Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Tuscaloosa Arts Council pulls film after complaints from local churches

Friday, June 8th, 2012

Word that the Tuscaloosa Arts Council pulled a film from its Bama Art House series after multiple complaints from local churches reached its way to Norway on Wednesday.

Jannicke Systad Jacobsen, the director of “Turn Me On, Dammit!,” told Norway’s largest newspaper (The Aftenposten) that while she’s disappointed her film will not be seen in Tuscaloosa, it is important to respect the fact that people might have different views on the film.

“As I understand it, they have not seen the movie,” Jacobsen told the newspaper. They base the decision on prejudice against the title and theme. It is a bit parochial.”

The director said it seemed Mayor Walt Maddox felt pressure to ask the Arts Council to pull the film, in what she calls “a type of censorship I do not support.”

Read more.

Weekend Member Reward — Batman: Death By Design Signed by Chip Kidd!

Friday, June 8th, 2012

This weekend only, anyone joining or renewing their CBLDF membership as an ADVOCATE MEMBER will receive and extremely limited, signed bookplate edition of the brand new BATMAN hardcover graphic novel, BATMAN: DEATH BY DESIGN. These are signed by the author, Chip Kidd, on a bookplate that he designed, numbered to 50. This incentive is available here and comes with the complete Advocate membership package. This incentive ends Monday at midnight, or as supplies last.

Clock Ticking for Whistleblower Professor at UCLA

Friday, June 8th, 2012

After 35 years at UCLA, environmental health sciences professor and researcher James Enstrom is scheduled to lose his job in a few weeks. Enstrom was first let go from UCLA after he blew the whistle on a California Air Resources Board (CARB) researcher's fake Ph.D., challenged the science behind environmental regulations involving air pollution in California, and challenged the legality of the composition of the CARB. To make a very long story short: UCLA brought forth a variety of meritless allegations, FIRE intervened in August of 2010, produced this video, state legislators got involved, Enstrom became represented by former FIRE President David French at the American Center for Law & Justice, and UCLA kept delaying the final blow. It appears that Enstrom and UCLA are down to their last chance to resolve their differences.

Probably the most concerning allegation of all by UCLA was that Enstrom no longer fit the "mission" of his department. If there is anywhere we need honest scientists who don't think of themselves as on the kind of mission that excludes whistleblowers and skeptics, it is the American university.

FIRE will keep you updated here on The Torch as usual.

1948: The Year Comics Met Their Match

Friday, June 8th, 2012

by Joe Sergi

I was recently asked to join a Facebook Group called, “Comic Book Fans vs. a Bunch of Moms with Nothing Else Better To Do . . . ” This Group was created in response to the recent actions by the One Million Moms organization who are requesting that its supporters email Marvel and DC comic book companies, “…urging them to change and cancel all plans of homosexual superhero characters immediately. Ask them to do the right thing and reverse their decision to have sexual orientation displayed to readers.”  Apparently, One Million Moms believes that if children read about gay characters, they will become gay. Marvel and Archie have responded, defending their positions, and several Social Media groups have begun to form on both sides of the issue. The last news I have heard is that the One Million Moms deleted their anti-gay Facebook page.

This kind of tension has always existed. On the one side, you have the welfare and protection of the community (especially children, who can’t protect themselves). On the other, you have fundamental liberties such as free speech.  The problem is that the well intentioned actions of groups in the first category tend to infringe on ...

Manga and Anime Series Undergo Content Review in Tokyo

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

by Soyini Hamit

In Tokyo, there is legislation in place to limit children’s access to publications that the government finds harmful. The Youth Healthy Development Ordinance prohibits the sale of publications containing material that is “sexually stimulating, encourages cruelty, and/or may compel suicide or criminal behavior” to people younger than 18. On July 1, 2011, an amendment went into effect that expanded the scope of the ordinance to include manga and anime with explicit depictions of children engaging in sexual acts.

Tokyo’s Youth Healthy Development Council met April 9 to review the manga To Love-Ru Darkness for possible restriction. After receiving a complaint from a parent that the manga contained images showing full frontal nudity of a girl, the council took a look at the book. They found that the book did contain the images described in the complaint, but that they did not violate the standards set forth in the revised ordinance.

The council also met on May 14 to evaluate the depictions of incest in television anime series Yosuga no Sora. They determined that this also did not violate the revised ordinance.

Read here for more information on Tokyo’s Youth Healthy Development Ordinance.

Please help support CBLDF’s important ...

Justice Stevens’ Solitary 2002 Objection to COPA Analyzed

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

by Joe Izenman

Solitary dissents in the U.S. Supreme Court can offer a fascinating look into the strongest beliefs of the high court’s individual justices. In a recent blog post, the First Amendment Center provides an overview and analysis of several such opinions in the history of first amendment law, including the failed first challenge to the Child Online Protection Act.

COPA, intended as a barrier between children and pornography, was designed to impose criminal penalties for any material deemed “harmful to minors.” The Supreme Court first heard arguments against the act in Ashcroft v. ACLU I. From David L. Hudson with the First Amendment Center:

A lower court had found that the “contemporary community standards” language was too broad and not protective enough of free-speech. However, the Supreme Court majority said the case should be sent back to the lower court to examine other constitutional issues with the law — such as whether it was too broad for reasons other than the use of contemporary community standards and whether it was too vague.

Justice John Paul Stevens was the lone holdout in the decision, citing the threat that COPA posed to free speech. Hudson writes:

Justice ...

Ray Bradbury: 1920 – 2012

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Today FIRE remembers author Ray Bradbury, who passed away Tuesday at the age of 91. He was the author of perhaps the best-known book on free speech ever, the dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451.

In her book Heterophobia, FIRE Board of Directors member Daphne Patai wrote:

The danger of reading is a major theme in Ray Bradbury's 1953 novel Fahrenheit 451 (the temperature at which books burn). Books lead to reflection and even conflict: This is what the fireman Montag, the novel's protagonist, hears from Faber, a former English professor thrown out of work when the last liberal arts college closed its doors decades earlier due to lack of students and patronage. Books have to be destroyed because they convey the "texture" of life, Faber says. They "show the pores in the face of life. The comfortable people want only wax moon faces, poreless, hairless, expressionless." But by now, Faber explains, the firemen are rarely necessary: "So few want to be rebels any more."

Rest in peace, Ray Bradbury.

Tibetan Teachers Fired From Jobs

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Two educators and a school official have been removed from their posts following widespread language-rights protests earlier this year by Tibetan students in northwestern China, as Chinese authorities continue to clamp down on assertions of Tibetan cultural and national identity, according to a local resident.

Speaking to RFA on condition of anonymity, a Tibetan resident of the area identified the school official as Tsenden Gyal, 48, of the Tsekhog county education department in Qinghai province’s Malho (in Chinese, Huangnan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture

The teachers were identified as Pado, 42, head of the county’s Middle School No. 1; and Jigdo, 44, head of the county’s Middle School No. 2.

The date of their dismissal was not clear, but the firings are believed to be linked to demonstrations in March by Tibetan students in three Qinghai counties protesting a proposed change from Tibetan to Chinese as their primary language of instruction.

Calls for language rights

The first protest occurred on March 4, when around 700 students from the Rebkong County Middle School of Nationalities returned after a holiday break to find their textbooks for the new term written in Chinese, the London-based rights group Free Tibet said in a March 8 statement.


Meet FIRE Intern Danielle Lahee from the University of Richmond

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012
Danielle Lahee

Danielle Lahee is a rising junior at the University of Richmond in Richmond, Virginia, where she currently majors in Psychology and minors in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Previously, Danielle interned at the Legal Aid Society's Juvenile Rights Practice in New York City. 

Of her decision to intern at FIRE this summer, Danielle writes:

I first found FIRE in my search for a summer internship that would challenge me and force me outside of my comfort zone. Before this search, I was not aware of FIRE or the contributions it makes to the university community. FIRE fit well with my own beliefs: that individual rights are the most important guaranteed rights. As a college student, I have witnessed that despite being at "free" institutions, university students are some of the most vulnerable citizens. As I looked around at my own school, I realized the vulnerability was closer than I thought. I began to notice that many students matriculated having not had their minds sufficiently opened. Rather than welcoming a variety of ideas, my campus culture dictated the parameters in which individuals had to stay. These parameters were stifling and made sure that reality on campus did not coincide with the ...

Baltimore’s Alliance Comics Sponsors CBLDF Awareness Day with Robert Venditti

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

This Saturday, Alliance Comics is sponsoring a CBLDF Awareness Day with special guest X-O Manowar writer Robert Venditti! Venditti will be signing from noon to 3:00 p.m. at the Baltimore store (904 Light Street, Baltimore, MD 21230; 410-685-0021). CBLDF has teamed up with Alliance for an amazing raffle, including the following items:

Several different limited editions of X-O Manowar #1
Limited edition X-O Manowar art prints
Chew volume 1, signed by writer John Layman
Astonishing X-Men volume 1, signed by penciler John Cassaday
Green Lantern Secret Origin, signed by writer Geoff Johns
American Vampire volume 1 hardcover, signed by writer Scott Snyder
Watchmen hardcover, signed by penciler Dave Gibbons
Elektra: Assassin hardcover, signed by Bill Sienkiewicz

More items will likely be added to the raffle, and all proceeds will go to CBLDF to support our important First Amendment work!

If you live in the Baltimore area, head over to Alliance Comics on Saturday, June 9, 12:00 – 3:00 p.m., to support the CBLDF and a great store! Get more details about Alliance Comics’ CBLDF Awareness Day here.

Colorado Supreme Court to Hear Arguments in Ward Churchill Case Thursday

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

The Colorado Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in former University of Colorado at Boulder Professor Ward Churchill's First Amendment lawsuit against the university's Board of Regents on Thursday. Longmont Times-Call reporter Mitchell Byars writes: 

The Colorado Supreme Court announced in 2011 that it would hear Churchill's appeal, including a key argument about the quasi-judicial immunity doctrine that Churchill and his attorneys have challenged, arguing it threatens academic freedom and tenure at universities. 

In addition to reviewing whether granting CU's Board of Regents quasi-judicial immunity comports with federal law, the Supreme Court will consider whether CU violated Churchill's First Amendment rights and whether Churchill can be given back his job as an ethnic studies professor -- which attorney David Lane said Churchill still wants.

"Our hope is that the Colorado Supreme Court writes an opinion that rights this injustice that has occurred," Lane said Tuesday.

CU's regents voted 8-1 to fire Churchill nearly five years ago after the university said he had committed repeated academic fraud in his scholarship. 

Churchill then sued the school, claiming that the university really fired him over a controversial 9/11 essay he had written years earlier. In that essay, Churchill called victims of the Sept. ...

ACLU Ensures Access to LGBT Web Content in Schools

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

by Maren Williams

In February 2011, the American Civil Liberties Union launched its “Don’t Filter Me” campaign, which aims to “prevent viewpoint-discriminatory censorship of positive LGBT web content in public schools nationwide.”  During its short lifetime, the project has succeeded in ensuring equal access to LGBT content in school districts across the country. In a May 16, 2012, Education Week article, ACLU staff attorney Joshua Block outlined his group’s efforts to identify and work with school districts in which non-pornographic LGBT content was being improperly filtered.

Citing the landmark school censorship case Island Trees Union Free School District v. Pico, Block establishes that “schools cannot block access to information on the Internet any more than they can engage in viewpoint based discrimination toward the books on the shelves.” Nevertheless, overzealous implementation of filtering software in school districts across the United States led to the ACLU receiving “a disturbing number of reports from students who were blocked from accessing websites about college scholarships for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender teenagers; anti-bullying resources; and activities for student-led gay-straight alliances.”

To make matters worse, says Block, many filters would keep students from viewing LGBT-positive content, “but allow access to websites ...

Beijing Air Pollution ‘Plain to See’

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

A Chinese environmental group has called on Beijing to implement policy changes to clean up the capital's air pollution instead of trying to prevent foreign diplomats from publishing its air monitoring results online.

Song Xinzhou, the founder of the environmental protection group Green Beijing, said the government should give official backing to initiatives by nongovernment organizations (NGOs) to help clean up the environment.

"Government departments could relax their policies so as to allow NGOs to receive official, legal backing for their activities," Song said.

"This support should include policy-level support for their existence and their activities, as well as investment," he said.

Speaking after Chinese deputy environmental protection minister Wu Xiaoqing told the U.S. Embassy in Beijing not to publish air pollution figures on its website, Song said most people who live in the Chinese capital don't need a set of figures to tell them that the air pollution is serious.

"This is something that everybody knows," he said. "We can all feel it, and we can all see its more visible aspects."

Wu demanded on Tuesday that foreign embassies stop issuing air pollution readings, saying this is against the law and diplomatic conventions, in pointed criticism of a closely ...

FTRF announces eight Judith Krug Fund grants for Banned Books Week events

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Congrats to the eight recipients of the 2012 Judith F. Krug Banned Books Week Event Grants, sponsored by the Freedom to Read Foundation!  Banned Books Week 2012 will take place September 30-October 6.  This year is the 30th anniversary of the celebration.

ACLU of Pennsylvania, Greater Pittsburgh Chapter, for their 17th annual “fREADom: A Celebration of the Freedom to Read,” Read-Out and the second annual “Banned After Dark” event featuring performances of banned or challenged plays, songs and other works.  This is the second grant for the ACLU of Pennsylvania, which also was awarded a grant in 2010.

California Polytechnic State UniversityRobert E. Kennedy Libraryfor a banned author talk, Read-Out, and wall-sized Infographic featuring the most frequently challenged books of the last decade, among other events.

City Lit Theater Company, for “Books on the Chopping Block,” a week-long series of staged readings at Chicago-area public libraries of the previous year’s 10 most frequently challenged books as determined by the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.  City Lit uses professional actors for these performances, which are followed by Q&A sessions with the audience.

Lawrence (Kan.) Public Libraryfor “Banned Books Week ...

Tiananmen Activist Dies in Detention

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

A veteran 1989 pro-democracy activist from the central Chinese province of Hunan has died suddenly in police custody, his relatives said on Wednesday.

Li Wangyang, 62, died at a hospital in Shaoyang city in the custody of the local police detention center, Li's brother-in-law Zhao Baozhu told RFA's Mandarin service.

"The hospital called us at 6:00 a.m. and told my wife that he had died," Zhao said from the hospital. "We went to visit him [on Tuesday] at 6:00 p.m., and he seemed fine then."

"The doctor said he had committed suicide."

Zhao said the family hadn't been allowed to view Li's body, however. "The police forcibly removed the body," he said. "Quite a few of them came."

Li's death came as Chinese authorities moved to crack down on dissidents and rights activists around the country, in a bid to prevent any public memorials on the 23rd anniversary of the June 4, 1989 bloodshed.

Li, a former worker in a glass factory, was jailed for 13 years for "counterrevolution" after he took part in demonstrations inspired by the student-led protests in Beijing, and for a further 10 years for "incitement to overthrow state power" after he called for a reappraisal ...

Uyghur Detained Over Tweets

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Chinese authorities have detained a Uyghur man for tweeting “false information” about a boy who family sources say died in police custody under suspicious circumstances in the ethnically troubled Xinjiang region.

Pamir Yasin, a resident of Urumqi, Xinjiang’s capital, was placed under 15 days’ administrative detention, the Xinjiang government news website reported, after he tweeted information on the May 20 death of a boy studying at an unsanctioned religious school in Korla.

Sources close to the family told RFA that 11-year-old Mirzahid Amanullah Shahyari died in the custody of Korla police, who told his mother the boy had committed suicide under their watch and forced her to bury the body immediately.

Official Chinese media reports, however, said that he died at a hospital after being beaten by fellow students at the illegal religious school.

The case has drawn strong condemnation from the Germany-based World Uyghur Congress (WUC)  which called Mirzahid’s treatment “barbaric.”

The case was “riddled with many violations of fundamental international human rights law, as well as reminiscent of the persecution that Uyghurs face on a day-to-day basis,” it said.

Pamir Yasin had written on his Sina Weibo microblog eight days after Mirzahid’s death that the boy had ...

TFAW Announces Fourth Annual SDCC Autograph Card and CBLDF Auction Event

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

For the past three years, Things From Another World has played a pivotal role in collecting original artwork for CBLDF’s annual Comic-Con International charity auction, helping the Fund raise more than $75,000 in the process. They’re at it again this year, and they’ve already lined up some comics superstars to help raise money for our important First Amendment work!

The official press release from TFAW:


June 5, 2011, Portland OR–For the past three years, Things From Another World (TFAW) and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) have teamed up with comics artists like Charlie Adlard, Jeffrey Brown, Tim Seeley, and more to help raise more than $75,000 for the annual CBLDF auction at San Diego Comic-Con. Now, TFAW and CBLDF are happy to announce their Fourth Annual SDCC Autograph Card/CBLDF Auction event!

As in years past, TFAW is asking artists to create original sketches to donate to the CBLDF auction at San Diego Comic-Con. Artists can choose to sketch their own creator-owned characters, or one of DC Comics’ proprietary characters. Plus, up to seven artists can create sketches featuring Marvel’s Mighty heroes!

In exchange for ...

Security Tight in Beijing, Urumqi

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Security remained tight in some parts of the Chinese capital on Tuesday, a day after the sensitive anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen military crackdown, as authorities continued their clampdown on any attempt at public commemoration of those who died, local residents and security personnel said.

Meanwhile, authorities in the ethnically troubled northwestern region of Xinjiang began to implement tighter security measures ahead of the anniversary of deadly violence in July 2009, when ethnic tensions between Uyghurs and Han Chinese erupted into riots that left 200 people dead, according to the Chinese government’s tally.

Photos posted online in the early hours of Tuesday morning showed a number of attempts at Tiananmen memorial events, some solitary, others in small groups, wearing black and white clothing in mourning for those who died, and lighting candles.

An online rights website said petitioners from Shandong, Tianjin and Jilin provinces lit incense for the souls of the departed at an unknown location in Beijing, in spite of heightened security aimed at preventing such events.

Activists said police across China have detained a string of activists and petitioners and banned Internet posts relating to the politically sensitive anniversary, as well as forcing a number of prominent activists ...

Meet FIRE Intern Shelli Gimelstein from University of Pennsylvania

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Shelli Gimelstein is a rising junior at the University of Pennsylvania, where she is majoring in International Relations with a minor in Creative Writing. She is a senior staff writer and summer news editor at the Daily Pennsylvanian student newspaper, and she serves as vice president of Penn for Youth Debate, a volunteer organization that promotes debate education in Philadelphia high schools and middle schools.

Of her decision to come to FIRE as an intern this summer, Shelli writes:

One of the most valuable parts of my college experience has been the constant exposure to different points of view through the classes I have taken and the people I have met. I have greatly benefited from the dynamic intellectual environment at Penn, and I believe that FIRE's work ensures that all students can experience this exchange of ideas despite university administrations' efforts to limit certain forms of speech. 

I first learned about FIRE while writing a Daily Pennsylvanian article about the history of free speech at Penn, in light of campus controversy over an anti-Israel conference run by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement that was held at Penn in February. After contacting FIRE to learn more about Penn's ...

Speech Code of the Month: Centre College

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for June 2012: Centre College in Kentucky. Although it is a private institution, Centre's Bill of Student Rights promises

The right of every student to exercise his/her full rights as a citizen in forming and participating in campus, local, national, or international organizations for intellectual, religious, social, political, economic, or cultural purposes, and to publish and/or determine his/her views and those of his/her organization on campus.

Fundamental to one's rights as a citizen is the right to free speech, including—perhaps most crucially—the right to criticize one's leaders. But at Centre, that right is seriously curtailed by the college's prohibition on "disrespect for a college official," which is defined broadly to include anything "not showing due respect." This vague policy could subject a student to punishment for almost any comment or criticism that an administrator subjectively deems disrespectful. 

Our concern over this policy is anything but hypothetical. Over the years, FIRE has seen many universities apply their speech codes to suppress student criticism of their administrations. To take just a few recent examples:

  • This past fall, a student at Catawba Valley Community College (CVCC) posted comments on CVCC's Facebook page harshly criticizing the ...

FIRE Welcomes Our 2012 Interns!

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012


Fire's 2012 Interns

From left to right: Luke Wachob, James Madison University; Sophia Mortensen, The College of William & Mary; Kelsey Curtis, Colgate University; Shelli Gimelstein, University of Pennsylvania; Emily Harrison, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Yean Do, Georgetown University; Danielle Lahee, University of Richmond.

This week, FIRE welcomes our 2012 undergraduate intern class to our Philadelphia office. Welcome to Luke, Sophia, Kelsey, Shelli, Emily, Yean, and Danielle! Check back on The Torch over the next two weeks to meet our interns and hear why they decided to spend their summer with FIRE.

To support the FIRE internship program, click here.

TONIGHT! Meet Chip Kidd at CBLDF’s Book Expo Party!

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Celebrate free speech at this year’s Book Expo by raising a toast to CHIP KIDD on Tuesday, June 5th in a benefit to support the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund!

A VIP cocktail reception starts at 7 PM. Kidd will present a behind-the-scenes look at creating this book, and all attendees will receive an extremely limited copy of BATMAN: DEATH BY DESIGN, with an exclusive signed and numbered bookplate, designed by Mr. Kidd. These bookplated editions are extremely limited, and will be available one time only. Hors d’Oeuvres will be served. This is a ticketed event, with limited admission available for a $50 donation to the CBLDF. Reserve your ticket here.

At 8:30 pm, an open release party and book signing will begin. Copies of BATMAN: DEATH BY DESIGN will be available at the venue! (No ticket needed for this portion of the evening, but a suggested donation at the door is appreciated)

The event happens at SMITHFIELD, 215 West 28th Street New York, NY 10001.


Writer: Chip Kidd, Artist: Dave Taylor

In this new, original graphic novel from superstar writer/designer Chip Kidd and artist Dave Taylor, Gotham City is undergoing one of ...

Tiananmen: A Reporter Looks Back

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Chen Xitong, widely known as the Beijing mayor who advocated the Chinese army's crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in 1989, now says that the tragedy was regrettable.

Chen asserts in a new book that, contrary to most independent analysis as well as popular opinion, he did not push for the use of force.

With proper handling, the ex-mayor says, the loss of hundreds of lives during the crackdown could have been avoided.

My own reporting from Beijing during the 1989 crisis, like that of many other reporters at the time, supports the view that Chen Xitong was among the hardliners advocating the need to use force to suppress the protests at Tiananmen Square.

It was Chen who delivered a lengthy report to the National People's Congress on June 30, 1989, that constituted the Chinese government's definitive statement on "Checking the turmoil and quelling the counter-revolutionary rebellion."

Chen now says that he was forced to read this statement prepared by the ruling Chinese Communist Party leaders but that he did not support it.

Cracks in the wall

Why is a declaration of regret by Chen of any significance more than two decades after the military assault of June 3-4?

To begin with, ...

FFE Executive Board Members from the adult film industry take part in a candid & provocative panel.

Monday, June 4th, 2012

FFE Executive Board Members from the adult film industry take part in a candid and provocative panel discussion at NYC's Museum of Sex, June 12th.

May 29th, 2012

For Immediate Release


Five adult film stars from the "Golden Age of Porn": Veronica Hart, Gloria Leonard, Candida Royalle, Annie Sprinkle and Veronica Vera were the original "Sex and the City" girls. Turning to one another for the support they needed to navigate their way through life after blue movies, these dynamic women created "Club 90" in 1983, forming a bond that would continue for nearly thirty years. They went on to pursue their personal goals, and in the process, blazed new trails in the fields of human sexuality, women's empowerment, erotic expression, and free speech.

Come get a taste of the good old days when NYC was America's sex film capital, movies were shot on 35mm film, and Times Square was x-rated! And most of all, come share the laughs, the drama & the intimate stories of this controversial support group. This rare reunion promises to be candid, informative and electric!

When: June ...

Death in Detention Draws Denigration

Monday, June 4th, 2012

Updated at 6:55 p.m. EST on 2012-06-05

An 11-year-old Uyghur boy has died in police custody under suspicious circumstances after being detained for taking Islamic prayer lessons from an unsanctioned school, drawing condemnation from an overseas rights group.

Mirzahid was arrested on May 20 while studying Islamic prayer and reciting of the Koran along with two other students and their teacher at the teacher’s home in Korla in northwestern China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, according to sources.

Due to restrictions in the region imposed by Chinese authorities, Uyghurs have been forced to seek alternative ways to obtain a religious education.

Children under the age of 18 are not allowed to enter mosques for prayer and are not provided the opportunity to study Islam in school. Both students and teachers at unsanctioned "home" schools take enormous risks by engaging in religious study, which is likely to result in imprisonment if discovered by authorities.

Police informed Mirzahid’s mother that the boy had committed suicide while in detention, sources said. When she went to retrieve his body, it became clear that he had suffered torture, appearing to have been strangled around the neck and beaten repeatedly, the sources said.

Police also told his ...

Secret Service Agents Can’t Be Sued, Justices Rule

Monday, June 4th, 2012
The Supreme Court on Monday unanimously ruled against a protester who said his free speech rights had been violated when Secret Service agents arrested him after he made critical remarks about the Bush administration’s war policies. Read more.

Hundreds Protest ‘Unfair’ Shop Taxes

Monday, June 4th, 2012

As many as 13 people were injured Sunday when police opened fire during a protest by 200 shopkeepers over what protesters said were over-inflated tax rates in western Burma’s Rakhine state, according to local officials.

Officials said that authorities fired to disperse the increasingly violent crowd,  which had surrounded a police station in the port town of Sittwe to display their anger over attacks by alleged hired thugs on shopkeepers who refused to pay the higher taxes.

Aung Mya Kyaw, a member of parliament with the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP) who is also a native of Sittwe, told RFA that the situation had been defused by early Monday morning.

"Things are back to normal now,” he said. “It happened between 9:00 p.m. [Sunday] and 5:00 a.m. today, and people have already left.

“Thirteen people were injured, but the injuries were minor. The police had to fire warning shots to disperse the crowd because it was too big.”

Aung Mya Kyaw did not provide details about how the 13 people had been injured or whether they were treated for their injuries.

Reuters news agency quoted witnesses as saying that 10 people had been shot and wounded when riot police tried ...

CFN Members Honored for Campus Activism in 2011-2012

Monday, June 4th, 2012

FIRE's Campus Freedom Network is pleased to announce the winners of the 2011-2012 Incentive Program. The CFN's incentive program awards books, materials, scholarships and other items to students who work to promote liberty on campus throughout the school year. This year, we had a record number of students setting up free speech walls, hosting FIRE speakers on campus, and starting reform campaigns to change repressive speech codes at their schools. However, a few students made truly outstanding contributions to improving the campus culture for individual rights this school year, and we want to recognize their efforts here. 

The 2012 first place winner is Bryant Jackson-Green, a rising senior at the University of Chicago who has been working with FIRE to change campus policies as a member of the Committee on Campus Expression. Bryant has penned op-ed pieces in The Chicago Maroon advocating for free speech and due process on campus, and his Students for a Free Society group hosted FIRE's own Azhar Majeed to discuss these issues in a speaking event this spring. 

Second place winner Casey Given is a former FIRE intern and recent graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. Casey used the tools he learned at ...

‘Fee Speech’: When University-Bank Partnerships Silence Students

Monday, June 4th, 2012

Last October, FIRE intervened to protect student speech following a disturbing incident at Catawba Valley Community College (CVCC), where student Marc Bechtol was kicked out of classes mid-semester and banned from campus for two additional semesters for violating the school's policy prohibiting any "offense which, in the opinion of the administration or faculty, may be contrary to the best interest of the CVCC community."

Bechtol's offense? He criticized an agreement between CVCC and financial service company Higher One that required CVCC students to carry Higher One debit cards that would also serve as their student IDs. FIRE quickly came to Bechtol's aid, and his shocking case garnered national media attention. (See this article, this article, and this article, and while you're at it, check out this one from The New York Times, too). After FIRE intervened, CVCC abandoned its punishment of Bechtol–but unfortunately, the college has refused to reform its unconstitutionally vague policy banning action that "may be contrary to the best interest of the CVCC community."

So why am I writing about this again now? Well, last month the United States Department of Education issued guidance about problematic university deals with banks—confirming that Bechtol ...

Hong Kong Holds Tiananmen Vigil

Monday, June 4th, 2012

Updated at 3:53 p.m. EST on 2012-06-04

Tens of thousands of people converged on Hong Kong's Victoria Park on Monday to mark the 23rd anniversary of the 1989 military crackdown on student-led protests in Tiananmen Square as Beijing muzzled online talk on commemorating the event, organizers said.

"The candlelight vigil didn't begin formally until 8.00 p.m., but people were coming there as soon as they got off work, and by 6.00 p.m. there was already a football field full," said Fang Zheng, a former student protester who lost both legs in the crackdown on protests that had gripped Beijing by the People's Liberation Army.

"The organizers ... estimated that this year, a total of 180,000 people took part," Fang said. However, police estimated the crowds reached 80,000 at their peak, he added.

Many of those taking part appeared to have come from mainland China.

"I came specially, because I wanted to understand this event," said a participant surnamed Zhang from Shenzhen, just across the internal border with mainland China.

"When I get back, I'm going to tell people about the facts of what happened from start to finish, so that the next generation knows about it too."

Another mainland resident ...

Google Launches Anti-Censorship Tool

Friday, June 1st, 2012

Google has launched a new feature for its Chinese language site which informs mainland users when they enter search keywords that are likely to be blocked by censors and recommends using alternative terms, following a government crackdown on information about a major political scandal.

The move was announced Thursday on a blog post by senior Google vice president Alan Eustace as a site improvement, but did not address Beijing’s use of censorship to police the Internet in China.

Google left China in 2010 after a showdown with the government over Internet controls and currently redirects Chinese language users from the mainland to a search site run from its Hong Kong-based servers.

But Eustace said that mainland users accessing the Hong Kong site experience connection breaks when they search for certain terms.

“Over the past couple years, we’ve had a lot of feedback that Google Search from mainland China can be inconsistent and unreliable,” Eustace wrote in the blog entry.

“It depends on the search query and browser, but users are regularly getting error messages like ‘This webpage is not available’ or ‘The connection was reset.’ And when that happens, people typically cannot use Google again for a minute or more.”


IFAction Round Up May 25-31

Friday, June 1st, 2012

What is your vote for biggest story of the week? Tell us in the comments or vote on Facebook!

OIF sponsors IFAction, an email list for those who would like updated information on news affecting intellectual freedom, censorship, privacy, access to information, and more. To subscribe to this list, visit an archive of all postings to the list since 1996, visit Below is a sample of articles from May 25-31, 2012.



FCC explores cellphone privacy

Netflix To Revise Data Retention Practices

Watching Big Brother: Privacy Board Delayed

Bill banning warrantless cellphone tracking clears California Senate

Feds Want Warrantless Spying Loss Overturned, Law Can’t Touch Them

Microsoft Making ‘Do Not Track’ Default for IE 10

EFF asks which tech companies “have your back”

Is Siri Spying On You?



Crackdown on Chinese Bloggers Who Fight the Censors With Puns

Harford County libraries won’t stock ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ and sequels (MD)

Controversial book to return to Brevard public libraries ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ FL

Bay County Considers Book Ban ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ in another FL county

Fort Bend libraries won’t carry ’50 Shades of Grey’ (TX)

Utah school district places book ...

Want to “bee” the best? Read a banned book!

Friday, June 1st, 2012

Last night, the finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee took place in Washington, DC.  278 young spellers took the stage over the past week, with national TV cameras capturing the drama.  We at OIF would like to extend a hearty congratulations to all the participants!

In perusing the biographies of the contestants, I noticed something interesting.  When asked to list their favorite book, some interesting titles popped up.

The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby.

To Kill a Mockingbird.

The Grapes of Wrath.


The Giver.

The dictionary.

And, of course, Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Hunger Games ….

So I did an informal survey.  And of 91 participants who listed a favorite book, fully 2/3 of them listed titles that have been reported to OIF as having been banned or challenged!

Now, far be it from me to draw any scientific conclusions from this study.  But it does seem to confirm something I’ve known since I was a young, voracious reader: books are an essential part of a good education.  Providing access to books — even controversial ones — helps kids (and adults), sparks imagination, and often leads to great things.

And The ...

CBLDF Thanks Our Members At Wizard World Philadelphia!

Friday, June 1st, 2012

by Alex Cox

The CBLDF is excited to be returning to the great city of Philadelphia, for the first time in several years for Wizard World Philly! This historic city is one of the most important homes of American democracy, and we are proud to help continue the legacy of Free Speech and Free Expression in this exciting town!

Wizard World was gracious enough to host us, and we will be in booth 1049 all weekend long. We have a terrific array of donation premiums, including several new books, signed by awesome supporter artists such as Stuart Immonen, Jason Aaron, Matt Fraction, Frank Miller, and many, many more! We’ve put together a killer mix of books and t-shirts for the fine folks of Philly, and can’t wait to see the Pennsylvania area fan community!

For CBLDF members, we have the last few exclusive, variant cover copies of GLORY 23, available only to card-carrying member of the CBLDF! If you are not a member, but want to join, we can sign you up on the spot! Never fear! These GLORY variant covers are free to members, and extremely rare, as well as signed by writer Joe Keatinge!

So swing by ...

The Huffington Post Evaluates the Use of Ratings for YA Books

Friday, June 1st, 2012

by Soyini A. Hamit

The academic journal Mass Communication and Society published an article in their May 18, 2012 issue about the frequent use of profanities in Young Adult (YA) books. One of the authors, Dr. Sarah Coyne, assistant professor at Brigham Young University, believes that a rating system should be in place so that parents will know what books are appropriate for their child’s age. The Huffington Post takes a closer look at whether such a system is necessary.

In his analysis, Books Editor Andrew Losowsky notes that a ratings system for YA books may not seem far-fetched because a similar system is used to rate movies. He see a difference, though, because:

our brain processes visuals in a more direct manner than through the mediation of written language. Though their comparative impact has yet to be closely studied, there does seem to be a significant difference how they are processed and understood. (Not that this is the MPAA’s argument for movie ratings.)

Losowsky also notes that printed material directed towards children has previously come under attack, most notably in 1954, when the comic book industry adopted the Comics Code to regulate content. He points out the ...

Pakistani Twitter Ban After Blasphemous Cartoon Contest Raises Concerns Over Country’s Commitment to Free Speech

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

by Mark Bousquet

A recent ban on Twitter by the Pakistani government highlights the growing conflict between conservative governments and dissatisfied citizens over the use of, and access to, social networking sites. On May 20, Pakistan blocked access to Twitter for part of the day, holding the social networking site responsible for an allegedly blasphemous cartoon contest being run on Facebook. Critics argue that Twitter has given a voice to those who oppose the government’s security practices, and that actions like the May 20 ban give credence to the idea that Pakistan is not interested in having a truly free media.

This is not the first time the Pakistani government has sought to stifle it citizen’s freedom of expression via social media, and not the first time that the tipping point involved Facebook and a cartoon contest. In 2010, the government responded to public protests and legal pressure against a Facebook contest to draw images of the Prophet Muhammad by banning the social media site for two weeks. Responding to a ruling from the Lahore High Court that ordered the ban, the government was, “quick to ban YouTube and hundreds of other Web sites and services,” ...

Florence v. Shurtleff – The What’s and Why’s in Plain Language

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

by Christopher Schiller

A lot of legal discussion has been coursing through the Internet about the recent events in the Florence v. Shurtleff court battle and, as is often the case when lawyers are involved, the terminology and meaning of the discussion can sometimes get away from the casual observer and the significance lost. This posting is a quick and dirty attempt to provide a simplified explanation of what is going on.


I have been asked to attempt to explain, in plain language the recent decision in Florence v. Shurtleff in Utah. This will be cursory, and therefore, incomplete. I am a lawyer, but, this cannot be taken as any form of legal advice, especially since I do not practice in the state of Utah. And since litigation is not part of my practice, this also will be a more theoretical explanation than one of substance. Think of me as a professor you caught in the hallway between classes to ask a quick question about this case you heard about in the news. In other words, it might be useful on a basic level of understanding, but, don’t hold me to anything I say here.

The Statute as enacted


Comics, Courts & Controversy: A Case Study of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

By Marc H. Greenberg

Throughout history, works in the comics genre have had enormous cultural, social and political impact. Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis and Art Speigelman’s Maus are two of the innumerable examples of this impact.

An unfortunate byproduct of the popularity of works in this genre has been that it has drawn the attention and efforts of legislators and law enforcement agencies to adopt and prosecute ill-conceived efforts to criminalize, suppress, and ban them. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is often the first, and sometimes the only, line of defense against these efforts of repression.

As a life-long comics fan, a lawyer and a law professor, I have been an ardent supporter of the Fund’s efforts. This law review article, which profiles many of the key cases fought by the Fund, is my contribution to spreading awareness of its vital work. Protecting our First Amendment freedom is an often messy and difficult endeavor – we should all be thankful for the dedicated advocacy of the Fund and its supporters. My thanks to Executive Director Charles Brownstein for providing me access to the Fund archives, without which this article could not have been completed.

Read Comics, Courts & Controversy: A ...

Access Denied: Library Filter Fail

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

by Justin Brown

In the course of human events, there are ironic situations that are so absolute and absurd that it’s nauseating. I had such a sickly-sweet experience while researching source-articles for my CBLDF piece about role-playing-game censorship at my local Library in Indiana, Pennsylvania (about an hour north-east of Pittsburgh for those unfamiliar with the area).

I was lazing on a floor-level gaming chair in the comic, graphic-novel and art book section that I frequent (I read voraciously, and not just comics; novels, short-stories news and research articles etc.). While re-reading and taking notes on various articles for my piece, I was quite shocked when I received a “access denied” message after typing in the URLs for’s and ICv2′s articles on banned and censored RPGs. I mean, an article about censorship being blocked? Who would of thought, it figures! (Sorry Alanis Morisette fans, I couldn’t resist)

The words “Access Denied!” were in black on a ominously crimson background. At first, I thought I might have pasted in an incomplete hyperlink. This was not the case, as I typed it in and read through the entire “denied” message, which revealed that the site was blocked because it mention the ...

Talking “Dark” YA Lit with Terry Trueman

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Discussing the “dark” qualities of YA books and their strong language is much in vogue of late. Yes, books can“scar” you–in that they effect you, they leave their mark, they cause an emotional reaction that sticks with you after you’ve read them. There seems to be an impulse to keep teens “unscarred” in the well-meaning, but perhaps naive hope that they will avoid the complex, complicated and disturbing aspects of life.

Now, not all kids have the luxury of being protected from life’s challenges and reading a book in which a character shares their struggle can be cathartic, reassuring. And what better way to get kids to wrestle with these issues than through literature? Where the Red Fern Grows or Lord of the Flies may have upset me greatly when I read them, but that’s what made them great, instructive and memorable.

Terry Trueman is the author of Stuck in Neutral, which was challenged recently in Texas. The book is a powerful story told from the point of view of a teenager named Shawn who suffers from cerebral palsy, and as such can’t move, speak or even really focus his vision. He fears that his father might ...

Intellectual Freedom Round Table Seeks Volunteers for Committees

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

The Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT) is seeking volunteers for committees! If you are interested in becoming a committee member of one of IFRT’s several committees, please submit this form. Please note: you must be a member of ALA and IFRT in order to serve on one of its committees.

If you already have filled out this form,  Julia Glynn Warga, chair elect of IFRT, will be in contact with you soon.

If you have any questions, please contact: IFRT Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect Julia Warga, Social Sciences Librarian, Kenyon College at

For more information on IFRT including how to join, please visit

“Fifty Shades” of Free Speech FTW!

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Three weeks ago, the National Coalition Against Censorship heard that the bestselling erotic novel had been unceremoniously pulled from library shelves in Brevard County, FL, supposedly at the prerogative of one individual.

There had been no complaints by patrons–on the contrary, many were waiting to get their hands on a copy of the book that has been a crazy hit, largely with women.

We wrote three letters (see here, here and here), urging Brevard County representatives to right the situation and opening the conversation about the inclusion of erotica in libraries.

Friday, Brevard County announced that it would be returning the books to the libraries. The Chair of the County Commission, Chuck Nelson said they received a lot of feedback in support of the book:

“I never want to be in a position where we appear to be censoring or banning books.”

Right on, Mr. Nelson.
We and our partner organizations are thrilled with the outcome and proud of the many individuals around the country who voiced their belief that adults should be free to read what they want to read.

Sin Tax Error

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Should strip clubs be taxed to fund state services for sexual assault victims? Tracy Clark Flory raises that question in a recent Salon article.

Strip club taxes seem to be a popular these days. According to Flory, States from Georgia, Pennsylvania, Texas, Illinois, and California have all proposed targeted strip club taxes taxes.  Flory doesn’t offer any details about the proposals, but a quick Google search offers information about the situation in California, where Assemblyman Das Williams proposes a $10-per-customer tax to fund sexual violence prevention and victim-services programs. And just a couple of days ago, on May 24, the Illinois senate approved legislation that would require clubs to charge a $3 fee or pay a lump sum tax ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 depending on the club’s revenues.

Why a tax on strip clubs? Really it’s just another sin tax. Anything too pleasurable or naughty is easy to slap a tax on to pay for things we should be funding more fairly. But the justification given is worse than that because it’s based on a falsehood. The justification given in California, and elsewhere, is that strip clubs lead to rape.

But, as Flory correctly points ...

Reproductive Rights Are Human Rights: A Global Call To Action

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Yesterday was International Day of Action For Women’s Health and a renewed push to ensure that every woman and girl has her right to bodily autonomy recognized worldwide.

To mark the day the Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights launched its Call for Action 2012: “Full Recognition of Young People’s Sexual and Reproductive Rights! Recognise Reproductive Rights! Mobilise for Reproductive Justice!” The campaign is designed to reinforce the importance of recognition, protection and international adoption of sexual and reproductive rights of young people as human rights.

The call to action revolves around three key platforms, each of which is crucial in a full recognition of the human rights of young people recognized and legitimized by the state.

  •  The right of young people to decide on all matters related to their sexuality;
  • Access to sexual and reproductive health services, including safe abortion where legal, that respect   confidentiality and do not discriminate;
  • The right of youth to comprehensive sexuality education;
  • Protection and promotion of young people’s right to control their sexuality free from violence, discrimination, and coercion.

The need for such a day is clear by the WGNRR:

With more than 3 billion under the age of 25, this is the largest ...

Apple’s Crystal Prison and the Future of Open Platforms

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Two weeks ago, Steve Wozniak made a public call for Apple to open its platforms for those who wish to tinker, tweak and innovate with their internals.

EFF supports Wozniak's position: while Apple's products have many virtues, they are marred by an ugly set of restrictions on what users and programmers can do with them. This is most especially true of iOS, though other Apple products sometimes suffer in the same way. In this article we will delve into the kinds of restrictions that Apple, phone companies, and Microsoft have been imposing on mobile computers; the excuses these companies make when they impose these restrictions; the dangers this is creating for open innovation; why Apple in particular should lead the way in fixing this mess. We also propose a bill of rights that need to be secured for people who are purchasing smartphones and other pocket computers.

Apple's recent products, especially their mobile iOS devices, are like beautiful crystal prisons, with a wide range of restrictions imposed by the OS, the hardware, and Apple's contracts with carriers as well as contracts with developers. Only users who can hack or "jailbreak" their devices can escape these limitations.

Locked down devices



TV Networks Say You’re Breaking The Law When You Skip Commercials

Saturday, May 26th, 2012

Television networks are having a busy month trying to stamp out new TV-watching technology, including telling a court that skipping a commercial while watching a recorded show is illegal. Yesterday, Fox, NBC, and CBS all sued Dish Network over its digital video recorder with automatic commercial-skipping. The same networks, plus ABC, Univision, and PBS, are gearing up for a May 30 hearing in their cases against Aereo, a New York startup bringing local broadcast TV to the Internet.  EFF and Public Knowledge filed an amicus brief supporting Aereo this week.

The suits against Dish are a response to the "Hopper" DVR and its "Auto Hop" feature, which automatically skips over commercials. According to the networks' complaints, the Hopper automatically records eight days' worth of prime time programming on the four major networks that subscribers can play back on request. Beginning a few hours after the broadcast, viewers can choose to watch a program sans ads.

These suits are yet another in a long and ignominious series of lawsuits by content owners seeking to control the features of personal electronic devices, and to capture for themselves the value of new technologies no matter who invents them. We've seen this ...

Sorry We’re Not Sorry: Interview with Lino Bocchini of Falha de S. Paulo

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Lino and Mario Bocchini, creators of the Brazilian parody website Falha de São Paulo, are currently appealing a court order that froze their domain two years ago. In September 2010, Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo filed a lawsuit against the Falha seeking financial compensation for mimicking their layout and copy-editing, and also for “moral damages” to its reputation as a news organization. While the financial indemnities were dropped, Falha’s domain remains frozen for unauthorized use of Folha’s intellectual property.

Folha claims that the latest case is an intellectual property issue, rather than one of freedom of expression, because of the use of domain names and logos resembling its own. We asked Lino what he really thinks of that claim, and spoke to him about what the outcome of this appeal would mean for freedom of expression in Brazil.

To learn more about the Bocchini brothers’ story, check out their most recent website.

Why did you and your brother decide to start Falha de S. Paulo? At the time, did it seem like it would be a financial or legal risk?

When we were beginning, it was the end of 2010, in the heat of the last ...

Celebrate Memorial Day by Supporting FIRE

Friday, May 25th, 2012

This weekend Americans will celebrate Memorial Day, an opportunity to reflect on both the past and future of our nation. We remember our fallen, and we honor the ideals they defended, including freedom of speech and religion, democracy, and due process. Our soldiers protect these values through their service, yet as we acknowledge their dedication, we recognize that many threats to these American values have not been eliminated. 

On campus, despite noble promises to respect free speech, college administrators consistently restrict the liberties of college students and faculty members, instilling in them not only the idea that censorship is acceptable, but also that it is desirable. When what ought to be the leading centers of free expression curtail basic rights, it's hard for those on campus not to learn to conform to unjust, illiberal principles instead.

The strength of campus censorship lies in both its invasiveness and its effect on the future leaders of our nation. Your support enables FIRE to remain vigilant in our protection of American liberties on campuses across the country, so please donate to FIRE this Memorial Day weekend and honor the ideals that so many have fought for. Happy Memorial Day from all of us ...

New Neil Gaiman & David Mack Print Debuts!

Friday, May 25th, 2012

The CBLDF is proud to offer our supporters an exciting new premium by Neil Gaiman & David Mack! This beautiful, exclusive print was contributed by our friends at Neverwear. Silk-screened in Austin, Texas these are the variant blue test run, created in very limited quantities prior to the standard edition grey run.

Printed on a gorgeous French paper called Madero Beach, a 70 weight 8.5 ” x 11″ recycled stock, the prints are full of flecks and bits. Creamy off-white, with 3 colors to show off David Mack’s luscious artwork and lettering.

They are hand-numbered, in an extremely limited artist/printer edition of 90. They are not available anywhere else!

(At this time, these are not signed.)

Here is the entire text of the beautiful poem Neil composed, illustrated and illuminated by Mr. Mack:

I will write in words of fire. I will write them on your skin. I will write about desire. Write beginnings, write of sin. You’re the book I love the best, your skin only holds my truth, you will be a palimpsest lines of age rewriting youth. You will not burn upon the pyre. Or be buried on the shelf. You’re my letter to desire: And ...

This Month in FIRE History: Tarrant County College Bans Symbolic ‘Empty Holster’ Protest

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Four years ago this month, FIRE become embroiled in a battle that would end in a decisive victory for free speech in the courts. 

The controversy first began in March 2008, when Tarrant County College (TCC) student Brett Poulos attempted to organize an "Empty Holster Protest." In conjunction with other protests spearheaded by Students for Concealed Carry on Campus across the country, TCC students would peacefully attend class and perform other daily tasks while wearing empty holsters to signify opposition to state laws and school policies denying concealed handgun license holders the same rights on college campuses that they are granted in most other places.  

When Poulos informed the school of the event, TCC officials granted the request in a strange way. TCC limited the demonstration to the campus' free speech zone and refused to allow protesters to wear empty holsters anywhere on the South Campus, even inside the free speech zone. After a meeting in which officials warned Poulos that the school would take action if he or any others violated these constraints, he came to FIRE for help. 

FIRE wrote to TCC warning that its free speech zone was unconstitutional and pointing to the long list of ...