Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Muzzle Awards 2005 

It's time for the annual Muzzle Awards, presented by the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression. See last year's post for links to the 2004 winners and my comments on the award program. From the Center's description:
Announced on or near April 13 -- the anniversary of the birth of Thomas Jefferson -- the Jefferson Muzzles are awarded as a means to draw national attention to abridgments of free speech and press and, at the same time, foster an appreciation for those tenets of the First Amendment. Because the importance and value of free expression extend far beyond the First Amendment's limit on government censorship, acts of private censorship are not spared consideration for the dubious honor of receiving a Muzzle.

You can submit your own nominations for next year's awards using this form. The full list of this year's winners can be found here.

Among this year's winners are the FCC, NASCAR, US Department of State, US Department of Homeland Security, US Marshals Service, a variety of public schools that barred certain items of clothing for their symbolic expressive content, the High School for Legal Studies (this one's particularly ironic - the school first attempted to censor the valedictorian's speech, then when she began delivering the original version they escorted her from the graduation ceremony and refused to hand over her diploma), the Virginia House of Delegates, and others. Check out the award site for full details.

On the flip side, the Center also awards the William J. Brennan, Jr. Award to individuals and groups "whose commitment to free expression is consistent with Justice Brennan's abiding devotion. Such commitment might be shown by a single act or through a lifetime of activity to enhance the liberties of free speech and press." Sadly, while the Muzzles are given out to multiple winners each year, the Brennan award is given out "not more than once a year or less than once in five years." The most recent awards were in 2004, 2001, 1996, and 1993. You can submit nominations for the Brennan Award using the same form as for the Muzzles. Hopefully the time will come when the Brennans outnumber the Muzzles.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:20 AM