Tag Archives: Censorship

‘Heed This Warning’: 2,500+ Book Bans Threaten US Schools and Democracy

“More books banned. More districts. More states. More students losing access to literature. ‘More’ is the operative word for this report on school book bans,” says author PEN America.

By Brett Wilkins  Published 9-19-2022 by Common Dreams

As Banned Books Week began Monday in the United States, a leading advocacy group published an updated report warning of a surge in right-wing efforts to censor and ban titles—many of them related to the struggles of marginalized peoples—in American schools.

“More books banned. More districts. More states. More students losing access to literature. ‘More’ is the operative word for this report on school book bans,” begins the update to PEN America’s Banned in the USA: Rising School Book Bans Threaten Free Expression and Students’ First Amendment Rights, which was published in April and covered the first nine months of the 2021-22 scholastic year. Continue reading

Share Button

Bad Day for DeSantis as ‘Stop WOKE Act’ Hit With Injunction, Lawsuit

“If Florida truly believes we live in a post-racial society, then let it make its case,” a federal judge wrote in blocking part of the controversial law. “But it cannot win the argument by muzzling its opponents.”

By Brett Wilkins  Published 8-18-2022 by Common Dreams

Governor Ron DeSantis speaking with attendees at the 2021 Student Action Summit hosted by Turning Point USA at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, Florida. Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/CC

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his Stop WOKE Act suffered a two-punch blow Thursday as a federal judge blocked parts of the controversial law and a coalition of civil liberties groups filed a lawsuit against what they are calling “racially motivated censorship.”

U.S. District Judge Mark Walker, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, issued a preliminary injunction against portions of the Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees Act, also called the Individual Freedom Act, saying it violates First Amendment free speech protections and the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause. Continue reading

Share Button

‘Five-Alarm Crisis’: US Has Shortage of 300K Teachers, School Staff

To stay in their profession, said a union leader, educators need “professional respect” including fair pay and the right “to make teaching and learning decisions for their students.”

By Julia Conley  Published 8-12-2022 by Common Dreams

National Education Association president Becky Pringle on Thursday warned that the U.S. teacher shortage has spiraled into a “five-alarm crisis,” with nearly 300,000 teaching and support positions left unfilled and policymakers taking desperate—and in some cases, questionable—measures to staff classrooms.

Pringle told ABC News that teachers unions have been warning for years that chronic disinvestment in schools has placed untenable pressure on educators as they face low pay and overcrowded classrooms. Continue reading

Share Button

The UN must act now to stop the crackdown in Russia

New amendments have been added to the ‘undesirables law’ as Putin looks to intimidate, silence and quash dissent

By Damelya Aitkhozhina  Published 8-2-2022 by openDemocracy

Andrey Pivovarov, former executive director of Open Russia, a pro-democracy movement | Image: Facebook / Andrey Pivovarov

For months, Russian authorities have regularly unleashed repressive announcements on Fridays. 15 July was no different.

That day, a court in the city of Krasnodar sentenced Andrey Pivovarov, the former executive director of the now-defunct pro-democracy Open Russia Civic Movement, to four years in prison on charges of leading an ‘undesirable organisation’. Continue reading

Share Button

What the US can learn from apartheid-era book bans in South Africa

Books are often targeted when they are sympathetic to the oppressed.
Eskay Lim / EyeEm via Getty Images

Helen Kapstein, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Beloved.” “The Hate U Give.” “Maus.” “Burger’s Daughter.”

Each of these books has been banned at some point in time, but one stands out. Instead of being banned in 21st-century America, Nadine Gordimer’s “Burger’s Daughter” was banned in 20th century South Africa during apartheid, that country’s period of official white supremacist rule.

So why include it in this list? Despite the decades and distance between bans on this book and the others, the rise in attempts to ban and censor books in America in 2022 looks an awful lot like what South African censors did during apartheid. I make this observation as a scholar who specializes in studying literature to better understand the intersections of race, oppression and resistance. Continue reading

Share Button

Facebook Removing Posts About Mailing Abortion Pills—But Not Guns

“Corporations are not your allies in the advancement of civil rights,” said one observer.

By Kenny Stancil  Published 6-28-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: Trusted Reviews/CC

Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s reactionary majority struck down Roe v. Wade last Friday, Facebook and Instagram have been swiftly removing posts informing people that they can obtain federally approved abortion pills through the mail while ignoring posts offering to mail guns.

An Associated Press reporter’s Facebook post that said, “If you send me your address, I will mail you abortion pills,” was removed within one minute on Monday, according to the news outlet. Continue reading

Share Button

1,100+ Banned Books Across 26 States: Report Shows ‘Shocking’ Censorship

“What is happening in this country in terms of banning books in schools is unparalleled in its frequency, intensity, and success,” said the director of PEN America’s Free Expression and Education program.

By Jake Johnson  Published 4-8-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: Enokson/flickr/CC

A report published Thursday by the free expression group PEN America details an “alarming” and unprecedented surge in book banning across the United States, with 86 school districts in 26 states prohibiting more than 1,100 titles in classrooms and libraries over just the past eight months.

Titled Banned in the USA, the report finds that districts representing 2,899 schools with a combined enrollment of more than 2 million students banned 1,145 unique book titles by 874 different authors, 198 illustrators, and nine translators between July 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022. Continue reading

Share Button

Putin’s attack on Ukraine isn’t going as planned. What will happen next?

With an unexpectedly strong Ukrainian resistance, harsh global sanctions and low morale among Russian troops, we face an unpredictable few months

By Paul Rogers.  Published 3-4-2022 by openDemocracy

Photo: The Resistor Sister/Twitter

Nine days into Russia’s assault on Ukraine and it is clear the Kremlin’s original plan has been derailed. The aim was to move rapidly on the capital, Kyiv, seizing the international airport to airlift troops in, then link with ground forces moving in from Belarus, occupy the city and take down the government in, at most, 72 hours.

From the start, Russia would make a concerted effort to take control of the Ukrainian air space, mainly with missile attacks on air bases, air defences and logistics support. This, combined with troops spread across the whole country, would induce a fear factor to help cower the people of Ukraine into submission, rather like the ‘shock and awe’ approach used by the US at the start of the Iraq War. Continue reading

Share Button

Media Networks Suspend Reporting in Russia Over Censorship Law

The Russian government also blocked access to Facebook, which RSF called the “Kremlin’s latest move to isolate the population from uncontrolled sources of information.”

By Jessica Corbett.  Published 3-4-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo:Anonymous Operations/Twitter

International media companies and journalists around the world on Friday sharply condemned a new Russian law that effectively criminalizes critical reporting of the war on Ukraine, with some outlets even suspending broadcasts or reporters’ work across Russia.

Amid global outrage over Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the Kremlin also blocked access to Facebook on Friday, which was met with intense criticism. The moves come ahead of anti-war protests planned on multiple continents this weekend. Continue reading

Share Button

Civil Rights Groups Denounce ‘Unlawful’ Book-Banning Effort by Texas GOP

“We will not stand by and watch politicians play games with the education and well-being of our children.”

By Brett Wilkins.  Published 11-23-2021 by Common Dreams.

Two prominent national civil rights groups on Tuesday blasted efforts by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and state Rep. Matt Krause—both Republicans—to compel school districts to censor hundreds of books, including many popular LGBTQ+, reproductive rights, and racial justice titles, following the passage of laws prohibiting the teaching of the racist history of the United States and banning transgender athletes from interscholastic athletics.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the LGBTQ+ advocacy group Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc. issued a statement condemning “Texas politicians’ efforts to force schools to begin pulling books from their classrooms and libraries shelves under the guise of state law.” Continue reading

Share Button