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Thursday, 03 December, 2020

Congress, Children, the Web and the First Amendment

Date: 01 October, 2001

By: Chief

Imagef all the amendments tacked on to our Constitution, Amendment the First is held, we hope, by most groups to be almost, if not absolutely, sacrosanct. It is, unfortunately, attacked more often by Congress than any other amendment contained in the Constitution, including the Second Amendment.

The latest successful onslaught against the First Amendment is the "Children's Internet Protection Act" (CIPA), also known as PL (Public Law) 106-554. This latest trampling of our rights withholds public school funds from any school which does not have Internet filtering software installed on any school computer or network which students can use and have access to the Internet. The law is designed to purportedly protect "minors" from "harmful" material.

Contained within the "Definitions" section of this law is the following:

"HARMFUL TO MINORS.--The term "harmful to minors" means any picture, image, graphic image file, or other visual depiction that--

(A) taken as a whole and with respect to minors, appeals to a prurient interest in nudity, sex, or excretion;

(B) depicts, describes, or represents, in a patently offensive way with respect to what is suitable for minors, an actual or simulated sexual act or sexual contact, actual or simulated normal or perverted sexual acts, or a lewd exhibition of the genitals;


(C) taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value as to minors."

Chilling ... no? Under sub-paragraph (C), virtually every web site should be blocked. Why? Who is to determine what is "serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value." Secondly, who is to sit in judgement as to what is "suitable for minors?" It would appear that the parents of our nation's youth have nothing to say as to what is suitable for their minor child or children.

The First Amendment to our Constitution contains some very powerful clauses. Indeed there are 6 separate clauses contained within the amendment. The full text of the amendment reads as follows:

"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."

I find the following phrase particularly fascinating: "Congress shall make no law. . . abridging the freedom of speech." Therein lies the crux of the matter. Not only from a free speech aspect, but from a religious and a proscribing aspect as well. If the members of Congress, their staffs and attorneys can read the English language, clearly the CIPA should never have been introduced, let alone enacted into law. Further, when one looks at the Congressional record and those groups who testified in favor of the CIPA, the majority of the groups were religious organizations.

The religious groups are quite vocal about their way being the righteous and only way of life. Additionally, these same groups contribute a substantial amount of money toward reelection campaigns. Hence, the religious groups are attempting to keep ourselves and our children ignorant. Except, of course, to their particular way of life and beliefs. Slavery and ignorance are, to be sure, synonymous.

This brings us to free speech. Full circle if you will.

We need to ask ourselves what is there to fear. Why should We the People fear a word, a phrase, an image or a movie? Are we not in control of our own destiny? Are we to stupid to 'change the channel?' If we are not, then, I shall ask again, what is there to fear?

Fear of the name or fear of an image or movie increases fear of the thing itself. It is that simple. What is the point in not saying the word "nigger." Why not, I ask, bring the word "nigger" from the cellar and into the light of truth. Discuss it, learn from it. For only then can we honestly teach to our Posterity why "nigger" is a derogatory word. It also will teach all of us not to be fearful of it or angered by it. That is a good thing I think, don't you?

Similarly what have we to fear from our children looking at images or videos of sex? Is it not better for our children to fully know and understand sex? Not just the enjoyment, but the responsibilities as well. Do we not wish our children to make unbiased and fully informed decision regarding sex and sexuality? I would think the answer to be an unqualified yes.

So, do we wish our children to be led by the hand of bigotry and ignorance? Or do we wish our children to be led by truth and knowledge to ultimately seek and find their own destiny? I think what is most "harmful to children" or anybody else for that matter is censorship.

Censorship, of any sort, is obscene.

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