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House Might Mandate Net filtering in Libraries 380

Richard Finney writes "US Congress expected to mandate censoship in libraries in a CNET article. " Wonder how close Slashdot is to being banned. I think this is great. We really have to prevent the children from learning, as it would be terrible if they started thinking.
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House Might Mandate Net filtering in Libraries

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  • Not "a child is too young".

    That should be "a person is too immature" - after all, there are mature kids - and immature adults...
  • Not that I'm fnord net filters, but I think we should stop schools fnord banning books first.

    Hehe. But I guess the Illuminati wouldn't want us to think for ourselves.

    No, we^H^Hthey just want to put significant blocks in the way of you thinking for yourselves. Then those that manage fnord somehow to think for themselves anyway can be recruited into the inner circles of fnord the Illuminati.

  • Nobody reads those magazines. Hadn't you heard?....
  • Instead of censorship, why not just log the sites accessed for each user id and post a public list of top 10 pervs or something? Of couse, for some, it might be a badge of honor to appear on that list :)

    For schools, I could definitely see an argument for sending a report to the parents of what the kid is doing on line. Then the parents can decide what to do about it.

  • IMHO, this is a great idea, and it can be handled through private enterprise. Geeks with capital, take note!

    A "site acceptor" company could be set up. They would own a trademark that could be used as a META tag. The company would post an "open contract" of an accepted use policy that would spell out what sort of content was and was not acceptable. This policy requires payment (per page per month, per hit, whatever) from for-profit users (such as corporate Web sites), but usage would be free of charge for personal or non-profit use (such as personal home pages). To use the tag for personal use, you print out the contract, sign it, and send it in.

    Anyone can force their browser to react to the META tag. Given this, users can freely set their browsers to only allow pages with this META tag. People don't pay for this service.

    Here's the trick, however: the site acceptor company doesn't span the Web looking for violators. That would cost way too much.

    Instead, it works on a modified honor system. The contract puts the burden on the tag user to make their page(s) comply with the site acceptor's published standards.

    The site acceptor learns of violators from the client base. That is, if I find some porn palace (or somesuch) with that META tag, I send email to the site acceptor. From there, they investigate. If the site is noncompliant, the acceptor contacts the Webmaster and asks that they drop the page or the tag. If they fail to comply, the site acceptor sues the user for breach of contract and/or trademark infringement.

    I believe that this is all possible with our current IP laws. If it isn't, it might be a good idea for Congress to pass laws allowing this sort of business model to work.

    Alternately, the Federal government can do it themselves. I recommend against this for two reasons. The first is the general principle that the Federal government should never do something that other entities can do properly, and I think that private industry can do this. Secondly, the concept of government-approved content is abhorrent to me.

    This sort of site acceptor company would be no monopoly, either. The market is big enough for several of them, each with different levels of acceptance. Conservative parents, or those with younger children, might lock their browsers down to only allow KidSafe(TM) sites. More liberal parents, or those with older children, may switch that browser to PornProof(TM). Each one would have different standards of "acceptable", and sites could carry both tags if they met both standards.

    This could be carried even to the libraries. For one to use a browser in a library, the user has to swipe their library card. Adult cards have free access; the browser clears all blinders and displays pages regardless of META tags. Childrens' cards start with no browser priveleges. Parents can add META tags to the cards, or even give their childrens' cards full no-blinder priveleges.

    Congress talks about giving parents the tools they need to protect their children from inappropriate material. Their walk, however, has been telling parents (and the rest of us) what is and what is not acceptable.

    The above proposal puts the decision, and the power, directly into parental hands. It even give parents the ability to restrict what their children see at the library. And we probably don't need to consult Congress or Gore to do it.

    Mozilla, are you listening?

  • No, this kid was not whipped - he was caned with a katana.

    Have you ever felt/lifted a katana? These things can break bones.

    Would you sanction a law that said someone convicted of graffiti would be sentenced to be beat with a board?

    That kid did wrong to graffiti a building in a foreign country - he deserved punishment - maybe a hefty fine and cleanup duty for a week or so - at his expense. A brutal beating? No.
  • "Any nation that exchanges liberty for security deserves neither." -- Ben Franklin.

    Nazi germany employed censorship on it's minions. Look where that got them!

    I feel that way about gun control, as well as free speach.
    I'm just curious, who here also strongly believes in both the first and second amendments? It seems the "fight for our rights" people always seem to pick one of them to believe in and pretend the other isn't important.

  • Your right, they aren't doing their jobs. So, what do we do about it?
  • Does anyone know who will be the company that makes the filter to be used?
    The economics of that could be more interesting than the article...
  • "A nation that exchanges liberty for temporary security neither haves, nor deservers either. "

    I can be a nitpick, sorry.

  • As filtering software becomes more mainstream (the kind of thing that happens when more libraries are required to use it) it won't be controlled by a right-wing fringe. The classic abuses people are forever using to illustrate the flaws in the filtering software will fade away.
  • I don't think this is quite as bad as you do, but I do find it stupid and disgusting. I don't think there's a conspiracy to make us all stupid and enslaved - but the mentality that mandates these filters can grow into something more deadly.

    The pardox of censorship and similar behavior is this: someone says they know how to run my life better than I do, yet if I am so beneath them, how do I *know* they are so qualified? Unless someone proves they can really benefit me and others (like an experienced doctor, etc.) I have no reason to trust them.

    And I see no benefit in this censorship. Better to face unpleasant knowledge then cope with ignorance.
  • Censorship doesn't necessarily violate freedom of speech or makes it unconstitutional. There are those time and place restrictions that allow different organizations to regulate when and where you can do certain things, like protests and the like.

    So you can't just hide behind the 1st amendment and say that all censorship is illegal and unconstitutional.
  • Who decides what's 'indecent' or whatever buzzword you're using? Me? You? Libertarians? The Christian Coalition? What's 'indecent' in one part of the country or to one group may not be to another. Yet with your proposal, the meta tags would have to choose one viewpoint to enforce.

    This only proposes to cover minors. Ok, fine. Does that mean we go with what's indecent for a 5-year-old? A 10-year-old? A 17-year-old? Something a 17-year-old can see with no ill effects might give a 5-year-old nightmares for a month. Yet the word 'minors' makes no distinction.

    How enforcable is this? Let's ignore for the moment that the Internet exists outside the US. Someone decides they don't agree with a particular site's rating, and sues to get it changed. This will end up adding even more pointless lawsuits to the court system, and the particular definition of 'indecent' STILL goes back to the problems i mentioned above! There actually was a case like this at one point, IIRC someone in Tennissee sued the operators of a BBS in California for something legal in CA but not in TN. Even if you mandate one interpretation throughout the country, there are still going to be differences in interpretation of that interpretation between one area and another, and this is going to end up restricting web publishing to only those who can afford to have a lawyer check everything they want to put up. "You can't use that logo! Someone might consider it too phallic! We'd get sued!"

    What happens when someone thinks that, for example, the pictures of bloody Kosovan refugees in Newsweek are unsuitable for minors? She sues, wastes the courts' time, and eventually gets a ruling that requires Newsweek to rate its stories. Since they don't want to lose readership, they stop writing stories with such content, as do most other news-related organizations. Suddenly, you can't find any important current events online. Someone else decides that those thin models are harming our daughters, gets them banned. No more pictures of people on the net at all, except on personal websites. Even there, the authors are required to rate their pages as "potentially harmful" just because they have a picture of someone thin.

    Think this is a little over the edge? Maybe it is. But maybe it isn't, and do you really want to take that risk?

    kernel: lp0: using parport0 (polling).
    kernel: lp0 off-line
    kernel: lp0 out of paper

  • Posted by FascDot Killed My Previous Use:

    There's a link to e-thepeople in comment #145...
    "Please remember that how you say something is often more important than what you say." - Rob Malda
  • "People are being killed with guns. I know, let's blame video games, internet porn, and movies. Let's force censorship in libraries, and make public buildings post the ten commandments."


    Hate to nit pick since I agree with most of what you have said, but it seems you feel that guns are the problem, not the rights we have. Gun ownership is a right also. The problem is we let kids do anything today and never tell them they are wrong because that would "hurt their self esteem" to have boundries.
    The first two amendments working together are what guarentee the others.

  • >I don't particularly want a precocious 8 year old mixing ammonia and bleach in his elementary school

    On the other hand, I'd rather have 8 years know that mixing ammonia and bleach is dangerous...
  • What makes you loosers think you deserve to go into a library to get your dose of porn? What's to stop you from getting your OWN PC and ISP? Can afford it? Well then, get a JOB!! Maybe then you can enter the real world and not have so much time to complain about my taxes not paying for your habits.

    -- SARCASM ON --
    Yep, that's right, every person who is unable to afford Internet is just a slacker suckling off of the welfare teet. And Internet filters only block porn. Of course, silly of me to think otherwise. You are right, censorship has a bad rap. It completely trust the government to determine what information I have access to
    -- SARCASM OFF --

    Listen: Not everyone out there has the skills to land a decent job in this thriving economy of ours, and raising a family on $8/hour with no benefits is not easy. These people do NOT need more roadblocks denying them access to the free information that can improve their lives. How do you expect someone to get an ISP connection when they can't even afford a phone line?

    You can claim that these filter block only porn, but that is bullshit. The filters block real, useful content. There is no way current filtering technology can effectively deal with the constantly churning ocean of data that is the Internet. I've used them. Filters suck, at least on systems that will have a wide number of users with unpredictable information needs. They may work fine to filter your home PC that only has one or two users, but not on a library PC that needs to meet the needs of hundreds.

    I really hope that some day you are forced to walk a mile in the shoes of those you look down on. I am a well paid computer professional now, but it was a long hard road getting there. Public libraries were a critical part of that journey. I take it very personal when someone tries break the library system by imposing censorship.

    If a child is too young to sit in front of an uncensored Internet connection, than they are probably too young to let wander unattended in the library.


  • This will be struck down so quick it won't even be funny. Censorship is unconstitutional in any form.
  • by p0d ( 56980 )
    I know some of you see this library censorware deal as an OK thing. It may be for now, but it is merely a stepping stone for the government to censor further... Remember this one?

    When they took the fourth amendment, I was quiet because I didn't deal drugs.
    When they took the sixth amendment, I was quiet because I was innocent.
    When they took the second amendment, I was quiet because I didn't own a gun.
    Now they've taken the first amendment, and I can say nothing about it.

    Same situation. We gotta stop it now before it gets out of control. Is it me, or is the government just doing waaaay too much catering to the 'soccer moms' and irresponsible parents of this nation?

  • I feel strongly on both! Not only do I own a gun and exercise my right to protect my life, loved ones and property, but I also exercise my right to free speech and speak out when things are wrong!

    We need to take steps to stop these rediculous politicians that are constantly trying to eat away at our constitutional rights. This country (USA) is great not because of what the government has done for us, but rather, for what we've been enabled to do for ourselves!

    HCI is unconstitional! If someone tried to create an organization called Free Speech Control Inc., they would get laughed out of town!

    The role of the constition is to limit the role of the government in our lives! Long live the constitution! Death to the infidels!

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I hope they do censor everything. That way, we can stage one of two things:

    a) A huge boycott. Don't let us learn, we refuse to learn.

    b) A read-in. Everyone go to the library and ask to visit It will be censored (or should be) because of the Starr report.

    Why do I say this? Well, this kind of thing happened in our high school when they put up censoring software. People who wanted to visit naughty sites did so while people in Government class could not view our great nation's leader's homepages.

    Just think if the politicians' sites were banned. He he. That would change things quickly.

  • Heinlein must be rolling over in his grave right now. The whole concept of democracy is founded on the notion that no one is capable or qualified to decide what others should think. And yes, controlling what information is freely disseminated leads to the same thing.

    As independent-thinking adults (whoops! danger! danger!), we see the inherent danger in such a situation. From here, it's just another generation to Nehemiah Scudder. But the average Joe for some reason thinks, "Hey, yeah, I don't want my kids reading that stuff!" And that's fine. But Joe doesn't realize that "that stuff" can include quite a bit. It's just like religion and morals: There are many religious-minded people who want their kids to learn those thing, but not in school. That is the responsibility of the family. And once kids reach adulthood, it's completely their decision.

    The most ironic portion of all this is the inconsistency with the information the government already has available. And I'm not just talking about the Starr Report -- what about the Library of Congress? Anyone who cares enough to take the
    time can easily figure out how to build, say, a nuclear weapon through materials available there. And no one objects to that. Why? Because it takes effort for someone to find it, so there's less danger. Now if someone wants access to information, it's easily accessible. And that should never be allowed in a free society.

    At the rate this is going, Cuba will be freer than the US in a few years.

  • Didn't the Supreme Court already rule that it was unconstitutional to use filtering software in public libraries? I'm only half-remembering, but wasn't there litigation in Viriginia that basically forbid a Library from using filtering software? I thought the Supreme Court was involved in that one, but I may be mistaken and it may have just been a Circuit Court case (in which case the ruling stands for only the part of the country where that Circuit Court has influence).

    I know there are instances when Congress can overrule a S.C. decision -- if the S.C. makes their decision so narrowly that it states the law is being enforced beyond its original scope, in which case Congress just passes a law that specifically addresses what they want -- but I didn't think that was the case here.

    Can someone point to a URL that deals with that decision so we can see exactly how Congress (bless 'em) can screw up our lives even more?
  • Could it be that Librarians want there to always be local discretion, rather than an anything-goes free-for-all?

    Does the article say anything about local discretion? Isn't this whole thing about a law that has to be enforced? This didn't start with someone suing because they couldn't find Hustler! It started because Librarians have a problem with censorship!
  • They all took an oath to uphold the Constitution. Plainly put, those that vote "yes" on any legislation of this nature are willfully and knowingly in violation of that oath. It's an issue of whether or not we should tolerate or suffer an elected body that would violate one of the central tenets of this country's government just to try to get re-elected (and this is all this is really about.).
  • Posted by Mary CW:

    If you oppose net censorship, look into the Electronic Freedom Foundation's Blue Ribbon Campaign. If you don't get involved on these issues, then there are plenty of other people who are only too happy to take over and get laws passed that support their concerns, not yours.
  • Look at it this way:

    Censorship: you're standing in public giving opinions I don't like, and I tell you to shut up.

    Not censorship: you're standing in public giving opinions I don't like using my megaphone, and I take away my megaphone.

    People need to stop whining censorship every time someone tells them they can't do something. Just because you have the right to free speech does not mean

    • you have the right to use it irresponsibly
    • you have the right to use someone else's property to exercise your right.

    The property in question is owned by the library. That gives the library full rights to say what the equipment can and can't be used for. Also note the goverment is not saying it is "against the law" to use the equipment in such a manner, only that the library will receive no federal funding if it is used in such a manner.

    I have little doubt this legislation will eventually be shot down for the right reasons (defining standards by which libraries should operate are too vague... what's porn and not porn, etc).

  • This hopefully will not lead to a situation similar to that depicted in THX 1138...children learning from a bottle...the metaphor created here is quite strong. You will learn only what we want you to learn, free thinking is to be frowned upon. What happens to out of the bottle thinking? Curious minds demand information, and if they can't get it at school, where the heck are they supposed to?
  • I'm conflicted with these developments. On one hand, there's a distinct difference between kids being denied nudie pictures (gotta admit, it's kinda stupid to go looking for pr0n like that in a public library) and kids being denied other kinds of information which someone has deemed "unfit" for their consumption.

    But do you think I trust the government to deem what's fit and unfit for viewing publically? What if I think the posting of the Ten Commandments in public schools and other public areas is unfit for kids? I daresay this omnipotent ability swings both ways.

    I'm rather unhappy with this. And I know that there'll be kids gettin ready to defeat the blocking mechanisms from the word go. Information must be free, and all that.

    Bah. Dumb govermnent.

  • Can we get them to filter out advertising? Slashdot is pleasanter (and loads faster) since I turned on WebFree again...
  • The problem as I see it isn't with filtering out porn, although I don't support that either, but with the filtering of sites that have content that doesn't support "good christian values in the heartland of America." (Whereever the hell that is). I'm specifically thinking of sites which provide support for gay teens and those which air "alternative" voices.
    This whole morals thing is a crock anyways, who's freakin morals are you going to uphold? And why is everyone yammering on about them. I'm sick of Jesse Helms and these other bozos jumping in and trying to tell me how to behave. And I'm sick of hearing the stupid word, it's the same as all that market speak that many of us here everyday ("synergize", "all on the same page"); a bunch of hand waving with no support.
  • The House voted 287-139 today to pass the Consequences for Juvenile Offenders Act, which includes an amendment to require schools and libraries to install technology to screen out material "harmful" to minors as a condition of receiving a federal Net access subsidy, known as the e-rate.

    It's just that if they want to get extra federal money, they have incentive to install software barriers.

    So even if it doesn't get struck down, librarians will have a choice.


  • same way

    We got what we're losing by secret conferences between the state senators exactly the way we're losing them. The secret conference is ?/features/990531ucita.htm

    The Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA) began as a proposed change to the Uniform Commercial Code's Article 2, which dealt with the sale of

    The Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) are laws designed to make commerce uniform from state to state. These laws are written by the National Conference of
    Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL), a group founded in the late 19th century during the states' rights movement and approved by the American Law
    Institute (ALI). The commissioners are attorneys, usually from small law firms, appointed and paid for by the states to represent them to the Conference.

    Once NCCUSL approves a bill, it is very likely to be passed by state governments.

    The ALI advises NCCUSL on creating amendments to the UCC. ALI is largely an honorary, academic organization of tenured law professors.

    ALI officials called NCCUSL's 2B draft "unbalanced" and declined to put it to a membership vote at their annual meeting earlier this month. NCCUSL decided then to
    make 2B a stand-alone bill, not part of the UCC. The proposed law then became known as UCITA. A current draft of UCITA was not available at press time.

    Sign the fucking pettion 4542
  • Okay, so suppose we ban 'adult' materials by internet censorship. Then a lot of questions start coming up.

    What about sites advertising or advocating terrorism? Shouldn't we ban those too?

    Maybe sites that contain violent images or concern guns.

    What about sites that are anti-American?

    Welcome to the 1950's!

  • If "my tax dollars" is the best reason you can find to not even consider such a plan, maybe you ought to just move overseas and start a porn site of your own...

    Remember, were talking about software. The government could pay someone (if that was even necessary!) to develop a filtering standard and open-sourced client software. Something like this would be so cheap and simple to do, its almost stupid.

    All right, so some foreign websites and lazy operators (and all those other people who "just wont use it") will ignore it. So what? I think its still a workable and worthwhile idea. Especially if done not as a legal requirement, but as some incentive for "industry self-regulation", like the ratings system for movies and recently TV.

    At the risk of sounding like a shrill PTA mother, "if even one child is saved from..."

    Its not even like tobacco, where the manufacturers covertly market to children, not because theyre evil and want to corrupt them, but simply because it makes them money. Its not even like printed porn! With online porn, due to the credit card barrier, theres no money to be made from children, so there is no reason to even covertly market to them. And thus no reason other than (neglible) cost to not implement it.

    Porn sites already use those age verification services, and they prominently say so, because its good for business. It makes middle-aged dad feel a little less guilty about downloading porn (and thus more willing to spend on it) if he knows that at least the kids dont have access to it. And besides, any site thats too cheap to put in a little META tag probably has shitty content anyway ;)

    As for your final remark, let me remind you that the whole issue revolves around minors, who legally CAN be prevented by society from doing or seeing certain things, because they legally DO NOT not possess the judgment to just switch the channel, or just dont go to that website, or otherwise "just say no." If you would trust your hormone-crazed teenager to stop and just go somewhere else after stumbling upon a hardcore porn site, well, you must be a better parent than Ill ever be. (Im nowhere close to being a parent myself, BTW.)
  • I used the phrase "minor cultural revolution" for a reason. :-)

    You don't think that the way TV opened up your average American to the larger world, in an attractive, powerful format, had anything at all to do with the change in attitudes in the 60s/70s? Suddenly, we're *seeing* people dying in faroff wars and getting oppressed and starving, etc.

    Instead of *reading* a dry, factual accout of, say, a civil rights march being broken up, you can see some poor guy getting the bejesus beat out of him while non-violently resisting. That's a much more powerful image, a much more powerful medium, to evoke a much more powerful response. Which equals a much more powerful counter-response to those who liked the old way just fine, thankyouverymuch.

    Now think about the Internet in this light. Now, you don't even have to rely on the bias of the journalist present; you can get that kind of information and imagery fed back to you from anyone and everyone present; see a hundred points of view coming to you moments after an event.

    And with television, everyone knew how to work a TV, and for the most part, the trusty news reporter was, well, trusted, so even the old guard wasn't scared of the medium itself. With the Internet, it's a whole different story - computers are for the young, the elite, them funny-lookin' kids with all the piercings. :-) The younger generation is the one in control of the medium this time. That gives more of a sense of a lack of control. And thus, the greater fear.

    Which comes back to the main point - the return of "book burnings" and censorship and "Let's post the Ten Commandments in the classroom".

    The Internet does have a huge effect on our culture, as TV once did (but doesn't quite have any more, IMHO). For one small example that shakes the applecart of tradition, I was raised Catholic. Like my parents, like their parents, and AFAICT up the family tree on both sides for five generations. EVERYONE. And now, the sixth generation is Taoist. Because I met a lot of people just like me on the net, and a lot of them were Taoist/Buddist, and I was intrigued by their comments and I did some research on the net. Voila, a new religion of choice. And this generation thinks nothing of it, but how many Wiccans and Taoists and Buddhists would seriously be coming out of Middle America if they weren't finding communities across the net? How often would this be happening before we could link up with thousands just like us across the world and experience new ways of thinking that effortlessly?

    Now, I don't want to give you the impression that I'm trying to make it sound like some big scary all-powerful 'whoooo!' magic, because I know the bad side of the Internet, too. It's no cure-all or magic wand for society's ills, by any stretch of the imagination . And there were Wiccans and Buddhists and geeks and outcasts and all that before the Internet, of course. It's just communication, and something our generation uses like others use the phone. And this is a good thing. But we have to realize that the older generation does not see it that way, that to them it's a mystical entity they can't control, and they're scared.

    Maybe we can de-mystify it for them. Maybe we just have to ride it out. But to me, this feels like the beginning of some interesting (and probably serious) culture/generation clash.
  • "3) The government has no more right to determine my "morality" than YOU do"

    What the hell are you talking about? Enforcing morality is one of the main functions of government. If the government does not have a right to "determine morality," then how can we justify murder being illegal? After, some people may have no moral objection to murder.
  • Pardon me, but your ideology is spilling all over the place and making a big mess.

    Why does all information need to be free?

    (oh, and tell me again your bank account number, passwords, any unsual identifying marks on your lover, etc. It needs to be free.)
  • They also just voted to require the ten commandments be put in schools, so they have some experience with unconstitutional legislation.

    Not exactly. The vote was to allow, not to require the display of the Ten Commandments. While it may still be unconstitutional (these being public schools and all) it's far less glaringly so. After all, far worse things that the Ten Commandments are routinely foisted on students. Like "Coke Day".

    My personal opinion is that it's okay to allow the display of the Ten Commandments, or the Wiccan Rede, or the Ayatollah Khomeini's death-order fatwa on Salman Rushdie or the Coca-Cola logo. It's a free country after all. But that freedom should apply to any dissenters as well. If material is displayed for educational purposes, that's one thing. Learn about the world, including the world's religions and carbonated beverages. But it's quite another if the material is on display to be honored or worshipped. The latter should not be tolerated in tax-funded schools.

    As for why our so-called leaders voted for this, it's nothing to do with actually passing it (they know it's probably unconstitutional) and everything to do with looking good and pure and moral for a certain portion of their constituents.
  • I noticed in the article, there was a lot of reactionary language because of the Littleton Massacre.

    30 years ago Charles Mansion (and his followers) murdered several famous hollywood people(Sharon Tate.. the La Bianca's...). He painted slogans from the Beatles song 'Helter Skelter' in blood all over the walls.

    If that happened today, the gov would be calling for the banning of the sale and broadcast of Beatles music since they incite people to murder. And all the talk shows would have Paul McCartney on, raking him over the coals, since it was obviously, at least partially 'his' fault for releasing such an 'irresponsible song'.

    Just some perspective on how ridiculous our elected officials and the mainstream press have become.
  • Not much to add, except a big "You can say that again!" This is a great example of how and why people have so little control over how their own tax money is spent -- your federal taxes go to support someone else's agenda. Having my money squandered and wasted by government inefficiency is bad enough, but having it diverted to enemies who will use it against me, is infuriating.

    The Libertarian platform gets extremely appealing in this light, since it gets rid of federal funding for almost everything. Want libraries? Pay for 'em out of your own pocket -- and you decide which ones are worth paying for and which ones aren't, not some politician who might buckle to some shady influences.

  • Thing is, I don't remember them taking away the fourth, sixth, second, and first amendment. Did they take away the zeroeth amendment so I can't remember?

    Who is this "they" anyhow?
  • Let me see if I have this straight, if we don't allow the 11 year old to view fisting pix, we're controlling his thoughts and hindering his right to express himself.

    So, if we prevent him from mixing ammonia and bleach together and poisoning the city water supply, aren't we also inhibiting his right to freedom of expression?

    In the same way, can't a killing spree in your local high school also be considered yet another form of free expression?

    If you follow this train of thought to its logical conclusion, we might all end up in a anarchistic world resembling the Road Warrior.

    We need to draw the line somewhere. The government's solution isn't perfect, but at the very least, it would be nice when my teenager types "teen" in HotBot, he or she wouldn't be subjected to a deluge of pornographic web sites.
  • I have this feeling of deja vu all over again...see below.

    This hasn't empowered local communities to do anything - this amendment restricts federal funding for local libraries based on an undefined standard of "harmful to minors". No one has told local communities that "they MUST expose their children to a completely wide-open Internet". Many communities already have filtering in place, which is completely within their discretion to do (pending further court action, of course, but the principle of locally defined filters seems a lot less controversial). Now the federal government is trying to prohibit any community from receiving funding unless they follow a certain federal standard.

  • This is an interesting argument: is it worse for the state to engage in propoganda campaigns, or for private companies to engage in propoganda campaigns? Which, ultimately, does the most harm to society?

    Society ultimately does the most harm to itself by intentionally becoming ignorant to it's surroundings. Some of the current problems today are a direct result things like voter apathy. People don't even give enough of a damn to vote, let alone force elected officials to keep their promises. A result of the self-induced ignorance is the success rate of mass propaganda campaigns. Most people (in America) are convinced that there are only two worthy political parties. Any third party is just a bunch of hippie freaks or skinheads. What they refuse to see is how both the Democratic and Republican parties have completely raped the country.

  • Technically, "censorship" is defined as "government restriction of information dissemination". It's not really censorship if CmdrTaco, hemos, or any of the rest decide what to put on their own site, since it's their site. But if they were the webmasters for, say, the Supreme Court, and decided that the evidence for their decision regarding Carlin's Seven Dirty Words didn't belong on the website, that would be. (It would also probably be illegal, but that's another story...)

    BTW, I wonder if that decision would be have to be filtered out?

  • You've got my proposal wrong. I don't propose that government mandate the use of this system; if parents want to let their kids surf without any restriction, it's fine with me. The system is premised on voluntary agreement: If some significant number of parents only want their kids to see sites that don't have X, Y, Z, etc. content, then the solution is to have some sort of contracting authority agree with publishers (Disney, etc.) that that's what they'll serve up, and to create some sort of private enforcement mechanism if these publishers don't honor their agreements. The rest of us wouldn't be obligated to censor our content to accommodate these preferences, which is what we're faced with now.

    There is an issue here about the level of control parents should be permitted to exercise over their children, of course. I find it a little terrifying, for example, to think that the parents of a girl aged 13 or more could deny her access to truthful information about birth control. I don't know what the constitutional limitations are with respect to such things. I would certainly be interested in hearing about potential solutions to this problem.

  • by Kaa ( 21510 ) on Friday June 18, 1999 @07:50AM (#1844431) Homepage
    The whole point in laws like this is to empower local communities to show discretion

    Nope, that's wrong. The local communities can show discretion on their own without any help from the Feds. The whole point in laws like this is to force the local communities to adopt whatever standards Washington considers appropriate. Look at the legal min drinking age. The Feds cannot legislate it, but they shoved it down the throat of every state (do you really want federal highway funds? Here is how...)

    The system works when local communities aren't told they MUST expose their children to a completely wide-open Internet.

    I don't even know where to start. First, communities do not have children, parents do. I very specifically do not want my local community to tell me what I should teach my children. I am perfectly capable of taking such decisions by myself and do not need help from local politicians.

    Second, what do you think the point of the Bill of Rights is? Community is a relative term, the Federal government is as much representative of a community, as you local town hall is. The whole point of the Bill of Rights is that people, individuals have rights that no government, including the local community one, can take away. Maybe my community wants to exercise discretion and forbid me to read Cosmopolitan (speaking of sex in the libraries [grin]), or to read Karl Marx or Ayn Rand or fill-in-the-blank -- well, it cannot. And why? Because I, as a person, have rights that my local community cannot take away.

    Now, it's arguable whether absence of restrictions to access the Internet is a basic right. But that's not the issue. The issue is that the system does not work when the local communities can impose whatever idiocy the local politicians can come up with (and call it discretion) onto their population.

    Phew, I am getting off the soapbox now...

  • Going back and reading my previous post, I see that I kind of missed your point about "anything less than free", since in this case it might it would actually cost extra to limit access, and that's certainly a bad idea.Perhaps if you had phrased it "I refuse to pay MORE money to get LESS..."

    On the other hand, considering the cost of fighting silly lawsuits and that would no doubt emerge from unfettered access...

    So don't flame me too strongly about that stuff.

    I still do react strongly against the "not with my tax money" mantra, though. And I do think a voluntary, bilateral, server-side filtering scheme is a good idea. And I still think the page-ripping analogy is absurd.
  • Fuck Orwell he didn't bother to let us know that the reason the unconscious never revolt is cuz they like it.

    Sorry, but in spite of weak fucks like you I my self am not afraid of crime, impoliteness, or accidental death if it grants me that I won't be a whiny ass purity, eficiency, morality, loyalty dependent NAZI addict like you.

    Fuck respect. Resperct is earned. Courtesy, which is what you really got, is just a sign that people don't give a fuck who you are, they just like to see you aliens. You're a fucking circus show.
  • So you're opposed to paying taxes to the library if they provide anything less than complete, unfettered access to everything available. Well then, you better start donating your entire income to your local library -- they've got years of Hustler and Penthouse subscriptions to catch up on.

    No. I'm opposed to paying taxes to the library if they spend that on technology to restrict or limit what they already have in the library. Paying money for a full Internet connection and then paying more money to limit that connection is foolish. Ditto for paying money for a full encyclopedia set and then ripping out all the pages that discuss sex, nudity, explosives, etc.

  • Hopefully you realize that Pascal's wager is based on the vindictive human-nature atribted to the Christian God. Not all religions attribute eternal damnation to failing to heed the word of some messiah.

    Moreover, I question that Pascal would be able to "choose to believe in" every god whose religion threatened post-mortem doom. Remember, just because Chrisitanity calls their god "God" doesn't make him some sort of meta-deity over all other religious entities.

    To bring the conversation back on-topic: The ten commandments are primary texts used by a dominant religion. I am far more afraid of the use of this document as a form of oppression than I am some third-hand mythology that is taught jokingly in English class.

    Consider how you were taught greek and norse mythology: "What a bunch of wacky people! Man-boy love, Gods on Mount Olympus... Crazy neanderthals--though the Greeks were on to something with that democracy stuff."

    I just read the first amendment last night. It's short--45 words covering 5 topics. It is tough to ascribe the 16 words concerning religion their broad public impact. However, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..." certainly applies in the case of this particiular amendment.

    Finally, I hardly disagree with some of the 10 commandments as text, indeed, Jesus had some good things to say about the meek and respecting others. However, these moral lessons can be taught independent of religion. Not everyone needs the fear of eternal damnation to behave in a civil and respectful manner to their fellow humans.

    The constitutional amendment. []
    The unconstitutional amendment. []
  • >It's been a while since my Constitutional Law
    >class. :)

    I don't seem to want to admit how long it's been :) But I could teach it . . .

    >"Federalism" in the context of the Constitution
    >has a different meaning than what I intended.

    "Federali*zation*" has a meaning close to what you intended, as well. Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever seen the term used outside of U.S. political & constitutional discussions . . .

    Madison, Hamilton, and Jay all used the pseudonym, and scholars agree on which wrote most of them.
    At the time, I'd probably have been in the anti-Federalist camp with Jefferson & Paine, though over the years I'm seeing my sympathies switch from Jefferson to Madison.

    "New Federalism" was a term from the classic liberal faction in the Reagan administration for the process of returning usurped functions to the states. Generally, it was the effort to swing the pendulum back to the states. It wasn't entirely the same issue as deregulation, but the camps overlapped. I have no idea where Reagan himself stood on the issue (or how much he really had to do with the administration, for that matter), but his rhetoric puts him in this category. His rhetoric was generally classic liberal, but governance tended more to the right wing.

    >Please disregard these questions if they will
    >result in my being billed. :)

    Awe :)

    But this is your big chance! My hourly doesn't double from $200 to $400 until the middle of next month when I successfully defend the Ph.D. [If "$10,000 + $400/hour" makes you blink, you're not big enough to have an anti-trust problem needing a lawyer-economist :) ]

  • The purpose of government, as stated in the declaration of independance is to secure the rights of the people, NOT implement the will of the people. If the will of the people were simplistically implemented, a tyranny of the majority would be short following.

    The problem, of course, lying the fact that that the right that the people want secured is exactly that: what they want. It was the whole purpose of having elected leaders. When the elected person wasn't voting for what the people wanted, s/he would be replaced.

    And although I hold to my belief that people, in general, are idiots, I would rather listen to a whole lot of them then a few people who might be gone in a year tell me that it's not ok that my kids can blow stuff up or learn about different religions that fit them better than Christianity.

    It is precisely the will of the people that we hired those boobs to uphold, mostly because those people don't want anything bad to happen to themselves and in the process, securing their rights.

    What I don't like about this is the fact that people would rather use their elected officials to get a blanket movement to cover something that the parents themselves should be doing anyway... that way they can keep working until 8 at night and say "My kids are taken care of."

    And at least everyone in that mass making up "the people's will" is looking out for themselves. And since they are, and they are still "normal" people, then if they want something protected for them, they protect it for me too. A dictator looks for himself. I'm not a dictator, so it's unlikely that what he wants is what I want. A farmer in Ohio wants lower taxes, well... what can I say. Doesn't everyone?

    And if the majority is tyrranizing, at least most of the people will be happy.
  • There are certainly valid points to the strict constructionist viewpoint of the Constitution, but on the other hand things are a lot different now than they were in the 1780s. Most people receive more benefit than harm from such extensions of federal authority like the FCC, the Interstate Commerce Commission, and so forth. I don't think the founding fathers intended their descendants to be stuck with exactly the same balance of power that they set up back then - due to modern technology and changing perceptions, the executive branch has gained a lot of power and the legislative branch has lost a little. In general these changes have worked out OK, since they are subject to constant legal challenge and review in the Supreme Court as well as the press.

    I'll be the first to agree that the Constitution should have been amended as these changes occurred, rather than simply bent and forced into a new shape. However, it would be a mistake to return suddenly to the strict constructionist view now - the country would collapse fairly quickly without the more centralized federal control we have now.

  • The federalist notion is to keep things at the lower level, only giving the central government the power to do that which can't be done efficiently by the states. (The anti-federalists took it farther, wanting to yield essentially nothing to the center except on a case-by-case basis).

    Increasing the number of decisions made by D.C. flies in the face of federalism (and in that of the "New Federalism," too, for that matter).

  • The way I see it, as long as the Feds are paying for this stuff, they have every right to dictate how the money is spent. The real solution is to stop relying on Federal funding for everything, and start funding these things on a more local level.
  • That's about as far from a bedrock principle as you can get :)

    I am a lawyer, but this is not legal advice. See a lawyer in your own jurisdiction for that.

    The Bill of Rights does not apply directly to the states, but only by way of the 14th Amendment and by "selective incorporation."

    The particular restraints that kick in are those "fundamental to the notion of ordered liberty." Trial by jury applies, but the jury size of 12, and unanimous verdicts, only apply to the feds. States can have preliminary hearings rather than grand juries in felony cases. The free exercise clause applies, but applying the establishment clause is rather new (state-supported churches existed not only before the fourteenth, but two states continued to have an established church afterwards).

    Some pieces apply, some don't. Libraries selectively providing access could go either way (they're not required to provide any access), but I'd expect (but wouldn't bet) that the federal limits would apply to states and their subdivisions.

    hawk, esq.
  • I think it's best to start from the assumption that all sites are potentially harmful to children without parental supervision, and let anyone who wants to warrant their site as child-safe -- whatever that means -- do so at their own risk.

    Oooh... this is just great. Of course, what's special about web sites? Nothing really, so it much for the best to start from the assumption that all books are potentially harmful to children, so children should not have access to books unless the publisher legally certifies that there is nothing in the book that could potentially harm even a single child. What, the publishers say they don't have suicidal tendencies? Too bad, too bad... But there is nothing really important in books, anyway, right?

    And movies! No, movies are definitely potentially harmful to children. And don't start me on TV. I suggest that our wise legislators should pass a law to embed a chip in each TV set that will scan the age of people in the room. If any of the present is a child (say, under 21 years of age), the TV should automatically and immediately switch to the Disney channel. Technical problems? Ah, don't bother my little pointy head with these complicated words!

    But these are all half-measures. If we think about it, life is potentially harmful to children so why don't we just collect al the kids and put them in nice institutions where the government-certified nurses will make sure that nothing harmful (like an idea) ever approaches our little angels...

  • Nope, that's wrong. The local communities can show discretion on their own without any help from the Feds. The whole point in laws like this is to force the local communities to adopt whatever standards Washington considers appropriate. Look at the legal min drinking age. The Feds cannot legislate it, but they shoved it down the throat of every state (do you really want federal highway funds? Here is how...)

    Exactly. Louisiana had a drinking age of 18 until several years ago, when they were threatened with the complete loss of funding if they refused to raise the drinking age to 21. Needless to say, Louisianans were not happy about this.
  • Besides, I don't see many libraries carrying playboy or penthouse. Is that discrimination or censorship too?

    Put it this way -- would you want to borrow a copy of Penthouse that someone else had already "borrowed" and returned?

    "Excuse me, where's the Librarian? I can't seem to open this magazine."
  • Take a look at this story on []. Essentially, yes, it was a circuit judge, but I can't imagine the Supreme Court feeling differently, since it's pretty much a bedrock principle that if the First Amendment applies to the feds, it applies to the states too.

  • Thanks for correcting my misuse of "federalism". It's been a while since my Constitutional Law class. :)

    "Centralization" or "central government" would have been a more accurate choice of words. "Federalism" in the context of the Constitution has a different meaning than what I intended.

    What is "New Federalism"? Also (just to get more off-topic) wasn't Madison the original author of the Federalist Papers?

    Please disregard these questions if they will result in my being billed. :)
  • If they limit it to porn, we can't complain that much - it's not like schools and libraries currently allow children access to porn of any sort. (Unless you count the adult romance novels in public libraries.)

    It's like we've been time-warped back to the 50s, though, where no one minded a little book-burning, should the occasion present itself. Except this time, it's the Internet.

    I would ask "Why are they so afraid of information?" but we all know the answer to that. Is this some kind of breaking point we're going to keep hitting as time goes on? Will our horizons keep expanding so fast we can't keep up with it, until finally a minor cultural revolution takes place, breaks the dam and we start the process of filling the reservoir all over again?

    TV comes along, and suddenly a generation is exposed to ideas and information they never would have had otherwise. The result was the 60s and 70s, where the adults struck out in fear of the unknown and the lack of control inherent in the new information age.We just started evening out again in the 80s. Are we encountering the same issue with the Internet in the 90s, to come to a head in the 00s?

    Maybe with the rapid technological turnaround time we now have, with new development "generations" getting shorter and shorter, we'll get to the point where none of us can slow down enough to fear change, because we all remember a big advance that changed the culture from our own youths...

  • The problem is not necessarily censoring porn, but in the loose definition of "harmful to minors" that Congress keeps using. This is a very vague standard, and many people fear that it will be used to block useful information that certain groups don't like - information about birth control and sex education, for example. And the libraries will have to censor this information for everybody, not just minors.

    If Congress would just spell out exactly what it is that they don't like, then one of these laws might actually end up being constitutional. Unfortunately (for them) they can't agree on exactly what is "harmful" or "obscene", so they keep trying the same thing over and over again.

  • by qmrf ( 52837 ) on Friday June 18, 1999 @06:26AM (#1844572) Homepage
    They want to block "child pornography and obscene content", eh?

    Well, I can agree with not wanting child porn available to children, but, as a one-time library employee and current library volunteer (as well as a person capable of rational thought), I must say that this is a Bad Plan.

    It's a Bad Plan because libraries are meant to be educational resources. Once we start banning "obscene content" from the screens of library computers, we have precedent to start banning "obscene content" from the shelves of the library. Which means that any overprotective mother who finds her child in the reference section browsing art books could sue the library for having books with pictures of Michealangelo's sculpture "David". (and wasn't the person who modeled for said sculpture only about 15? making it child porn, in a sense?) That's *just* what we need. Some of Picasso's works (if I'm identifying them correctly as his) have bare breasts represented. Can't have that, now can we? Our library carries movies too, including _Pleasantville_. In said movie, there is a painting of a nude woman. Need to get rid of that movie too.

    And that's not even a very broad definition of "obscene content". Depending on how you interpret it, all of the trash romance novels (big loss, i know :), Stephen King books, war novels, chemistry books, newspapers, magazines, etc could be defined as containing "obscene content" (especially considering the post-Littleton context in which this is being proposed...I remember reading about the VietCong's homemade weaponry when I was a kid; we don't want kids learning how to fashion weapons, now do we?)

    Granted, this law may not specifically endanger our book collections, but it's only a short step further. Also, I grant that censoring public library collections isn't a new thing, but it's something that (in my opinion, at least) we should not encourage with laws of this kind.

    Does anyone know of any petitions we can sign against this?
  • There's a serious problem with Pascal's Wager. According to Pascal, one is better off believing in God because of the potential bad consequences -- going to hell -- of not believing.

    However ... which god? Pascal's Wager is just as applicable to Allah, the Jewish G-d, Ahura Mazda, Zeus, or Amida-Buddha, as it is to your Baptist God. If you believe in the Baptist God and it turns out that Ahura Mazda (the Zarathustrian God) is the real god, you get to go to Zarathustrian Hell. Pascal's Wager gives you no reason to value the one over the other.

    The fact that some of the ideas in the Ten Commandments are good ideas does not mean that the whole document is valuable, nor that it should be taught in schools. Remember that the Ten Commandments begin with "I am the LORD thy God who brought you out of Egypt; thou shalt have no other gods before me." This is an explicitly Judeo-Christian message (actually, an explictly Jewish message that's been co-opted by Christians). While "Thou shalt not murder" and "Thou shalt not steal" are very good ideas to teach children, it is utterly inappropriate for the government to teach children Judaism or Christianity.

    Further, it is inappropriate in an ostensibly free country for the government to teach people that religion is coextensive with, or necessary to, ethical or moral thought. Religion is too often and too easily co-opted by intolerant and theocratic movements, as one can see in the case of the Southern Baptist Convention (which I know does not represent all Southern Baptists) and the Religious Right. This is anathema to the republic.

    For that matter ... didn't Jesus himself preach against public displays of holiness? "When you pray, do not do it in the streets as the hypocrites do ..."
  • Actually,
    They can say that there is no manitory censorship, you just won't get any money from them. The Feds do stuff like this all the time. Why do you think the drinking age is 21? The Feds can't mandate a drinking age, so how do they get around the 10th amendment. Simple, we won't give you highway funds if you don't have a 21 drinking age.

    The FEDERAL income tax is the worst think that has happened to this country, because it allows the Federal Govt to bypass the 10th Amendment in this way. They can't make local laws, but they CAN take your money, and then NOT give it back. The extreme case is that they COULD take all your money, and only give back what they think you need

  • The most ironic portion of all this is the inconsistency with the information the government already has available. And I'm not just talking about the Starr Report

    Correlating CDA votes to Starr report release votes yielded the 285 Most Hypocritical US Representatives [] tasty bit.

  • by Izaak ( 31329 ) on Friday June 18, 1999 @06:29AM (#1844588) Homepage Journal
    The way I read it, they are not really *requiring* the filters. The government will simply withhold specific net related funding for libraries and schools that do not implement it. It amounts to about the same thing really, considering how cash strapped these institutions are.

    Hopefully it will still be found unconstitutional. Some filtering in grade schools I can understand, but it should be left up to individual schools to determine their policy. Censorship in libraries, however, is absolutely abhorant. Censorship at the highschool level is also a Bad Idea. Even at the grade school level, the best filter is teacher involvement in the web surfing experience. Making the computer an unattended *replacement* for adult supervision is almost as bad using the television for that (at least with small children).

    And what about this possible ban on Internet gambling? The way I read it, it is really the casino industry trying to protect their business. I don't gamble, but I am annoyed that the government feels they need to *protect* me in this way. Just more errosion of our freedoms.


  • Then again, any censorship is a bad idea. But in libraries it'd be even worse. The point of a library is to be a collection center of information. If we begin cutting out anyflow of information, no matter what the content maybe, we're losing something. We used to have a list of banned books, because we feared what was contained within them. Many of those banned books were also great literary works by some of our most celebrated authors, and are now not only allowed once again, but required reading in many school's English classes.

    On a similar note of censorship... If we did allow this bill to pass, what sites would be blocked? Those which contained "Sexually Explicit or Violent Material" is how they usually phrase it. I think I saw that in this article too. Does that mean every news network on the web would be blocked? Thenews is certainly one of the greatest sources of violent content in any media. We have wars, rape, killing, terrorism, and other atrocities occuring in the world. Preventing people from seeing it doesn't stop those from happening. And removing said content from the web greatly reduces a person's ability to research using the web, since most research topics probably have at least one violent aspect. Do we next cut out chemical health advisories because the chemical may be fatal, and therefore used by some sadistic kid? Granted, this is a slippery slope argument, but the real problem here is not the slope. Normally these arguments run along the lines that if we continue, it will lead to absurdity. This one begins in absurdity. Keeping this content out of libraries does little to help anything (especially those adults who may need access to potential censorship canidates, depending on exactly what gets shut out), and is potentially very harmful for anyone wishing to do research at libraries. Granted, libraries should probably filter out the porn sites (that isn't precisely a good use of a library computer anyways), but using a gov't mandate to do so, and also remove other sites will not help. If ids really want to get on the internet to see something, they will. I'd think it better if they did it at a library where they havea greater chance of being seen, than at some kids house when the parents are out, or watching the news or otherwise ignoring their kids. That's where we need to focus. Kids can't be quite so violent if parents are a little more watchful. Again, granted, that isn't the whole answer, but it is certainly better than loosening gun control up at gun shows to a 24 hour limit on a background check, to be performed by over-taxed law enforcement officers (not the gun retailer), and then placing a worse than useless ban on a library research tool.
    ~Anguirel (lit. Living Star-Iron)
    "Veni; Vidi; Vi C++"

  • For the adults out there, what would of you done had they taken away the ability to research what you were interested in when you were a kid? How many of you would of let them do it? I know my parents tried a couple times when I was a kid. Wasn't pretty, but they learned. :-)

    So, I got to read what I want, learn what I want, even experiment with bombs, and the such. I sure learned a lot while I was a kid. Thank god for that. If I hadn't been able to, where would I be? Probably flipping hamburgers with my other high school friends. I never killed anyone, never even hurt another sole. Having that access was the greatest thing in the world.

    Please don't take that away from our kids today. Instead, TEACH them how to be good kids. Don't just force it on them. It just doesn't work that way.

  • by Danse ( 1026 )

    The way I see it, as long as the Feds are paying for this stuff, they have every right to dictate how the money is spent.

    'Scuse me. Where do you think the Feds got the money in the first place? That's right... TAXES. Who pays those taxes? You and me and everyone else with a job. They don't have any right to try to end-run around the Constitution and use the money that US citizens gave them to impose their morals on our local libraries. Our libraries are controlled by our communities, just like they should be.

  • As Chomsky points out, regimes like the Soviet Union ruled directly by force - in America, propoganda is used to control people. No other country engages in such dubious exercises in public disinformation and misinformation as the US.

    I don't mean filtering, I mean altering and filtering of content so you only think you're free.
  • What exactly are they filtering out? The article doesn't seem to be clear on what kind of material is being censored. If they just wanna keep 14 year olds away from porn at the library, I think that's understandable, isn't it?
  • There's a very simple solution to this whole "filtering" debate: require adult oriented sites to note as much in some META or other tag, and have all filtering software check that tag.

    If an adult-oriented site does not label itself as such, they should be prosecuted. What adult site would _not_ do this? What adult site is targeting children?Contrary to popular moralist belief, the motivations of these sites are not to "corrupt our babies", but to MAKE MONEY.

    Yes, we have "ratings services", but why jump through hoops just to state the obvious? If you know damn well your content should not be viewed by children, just add such a content advisory.

    Instead of such simplicity, we have massive lists of sites probably long-dead, and filtering of words branded "naughty".

    Someone bonk the government with a clue so we can "protect the children" without resorting to blind (or blurred) censorship.

  • what an evil dirty word...
    What makes you loosers think you deserve to go into a library to get your dose of porn? What's to stop you from getting your OWN PC and ISP? Can afford it? Well then, get a JOB!! Maybe then you can enter the real world and not have so much time to complain about my taxes not paying for your habits.

    I get sick of hearing all these ingrates whining whenever our leaders decide to restrict handouts. Here's a clue or two. Cruising the web for free in a public or school library is NOT guaranteed by the Constitution. It is very unlikely that the valuable data that would be restricted by filtering software isn't available in other places! It is possible, even easy, to get what would be restricted in other places. And finally, it is not your RIGHT to have me and other American taxpayers pay for your entertainment (apologies to all my international aquaintances 8*).

    It is your right to speak. It is not your right to have your speech dissiminated by either me or the government. Limiting what can be viewed with government funded facilities doesn't limit anyones ability to speak out. Does this mean that duly appointed government leaders and officials get to decide what is proper to be destributed on government funded networks? Yeah, so what? He who pays the piper gets to call the tune.

    So cut the bitching and whining and go hire your own piper!!
  • I don't know about votes (I've only been following bills in the early stages), but [] seems to have everything else you ask for (and maybe even the votes; I don't know)
  • ...where I work there was a movement to prevent bad pictures and content on the web and a draconian filter was in place. Many technical sites were banned for reasons I do not know. I guess the information was deemed dangerous and too advanced for our minds. One of the sites blocked was the entire dejanews! Those newsgroups people can say anything and must be offensive... What pissed me off was when I tried finding technical literature for a printer in front of my boss and the site was blocked...

    What was interesting is that no gun sites were blocked, so an NRA buddy of mine was having a good ol time in his NRA chatrooms.

    I did find a way to get around the blocking software. Going through got around anything.

    Blocking software is impersonal, inconsistant, and not very smart. If a kid wants to look at titties, its better to have a person intervene in the disruption than some stupid unproven snake oil blocking software that can only be marketed by hype.
  • You are correct; I do agree with you. I would prefer no government control of any information, but if that is politically unlikely then local control is vastly preferable to federal control. Your voice is proportionally a lot louder at the local level. Of course, if your views on the subject don't match those of your community very well, then you still have some problems.

  • Results of roll call votes are available at the Library of Congress' Thomas [] site. This amendment passed by a voice vote, however, so the votes of individual members are not recorded.

    The text of the amendment is not yet available online, but should be available within a day or two at this page [] (look for a reference to an entry in the Congressional Record printing the text of the Franks amendment).

  • I DO NOT vote for people to "uphold morals and values" there is nothing worse than some polititian telling people what there morals should be. They are there to take care of public policy, nothing more. The government has NO business telling people what their morals should be! The last thing I wasnt is some ultra-right Christian Coalition type telling me what I can or can not access on the net: they want to not only filter porn, but sex-education, birth control, left wing political action groups, gay youth support groups and anything else doesn't fit their pseudo-morality. Some of the more extreme examples of this species of congress-critter are nothing more than facists.
  • You obviously havn't been to other countries. Almost all countries engage in this kind of propaganda campaign aginst their own citizens continuously. Some countires go as far as to require all media to be state-controlled (including the internet, which is why network access is so hard to come by in these countries). You can't seriously think that the Chinese government is more forthcoming to its people than the US government? We still don't know how many people were killed in Tienamen Square.
  • Why not just place the monitors in plain view? That way if someone wants to view porn, everyone else (including a librarian) can see what the perv is doing. Nothing like a little public humiliation to enforce public (or pubic) decency, eh?

    "Sometimes you have to listen to a lot of useless
    talk" - Rush
  • by substrate ( 2628 ) on Friday June 18, 1999 @07:01AM (#1844669)
    Enforced morals via censorship is bad, but there is also a time and a place for everything. Most libraries don't carry visual pornographic materials (one of the local libraries where I grew up used to carry Playboy, not sure if they still do) and thats their right. It shouldn't be the governments job or responsibility to provide, enforce or mandate filtering however.

    Some people are going to have a problem with libraries censoring or discouraging pornography as well. Get over it, go buy a magazine or rent a video. Most forms of media or libraries are censored in one form or another. Slashdot is censored in the form of having editors. The editors only post articles which from their point of view fit in with the editorial guidelines they've set forth: News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters. I might feel that to me "The Internet Archive of Invasively Nude Female Geeks" [] fits in with the mandate, but its up to Rob and Hemos and others whether it gets posted.

    Likewise I can walk down the hallway to our company library and look at the magazines: IEEE Circuits and Systems yes, Hustler no. Do I feel offended that I can't get pornography here? Nope, I'm free to do that on my own time. I would be offended if the company decided to filter out certain websites. I wouldn't be offended if I were repremanded for visiting them on company time though.
  • There's a very simple solution to this whole "filtering" debate: require adult oriented sites to note as much in some META or other tag, and have all filtering software check that tag.

    Better still, flip it around: Let any site that wants to solicit children's attention identify itself with a META tag, and let the publisher of the site be on the hook if they publish indecent material. Browsers can be written that will only link to such sites, and parents who want to let their kids surf without monitoring can give their kids such a browser. The rest of us can be left alone.

    A deficiency in my proposal is that it might put some publishers that have legitimate reasons for publishing to minors content with sexual and violent themes in a tight spot. Planned Parenthood (birth control and AIDS prevention info.) and Amnesty International (descriptions of human rights violations) come to mind. Nevertheless, I think it's best to start from the assumption that all sites are potentially harmful to children without parental supervision, and let anyone who wants to warrant their site as child-safe -- whatever that means -- do so at their own risk.

  • In think it's too over-reactive to think that SlashDot would be censored.

    /. has in its motto "News for nerds". We all know that nerds are the prime cause of highschool shootings, right?

    /. brings news for hackers. We all know how close they brought the world to destruction by playing "global thermonuclear warfare", right?

    /. had extensive coverage and negative comments about the CDA and its ilk down under. It's a cesspool of anti-censorship technoanarchists and libertarians. So let's protect our children's minds from its evil influence, OK?

    Trust me, /. is a fine candidate for censoring.

  • Not only that, consider all the clever spam that is designed to sneak past industrial strength procmail. Filtering is going to be a game where porn artists are going to win and information content providers will lose. Many legitimate sites will find themselves cut off due to draconian filters. I have seen it happen at work too many times when there was a movement to prevent tittie pictures being viewed by a few morons.
  • The Supreme Court is not doing its job when it allows the federal government to unconstitutionally link areas where they do have authority to other areas where they do not. This is somewhat like a company that holds a monopoly in one business "leveraging" that strength into another market -- with one important difference. The government does it with the implicit backing of guns.

    Either the Constitution means nothing at all or it means what is says. For government to use other means to accomplish goals forbidden in the Constitution is *exactly* the same offense as violating those prohibitions directly. If the government is to be allowed to do things via other means that it is forbidden to do directly, what good is the Supreme Court and the explicit limitations on federal authority?
  • Posted by FascDot Killed My Previous Use:

    You drive on roads, walk on sidewalks, sit in parks and attend public schools that aren't mandated by the Constitution either. Why do I have to pay for you to do THAT?

    Because it furthers the public good that there be publicly funded and owned resources.

    And the only way to be fair with these resources is allow them to everyone for whatever use they see fit (as long as the resource is not depleted/destroyed or reduced for others by that use).

    No one is arguing that libraries should setup special "Nude Nude Nude" stations. But we are arguing that putting restrictions on content is inherently wrong because these resources are publicly owned--so the usage is up to the individual.

    Instead of blocking MY use of the libraries connection to the Internet, why don't YOU keep an eye on your kids at the library or better yet, keep them at home watching Barney?
    "Please remember that how you say something is often more important than what you say." - Rob Malda
  • Sometimes I fear that the basic requirement for entering politics is the capability of permanently maintaining an inconsistent worldview.

    Critical thought is an essential ingredient for progress in human society. Censorship is based on the diametrically opposite notion that others (politicians, clergy, royalty) have better judgement than I as a regular citizen. They don't. Being taught not to think critically, but simply follow others' judgement, order and orders is what brought the world the crusades, gulags, apartheid, Auschwitz and the killing fields.

    Now the same congress that just awarded Rosa Parks a medal [] for thinking critically, and acting on it, is actively working to prevent the development of critical thought?

    It's days like these that make me pessimistic enough to fear that reality isn't as far away from dystopia's like 1984, Fahrenheit 451 and the American fundamentalist theocracy in Heinlein's future history.

  • The whole point in laws like this is to empower local communities to show discretion. You keep citing cases of 'great art' that you seem to feel will suddenly be wiped off the face of the earth. There generally aren't copies of Hustler magazine out in the open on the Library shelf. There are nudes in Art folios available. That's called 'discretion' and no matter how much you scream and try to claim Armageddon is on the way, all you're doing is, well, screaming. The system works when local communities aren't told they MUST expose their children to a completely wide-open Internet. Without such guidelines, communites are going to start banning ALL public Internet access in their area, because that will be their only choice.

    The Internet is not a cultural Ram-rod. Some people would doubtless like to use it as such, but they're still in the minority.
  • by DonkPunch ( 30957 ) on Friday June 18, 1999 @07:08AM (#1844690) Homepage Journal
    What bothers me is the legislators thinking that they can/should mandate this at a federal level. This is an issue which is best dealt with by the communities. I at least have a chance of being heard by my local library and school district.

    Unfortunately, many Americans don't seem to understand that there are, by design, several "governments" in the U.S. Some laws should be federal in scope, some should only be state or local laws. Problems arise when the federal government starts meddling in affairs best handled at a local level. Community standards are not a "one-size-fits-all" matter.

    I am also concerned about the TYPES of "solutions" legislators are pursuing in the wake of Littleton. Why is it that all of these solutions seem to involve restrictions of personal freedoms and/or legislation of dubious Consitutionality? Don't they have anything constructive to add?

    Shame on you, Congress -- especially those of you who claim to be for less federal government. I guess growing federalism is OK when it furthers your own agenda.
  • what an evil dirty word... What makes you loosers think you deserve to go into a library to get your dose of porn?

    As with all of this "family values/harmful to minors" stuff, it's not about me being able to head down to the local library and gettin' me a batch of skin pics. As with all of this hysteria, how many actual cases are there of this going on?

    The "censorware" has an established track record of being overly broad in what it blocks, the people who install it have no control over what it's supposed to block (and often, they have no way of determining what is or isn't blocked since the information is often encrypted), and in many instances the "censorware" has an explicit "blacklist" of sites, which can be (and has been) used to block sites the makers don't like; in some cases, the "censorware" was blocking sites that criticized the makers of the the program.

    It's about having someone else impose their will on me as to what I can and can't see on the internet. Installing "censorware" means I give up my right to choose what I want to see to the makers of the program, who can then use it for their own ends as well. (How soon before these companies start accepting money to have a site blocked? I bet Microsoft would pay big bucks to block

    Maybe then you can enter the real world and not have so much time to complain about my taxes not paying for your habits.

    I don't need a job, I run my own business, thanks. As for "complaining about your taxes", those are MY taxes going to this as well.

    I get sick of hearing all these ingrates whining whenever our leaders decide to restrict handouts. Here's a clue or two. Cruising the web for free in a public or school library is NOT guaranteed by the Constitution.

    So what about all of those books and periodicals the libraries give out to those slackers, huh? Should the government be able to decide which of those we can look at, too?

    You just really don't get it.

    It is very unlikely that the valuable data that would be restricted by filtering software isn't available in other places!

    At more cost or difficulty. I love the fact that I can sit at my computer and find the information I want (or at worst, find out where I have to go to get it). It's freedom to learn, to expand my horizons, and hell yeah I think people should be able to go to the library and do the same thing I do at little to no cost to themselves.

    And finally, it is not your RIGHT to have me and other American taxpayers pay for your entertainment

    That's my tax money going to pay for this nonsense, same as yours. And it's not about "entertainment"; frankly, I'd be worried about a person who goes to the public library with a bottle of hand lotion to look up The fact is, you cannot give the government any opportunity to chill free speech without them trying to exploit that freedom.

    Does this mean that duly appointed government leaders and officials get to decide what is proper to be destributed on government funded networks? Yeah, so what? He who pays the piper gets to call the tune.

    Yeah, and as you're so fond of pointing out, WE'RE paying the piper with our tax dollars, not them! Most of those guys can't balance their own checkbook; many of them can't tell you how much a gallon of gas costs.

    Jay (=
  • They can say that there is no manitory censorship, you just won't get any money from them. The Feds do stuff like this all the time. Why do you think the drinking age is 21? The Feds can't mandate a drinking age, so how do they get around the 10th amendment. Simple, we won't give you highway funds if you don't have a 21 drinking age.

    Well, the case is a bit different here. There is no constitutional right to drink before you're 21 :( -- or ever after 21 for that matter -- so the Feds can force the state/local governments to make these laws. However, from the Bill of Rights point of view there is no difference between the Feds, the states and your friendly local town hall -- it's all "government" and government's ability to trample/ignore/go around the Bill of Rights is quite limited (subject, of course, to the whims of the Supreme Court). So the issue has nothing to do with Feds forcing local laws -- if the measure is declared unconstitutional (hopefully), it doesn't matter if it's a public school/library that made this regulation, or the Federal government.

    Of course the Bill of Rights does not apply to private entities, school and libraries included, but that's a whole different can o'worms.

  • You seem to be a little inconsistent in your beliefs. How does a federal mandate handed down from the highest levels of government encourage local community standards? Sure, right now the federal government may have acted to support the standards of your community, but what about the next federal law? If you want local control of things, then you should be consistent and oppose any sort of federal control such as this.

    Of course all communities don't have to have the same standards of what is acceptable. But they should decide their standards at the local level, so that they can argue about issues like whether adults will have to use the filters too, how old is an adult, and what exactly we want to filter. Congress making laws about "harmful" material just clouds the issue, because people in different communities disagree over what's harmful to children (porn? sex ed? other religions?) but the law will be enforced across the entire country.

    Also, the last time I checked, no one was forced to find anything on the World Wide Web (which is what we are discussing blocking). That's right, it is impossible to force your message onto anyone - they have to visit your site to get whatever message you are spouting. If parents would surf the web with their kids to show them how it works, what parts to avoid, and so forth, then we wouldn't need any sort of government control of information.

  • The problem is not only with the Feds. There is a great deal of local-level cluelessnees and fear of open information. Note that in the Loudon (sp?) library case, it weren't the Feds who forced it to block access to uncomfortable material, but the library itself, a bunch of moralizing assholes that they all are.

    Recently my daughter who is in second grade brought home a note from a teacher, which basically said: "Dear parents, it came to my attention that boys tease girls. Teasing is illegal (no, I'm quoting and I'm not making it up) so please talk to your child so that he/she does not do this any more".

    Washington is bad, but local morons can be much, much worse, especially if they see encouragement from the Feds. Hell, if my local library implements filtering, I'll be the first to hack around it and post the instructions on how to do this around the neighborhood.

  • Say, do you think these nitwits will filter out their own pornographic Starr Report? They chose to encourage Starr to write it and then they released it on the web where kids could see it.

    Why is it okay for Congress to let kids look at sexual literature, but not okay for public libraries? I understand that Kenneth Starr intended his report to titillate Congress rather than kids in public libraries, but what is the difference?

    "When people read this, they will want to throw up!" -- Kenneth Starr describing, approvingly, his report just prior to its release.
  • by jamiemccarthy ( 4847 ) on Friday June 18, 1999 @07:27AM (#1844733) Homepage Journal
    [I] think it's too over-reactive to think that SlashDot would be censored. I don't recall any nudie pics...

    You're joking, right?

    The censoring will be done by computer (because no humans can read the 1,000,000+ URLs added to the web every day). And it will be done broadly (because no human or computer can visit a site ten times a day to review what has changed).

    Cyber Patrol, the most popular censorware program and widely regarded as one of the best, decided to block over 50 ISPs [] in their entirety. The whole domains. Gone. Often because of a few naughty words - or because of links to naughty sites - or sometimes not even for any reason we could figure out.

    Slashdot does not have a naughty-words filter, so I can post the word "fuck" as much as I want. And it allows links to naughty sites, such as your link to Hustler []. So will surely be blocked, in its entirety, by any censorware program that discovers it.

    Jamie McCarthy

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling