The New and Improved, 99 & 44/100% Pure, FUCK the Communications Decency Act Home Page


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"Those who desire to give up Freedom in order to gain Security,
will not have, nor do they deserve, either one."
Thomas Jefferson

"To send men to jail for violating standards they cannot understand, construe, and
apply is a monstruous thing to do in a Nation dedicated to fair trials and due process."
Justice William O. Douglas
(dissenting), Miller v. California

On June 26, 1997, the United States Supreme Court ruled the Communications Decency Act of 1996 is an unconsitutional abridgement of free speech rights guaranteed under the First Amendment. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgement of a three judge District Court panel in Philadelphia, and said: "We agree with the District Court's conclusion that the CDA places an unacceptably heavy burden on protected speech, and that the defenses do not constitute the sort of 'narrow tailoring' that will save an otherwise patently invalid unconsitutional provision. In Sable, we remarked that the speech restriction at issue there amounted to "`burn[ing] the house to roast the pig.' " The CDA, casting a far darker shadow over free speech, threatens to torch a large segment of the Internet community."

For lots of information including links to the full text of both decisions, visit the FUCK the CDA Links page.

This page is dedicated to disseminating information about, and articulating a point of view expressing a firm opposition to, the recently enacted Communications Decency Act of 1996. It employs the word "fuck" to make the point loudly and clearly, and because the word is constitutionally protected from any claim of "offensiveness", whatever that word is supposed to mean in a legal or criminal sense. If one can Fuck the Draft, one can certainly Fuck the Communications Decency Act of 1996.


It's true, right from the mouth of the Government's own witness. Daniel Olsen, the guy responsible for creating the government's clueless (more on this later) "-L18" tagging system was asked the following question by Judge Dalzell at the April 15, 1996 hearing:

 JUDGE DALZELL: Yeah, I have a few questions for you of starting with chat rooms or news groups. Let's assume a chat group is talking about the CDA and its students are talking about the CDA, students varying in age from 13 to 18. And in the course of the chat an 18 year old, exasperated by his or her view of the law, types in "Fuck the CDA." Is it your proposal that before he types in "Fuck the CDA" he should tag that minus L18?
JUDGE DALZELL: I beg your pardon?
JUDGE DALZELL: Okay, so that is the -- so that anybody even in that context must tag, that's your -- the way it works?
THE WITNESS: If they want to identify -- if they want to identify their speech that is one way they can do it, yes.

So there you have it. We'll let you know when the government censors come to take us away.

What do we think about all this?

(Does it strike anyone else as odd that the folks who are most likely to oppose sex education in the schools on the grounds that it is something more appropriately left for parents to control, are the same ones who are most likely to support the CDA, which substitutes the government's judgement and responsibility for that of the parent when it comes to what children should see on the Internet?)

Obviously, we believe the Communications Decency Act of 1996 is a bad law, unconstitutional on its face, and the result of a misguided attempt to make the world safer for our children. Protecting minors from inappropriate material is a fine idea, and there are many things on the Internet that, in our view, are not appropriate for them to view. No one seems to disagree with this.

The problem is how to do it. On the one side, are those who argue that our government can moderate the "taste" of publicly conducted discussions, as the Supreme Court in Cohen said, "in order to maintain what they regard as a suitable level of discourse within the body politic." On the other side, are those who believe the First Amendment to the Constitution does not permit the enaction of laws that enable law enforcers to prosecute for violations of bad taste.

But what is really going on is more subtle. In the Pacifica v. FCC case, the Supreme Court (in a since narrowly construed decision) permitted the FCC to sanction a radio broadcast company for playing George Carlin's "Seven Dirty Words" monologue at 2:00 on a weekday afternoon, a time when children presumably could hear the broadcast. Specifically a complaint was filed with the FCC by a father who, while driving in his car with his son, heard the broadcast and thought it inappropriate to be so broadcast on the public airwaves.

We think Pacifica is emblamatic of the tension between these two sides. Those favoring restrictions on content do so because they believe the public nature of the broadcast is the key. In other words, people shouldn't have to put up with such vulgarities in public. If others want to hear them, they can buy Carlin's record, or see him live on a stage. Those presentations do not offend the inadvertant passerby, if you will, such as the father and son driving in a car, because they are not truly public, in the sense that the presentation is not contemporaneously made to all.

But the problem with this approach is that it mistakes the nature of our First Amendment guarantees. It is precisely because the discourse is public that it is protected by the First Amendment. It does no good to sit in your home and say "The King is a Rat!". If it is to mean anything, one must be able to say it where others can here it, or show it where others can see it.

And this is what ACLU v. Reno is all about. In the name of moderating public discourse for the purpose of protecting minors, the proponents of the Act have ignored the value and purpose of a public forum, and have reduced it's content to that suitable for a child.

In a case called Michigan v. Butler, the Supreme Court recognized that this cannot be allowed. Follow this link for a brief, edited, quotation from that decision that explains why. Also, keep in mind that another weakness of the Act is it's failure to distinguish between what is or may be appropriate for, say an eight year old, and what is appropriate for a sixteen or seventeen year old.

Furthermore, the Act fails to recognize the importance of the Internet as a new form of public communication. At one time in human history, communication took place via word of mouth only in face to face meetings. The ability to draw, write, print, read, and broadcast has, over the centuries, changed the nature of that communication. Indeed, the entire notion of "community values", against which material on the Internet is judged under the Act, derives from the notion that communications are limited to individual communities and can therefore be judged by local values.

The Internet has clearly changed this. It brings all of these abilities to publish and receive information together; it empowers each individual to not only easily receive vast amounts of information, but to publish it too. Every individual with a computer, the right software, and a modem, is now their own William Randolph Hearst, Henry Luce, and William S. Paley, or for that matter, Pat Robertson or Hugh Hefner, rolled into one.

As a result, the nature of what is "public" has changed, and the law must accomodate this. It is one thing, perhaps, to prohibit, say, the display of nude, live "mannequins" in a department store display window, as publicly indecent. After all, anyone walking past the window will see it. But it is wholly another thing to prohibit an adult from obtaining a picture depicting such a scene from the Internet where, if one does not want to see such things, they need not view them.

Moreover, the nature of "community" has fundamentally changed. Regardless of what one thinks of the recent decision upholding the convictions of a California couple who operated a BBS, under community standards of Western Tennessee (the court decided the defendants could have modified the material they made available to different communities, thus honoring the different values between those communities), the Internet has re-written these rules. The "community" is now beyond the measurement of the values of any one locality, whether in a town, city, county, state, or even country.

Last, we cannot lose sight of the fact that in arguing against this Act, there remains the issue of what we can do to protect those who do not wish to see things they consider "offensive", and of what we can do to protect minors from matters that are inappropriate for them. There ARE alternatives. The calculated disdain of them by the proponents of this law, in our view, reveals in the extreme their desire to prevent not only children, but everyone, from seeing, hearing, reading, and saying what they alone deem to be improper. And, the abject pandering, and the abandonment of the obligations of the members of the House and Senate, and the President, to uphold the Constitution is, in our view, the most offensive thing of all.

This page was prepared specially as a service to the public, and particularly, as a link and reference for readers of the Complete Internet Sex Resource Guide. Liberty, the author, will be pleased to receive your email comments, suggestions, and additions to the page. Please feel free, indeed, please feel compelled, to link this sight to your home page. If your own personal taste or discretion so advises, refer to us as the F*CK the Communications Decency Act of 1996 Home Page.

Copyright, 1996, 1997. Sleeping Beauty Publications, Ltd. All rights reserved.

Last revised 6/27/97

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