Free Speech Group Gives "Muzzle" Awards

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This year's Jefferson Muzzles have been named by the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression. The group annually recognizes those who committed egregious or ridiculous affronts to the first amendment right of free speech.

Robert O'Neil of the Thomas Jefferson Center for Protection of Free Speech said, "We also hope that over time people in and out of government, in and out of public life will understand the risks and perils of interfering with free expression."

The Charlottesville center awards the Muzzles annually to mark the April 13 birthday of its namesake, the third president and free-speech advocate. This is the 19th year the group has put out the Muzzle list.

Here's a list of their "winners.":

  1. U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) for writing a four page complaint to Attorney General Eric Holder asking him to investigate a web site "mycongressmanisnuts," a parody of Grayson's own web site "congressmanwithguts," for possible violations of federal elections law.
  2. The Alabama Alcohol Beverage Control Board for banning the sale and distribution of a California wine because the label allegedly displays"a person posed in an immoral or sensuous manner."
  3. The Virginia Department of Corrections for denying inmate Kyle Mabe a CD containing a Christian sermon because of its policy of allowing musical CD's but prohibiting spoken-word CDs within cells, regardless of content.
  4. The Oklahoma Tax Commission for denying a state resident a vanity license tag that would read "IM GAY."
  5. The Legislature for the State of Texas for legislation requiring the Texas Film Commission to deny tax incentives to film productions shot in the state if the film 'portrays Texas or Texans in a negative fashion.'
  6. Chicago Alderman James Balcer for unilaterally ordering an outdoor mural by artist Gabriel Villa to be painted almost immediately after it was completed.
  7. The Southwestern College Administration in California for its policy that all campus protests be confined to a "free speech patio."
  8. North Dakota's West Fargo High School Board and Orange County (California) High School Principal S.K. Johnson for two separate acts that share a similar lack of appreciation for the First Amendment rights of high school students.
  9. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department for harassing street performers on the Las Vegas Strip, including an Elvis Presley impersonator.
  10. The Puerto Rico Department of Education for banning five books at public high schools because of passages containing allegedly coarse language.

For more on each "winner", click here.  (.doc)

Reported by NBC29 HD News