The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Censorship no part of speech freedom

Viewpoint by Chris Webb/nw news editor

One tenant our government has always honored is freedom of speech, which means freedom from censorship.

Apparently, those in the White House decided to mix things up a bit. The Washington Post reported, as of summer 2004, climate-related scientists must clear media requests with the administration.

Some scientists say government officials have altered some of their findings.

Dr. Jim Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, told The New York Times his findings on particular studies had been altered and whole lines omitted. During a lecture at New School University in New York, he told the audience the censorship had gotten so bad “it seems more like Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union than the United States.”

Hansen was in good standing with the Bush administration, even briefing cabinet members on climate-related issues.

Hansen believes tension between him and the current administration first began after he addressed University of Iowa students in 2004. During the speech, he indicated government climate scientists were being censored, so he intended to vote for John Kerry in the coming elections.

Christopher Milly, a U.S. Geological Survey hydrologist, has experienced similar problems. He claims government officials have censored his writing and one time blocked an entire news release from publication.

Milly told The Washington Post that one of his papers was “allowed” in November 2005, but officials “purged key words from the releases, including global warmingwarming climate and climate change.” 

Reasons for such edits included information that might be “speculation” or “not sufficiently reliable.” And who edits?

Our Changing Planet, an annual report commissioned by Congress and written by a collaboration of climate scientists, was edited, according to CBS News, by Phil Cooney, chief-of-staff of the Council on Environmental Quality.

Cooney’s qualifications? Before going to the White House, he was a lawyer and a lobbyist for American Petroleum Institute.

His edits on that document included changing lines like, “The earth is undergoing rapid change” to “may be undergoing change.” Some references to human health concerns were marked out.

This practice is wrong and needs to end immediately. Censorship is the first step toward tyranny.

When those in charge value political agendas over straight science, we have a problem. Americans deserve the full story, not just the part that our elected officials deem acceptable.

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