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About this program...

At the heart of this program is the notion that most Americans do not understand what censorship means and how it can creep into unexpected places. Most Americans’ understanding of censorial behavior ends at “I can say what I want to;” indeed, the First Amendment Center’s 2009 State of the First Amendment report finds that 55 percent of Americans could name free speech as one of the rights contained in the First Amendment. Yet only 16 percent could name freedom of the press as one of those rights. This program focuses on more nuanced definitions and notions about what freedom of expression actually means and how important it is to American democracy.

The goals and objectives of this program include:

  1. To educate faculty, students, administrators and the public about the different meanings of censorship, including those that may not be legally censorship but that act to restrain expression.
  2. To engage in a series of thoughtful and reasoned discussions about these meanings of censorship and ways in which Americans can be vigilant about retaining and exercising First Amendment rights.
  3. In keeping with some of the issues raised in This Film Is Not Yet Rated, to discuss what is meant by “self-censorship” and the effects that self-censorship has on media.
  4. To analyze the role of advocacy groups such as the Parents Television Council in relation to censorship issues.
  5. To discuss the need for transparency in regards to censorship issues; the need for transparency was raised in This Film Is Not Yet Rated and resulted in a number of significant changes in the way the Motion Picture Association of America operates.
  6. In keeping with the interdisciplinary approach of this program, to encourage participation from different disciplines and perspectives.


This program is primarily funded through a grant from the Liberty Tree Initiative. The Initiative is an informal coalition of educators, journalists, librarians, artists and authors with a shared interest in building awareness of the First Amendment through education and information. It was founded in partnership with the American Society of Newspaper Editors, with help and support from the Knight Foundation, the McCormick Foundation and the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University.

A Liberty Tree (an orange tree, of course!) will be planted on the CSUF campus to commemorate this event and to remind us of our ongoing commitment to freedom of expression.

CSUF Liberty Tree Task Force:

  • Dr. Genelle Belmas
  • Mr. Tom Clanin
  • Dr. Philippe Perebinossoff

Special thanks to:

  • Liberty Tree Initiative (Sandra Chance and Jon Bougher)
  • Comm Week 2010 advisers, ambassadors, and student assistants
  • Brian Larson
  • Jim Milbury
  • National Writers Workshop
  • IFC
  • Dean Rick Pullen and the College of Communications
  • Dr. Anthony Fellow, chair, Department of Communications
  • Alvaro Zapata
  • Rachel Navarro
Liberty Tree First Amendment Center McCormick Fdn.



“Censorship reflects a society’s lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime.”