Mr. Bill’s Bill … Take Two

October 26th, 1997 at 5:18 pm by Mark
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     Apparently, many of the quotes and ideas I mentioned on my original “mr. bill’s bill” page were taken well. As the issue of Communications Decency regarding the Internet and Television Programming becomes more and more widespread as a conversational topic, I’ve begun to see and hear myself repeated almost word for word both from Mass Media and American Politicians seeking a vote. It’s a bit depressing, really, to see “Put simply: The CDA is a Federal Law which makes Bad Parenting legal” and not at least get my name next to the quote. Nonetheless, there’s more to life than the Andy Warhol experience … although, it is annoying that stating “I said that!” after Media has plagiarised your material frequently greatly decreases the chances of anyone taking you seriously as writer.

     As usual, I’ll start out with a few Quotes which I feel are very relevant to the ideals of Freedom and Democracy — at least to the people in the United States.

“Those who would give up essential Liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
Benjamin Franklin, 1759

“I hold it, that a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.”
Thomas Jefferson, January 30, 1787

“If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquillity of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”
Samuel Adams, 1776 (not just a decent Beer)

     I find it rather unfortunate that the quotes above will do little more than give the American Mass Media ammunition to make people think you’re a radical Militia fan, or someone who’s going to one day be in the same sort of mess as Timothy McVeigh (who’s a right bastard, IMHO).
     All I can do is say that I’m not like that in the least. I simply feel that two-party systems were designed specifically so that people could be Moderate. The ideal of Freedom is to let people make up their own minds about things.
     To be, in essence, able to change the channel themselves.

     On 25-Jun-1997, several people claiming to write Newspaper columns contacted me. They wanted to hear my comments about the CDA, as it had been ruled Unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court.
     With little forethought, I wrote about it and forwarded it to each of them with a simple request: “If you print any of this, please send me a copy of the article.” And, like I had thought, none of them sent me a copy.
     Bastards, all.

     I realise that that’s a bit of a subject in itself, but I felt it was worth mentioning. Having this wonderful thing called an Internet has always allowed me to get foreign viewpoints from unrestricted media. The CDA could well have abolished that in the United States.

     So could the V-Chip.

     On with the letter:

26-Jun-97

     My primary reason for being against the Communications Decency Act was that it restricted free speech rights inexplicitly. That section of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 attempted to block any speech which may be found indecent, in any context, and did not apply simply to Pornography as we have been preached to on numerous occasions. Immediately after the passage of the bill, many people began receiving e-mail from “do-gooders” who were off on a lot more that just pornography. According to them, “Indecency” ranged from informational material about Venereal Diseases to ‘why someone hated a particular President’ to discussions about Religion and Spirituality, many of which were called “occult” simply because they were non-Christian. The way the law was written, most anyone could have been prosecuted for anything they said.
     In the beginning, it seemed that a lot of conservative groups jumped on the bandwagon and convinced a good many people that this bill was simply an Anti-Pornography law, something to help our nation’s children. But as I said in the text of my web page, it’s not for our government to take care of our nation’s children and legalise bad parenting. Nor is it Constitutionally viable for a governing body to restrict our free speech. Nor was it an Anti-Pornography law.
     Correct me if I’m wrong, but certain limitations of our Freedoms, such as Freedom of Religion and the freedom to speak our minds, was a big reason why many Europeans came to this continent to found this country. Since the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the CDA because they found it unconstitutional, I’ve been watching a lot of mainstream Media. They seem to have all jumped back on the “Anti-Pornography” bandwagon.
     A bit over a year ago when this controversy started, mainstream media was blasting the government for passing this law, claiming that it was a limitation on free speech. Now, many of them are blasting the government yet again for overturning a bill which they claim was simply an Anti-Pornography law.

     People seem to have this idea that Republicans are the scum of the Earth, that they’re the “classic moderators of thought” as I’ve seen so many times. What people must remember is that this bill was created by Democrats. The bill was passed by both Democrats and Republicans. Both sides have their conservatives and their liberals, and they’re pretty evenly distributed, despite Mr. Clinton’s claims. The two party system was put together to create a system of checks and balances by which ideas could be voted upon fairly, but this seems no longer the case.
     I don’t want to run the risk of sounding like a federal-building-bomber, but I think this quote not only gives merit to a lot of what I believe, but also states the problem quite eloquently:

...when all government... in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the centre of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated.
     -- Thomas Jefferson, 1821

     The passage of the CDA, itself, seems a case in this point. I would hate to think that our nation’s elected leaders would pass a bill without reading it from top to bottom, sideways, backwards and inside out. The Telecommunications Bill of 1996 was so full of convoluted, useless articles, so long, boring, hard to read and comprehend, and just perhaps the passage of the CDA portion was simply an oversight. I say that because I’m not quite ready to hold dear the idea that our elected officials are 100% corrupt and don’t really give a damn about the rights of the American People…
     …and I hope I’m right.

     But there is a flip side to my argument….

“We can’t be so fixated on our desire to preserve the rights of ordinary Americans…”
— William Jefferson Clinton, USA Today, March 11, 1993

     God, I hope I’m wrong.


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