July 6, 2004

DON’T BLAME JOHN ASHCROFT: For quite a while, I’ve been running a blogad for Cordair Fine Art galleries, featuring a variety of images from their collections. Yesterday the ad featured this 7’1″ bronze statue by Danielle Anjou — a nude — and a couple of readers actually wrote worrying that their companies might fire them for looking at a page containing that image, for fear that having such images on company computers might lead to a sexual harassment lawsuit.

You can complain about Ashcroft, or the FCC (and I have), but neither has done as much to censor speech in America as sexual harassment law. Eugene Volokh has made that point repeatedly, but the emails I got really brought it home. What’s next? Banning The Birth of Venus?

UPDATE: David Bernstein, who knows a lot about this (he’s written a book on the subject) has posted thoughts and links to more writings over at The Volokh Conspiracy. And he notes: “I think my piece may contain the only discussion from an academic book of the famous South Park ‘Sexual Harassment Panda’ episode.”

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