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56 Kbps Of DANGER

By Jesse Taylor
Wednesday, June 11, 2008 18:54 EDT

The federal government is attempting to revive a law written to protect children from online pornography. The problem is, the law was written in 1998.

Government lawyers tried Tuesday to revive a 1998 law designed to keep online pornography from children, amid questions that it is significantly outdated and blocks too much legal speech while having no effect on content posted from overseas.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit judges hearing the case questioned the law’s effectiveness, given estimates that half of all online porn is posted overseas, beyond the reach of U.S. law.

Free speech groups say the Child Online Protection Act misses the mark today, because it does not cover chat rooms, You Tube and other interactive sites that emerged in the last decade.

The original legislation is here.

Besides the idea of pushing a ten year old law as an effective regulator of modern technology (ten years ago, a CD-ROM on a computer was a big deal, hard drives were pushing into the gargantuan one gigabyte of information range, and the idea of watching video online was a full-day endeavor), there’s the problematic unconstitutionality of it all. The major motivation for the conservative ban-it-all crowd comes from what they perceive to be the primary function of the First Amendment – preserving their inviolable right to believe that certain things might steal their precious bodily juices through their all-too-exposed orifices, and fighting tooth and nail to make sure that those things are destroyed under the righteous jackboot of freedom and justice. Well, freedom and justice except for the things being banned.

The genesis of the first amendment, as it actually happened went something like this: oppression over there, freedom over here, take your first amendment and wave it everywhere.

The genesis of the first amendment in the eyes of these ban-happy folks: scary people want to do bad things to Jesus. Let’s stop them, guys!

Inevitably, this leads to laws which have the benefit of being long on draconian measures to ensure the safety of our children and families from the dread scourge of nipples, and short on any comprehension of how they might view those nipples or which nipples are dangerous and which nipples are protected by our right to view consenting adult nipples any time the nipple urge strikes us.


The most frustrating part of all this is the fact that the banners tend to have some correct instincts – there are limits on free speech when that speech is threatening to others, and inherent to the First Amendment is the idea that you also have the reasonable ability to avoid the speech you don’t want to encounter. (You can’t stop someone from writing a book you find distasteful, but they can’t make you read it, either.) The problem tends to come with their inability to realize that just because they feel threatened by something, and manufacture bogus study after bogus study and recovering “addict” after recovering “addict” to prove its deleterious effect on society, they don’t get to jump right to the banning and destruction of their object of hate.

(It would also be helpful if these people ever understood How Things Work, but that would involve potentially opening up the Porn Tube, which inevitably leads to a lifetime of peeping-tomism and smuggling old issues of Penthouse into fourth-grade afterschool programs.)

Bali: It has nicer weather than your ugly town

By Amanda Marcotte

DJW’s round-up of National Review’s Campaign Spot blog is pretty hysterical. The right wing noise machine is a fascinating thing to watch, because as hostile as some wingnuts are to the theory of evolution, they’re sure fond of natural selection when it comes to honing their campaign smears. By which I mean, they throw a bunch of shit up on the wall and see what sticks, and often it seems almost randomly generated, with the…


Want More Ice Cream!

By Jesse Taylor

It took all of a week for the media to decide that the shiny had worn off, and that both candidates were miserable failures at exciting their hearts and minds. Robert Samuelson takes it one step further, and decides that the real story of the general election…is the same story…


This Is So Us

By Jesse Taylor

Jonathan Martin, showing why the biggest thing McCain has to fear from the press is paper cuts from all the mash notes he’s going to get. I’ve written about this before and I think it gets to what makes McCain so appealing — he’s really not a typical, wind-up politician.…


We Got One

By Jesse Taylor

Voter ID laws are stopping voters like this from ruining the democratic process. A 97-year-old Surprise woman who has voted in the past 19 presidential elections said she finds herself a casualty in the voter ID battle. Shirley Preiss cannot register in Arizona for the November elections without proof of…


There Is No Joy In Mudville

By Jesse Taylor

I find it rather easy to take glee when people who think they’re being smart get caught doing dumb things. It’s much harder to take glee when people who were doing dumb shit get caught, because it’s just so obvious – like watching a baby carriage headed for a pit…


The definitive evidence arrived this morning from Uranus

By Amanda Marcotte

It’s amazing how much complexity there is stemming from what essentially boils down to: They made it all up.…


Also, has anyone noticed all the sex & violence on the teevee?

By auguste

Holy shit: Meanwhile, conservative talk radio, which I have been following with interest for almost 20 years, has become a tornado alley of hallucinatory holograms of Obama…It’s gotten to the point that I can hardly listen to my favorite shows, which were once both informative and entertaining. The hackneyed repetition…


Carl’s Jr. can kiss my ass

By auguste

It’s almost hard to decide what part of this commercial is the most offensive. Is it the haranguing-woman stereotype? The men-shouldn’t-cry bullshit? The idea that the man should be glad he got away with one, even though it involves the woman losing respect for him? The fact that the sandwich…


G*d damn. Can we afford a computer illiterate doofus as POTUS?

By pams

Sorry to bring up this guy again, but this is the living end. After posting about McSame’s idiotic reference to his campaign using “a Google” to vet his VP candidates, I come across this video (from early on in GOP primary) that I hadn’t seen. If anything should disqualify a…