APRIL 11, 2007
A renowned organization dedicated to free expression has named the Bush Administration as the top egregious First Amendment violator in the past year for its notorious secrecy and ongoing efforts to conceal information from the public.
The Virginia-based Thomas Jefferson Center annually names its not-so-prestigious Jefferson Muzzle award winners for violating free expression and, besides the Bush Administration, this year’s group features the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), a major city’s human rights commission and an indicted governor who blocked state employees from news sites that reported his wrongdoings.
The top prize goes to the Bush Administration for discouraging, modifying and censoring government scientists’ reports and studies so that they agreed with the administration’s political policies. House Government Reform Committee testimony of one high-ranking veteran scientist is listed as one of many examples. He testified that interference with communications of science to the public has been greater during the current administration than at any time in his lengthy career.
The NCAA won the Muzzle award for its “politically correct and arbitrary policy” on athletic team logos concerning schools that use Native American tribal nicknames. This is a misplaced reaction to political correctness evidenced in one major Florida tribe’s lawsuit (and subsequent victory) to keep its Seminole mascot after the NCAA banned it from a major state university for being a hostile and abusive racial/ethnic/national origin mascot.
The Philadelphia Human Rights Commission won for fining a veteran restaurant owner who displayed a sign saying; “this is America – ..when ordering speak English.” The commission accused the owner of violating the city’s anti-discrimination laws, but the Jefferson Center believes a governmental penalty should not be issued simply because a restaurant proprietor proclaimed a view that might be deemed racist or offensive by some.
Indicted Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher was crowned for blocking access to web sites that criticized him and reported his corrupt actions from state-owned computers. Fletcher, a Republican running for reelection, was indicted last year on charges that he illegally rewarded political supporters with protected state jobs. The indictment was dismissed in a deal with prosecutors, but a special grand jury later concluded the governor had approved a widespread and coordinated plan to skirt state hiring laws.
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