The Censorship Controversy

Synopsis    Around the same time that it was becoming clear that a Parliamentary Inquiry would likely occur into the events surrounding the denial of tenure to Dr Rindos, the University began to make legal threats against news media and individuals who sought to make the existance of the "Rindos / UWA Case" site known. This was followed by a letter making legal threats against the State University of New York. SUNY replied saying it was blameless, and that UWA should address their concerns to the Site's "owner". At this point in time, UWA has yet to reply.

A University at Buffalo paper, The Reporter, has published a summary of these events in a feature article called "Trouble in cyberspace...".

This action by UWA may be what the legal profession in the US call a "strategic lawsuit against public participation" or SLAPP suit.

SLAPP suits are used by companies or even government agencies to inhibit public interest and participation in (or reaction to) their activities. These powerful interests cloak their real motives in terms of personal injury, such as defamation or tresspass, which require extensive examination of motives and fact exploration in court. Since they have a "chilling effect" on rights guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution (aka "Freedom of Speech"), and are indeed an illegal assault on personal rights and freedoms, and incidentally take up a great deal of (un- necessary) court time, these suits are frequently dismissed before even entering court by savvy judges. Apparently SLAPP suits were virtually unknown before 1970, but since then became so common and disruptive to the judicial process that at least ten states, including New York, passed laws prohibiting them. For further information on this topic, try this Lycos search or consult:

The First Amendment Project's Anti-SLAPP Resource Center (

The Freedom Forum's First Amendment Center's overview by Lori Potter (

Cordes, Helen
1992 Get SLAPPed? SLAPP back! Utne Reader July-August 52:47

Finn, Robert
1996 Libel Concerns Are A Reality For Scientists Who Speak Out In Public. The Scientist 10(6):15

1991 The SLAPP suit threat: squelching public debate American Libraries 22(10):1003

Pell, Eve
1989 A new way to intimidate activists; corporations SLAPP them with a lawsuit. Utne Reader Nov-Dec 36:115

Pring, George W. and Penelope Canan
1996 SLAPPs : getting sued for speaking out. Philadelphia : Temple University Press.

Skolnick, Andrew
1993 Free speech and SLAPP suits. Skeptical Inquirer 17(3):244(3)

Zweig, Jason
1989 A SLAPP in the face. Forbes 143(11):106

Menu for the Censorship Controversy

1. References to "rindos" at UWA

The UWA Web site has a search engine, but outside surfers will quickly discover that access to all "interesting" documents, even public ones such as the Senate minutes, has been blocked!!!

For example, the following page includes all references found in 1996 to Dr Rindos and his dismissal. A second search, in December of 1997, shows fewer references and only one active link, to a letter in the UWA Postgraduates Student Association Newsletter...

All of the UWA Senate minutes of which we are aware are noted below. These are local copies of relevant sections, provided by UWA. By comparison, if you have access, try accessing the minutes directly through their index!

[We have provided, for your information, some of the linked text which has been repressed.]

2. UWA legal communications regarding the Site

[Much of this material is still to be entered.]

3. Press Reports

4. Postings on Usenet NEWS, and on relevant mailing lists

5. Some of the mail received by the Site Maintainers

6. Known Mirrors and Links for the Rindos / UWA Site

If you would like to have your link listed here, or if you have the space to mirror this site, please contact the Buffalo Maintainer, or the Justice on Campus Project.

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Last modified: August 21, 2003