FEPP Archives - Issues -
"Harm to Minors" and Censorship of Youth
Paper To The National Research Council: Identifying What Is Harmful
or Inappropriate for Minors
(March 5, 2001) - Have adverse effects from pornography
been scientifically identified? Or is the issue essentially one of morality
and socialization of youth? This White Paper, submitted to the National
Research Council's Committee on "Tools and Strategies for Protecting
Kids from Pornography and Their Applicability to Other Inappropriate Internet
Content," points out that there are non-censorial approaches to concerns
about kids' access to pornography - such as media literacy and comprehensive
sexuality education. On May 2, 2002, the NRC released a 402-page report
that largely agreed with FEPP's White Paper. Click
here for a summary.
Court Brief In "COPA" Case
(September 2001) - Four sexuality scholars' organizations,
along with the National Coalition Against Censorship, filed a brief with
the Supreme Court explaining that there is no body of scientific evidence
establishing that minors are harmed by reading or viewing sexual material.
Hence, the "Child Online Protection Act," which criminalizes
"harmful to minors" expression online, is not justified by any
compelling governmental interest. In May 2002, the Supreme Court ruled
that using the vague notion of "community standards" as part
of the definition of what is "harmful to minors" is not in itself
unconstitutional, and sent the case back to the lower courts for further
consideration. (See Supreme
In Front of the Children: "Indecency," Censorship, and The Innocence
(2001, 2nd edition 2007) - From Huckleberry Finn to Harry Potter, Internet
filters to the v-chip, censorship is often based on the assumption that
children and adolescents must be protected from "indecent" information
- whether in art, in literature, or on a Web site. In Not In Front
of the Children, FEPP Director Marjorie Heins explores the fascinating
history of indecency laws and other censorship aimed at youth. Not
in Front of the Children won the 2002 American Library Association's
Eli M. Oboler Award for the best published work in the area of intellectual
Ask American Academy of Pediatrics to Reconsider Misstatements About Media
(2001-02) - FEPP and a group of media scholars asked the
American Academy of Pediatrics to reconsider its November 2001 Policy
Statement on Media Violence because of its "many misstatements about
social-science research on media effects." The AAP responded, but
refused to allow its letter to be published.
Commentary: Book Banning in the 21st Century:
What's at Stake in the CIPA Case
(March 20, 2002; updated May 31, 2002, June 23, 2003) -
The "Children's Internet Protection Act" - or CIPA - mandates
that all public schools and libraries using federal funds for Internet
use or connections must install a filtering system. Given the well-documented
fact that all Internet filters mistakenly block thousands of sites that
don't even have sexual content, CIPA poses a major threat to intellectual
freedom, and indeed, to the very function of libraries.
Commentary: Our Children's Hearts, Minds, and Libidos:
What's at Stake in the COPA Case
(April 18, 2002) - Salon.com and the Kama Sutra screen saver were just a few of the sites threatened with censorship as
the Supreme Court prepared to rule in Ashcroft
Through Civil Lawsuits, and Threats Against a University Press
(April 23, 2002) - What was all the fuss about Judith Levine's
controversial book Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children
from Sex? Also, a review of Robert O'Neil's The First Amendment
and Civil Liability, which describes how lawsuits against movie directors
and book publishers are threatening creative freedom
Research Council Adopts FEPPs Approach to Internet and Youth
(May 2, 2002) - The NRC released a 402-page report that largely agreed
with a white paper that FEPP submitted to the Council on three crucial
issues: Internet filters, media literacy, and "harm to minors"
from sexually explicit content..
Free Expression Network: The Making of a Movement
(May 22, 2002) - A Report on the May 2002 Colloquium, "Strategies
for Advancing the Free Expression Rights of Youth."
Bites the Dust
(May 31, 2002) - A federal court ruled that requiring
Internet filters in public libraries violates the First Amendment. See
Ignoring the Irrationality
of Internet Filters for commentary on the Supreme Court's reversal
of this decision.
Submitted to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration
(NTIA): Internet Protection Measures and Safety Policies
(August 26, 2002) - FEPP's White Paper to the NTIA, outlining
the serious educational problems that are inherent in Internet filtering
technology, and suggesting more effective ways of addressing concerns
about minors' access to the wide variety of content on the World Wide
Web. The agency's report, released in August 2003, recognized the limits
of filtering technology as a response to concerns about minors' Web surfing,
but it also read like a sales pitch for filter manufacturers. See Government
Report a Sales Pitch for Internet Filters.
of the Court Brief by 33 Media Scholars in St. Louis Video Games Censorship
(September 25, 2002) - 33 media scholars, historians, psychologists,
and games researchers filed a brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for
the Eighth Circuit, opposing a law that bars minors from video games containing
"graphic violence." The scholars' brief explains that, contrary
to popular belief, most efforts to prove adverse effects from media violence
have yielded null results, and that "experts on childhood and adolescence
have long recognized the importance of violent fantasy play in overcoming
anxieties, processing anger, and providing outlets for aggression."
Literacy: An Alternative to Censorship
(2002; second edition, 2003) - FEPP's survey of media literacy
education and why it is preferable to TV ratings, Internet filters, "indecency"
laws, and other efforts to censor the ideas and information available
to the young.
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?
Disastrous State of Sex Education
(April 4, 2003) - In Talk About Sex, Janice Irvine
concludes that America must rid itself of the "the culture of stigma"
before it can have a sane policy of sexuality education.
Court Strikes Down St. Louis Video Games Law
(June 3, 2003) - The June 3, 2003 decision agrees
with FEPP's brief on behalf of 33 media scholars that experimenters have
not proven violent content to have widespread adverse effects.
the Irrationality of Internet Filters, the Supreme Court Upholds CIPA
(June 24, 2003) - The Supreme Court's decision allowing
Congress to mandate Internet filters in public libraries as a condition
of federal aid ignores or understates the massive censorious effects of
filters. In many ways, they are more insidious than flat bans on "indecent"
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
Government Report is a Sales Pitch for Internet Filters
(August 20, 2003) - The National Telecommunications and
Information Administration's flawed August 2003 report naively accepts
the claims of filter manufacturers.
(November 21, 2003) - Why did two media violence researchers
back out of their scheduled appearance at the FTC?