Now writing at NCAC.org/blog

Thanks for visiting! We have merged Blogging Censorship with our flagship website at ncac.org. You can now get the latest free speech updates from NCAC at ncac.org/blog

Blogging Censorship Has Moved to NCAC.org/blog
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ACTION ALERT! Stand Up for the Freedom to Read! Defend ‘House of the Spirits’ in NC classrooms

HOTSA challenge to Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits has stirred immense debate in Watauga County School District in Boone, North Carolina. NCAC’s Kids’ Right to Read Project has been on the case for months, supporting district teachers and students and penning two letters in defense of the book and its use.

On February 27, the board will meet to decide the fate of the book. You can help.

Send a letter to the Watauga County school board. Support teachers’ rights to select and teach works of literature, based on their professional experience and judgment. Support students’ rights to a quality education that engages, challenges and prepares them. Support literature that brings us closer to every type of human experience, encourages us to marvel at the world and serves as a lesson in human empathy.

For more background on the case and to red our letters, visit ncac.org. And if you believe that the freedom to read is worth fighting for, help us continue this fight by donating as much as you can today.

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Black Voices Silenced: NWA Says ‘Fuck The Police’

They weren’t the first musical group to express the sentiment, but when N.W.A. released “Straight Outta Compton,” unappreciative police activated in a big way to censor the group, in particular its track ‘F–k tha police.’

Police officers around the country set up a “fax” network designed to coordinate efforts to stop N.W.A. from performing live. In Detroit, police rushed the stage when the group performed the song and followed them to their hotel room to interrogate them.

Bizarrely, Assistant Director Milt Ahlerich of the FBI also weighed in, sending a strongly-worded letter to N.W.A.’s record label, making it maybe the first and only time the FBI has taken such a position. Though he did not overtly call for the group to be banned, Ahlerich made his feelings clear: that the song “encouraged violence and disrespect of the law enforcement officer” and that police “took exception” to that.

Ice-T tried to explain that, contrary to the assumptions of many white listeners, their lyrics had meaning beyond the surface narratives about drive-bys and gang shootings. He called rappers “underground street reporters.” N.W.A.’s songs weren’t only telling a story that was not often told in mainstream popular culture, they were about ending oppression and “murdering ignorance.”

As a 2013 Variety piece on the history and place of gangster rap points out: “In the early ’90s, few of rap’s core critics seemed to have taken the time to really grapple with the music. Despite undercurrents of menace, the vast majority of hit rap songs have always concerned the same topics as hit rock or pop songs: dancing, getting wasted and getting laid.” And yet, the violence described in gangsta rap was seen by law enforcement as more dangerous, more in need of policing, not entirely unlike black urban communities in the 1980s themselves.

To learn more about the history of hip-hop censorship, check out this post’s sources: Footsteps in the Dark: The Hidden Histories of Popular Music by George Lipsitz and the work of scholar Leola Johnson. To learn more about censorship throughout history visit Censorpedia

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This Black History Month, Remembering Black Voices Silenced

“To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker. It is just as criminal to rob a man of his right to speak and hear as it would be to rob him of his money…” Frederick Douglass, “A Plea for Free Speech in Boston,” 1860

Black History Month is a time to reflect on the contributions that African-Americans make and have made to American society and to recognize the numerous struggles that define the African-American experience in America.

Much of Black History Month understandably focuses on well-known movements, incidents and individuals to tell the story. However, what is often times overlooked is the role played by free speech and free expression in civil rights, politics, art and entertainment in the shaping of black history and, by extension, American history.

Stay tuned to Blogging Censorship as we take a memory journey this week, recognizing African-American voices that have been stifled by those who would silence their message.

What to learn more about censorship incidents today and throughout history? Visit Censorpedia.  

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[VIDEO] 2013 YFEP Film Contest Finalist: Go With Them

This film is one of ten semi-finalists in our 2013 Youth Free Expression Film Contest. LOVE this film? VOTE. You can help it win People’s Choice by liking it on YouTube.

“Go With Them” by Matthew Billman
Age 18, Universal City, TX

About this Film:

“The film stars Riley Freeman as its nameless protagonist, in a music video (the song is mine as well) about a high-school-aged girl with some bad luck. After a hard day, she finds solace in video games, and she is finally happy… The real concept I was going for here is escapism. Unlike other media, in video games, we become the characters we play, and, in a way, our characters successes are ours as well. This was the premise behind the video: take a protagonist with a hard life and have them escape into a happier world of video games.”

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[VIDEO] 2013 YFEP Film Contest Finalist: Video Games in the Crosshairs

This film is one of ten semi-finalists in our 2013 Youth Free Expression Film Contest. LOVE this film? VOTE. You can help it win People’s Choice by liking it on YouTube.

“Video Games in the Crosshairs” by Savannah Jossart
Age 18, Rocklin, CA

About this film:

“Being a passionate gamer i always felt that gamers never got to tell their side of the story, when it came to the media bashing games and gamers. I always wanted to create a video about gamers. I picked a documentary style because i feel that it was the best way to get a point across. With multiple interviews it can show the many different types of gamers there are as well as each one’s view on the topic. Being a part of the video game club at my school helped me pick out gamers with different tastes in games. This proved that even with different perspectives on games, most gamers agree that blaming video games is just a cop-out.”

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[VIDEO] 2013 YFEP Film Contest Finalist: Initial Testing

This film is one of ten semi-finalists in our 2013 Youth Free Expression Film Contest. LOVE this film? VOTE. You can help it win People’s Choice by liking it on YouTube.

“Initial Testing” by Austin Guerrero
Age 17, Gresham, OR

About this film:

“I chose “Video Games in the Crosshairs” because I’ve been a gamer for practically my whole life. Games are truly a part of me so I really felt the need for doing this.

In the film, a gun appears out of nowhere into the main character’s hands. He’s then thrust into a very perilous situation but it feels very real. Games can allow you to “buy into” them. But there is always a disconnect. They aren’t real. Shooting and slicing may be second nature on joysticks but when tasked to actually do it… it’s far from normal. That’s what this film is about.”

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