Smoking ban leads to art censorship

By William R. Toler

In trying to keep in line with a tobacco-free policy, administrators at Craven Community College removed a decorated auto hood from the student center because it featured a caricature of auto-body instructor Bob Hall smoking a cigar in January, according to the New Bern Sun Journal.

The hood was airbrushed by students of the autobody program for Hall’s drag racing car. Hall told NewsChannel 12 that the students were disappointed. “They’re hurt,” he said, “because the students that worked on it wanted to show their project.”

In a standard public relations move, college flack Sandy Wall said that while the display was a postive project for the students, “I think the depiction of a faculty member or anyone else smoking sends a message that we don’t want to send.”

The hood was cleared to go on display. Apparently the anti-smoking Nazis didn’t realize what was on the hood.

A flood of support for the students has poured in on the comments section of the Sun Journal’s Web site. Most, if not all, have criticized the college for its daft move and have demanded that it be put back on display.

The Board of Trustees adopted a tobacco-free policy late last year in an attempt to end smoking. The policy also prohibts tobacco advertising and clubs from accepting donations that promote tobacco use. Earlier this month, it amended the policy to create a designated smoking area on each campus after complaints from the community.

We at the Independent Register noticed First Amendment issues with the policy from the begining. But, this isn’t the first time the college has run afoul of free speech.

In 2004, the college halted distribution of 1,100 copies of the Campus Communicator because it contained the addresses of two students involved in a fight who were arrested. The information, which was listed on the arrest report, is public record. The Communicator staff begrudgingly agreed to black out the information on every copy that was passed out.

The following year, the same newspaper staff caught hell for printing a sex advice column, “Between the Sheets,” in the March issue. This gained state and national attention. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education even chimed in, giving CCC a yellow light rating for “threatening student speech.”

Note: This post was originally published on on Jan. 28.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s