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CENSORSHIP ON THE RISE: PART TWO

Don’t Do Anything That Might Offend Someone

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) was on the case recently in Texas, advocating for the First Amendment right to offensive speech by joining an amicus brief filed by the Cato Institute and amici P.J. O’Rourke, Nat Hentoff, and Nadine Strossen. The brief, reported Caitlin McCabe at CBLDF, turns on the question of offensiveness.

Confederate FlagThe Sons of Confederate Veterans proposed a “specialty license plate” that includes the organization’s logo, which depicts the Confederate flag. The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles denied the proposal because the Confederate flag might be offensive to some citizens. CBLDF and the other amici contend that the denial could set a harmful precedent for the First Amendment if such potentially offensive speech is suppressed.

Said McCabe: “CBLDF joins coalition efforts like these to protect the freedom to read comics. Censorship manifests in many ways, and the unique visual nature of comics makes them more prone to censorship than other types of books. Taking an active stand against all instances of censorship curbs precedent that could adversely affect the rights upon which comics readers depend.”

At issue in Texas is more than specialty license plates, as McCabe says: “If a governmental agency has the right to determine what is too offensive for the public in this instance, where does it stop? And at what point does the government have the ability to not only regulate and take action against speech, but also citizens’ ideas and beliefs?”

Of course, McCabe points out, “a major part of granting U.S. citizens the right to free speech is that they have the ability to talk about and support a range of ideas and beliefs, including those which might be offensive to other people.”

The case reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles has the right to reject a proposed specialty license plate. Maryland recently recalled its Confederate flag plaes, but six other states— Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Georgia  — still sell Sons of Confederate Veterans plates.

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

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