Published by Dave Marsh in 1990, this relatively short book gets straight to the point: censorship is bad, has always been bad, and will never become good. Marsh (a former editor for Rolling Stone magazine and counterculture archivist) presents his case primarily through music examples, but makes brief allusions to the Sedition Act and Schenk v. United States's "clear and present danger" standard of review to bring censorship up as what it really is: good intentions gone terribly wrong.

After a brief foreword from George Plimpton, Marsh writes a rather scathing yet sympathetic look at the forces that drive censorship: power, control, fear, morality, and, unsurprisingly, greed. Then Marsh delivers as promised, with a laundry list of ways to fight censorship, followed by various examples and specifics for each item. Here now is the list:

  1. Speak out.
  2. Register and vote.
  3. Send your senators and congressperson letters or mailgrams.
  4. Teach your children how to know when censorship appears in the classroom, or elsewhere.
  5. Oppose de facto censorship of the news media by the wealthy and powerful.
  6. Get involved with your library.
  7. Make art that fights censorship.
  8. Speak out about freedom of speech at schools, churches, and to youth groups in your town.
  9. Write a letter to Your local paper in defense of free speech
  10. Call your radio station talk show.
  11. Support those retailers who fight against censorship.
  12. Read everything you can get your hands on about censorship and First Amendment issues; read banned books.
  13. Gather information and news clippings on censorship and send Them to a central clearinghouse.
  14. Buy banned records, fight record labeling.
  15. Write and perform songs about free speech and the perils of censorship.
  16. Write movie moguls and tell them to eliminate the MPAA ratings code.
  17. Watch "The Simpsons" and other controversial TV programs.
  18. Contact your local cable outlet to find out if it's being pressured to censor its programming.
  19. Join the American Civil Liberties Union.
  20. Join the Freedom to Read Foundation.
  21. Stop the attack on the National Endowment for the Arts.
  22. Join Article 19.
  23. Support the American Booksellers Association's Foundation for Free Expression.
  24. Get to know the censorship groups, study their literature, and expose them to public scrutiny.
  25. Investigate the tax-exempt status of pro-censorship lobbying groups.
  26. Find out your state's requirements for purchasing textbooks.
  27. Run for office on a platform supporting freedom of expression.
  28. Write to your favorite artists; find out what they're doing to help preserve freedom of expression.
  29. Make an anti-censorship home video showing the various benefits of free speech in your community.
  30. Write about your positive experiences with art.
  31. Become a voter registrar; organize a voter registration drive.
  32. Form a group that establishes a first amendment litmus test for politicians.
  33. Start an anti-censorship petition campaign.
  34. Boycott products made and marketed by companies that fund the censors.
  35. Start a grassroots anti-censorship organization.
  36. Start an anti-censorship newsletter
  37. Contact local arts and educational groups; persuade them to stage a free speech event.
  38. Set a good example - start a parents' group to combat censorship.
  39. Contact local TV stations and propose a Censored Films Festival.
  40. Use community access cable TV or community radio to raise awareness of free speech issues.
  41. Create a public service announcement to be aired over the radio.
  42. Stage a mock trial on censorship.
  43. Make sure local schools have a course on freedom of speech.
  44. Contact others concerned about censorship - put it in the want ads!
  45. Talk to teachers about what they're doing to ensure free speech.
  46. Picket the censors.
  47. Sue the bastards!
  48. Have a moment of silence to keep speech free.
  49. Organize a Speak Out Day.
  50. Make the real obscenities the real issues!

All fairly reasonable, and certainly relevant. The book can still be found in stores nationwide, and it's an excellent pass around for your friends who might be a bit unversed in censorship.


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