Jefferson Muzzle ‘awards’ take aim at free-speech offenders

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A Tennessee sheriff accused of deleting atheists’ comments on a county Facebook page and a school chief who dismissed a teacher who stepped on the American flag in class are among the 2017 winners of the Jefferson Muzzles — satiric awards bestowed annually by a free-speech group.

The Charlottesville, Virginia-based Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression announced Thursday the eight winners of its 25th edition of the Muzzles. They’re a dubious honor for those deemed particularly egregious offenders of free expression.

The winners will receive T-shirts bearing an image of Jefferson, the nation’s third president and an ardent free-speech advocate — with a black rectangle over his face.

The center’s director, Josh Wheeler, said it’s important to honor less well-known offenses, adding, “such acts occur every day.”