Revoke SPJ Sunshine Award to IL Attorney General sign now

We, the undersigned, do hereby attest that we are of the resolute opinion that the recent decision of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) to honor, in October 2005, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan with a "Sunshine Award" is both antithetical and counterintuitive to the tenets espoused by the organization, and is action which flies in fundamental and diametric opposition to the guarantees intended by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

We recognize that Madigan is single-handedly responsible for the legal posturing in the matter (Hosty v. Carter) which has insisted that adults are not entitled to any greater rights than are children when on campus, in that she chose to push the argument before an en banc appellate panel in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit that, in terms of constitutional liberties enjoyed, there should be no distinction between colleges and kindergartens, based merely on the presence of state subsidy. Despite the fact that the SPJ has chosen to praise her for reputedly making good on an election promise to facilitate Freedom of Information (FOI) efforts, her adamantly having pursued the extension of the parameters of juvenile law (Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlemeir) to adult students and citizens is appallingly contrary conduct, and one which we maintain the SPJ should recognize as being its principal factor in assessing Madigan's role as a public servant committed to the exercise of good government and preservation of press liberties.

As a house divided cannot stand, the contest and the issue necessarily escalate to the national level of concern, and may not be limited to our nation's campuses. If the mere presence of taxpayer subsidy becomes the rule of engagement for public schools, we recognize that there might be nothing in place to prevent it from becoming the future standard of deprivation at public parks, libraries, pools, concerts, fairs, performances, and so forth. If the only condition necessary for the government infringement of adult rights is the presence of subsidy, we concede that it would be folly to postulate that the courts will limit First Amendment constraints merely to college campuses. We contend that, thanks to Madigans insistence, Big Brother is steadily gaining ground, and this will have serious implications for our professional careers in journalism, as well as our personal lives, because if we cannot share what we know, we cannot effect change, protect ourselves, or earn our livings without impediment.

We do not approve of the SPJ's recent decision, because we realize it chooses to praise the manacling of First Amendment liberties, and we recognize the veracity of that assessment which Dwight D. Eisenhower had rightly noted, in that "Americans, indeed all freemen, remember that in the final choice, a soldier's pack is not so heavy a burden as a prisoner's chains." If the SPJ proceeds to honor Madigan, then it is publicly commending (instead of condemning) the woman responsible for the onset of an American oligarchy.

We, therefore, in addition to merely registering our disapproval with the organization's decision, also strenuously petition the SPJ to reconsider it, and to revoke the award it has seen fit to give Madiganan act which makes a mockery of the groups tenets. Madigan deserves no such honor; if anything, we respectfully suggest that instead of a Sunshine Award, she should be given an Eclipse Award, for effectively participating in the blotting out of adult students rights.

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Mike DuncanBy:
International PolicyIn:
Petition target:
First Amendment Groups, Adult Students, and Journalists

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