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The drag show bans sweeping the US are a chilling attack on free speech | Suzanne Nossel

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The breadth of these bills is staggering, and many go beyond their purported goals of protecting children from obscenity

When Bill Lee donned a cheerleader uniform, fake pearls and a wig as part of high school senior year antics, he probably didn’t think the goofy costume would come back to bite him. But, more than 40 years later, the now governor of Tennessee is at the forefront of efforts to ban the innocent costumes he and his friends once wore, waging a battle that strikes at the heart of our first amendment freedoms.

Since the beginning of this year, at least 32 bills have been filed in Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia targeting drag performances, with more on the way.

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