules, & Etiquette)
International Society for Medical Publication Professionals, Inc. (ISMPP) Code of Ethics (PDF file)
Journalism ethics and standards (Wikipedia -- a good summary)
Los Angeles Times Ethics Guidelines (1-1-11) and Social Media Guidelines
MPR News Ethics Guidelines (Minnesota Public Radio). See also Minnesota Public Radio: Ten Tenets from MPR News (8-14-01)
National Press Photographers Association Code of Ethics (NPPA, The voice of visual journalists)
National Association of Science Writers Code of Ethics (NASW)
National Press Photographers Association, Inc. Code of Ethics ("The voice of visual journalists")
National Public Radio ethics code
New York Times, The: Ethical Journalism: A Handbook of Values and Practices for the News and Editorial Departments (helpfully organized by topic). The New Yorker ran an interesting story about the Times stiff ethical guidelines: The Code (Nick Paumgarten, 1-27-03)
The New York Times Company Standards and Ethics
NPR ethics handbook This is NPR. And these are the standards of our journalism.
---An Introduction To NPR's Ethics Handbook (Edward Schumacher-Matos, NPR Ombudsman, 3-16-12). One document presents NPR's Guiding Principles. It is a table of contents to the other document, a handbook to help guide journalists through various ethical decisions with specific case studies. "More than a series of rules, the guideline is based on principles, which realistically reflects how journalism works and how so many day-to-day decisions come down to judgment calls by editors and reporters. The principles will help guide them in making decisions, without telling them what to do in each case. Sprinkled throughout the handbook are case studies that discuss the right decisions in other real-life circumstances....Among the central principles is that the new guidelines focus on standards of fairness and impartiality, as opposed to balance and objectivity. "
---NPR Tries to Get its Pressthink Right (Jay Rosen, PressThink 2-26-12). Rosen writes: NPR "now commits itself to avoiding the worst excesses of 'he said, she said' journalism. It says to itself that a report characterized by false balance is a false report. It introduces a new and potentially powerful concept of fairness: being 'fair to the truth.'
NYU Journalism Handbook for Students: Ethics, Law and Good Practice by Prof. Adam L. Penenberg (Carter Journalism Institute, 2020) Read free online.
Online News Association Mission, Vision, Values
Oral History Association's Principles and Best Practices (replacing Oral History Evaluation Guidelines. In a Reflection on the OHA’s New Code of Ethics, John A. Neuenschwander urges that OHA add another principle: "Interviewers may also hold a copyright interest in the interviews that they conduct and should always be so informed by the program or archive for which they work or volunteer of their potential rights."
PBS Editorial Standards and Policies (Public Broadcasting Service)
Pew Research Center code of ethics. See also Do pollsters have a code of ethics? If so, what is in the code.. Links to CASRO Code of Standards and Ethics (Council of American Survey Research Organizations)
ProPublica Code of Ethics This Code is designed to supplement ProPublica’s Conflicts of Interest Policy (required by the Internal Revenue Service), and set out our expectations and aspirations for the conduct of our newsroom.
Public Media Code of Integrity A joint initiative of the Affinity Group Coalition and the Station Resource Group, with support from the National Educational Telecommunications Association. These guidelines (summarized here in bullet points ), for the public broadcasting system, were a product of the Editorial Integrity for Public Media project.
Radio-Television News Directors Association (RTNDA Guiding Principles)
RTDNA Code of Ethics (Radio Television Digital News Association). See also RTDNAS's valuable Coverage guidelines for use on a range of ethical issues (such as covering breaking news, live coverage, bomb threats, mass shootings, use of confidential sources)
Reporting and Portrayal of Tribal Peoples (BBC, Guidance in Full, Obtaining Consent, Accuracy, Safety, Further advice)
SAA Core Values Statement and Code of Ethics (Society of American Archivists). See also Society of American Archivists Code of Conduct for Archivists
Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) code of ethics and code of conduct (the latter available only to members)
Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Code of Ethics. See Code Words (blog about third revision, in process August 2013)
Standards and Guidelines: Professional Practices for Artists (College Art Association, 1977)
A Statement of Principles for Health Care Journalists by Gary Schwitzer 2004. A story about principles of Association of Health Care Journalists, for The American Journal of Bioethics 4(4):W9. (I am currently unable to find a working link for this statement.)
TAA Code of Ethics (Textbook & Academic Authors Association)
25 Commandments for Journalists (former Guardian editor Tim Radford's manifesto for the simple scribe, Guardian, 1-19-11--some are about ethics, and some about style and substance)
Journalism ethics and standards (Wikipedia's synthesis)
An Update on Journalism Ethics in Asia: Values and Practices as Context for Meaning in Japan, China and Korea (Tom Brislin, University of Hawaii)
Washington Post Standards and Ethics (ASNE)
Washington Post Guidelines for Using Social Media
Poynter, Newsrooms Develop Social Networking Policies for Journalists on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter (Kelly McBride, Poynter, 1-13-09)
NPR introduces new Ethics Handbook, appoints standards and practices editor (Mallary Jean Tenore, Poynter, 2-24-12)

More resources about ethics

Why nonfiction writers should take a vow of chastity (Roy Peter Clark, Poynter, 7-25-12). Clark translates a public manifesto Danish screenwriters Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg propose for film writers into a parallel vow of artistic integrity for nonfiction writers.
To report or to rescue (Jillian Bell, Ryerson Review of Journalism, Summer 2012). When is it okay to cross the line from journalist to humanitarian?
Ethics stories, Poynter. For example, ABC’s Payment to Casey Anthony Raises Questions about Ethics, Checkbook Journalism (Al Tompkins, 3-18-10) and Are Kevin Deutsch’s stories too good to be true? A reminder to check sources and keep notes (Indira A.R. Lakshmanan, 3-15-17).
‘Disconnected': Crucial book for closing the ‘ethics gap’ online A review of Disconnected: Youth, New Media, and the Ethics Gap by Carrie James. James urges a full ethical framework, distinguishing between "consequence thinking" ("where “the sense of responsibility is narrowly focused on the self” --e.g., 'will I get into trouble if I share my party photos on Instagram, and are the rewards worth the risks?')," Moral thinking ("considering the impact on 'known others,”'such as a close friend or family member -- how would she feel if I posted a photo of her on Twitter?"), and Ethical thinking ("considering the impact on 'distant, unknown individuals' and one’s community").
Ethics? Copyright? Moral rights?

Random House told it should pay to quote Joseph Goebbels in biography (Dalya Alberge, The Guardian, 4-17-15) "We are convinced that no money should go to a war criminal."

 

See also Codes of Conduct
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Transparency reporting

(Getting Internet and telecom companies to do the right thing)


What Is Transparency Reporting? Case Study #3: Transparency Reporting (New America, "Honestly confronting the challenges caused by rapid technological and social change"). By publishing aggregate data about government requests for user data, government demands to remove content, and intellectual property-related takedowns, transparency reports offer companies a public-facing opportunity to showcase their values and commitments to protecting user rights. These reports might be thought of as an extension of existing corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices, and like other CSR practices, transparency reporting provides companies an opportunity to put corporate values into practice and on display. Transparency reports, like other CSR practices, are not government- or industry-mandated; instead, their emergence has been organic and voluntary.

     An excellent timeline of developments in transparency reporting. "Transparency reporting by internet companies first emerged in 2010 when Google published its first report, focused on government requests for data and for content takedowns both in the US and internationally. China played a key role in that decision, just as it played a key role in Google’s first-mover offerings of transit encryption by default and two-factor authentication; so too did Google’s desire, shared with a range of companies and privacy advocates, to reform the U.S. law governing when the police could demand data from online service providers."Over the next three years, a slow trickle of major companies like LinkedIn and Microsoft followed Google’s example—including Twitter, where former Google employees sought to build on their original employer’s work. However, the practice didn’t truly become a standard until Edward Snowden’s revelations in the summer of 2013 about NSA surveillance prompted a crisis in consumer confidence around U.S. companies' handling of private data. To address that crisis, within a year of the Snowden leaks, almost all of the major online service providers—and, for the first time, phone and cable companies—were publishing detailed reports about government demands for data." See also Case Study #1: Using Transit Encryption by Default and Case Study #2: Offering Two-Factor Authentication.
Transparency Report A useful Wikipedia entry, with links to the Transparency reports for Google, Twitter, Yahoo, Dropbox, Discord, and others.
Google slams U.S. government in latest transparency report (Brad Chacos, PC World, 11-14-13) "Edward Snowden. Widespread NSA surveillance. Mass metadata collection. Direct taps into private Google and Yahoo server connections—and the backbone of the Internet itself. Broken illusions and broken encryption and secret court orders abound. Yes, the last six months have brought many troubling revelations about the U.S.' Internet surveillance activities to light—and now, Google's taking the government to task in a blistering blog post penned to introduce the company's latest transparency report."


Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Letter to Sweden's Supreme Court Google had complied with orders to delist certain articles from its search results when searches are conducted by name. The Reporters Committee argued that 'the right to erasure (“right to be forgotten”) in Article 17 of the GDPR is strong medicine. By its nature, it operates to constrain the store of information available to the public—and has the potential to do so on a vast scale....in cases involving, for instance, news about official corruption, crime, public health, corporate misconduct, and public safety, where the reporting subject may have a vested interest in limiting the public’s access to that information, and the public need for that information is strong....]

     "In practice, news publishers are going to be more likely than search engine providers to properly apply the Article 17.3(a) balancing to a particular news story for which a data subject requests delisting....balancing privacy interests with the rights of freedom of expression and information is inherently difficult and subjective, must be applied case-by-case, and is an exercise where search engines may not have sufficient information to make the right decision. This complexity is compounded by the sheer volume of delisting requests.'
Permanent Record by Edward Snowden. In Part Two of his memoir, Snowden begins explaining the workings of the NSA, CIA, and all of the subcontractors for the intelligence agencies, and how the whole system of mass surveillance (Big Brother, although he doesn't call it that) works. An eye-opener, which I found hard to put down.
Google Transparency Report Government requests to remove content, by country, region; how many and reasons cited for removal (in numbers): National security, defamation, regulated goods & services, copyright, privacy & security, and other. YouTube, Web Search, and Blogger are the products with the most frequent government requests to remove content, but dozens of other products are also affected. Follow the conversation online using #TransparencyReport and following @OTI.
Spotlight on Transparency: Best Practices and Lessons Learned (New America's Open Technology Institute presentation) "Transparency reporting is now a best practice for reporting on a range of topics including government requests for user data, content moderation, pay transparency, customer safety, and sustainability efforts. Through their reports, these companies and organizations provide statistical and qualitative information regarding how they treat their customers and stakeholders, how they handle their customers’ information, and how the companies’ operations affect their communities. While transparency reports differ across industries and subject areas, these reports—from their development to the content—offer valuable lessons for companies across various sectors that looking to get started or improve their transparency reports."

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Timelines of censorship history


The National Coalition Against Censorship hosts several timelines that chart the history of efforts to suppress speech on a variety of topics:
A Selective Timeline of the Internet and Censorship (National Coalition Against Censorship)
A Timeline of Legislation Aiming to Protect Youth Online
A Timeline of Video Game Controversies
The 19th-Century Troll Who Hated Dirty Postcards and Sex Toys (Annalee Newitz, Opinion, New York Times, 9-20-19) Before Gamergate, Anthony Comstock was the original anti-feminist crusader. "In the 1870s, New York City was a haven for artists and radicals. But it was also the nursery for a new kind of moral activism. Led by Anthony Comstock, the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice became a media sensation by targeting feminists in a culture war over obscenity and birth control. He then used his fame to lobby Congress for laws that arguably halted the progress of reproductive rights for almost a century."
Art and Culture Censorship Timeline (unavailable 2-15-17)
Music Censorship In America: An Interactive Timeline (unavailable 2-15-17)

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Timeline of Abstinence-Only Education in U.S. Classrooms (how over $1.5 billion in federal funds have been spent on 26 years of censorship in schools)
A Brief History of Film Censorship, includes a selected list of censored and challenged films.

Other organizations have also posted censorship timelines:
Manuscripts Don’t Burn: a Timeline of Literary Censorship, Destruction, and Liberation (PEN America)
History of Censorship Timeline (Preceden, a world timeline going back to Socrates' execution)
Bannings and Burnings in History (Freedom to Read)
Censorship in the United States: An Illustrated History and Timeline
Freedom of the Press in the United States: A Short History
Indecency and the FCC (About News, on Civil Liberties)
"The basic story in the American past, the only story ultimately worth the telling, is the story of the struggle between the creative and the frustrating elements in the democratic adventure."~ Max Lerner (1939)

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Strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs) and anti-SLAPP law

(Anti-SLAPP laws allow for the quick dismissal of lawsuits that chill free speech--provide protection from meritless lawsuits aimed at punishing speech)


Anti-SLAPP Statutes: 2023 Report Card (Dan Greenberg, David Keating, & Helen Knowles-Gardner, Institute for Free Speech,11-2-23)

"Anti-SLAPP statutes prevent abuse of the legal system by providing additional defenses to those who are sued for exercising their First Amendment rights. The term 'SLAPP' is an acronym for strategic lawsuit against public participation."

     "This report begins by explaining the functions of anti-SLAPP statutes. It sketches the structure of a well-designed anti-SLAPP statute; summarizes the changes that have occurred in some state ratings and grades; describes two minor changes in the methodology used since the 2022 report was published; explains the importance and operation of the elements of a statute; includes a brief account of the structure and functions of the Uniform Law Commission’s model anti-SLAPP statute (UPEPA); provides a numerical rating and letter grade for each jurisdiction’s statute, based on evaluations of how well each statute protects First Amendment rights; and recommends a particular improvement to the statutes of states with poor grades. Because such ratings and grades necessarily involve some judgment and subjectivity, this report explains in detail the rationale of those ratings and grades.
    "The report also includes an Appendix (and map)  that provides a plain-English, jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction account of the anti-SLAPP statute in each state and Washington D.C., including both statutory text and some relevant caselaw."
Authors Guild Signs Letter in Support of Anti-SLAPP Statute (AG, 7-17-2020) “SLAPP lawsuits are an intolerable form of private censorship. It is more critical than ever that New York, the media capitol of the world, provide robust protection against meritless claims designed to chill speech.”So stated a letter from authors, publishers, and other media organizations to Governor Cuomo and the New York State Legislature urging them to pass a bill designed to update and strengthen New York State’s current anti-SLAPP statute.

Understanding anti-SLAPP laws (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press) Short for strategic lawsuits against public participation, SLAPPs have become an all-too-common tool for intimidating and silencing critics of businesses, often for environmental and local land development issues. See Austin Vining and Sarah Matthews' Introduction to Anti-SLAPP laws.

    "Anti-SLAPP laws provide defendants a way to quickly dismiss meritless lawsuits—known as “SLAPPs” or “Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation”—filed against them for exercising their First Amendment rights. These laws aim to discourage the filing of SLAPP suits and prevent them from imposing significant litigation costs and chilling protected speech. In recent years, several states have adopted or amended their anti-SLAPP laws.

      Anti-SLAPP protections vary significantly from state to state. For example, in some states, like Arizona, they only protect defendants from cases brought in retaliation for petitioning the government. In others, such as California, the laws broadly protect speech made in connection with a public issue. For the most part, anti-SLAPP laws are broad enough to cover SLAPP suits aimed at silencing or retaliating against journalists or news outlets for critical reporting....[But] Courts in Washington and Minnesota have struck down their states' anti-SLAPP laws, finding them unconstitutional under their respective state constitutions."

    Read the whole piece, and look for these brief sections: Anti-SLAPP stories, State-by-state resources, Recent Anti-SLAPP updates. See also Topics: Content Restrictions, Court Access, Freedom of Information. Libel and Privacy, Newsgathering, Prior Restraint, and Reporter’s Privilege.

• According to author/attorney Bert Krages, "Anti-SLAPP statutes are a huge deterrent against defamation lawsuits involving published works because they require the aggrieved plaintiff to pay the other party's legal expenses if they lose."
Anti-SLAPP Legal Guide (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, aka RCFP)
• In other words: "A strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) is a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition. Such lawsuits have been made illegal in many jurisdictions on the grounds that they impede freedom of speech."~Wikipedia entry on Strategic lawsuit against public participation. Wikipedia provides an excellent overview on the subject, plus many links to external sources and stories about various court cases.
Anti-SLAPP Statutes: A Report Card (50 State Survey, Institute for Free Speech, February 2022). See also article explaining the report card (Dan Greenberg & David Keating, Institute for Free Speech, 2-28-22). The report summarizes and evaluates anti-SLAPP statutes in 32 jurisdictions – 31 states and the District of Columbia. (The other 19 states have no functioning anti-SLAPP statute.) Check its map to see what your state is doing. Anti-SLAPP statutes prevent abuse of the legal system by providing additional defenses to those who are sued for exercising their First Amendment rights.
Uniform Public Expression Protection Act (UPEPA). In late 2020 the Uniform Law Commission (ULC), a respected bipartisan organization, adopted its own model act known as the Uniform Public Expression Protection Act (UPEPA). (In a nutshell, the Uniform Law Commission’s model law protects any speech about a matter of public importance in any forum.)

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Survival Guide to SLAPP Victims (California Anti-SLAPP Project) "Defamation, libel, slander … and other common SLAPP disguises."
How TripAdvisor changed travel (Linda Kinstler, The Guardian, A long read, 8-17-18) The world’s biggest travel site has turned the industry upside down – but now it is struggling to deal with the same kinds of problems that are vexing other tech giants: paid-for "fake reviews," SLAPP suits (for honest warnings in negative reviews), and backlash when they withhold negative reviews.
      "Faced with bad reviews, some American businesses turn to what are known as “Slapp” suits (strategic lawsuits against public participation). TripAdvisor is to travel as Google is to search, as Amazon is to books, as Uber is to cabs – so dominant that it is almost a monopoly. Bad reviews can be devastating for business, so proprietors tend to think of them in rather violent terms. The world’s biggest travel site has turned the industry upside down – but now it is struggling to deal with the same kinds of problems that are vexing other tech giants like Facebook, Google and Twitter. 

      "One of the most dangerous things about the rise of fake reviews is that they have also endangered genuine ones – as companies like TripAdvisor raced to eliminate fraudulent posts from their sites, they ended up taking down some truthful ones, too. And given that user reviews can go beyond complaints about bad service and peeling wallpaper, to much more serious claims about fraud, theft and sexual assault, their removal becomes a grave problem."
    "Faced with bad reviews, some American businesses turn to what are known as 'Slapp' suits. In many cases, when a business files a Slapp suit, its objective is not to win in court – US free speech laws protect negative reviews – but to bully the reviewer into deleting the offending comment. While many states have passed anti-Slapp legislation to protect consumers from censorship and mounting legal fees, most are not strong enough to discourage businesses from pursuing them." And someone writing a negative review of a facility, even if it is extremely damaging but true, can usually get the review taken down?

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FAQs About SLAPPs (Public Participation Project, Fighting for Free Speech)
What is a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP)? (California Anti-Slapp Project)
SLAPP happy in America (Stephen Miller, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Fall 2010, from The News Media & The Law). Defending against meritless lawsuits and the need for a federal bill Look at other SLAPP stories on RCFP's website.
SLAPP Back (Nazanin Rafsanjani, On the Media, WNYC, 4-2-10) A SLAPP, or “strategic lawsuit against public participation,” is a little known but widespread threat to the First Amendment. SLAPPs are meritless suits brought by companies, individuals and sometimes the government, not to win, but to silence critics. Congress is now considering federal anti-SLAPP legislation. OTM producer Nazanin Rafsanjani investigates.
In Melania Trump Suit, Journalist Invokes Maryland’s Anti-SLAPP Law (Zoe Tillman, Law.com, 10-18-15) Melania Trump’s defamation suit against a Maryland journalist is getting SLAPPed.
$1.3 Million in Anti-SLAPP Sanctions (David Lee, Courthouse News Service, 1-15-16) "FORT WORTH (CN) - Plaintiffs in a "revenge porn" defamation lawsuit must pay $1.3 million in anti-SLAPP sanctions and attorneys' fees and apologize for filing "baseless" claims in similar lawsuits to punish their critics, a Texas judge ruled. Tarrant County Judge Donald Cosby slapped plaintiffs James McGibney and ViaView Inc. with an order granting defendant Neal Rauhauser's motion for attorney's fees and sanctions. McGibney and ViaView sued 10 people in February 2014, alleging defamation and negligence, and accusing defendant Thomas Retzlaff of creating online aliases to stalk and harass ViaView."
Hey! Did you just SLAPP me? What is SLAPP? (Matt Knight, Sidebar Saturdays, 9-23-17) "Anti-SLAPP laws are used to deter the abusive tactics of a SLAPP suit by providing SLAPP victims the means to dismiss the suit early in the litigation and collect penalties, like attorneys fees, depending on the state. California has one of the oldest and best anti-SLAPP statutes. Most states have anti-SLAPP laws but the protections vary. The type of free speech anti-SLAPP laws protect can cover a broad range of subjects, or a narrowly define set, again depending on the state."

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Court: Radio Talk Show Host’s Statements Not Actionable (Sherri M. Okamoto, Metropolitan News-Enterprise, 4-27-09) Subheading: Panel Concludes Reasonable Listeners Would Consider Comments Opinion. "The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Friday upheld the dismissal of a defamation action against radio host Tom Martino and his nationally syndicated consumer advocacy talk show program, “The Tom Martino Show.” Affirming the decision by U.S. District Court Judge Anna J. Brown of the District of Oregon granting Martino and Westwood One Inc.’s special motion to strike, the panel held Martino’s on-air statements to a frustrated consumer during the call-in portion of the show were non-actionable opinion. The case arose after consumer Melissa Feroglia called Martino’s radio show—which seeks to aid frustrated consumers with their problems—to complain about a personal watercraft she had purchased from John and Susan Gardner, the proprietors of Mt. Hood Polaris in Boring, Ore."
MagicJack Legal Documents (Rob Beschizza, Boing Boing, 2-23-10) "Collected here are legal documents relating to MagicJack's defamation lawsuit against Boing Boing. The presiding judge ruled its case a SLAPP -- a strategic lawsuit against public participation -- and ultimately entered a judgment against it and made MagicJack pay most of our legal costs."

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Conflicts of Interest -- and Full Disclosure


Conflicts of interest in science and medical writing (jany entries, under Science and Medical Writing)
The conflict over conflicts of interest (Tim Schwab, Columbia Journalism Review, 8-18-21) Has journalism normalized conflicts of interest? "Recently, the New York Times published a story profiling a welter of financial conflicts of interest in the work of former Times journalist William Laurence, described as “a bold accumulator of outside pay from the government agencies he covered.” He also took money from the World’s Fair, the article notes, while using the Times’s editorial voice to promote the construction of a controversial and expensive science exhibit for the fair.... Undisclosed conflicts in journalism seem to be less a problem of unethical reporters, and more a problem of newsrooms not enforcing ethical rules....Many editors, educational institutions, and ethics experts seem to send the message to reporters that conflicts of interest don’t matter." Conflicts of Interest May Ensnare Journalists, Too (Roni Caryn Rabin, Health, NY Ties, 9-21-08). Focuses on health care journalists. Conflicts of interest are especially obvious with medical industry-sponsored awards, trips, and professorships.
Six Ways Journalists Can Avoid Conflicts of Interest (Tony Rogers, About.com) See also his short article A Code of Conduct for Reporters (rules to live by on the job)
Judge orders Oracle, Google to disclose paid journalists and bloggers (Jeff John Roberts, PaidContent 8-7-12)
FTC Tells Amateur Bloggers to Disclose Freebies or Be Fined (Ryan Singel, Wired, 10-5-09, pointing out some gaps and weaknesses in the rules) and here are the FTC Guidelines on the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Here's an earlier story: FTC to go after blogger freebies (Caroline McCarthy, CNet News, 6-22-09)
Debating the ethics of medical ghostwriting (links on Writers & Editors blog; see also Medical ghostwriting and ethical issues in medical publishing


Coalition of the Shilling (Nathan Hodge, The Nation, 3-11-10). Nonpartisan think tanks are supporting journalism--but who's supporting the think tanks?



GDPR and the 'Right to Be Forgotten'

The battle between 'right to privacy' and 'right to know'

The General Data Protection Regulation (EU GDPR) set forth by the European Union became enforceable on May 25, 2018. Regulations such as these set firm guidelines for how data processors and storage organizations can release customer data, restricting how much big data will be accessible to digital marketers and research companies.


Today, a new E.U. law transforms privacy rights for everyone. Without Edward Snowden, it might never have happened. (Analysis by Nikhil Kalyanpur and Abraham Newman, WaPo, 5-25-18) "Why the sudden rush to protect privacy? The GDPR is the European Union’s new flagship regulation governing the collection, use and storage of consumer data. It formalizes the “right to be forgotten,” allowing individuals to choose what personal information can be found on the Internet. It ensures that consumers can transfer their data across different platforms or services, codifying “interoperability,” diminishing the ability of companies to lock you in, while massively increasing the fines companies pay for any violations....
     "Although European corporations generally saw the GDPR as modernizing privacy rules, American lobbying pushed them to view reform as an opportunity to chip away at laws that hurt their bottom lines. The firms fighting the GDPR were some of the wealthiest in the world. They enjoyed huge advantages in understanding the technologies at play, and the public wasn’t paying any attention."
General Data Protection Regulation This Wikipedia entry covers a lot. "Mass adoption of these new privacy standards by multinational companies has been cited as an example of the "Brussels effect", a phenomenon wherein European laws and regulations are used as a baseline due to their gravitas.
      "The U.S. state of California passed the California Consumer Privacy Act on 28 June 2018, taking effect on 1 January 2020; it grants rights to transparency and control over the collection of personal information by companies in a similar means to GDPR. Critics have argued that such laws need to be implemented at the federal level to be effective, as a collection of state-level laws would have varying standards that would complicate compliance."
Some newspapers are deleting old crime stories to give people fresh starts. Is that wise? (Nicholas Goldberg, LA Times, 2-7-21) Should newspapers let people apply to have old stories about themselves altered or hidden from search engines? "...Unpublishing is a violation of our obligation to readers, and to transparency. And it doesn’t solve the underlying problem, which is society’s unforgiving attitude. It merely makes information in the public record less accessible. And where does such revisionism end?...Why shouldn’t the L.A. Times delete from its archives, say, the racist editorials it wrote in support of incarcerating Japanese Americans during World War II?...Those editorials are part of the historical record, and we can’t scrub ourselves clean of them now."
      "There is no current discussion at the L.A. Times of adopting a policy that would allow the paper to change or hide already-published stories. But other papers are moving forward." See
---We’re changing our policy on old crime stories (Bangor Daily News, 1-25-21)
---Right to be forgotten: Cleveland.com rolls out process to remove mug shots, names from dated stories about minor crimes (Chris Quinn, Editor, cleveland.com/The Plain Dealer, 7-10-18)
---An old arrest can follow you forever online. Some newspapers want to fix that. (Elahe Izadi, Washington Post, 1-22-21)
Drunken Rant About Killing Muslims (Jordan Wildon, Motherboard, Vice, 8-12-20) The removal of nearly 200 links from Google search in Germany about a princess’ drunken rampage in Scotland raises questions about who has the 'right to be forgotten.' Twice a year, Google shares data about how governments and corporations make requests to the company in its Transparency Report. One section of the report broadly summarizes content removal requests to “inform discussions about online content regulation.”
What the G.D.P.R., Europe’s Tough New Data Law, Means for You (Adam Satariano, NY Times, 5-6-18) The law strengthens individual privacy rights and, more important, it has teeth. Companies can be fined up to 4 percent of global revenue — equivalent to about $1.6 billion for Facebook. The internet’s grand bargain has long been trading privacy for convenience. The downside of that trade-off: The system is opaque and ripe for abuse.
Everything you need to know about a new EU data law that could shake up big US tech (Arjun Kharpal, CNBC, 3-30-18) "When it comes to user data, consumers will have more control. You will be able to access the personal data being stored by companies and find out where and for what purpose it is being used. You will also have the right to be forgotten. This means you can ask whoever is controlling your data to erase it and potentially stop third parties processing it. Another provision allows people to take their data and transfer it to a different service provider."
Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta: Questions and Answers (Brad Smith, A Primer, Institute for Free Speech, 8-30-21) The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that California could not constitutionally require charities and other nonprofit organizations to submit an annual list of donors to state officials as a pre-condition for lawfully soliciting contributions in the state. The case, known as Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta (“AFPF”), was decided on July 1, 2021 and should have a substantial, positive impact on the rights of Americans to keep their memberships and financial support for causes and organizations private. This short primer answers some of the more common questions about the decision, its immediate impact on nonprofits, and possible consequences going forward, including the constitutionality of other state and federal laws mandating disclosure of members and donors to nonprofits.
Europe's `Right to Be Forgotten' Clashes With U.S. Right to Know (Daniel Fisher, Forbes, 5-16-14)
The Right to be Forgotten: Who Decides What the World Forgets? (Patricia Sánchez Abril and Jacqueline D. Lipton, Kentucky Law Journal, 2014)
Getting a Flood of G.D.P.R.-Related Privacy Policy Updates? Read Them (Brian X. Chen, NYTimes, 5-23-18) What you should look for.
Google loses landmark 'right to be forgotten' case (Jamie Grierson and Ben Quinn, The Guardian, 4-13-18) Google cases are a battle between right to privacy and right to know. One UK businessman wins legal action to force removal of search results about past conviction; the other businessman doesn't.
How Close Is An American Right-To-Be-Forgotten? (Rebecca Heilweil, Forbes, 3-24-18) While 88% of Americans support this so-called “right-to-be-forgotten,” the prospects of similar legislation or court decision in the U.S. are dim.
Forget About It? Harmonizing European and American Protections for Privacy, Free Speech, and Due Process (Dawn Carla Nunziato, SSRN, 6-22-17) When the Court of Justice of the European Union issued its "right to be forgotten" decision in May 2014, Google complied by "removing links only within its European domains (such as Google.es or Google.de)."
"The privacy protections recognized in the Google Spain decision are not necessarily incompatible with the substantive protections provided by U.S. free speech law and the balance U.S. courts have struck over time between privacy and free speech. Yet, as implemented, these privacy protections fail to comport wi