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FEPP Archives - Issues - Censorship History

Not In Front of the Children: "Indecency," Censorship, and the Innocence of Youth
From Huckleberry Finn to Harry Potter, censorship is often based on the assumption that children and adolescents must be protected from information about ideas. In the award-winning book, Not in Front of the Children: "Indecency," Censorship, and the Innocence of Youth, Marjorie Heins explores the history and politics of indecency laws and other censorship aimed at youth.

Rereading Sex
(December 17, 2002) - If you are interested in the origins of our present-day struggles over sexual information and ideas, Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz’s detailed rendering the 19th century landscape is packed with incidents and insights. Rereading Sex: Battles Over Sexual Knowledge and Suppression in Nineteenth-Century America.

Culture on Trial: The Story of 3 Landmark Censorship Cases
(Winter 2002) - The trial that freed James Joyce's Ulysses; the case that broke the Catholic Church stranglehold over American movies; and the McCarthy Era case that ended teachers' loyalty oaths.

The Strange Case of Sarah Jones
(January 24, 2003; updated February 20, 2003) - Where does the federal government get the power to ban a feminist rap poem?

Words on Fire: Book Censorship in America Today
(March 13, 2003) - At the opening of Boston's Words on Fire festival commemorating the 70th anniversary of the first Nazi book burnings, a survey of book censorship in America today.

The Impact of the USA PATRIOT Act on Free Expression
(May 5, 2003) - FEPP Senior Research Fellow Nancy Kranich surveys the chilling effects of the government's broad, new, secret surveillance powers.

More Than Seven Dirty Words
(August 4, 2003) The FCC's threat to revoke broadcast licenses because of vulgar radio content focuses on a truly gross call-in show describing such bizarre sexual practices as "the Rusty Trombone," but the broader issue is the unconstitutionality of the agency's vague "indecency" standard.

The Lives Behind The Cases
(August 4, 2003) - Stephanie Elizondo Griest reviews Speaking Our Minds: Conversations With the People Behind Landmark First Amendment Cases.

Terrorism and the Constitution
(August 19, 2003) - David Cole and James Dempsey's new book gives sobering background on the "USA Patriot Act" and on America's habit of sacrificing civil liberties in the name of national security.

The Crumbling Wall of Church-State Separation
(October 29, 2003) - Why the Pledge of Allegiance case is not the most important church-state issue before the Supreme Court in the 2003 term.

The Miracle: Film Censorship and the Entanglement of Church and State
(October 2003) - How the Catholic Church pressured New York State into banning a short Italian film in 1951, leading to a major Supreme Court case and reflecting church-state problems that plague American politics to this day.

Free Expression in Arts Funding: A Public Policy Report
(2003) - A survey of free-expression policies among state and local arts agencies, including ways of anticipating and dealing with attacks on controversial art. Includes background on the arts funding wars of the 1990s, and candid interviews with agency officials.



The Free Expression Policy Project began in 2000 as a project of the National Coalition Against Censorship, to provide empirical research and policy development on tough censorship issues and seek free speech-friendly solutions to the concerns that drive censorship campaigns. In 2004-2007, it was part of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. Past funders have included the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Educational Foundation of America, the Open Society Institute, and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

All material on this site is covered by a Creative Commons "Attribution - No Derivs - NonCommercial" license. (See You may copy it in its entirely as long as you credit the Free Expression Policy Project and provide a link to the Project's Web site. You may not edit or revise it, or copy portions, without permission (except, of course, for fair use). Please let us know if you reprint!