For Your Eyes Only: Anti-censorship sites

Amidst all the controversy surrounding the legislation aimed at
censoring the content of the Internet lies a great nugget of irony:
The Internet itself has become an important tool for
anti-censorship organizations to track freedom of expression
infractions all over the globe.

Battles over freedom of expression can usually be traced to the
Religious Right’s ongoing assault against everything from filmmaker
Marlon Rigg’s Tongues Untied to bawdy email jokes. The Institute
for First Amendment Studies claims to be the only nonprofit
educational and research organization focusing solely on the
activities of this irrational but influential group, and the
Institute has made much of its valuable work available for free and
accessible online. AlterNet’s
Democratic Values Project
is a comprehensive archive of material used by journalists,
activists, and other people interested in subverting the Right’s
definition of what’s proper. Besides archiving resources and
alternative press articles on the politics of censorship, the site
hot links to lots of organizations tracking the Right, including
the Center for Democratic Renewal, Feminists for Free Expression,
the National Coalition Against Censorship, People for the American
Way, and the Southern Poverty Law Center. The ACLU Free Reading
Room, a site maintained by the infamous American Civil Liberties
Union, is also notable for its wide collection of
censorship-related documents and legal analysis.

Many of the most contentious censorship fights concern works of
art. The most comprehensive and interactive anti-censorship site
keeping tabs on the art world is The File Room, a huge archive that
spans the globe and features documentation, artists installations,
and opportunities for visitors to report incidents of censorship
directly. What is refreshing about the site, which is maintained by
the Randolph Street Gallery in Chicago, is that dogma gives way to
critical analysis, and visitors are encouraged to make up their own
minds about conflicting claims surrounding a censored work.

For politicians eager to score votes with ticked-off urban
dwellers, censoring graffiti is synonymous with cleaning up the
streets. Usually, though, this form of political expression gets
overlooked in the censorship debates.
Art Crimes, a gallery of
graffiti art from cities around the world, is an exception to the
rule. Devoted to the digital preservation of art perpetually under
threat of erasure, the collection comes from around the world,
offering a unique window into what pushes people’s buttons — and
spray cans — in other cultures.

The news operates in a constant state of censorship, with
stories suppressed at the whims of economic and political
interests. We’ve mentioned this site before, and we refer you once
more to Project Censored, a collection of news stories ‘about
significant issues of which the public should be aware, but is not,
for one reason or another.’

Finally, those who appreciate the iconoclastic aspects of the
Web should check out See/Hear/Speak No Evil, a site run by former
UPI reporter and Playboy publicist Bill Paige. Along with his own
broadsides against state-sponsored prudery, No Evil features rants
on censorship from thinkers like rock & roll critic Dave Marsh
and yippie Abbie Hoffman.

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