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A Toast to TJ

Today, April 13, is Thomas Jefferson’s birthday. Tom would be 267 if he were here to blow out the candles on his cake.

As an alternative way to celebrate his day, every year the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression hands out its “Muzzle” awards. You wouldn’t actually want to win one of these – they are given to entities that try to squelch free speech and expression. In other words, the center is trying to tell a cautionary tale.

This year all of the 10 “honorees” are all government or school officials.

For example, the Alabama ABC Board banned the sale of Cycles Gladiator, a California wine, because the bottle displayed “a person posed in an immoral or sensuous manner.” Say what? The label contained a replica of a 1895 French poster of a nude nymph with a flying bicycle.

Out in Las Vegas, the cops tried to get rid of street performers along the strip. Didn’t want them to stay in Vegas, apparently.

In Oklahoma, government officials denied a license plate that stated “IM GAY,” on the grounds that was “offensive to the general public.”

And closer to home, the Virginia Department of Corrections won a Muzzle for denying an inmate a CD containing a Christian sermon. The department has since revised a policy to allow inmates to order religious CDs, effective June 1.

You get the idea. The Associated Press has the full story here.

In the meantime, here’s a toast to Mr. Jefferson. Feel free to use a bottle of wine with a nymph on the label.

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