I entered the Best Tweet About the College that Censored Firefly contest today. My chances of winning are looking about as good as my chances of using my new snowshoes in Minnesota this brown winter. I never win anything, which is fine by me. I am the Rodney Dangerfield of contest winners. So don’t vote for me and ruin my record.
I put my silly tweet in the pot just for fun, but also because I really hated what the University of Wisconsin in Stout tried to pull on theater professor James Miller. In September, Miller posted a quote from the television show, Firefly, outside his office door: “You don’t know me, son, so let me explain this to you once: If I ever kill you, you’ll be awake. You’ll be facing me. And you’ll be armed.” The sentiment is about standing for a certain set of values, of being straightforward and honest with your fellow humankind. No threat was intended.
But campus police were having none of it. On September 16, they removed the “unacceptable” poster because it referred to killing. In response to this censorship, Miller launched a second salvo poster, which read: “Warning: Fascism” and included a cartoon image of a silhouetted police officer striking a civilian. The poster warned, “Fascism can cause blunt head trauma and/or violent death. Keep fascism away from children and pets.”
Again, the university responded by removing the poster. Quickly, the incident blew up into a public relations nightmare for the university, fueled by tweets, blog posts, and articles by Firefly fans, free speech advocates, the media, celebrities such as Adam Baldwin and Nathan Fillon, and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). On October 4, the university put out the publicity wildfire by reversing its decision to censor Miller.
This may sound like old news, but a similar incident will likely surface somewhere in the world tomorrow or the next day. Censorship seems to never go out of style. And so, FIRE is sponsoring the tweet contest to draw attention to a new video on censorship featuring author Neil Gaiman.
Now, I have a few disclaimers: 1) I am a Firefly addict and take umbrage at people messing with this rag-tag crew; 2) I am a free speech nut; and 3) I have written a novel about a town that censors books called Book of Mercy. Even if you are or have done none of these things, please watch the video.
Oh, and my tweet? Here it is:
My way-too-literal friend complained, “How can a jar have no walls?”
“It’s about freedom,” I explained.
“I don’t get it,” he said.
This is why I will not win this contest. I suck at jingles.
Feel free to RT in the name of Browncoats, TV shows cancelled before their time, and the way fireflies make you feel on a summer night.