Censorship: Recent and Current
The causes for censorship in the United States throughout the beginning of the 21st century have largely remained the same, while it is the formats that have largely changed.

The Federal Communications Commission, which regulates radio and television broadcasting, was granted an exemption to the First Amendment to allow it to regulate broadcasted material it deemed “indecent”, as long as it exercised restraint in 1988. This restraint has almost completely fallen to the wayside now, with the FCC able to charge up to $325,000 for a single use of profanity after Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” in 2004.


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The use of “Freedom of Speech” zones has also become far more rampant, with the Bush administration using them liberally after 9/11 and during the 2004 election, to obscure dissenting and protesting voices by sequestering them away from the media coverage of an event. This practice does not end at political events, but has also been practiced by universities in recent years to prevent student groups from reaching the majority of the campus.


Democratic National Convention
Democratic National Convention


Censorship has also occurred in regards to internet access at public schools due to Federal pressure. The Child Internet Protection Act, passed in 2000 and upheld in 2003, requires all schools and public libraries to institute a filter if they are to receive federal financial assistance through the E-rate or "universal service" program, or through the Library Services and Technology Act. This effectively censors 60% of all public schools and libraries for information that is not even necessarily offensive, but simply controversial and may be related to school research.

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Almost 70 percent of the demands for censorship are directed at material in school classrooms or libraries. Most of the remainder is aimed at material in public libraries. Parents lodge 60 percent of the challenges based on a variety of reasons. Although there are Supreme Court decisions protecting schools from the directives of parents such as Leebaert v. Harrington and Blau v. Fort Thomas Public School District, many schools still bend to parent complaints and remove books on the basis of a handful of parents.




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