Up Yours, Congress!
Well, that's that. The CDA has been deemed unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court by a vote of 7-2. For more story, click here. So does anyone have any ideas on what this page should do now? We'd love to hear it -- send e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
A long time ago some fun guys wrote 10 Amendments to the Constitution of the United States. These 10 Amendments came to be known as the Bill of Rights, the whole package was ratified on December 15, 1791.
Now those tired old white men in Washington DC we like to call Congress are trying to put a damper on everyone's favorite amendment, The First Amendment. Good old #1 states -
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Congress is using a recently passed piece of legislation called The Communications Decency Act, which was wrapped in the larger Telecommunications Reform Bill, to restrict our rights. The CDA would make it illegal to make available obscene and indecent material, on the internet or other on-line services, to anyone under the age of 18. If convicted, a person would be subject to fines of $200,000 and up to two years in jail.
Congress claims this bill would be used to stop the large and varied amount of pornography on the internet. Of course they don't say how they're going to accomplish that monumental task. It also won't stop the pornography available from other nations. There is no effective way for Congress to enforce the CDA on the internet.
The most troubling aspect of the CDA is that fact that it would make it illegal to make available indecent material. While indecent material may be offensive, and it may not be suitable for children, it is protected by the First Amendment. It is wrong for someone to go to jail because they say something on the internet like "Man, that shit is whack!" Conversations between adults could become illegal. Books could become illegal. Sexual education information could become illegal. Art could become illegal.
For example, take the statue of David sculpted by Michelangelo. You can see the man's penis. All men have them, it's nothing to be ashamed of or be afraid of. But, as shocking as it may seem, I can almost guarantee you that someone in America will think this beautiful statue is indecent.
That is why I think the CDA is a bad piece of legislation. I will not obey the indecent portion of it, and if need be I will go to jail because of it. The CDA will not take away my First Amendment right to say whatever is on my mind, and I won't let it turn the internet into a clean wholesome preschool where an intelligent adult discussion about mature matters is illegal.
If you'd like to support Up Yours Congress!, exercise your First Amendment rights and display this badge on your web site and link it back to this site. It's potentially offensive, potentially indecent, but they can't throw us all in jail!
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Original text and artwork by Chris Pearce.
Last modified: 2002-Jun-19 23:42:02
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