Son of See-Dee-Eh?

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I read the other day in Salon[*] that Barry Steinhardt, executive director of the EFF, is concerned that seemingly no one is taking up arms against the soon-to-be-infamous CDA II, or Son of CDA, the new version of the Communications Decency Act that is about to pass the house, will likely pass the Senate, and then be signed into law by our Chief Moral Offier (I'd like to get my hands on the pen that signs THAT bill).

You want to know why no one cares? Because it is a non-issue. This law specifically outlaws only distribution to minors, and it specifically only outlaws smut, and it specifically only targets commercial distribution. I would, of course, like to see the "commerical" definition tightened up, and that in itself might be grounds for another court ruling that this one is unconstitutional, too.

But let's be real: this is something most Americans WANT. I know few people who WANT other people to be able to give actual pornography to kids. This bill is a mostly targeted attempt at preventing this, and only this. It is something most Americans can support, with little reservation.

But the other reason no one cares is because of the lies perpetrated by the EFF and other opponents. For instance, it is a lie to say that the Starr Report would fall under CDA, in any form. First, the Starr Report is a congressional document, which means it is privileged in the eyes of the law, and not subject to defamation and obscenity laws. Second, even if it weren't, any court in the land would rule that it is protected speech simply because of the overriding national interest. Third, even if there were not an overriding national interest, the content fails to meet the standards set in the bill itself: it has a serious political interest, which means it is exempt, under section 3.e.7.E.

There are other lies. They say that news organizations can be subject to this law by reporting about smut. There is nothing in this law that would void the special status the reporting of news already has in this country, and few news accounts would ever amount to a depiction of patently offensive sexual acts, unless there were an overriding interest (such as in the Starr Report case). Further, reporting "smut" in your business is not necessarily the same as being engaged in the business of selling or transferrting "smut".

Also, the EFF claims that CDA II keeps almost all the unconstitutional portions of the original. This is simply untrue. It keeps none of them, though possibly introducing a new one, with the vagueness of "commercial" (but I think it is sufficient to pass constitutional muster).

Then they go on to say stupid things about it being parental responsibility, not the governments. Most of these same people don't complain about laws against giving drugs to minors. We have laws to protect minors: in the end of the day, it is absolutely the responsibility of the parents. But that does not mean we cannot or should not have laws to help.

Am I for CDA II? Probably. But even if I were not, I would be upset at the lies told by EFF and co. I was against CDA I, and I attacked the EFF and ACLU back then, too. The end does not justify the means.

[*]Of course, being that I am loathe to trust Salon after its poor judgment in the Hyde incident, I am not trusting that he actually said what he said; but though I don't trust Salon to be responsible with its judgment, so far they seem to be trustworthy in the facts they report. :-)

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<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

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