Censorship U.

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You always knew college was different from high school, and not just because you can stay up as late as you want and live on nothing but Cheetos and Sprite. Now a federal appeals court has realized it as well, ruling that laws allowing censorship in high schools can’t be applied at the university level after all.

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A press release from the STUDENT LAW CENTER reports that the distinction wasn’t so clear to Kentucky State University officials when they decided they didn’t like the contents of the 1992-1994 yearbook. Apparently forgetting that college students are largely over 18 and therefore adults, school officials confiscated all copies of the yearbook and locked them in a warehouse, where they sat for the next six years.

The decision was reached by a zigzag path. In 1999 the same court supported censorship of the KSU student newspaper in a related case, then threw out its own ruling and reheard the case. The final decision comes down squarely on the side of the First Amendment, ruling that a public university can engage in neither censorship nor the confiscation of college yearbooks — the latter an act one judge described as “amongst the purest forms of content alteration.”

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You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

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