The 12th Annual Muzzle Awards

A look at the dishonorable enemies of free speech and personal liberty in New England.
By DAN KENNEDY  |  July 10, 2009

09710_MUZZLES_main1

Muzzle Awards: Collegiate Division. By Harvey Silverglate.

Past Muzzle Awards:
1998  |  1999  |  2000  |  2001  |  2002  | 
2003  |  2004  |  2005  |  2006  |  2007  | 2008

With the era of repression and secrecy fostered by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney finally over, this should be the best of times for freedom of expression, open government, and civil liberties.

Yet change comes slowly.

Among President Barack Obama's first acts in office were his announcement that the prison at Guantánamo Bay would be closed within a year, and his order that executive agencies comply fully with the federal Freedom of Information Act.

Now, nearly six months after Inauguration Day, Obama is waffling on what to do with the Guantánamo prisoners, even to the point of embracing the odious practice of indefinite detention. And, last month, msnbc.com reported that the new administration was picking up where Bush left off in refusing to release the names of White House visitors, despite a federal-court ruling that those names are public records.

Here in New England, the 12th annual Phoenix Muzzle Awards have taken on a slightly different cast from previous years. This time, there are fewer terrorism-related outrages and more cases related to open government and freedom of the press. Perhaps that represents a return to something approaching normalcy.

Since 1998, the Phoenix has been honoring those who've brought dishonor to themselves by trampling on the rights of free speech and personal liberties in New England.

The Muzzle Awards were inspired by noted civil-liberties lawyer and Phoenix contributor Harvey Silverglate, author of the forthcoming book Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent (Encounter) — and of the sidebar accompanying this article — and are named after similar awards given by the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Freedom of Expression.

This year's edition was compiled by tracking free-speech stories in New England since July 4, 2008, and is based on reporting by the Phoenix newspapers in Boston, Providence, and Portland, as well as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and various news organizations and Web sites — including the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald, the New York Times, the Guardian, Slate, the Associated Press, the Providence Journal, the Portland Press Herald, the Kennebec Journal, the Bangor Daily News, the Sun Journal of Lewiston, the Tech (MIT's student newspaper), and the Boston-based blastmagazine.com.

1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6  |  7  |  8  |  9  |  10  |   next >...  last >>

1 of 11 (results 11)
Related: Eyes on the prize, Patrick Lynch’s labor problem, Will Caprio’s early ad spree work?, More more >
  Topics: News Features , Barack Obama, Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association, Boston Police Department,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY DAN KENNEDY
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   A LOOK AT 10 ENEMIES OF FREE SPEECH AND PERSONAL LIBERTIES THROUGHOUT NEW ENGLAND  |  June 27, 2013
    Obama's longstanding lack of respect for the role of a free press in a democratic society reached new depths when it was revealed that his Justice Department had snooped on the Associated Press and Fox News' James Rosen in trying to ferret out leakers.
  •   THE 15TH ANNUAL MUZZLE AWARDS  |  July 13, 2012
    Liberal dreams that Barack Obama would somehow usher in a progressive paradise were always misplaced.
  •   INTERVIEW: RORY O’CONNOR DIGS SOCIAL MEDIA  |  May 14, 2012
    Rory O'Connor has been thinking about trust and the media for a long time.
  •   UNCOVERING THE SINS OF JOE MCGINNISS  |  October 09, 2012
    Joe McGinniss's 1983 bestseller Fatal Vision offered up Jeffrey MacDonald as a modern exemplar of evil: a narcissistic, remorseless monster who beat to death his wife and five-year-old daughter in a diet-pill-fueled frenzy, then coolly killed the only witness, his two-year-old daughter.
  •   THE 14TH ANNUAL MUZZLE AWARDS  |  June 29, 2011
    To understand just how disappointing Barack Obama has been on civil liberties, you need only consider the case of David House, a founder of the Bradley Manning Support Network.  

 See all articles by: DAN KENNEDY