When I read about people like the hilarious American Center for Law and Justice and Family Research Council calling for on-line censorship, I am not sure if I should laugh or snarl… perhaps both. In an article in Charisma News Service, they say things like:
This is an important opportunity for the Supreme Court to protect children in the ongoing battle against online porn,” said Jay Sekulow, of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the Child Online Protection Act (COPA). “This measure…represents a proper and constitutional protection to ensure that pornographers don’t commercially profit from making pornography available to children,” Sekulow said. “The First Amendment protects free speech — but was never intended to permit the sale or distribution of porn to children on the Internet or anywhere else.
Hmmm. Although as a libertarian I do not usually argue matters on constitutional grounds but rather moral ones (a constitution is just a statement of rights, not the source of them), let us look at the First Amendment of the US Constitution:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Now perhaps my copy of the US Constitution is an abridged version but no matter how many times I read it, I cannot see the bit that says:
However freedom of speech, and of the press, can have the crap abridged out of it if computers and the Internet are involved.
Will some legal scholar who reads the Samizdata please take pity and e-mail me and point out in which section of the US Constitution’s apocrypha is that passage to be found?
Now even if these authoritarian statist clowns got their way (unlikely), exactly how do they think a US law is going to prevent 15 year old Hank from Peoria taking a peek at a nice pair of titties on a web server in Amsterdam? These people are not just control freaks, they are pretty damn stupid
Have you ever noticed that groups calling themselves Pro-Family are often the ones who actually want the state to pass laws which remove responsibility from the family and make it a matter of criminal law? If little Hank from Peoria wants to look at porn on-line, why is that not a matter for the family to sort out? I suspect if these people think a US law will have the slightest effect on the global proliferation of on-line porn, then perhaps they are also sufficiently obtuse not to realise that the computer they purchased for little Hank also has an off switch. Doh!