The Communication Decency Act: The Fight For Freedom of Speech on the Internet


The Communication Decency Act is a bill which has insulted our right as
American citizens. It a bill which SHOULD not pass. I\'ll share with you how
Internet users are reacting to this bill, and why they say it is
unconstitutional.
Some individuals disagree with one part of the bill. According to
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ query/z?c104:s.652.enr:, which has the
Communications Decency Act on-line for public viewing,: "Whoever uses an
Internet service to send to a person or persons under 18 years of age......any
comment, request, suggestion, proposal, image,........or anything offensive as
measured by contemporary community standards, sexual or excretory activities or
organs.....shall be fined $250,000 if the person(s) is/are under 18.......
imprisoned not more than two years.......or both."
The wording of that section seems sensible. However, if this one little
paragraph is approved, many sites such as the: Venus de Milo site located at:
http://www.paris.org/Musees/Louvre/Treasures/gifs/venusdemilo.gif; the Sistine
Chapel at:
http://www.oir.ucf.edu/wm/paint/auth/michelangelo/michelangelo.creation and
Michelangelo\'s David @ http://fileroom.aaup.uic.edu/FileRoom/images/image201.gif
could not be accessed and used by anybody under the age of 18. These works of
art and many other museum pictures would not be available. The bill says these
sites show indecent pictures.
The next part of the CDA has everybody in a big legal fit. We, concerned
Internet users, took the writers of this bill to court, and we won.
This part of the bill states: "Whoever....makes, creates, or
solicits...........any comment, request, suggestion, proposal, image, or other
communication which is obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, or indecent.......with
intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass another person......by means of an
Internet page..........shall be fined $250,000 under title 18......imprisoned
not more than two years....or both......"
The writer of that paragraph of the bill forgot something. It violates
the constitution. The First Amendment states: "Congress shall make no
law....prohibiting or abridging the freedom of speech......the right of the
people peaceably to assemble.....and to petition the Government.............."
This bill does exactly that. It says we cannot express our feelings
cleanly. I understand that what may be of interest to me, may be offensive to
others. Many people put up warning signs on their websites stating, "This site
may contain offensive material. If you are easily offended you may not want to
come here." If the writers of this bill would have listed that as a requirement
there would have been no trouble.
Here is the way I look at it. I think that some things should be
censored on the Internet. Child pornography, for instance, is already illegal,
so it follows that it should also be illegal on the Internet. Besides,
psychologically, it damages the children involved.
Something else that should be banned from the Internet are "hacker"
programs meant to harm other Internet users. Some examples of such programs are
AOHell which can give you access to America On-line for free and E-mail Bomb, or
otherwise harass others using the service (American On-line just passed a bill
that gave them the right to allow users to let them scan their mail for such
harmful things.) Another thing that could be banned are text files which
describe how to complete illegal actions, such as make bombs. The most famous
is the "Anarchist Cook Book," which shows Internet users some of the above
problems.
I also believe that the use of log-ins, passwords, and rating systems on
pages for the Internet are a good idea, and are not violations of our civil
rights. They simply allow the user to choose what they want to see. Some of
these systems are already in use today, along with programs that watch for
obscene and profane keywords, and links to pornographic sites.
What have Internet users learned from the courts? After all was said
and done, we have learned that passing unconstitutional laws like the CDA is not
the exception but the rule these days in Washington, DC.
Next, the people responsible for giving us the CDA are respectable
Republicans and Democrats, not liberals and conservatives. If someone would have
asked an Internet user who is opposed to the CDA to vote for Clinton or Dole
this past fall, they would say, "Wouldn\'t that have been like being given a
choice between cancer and heart disease?" In other words, disrespect for the
President and Congress seem appropriate.
Third, the White House recognizes that it is cheaper to pass this bill,
by saying, this is the law. Live with it. Doing this would prove to me this
country is run by politicians who do not care about the people, their rights, or
the law. This bill, if passed, would only prove to me that all the government
cares about is themselves