cr#1287> views re: politics of censorship


Richard Moore

Date: Tue, 2 Jan 1996
Sender: •••@••.••• (David S. Bennahum)
Subject: Internet and U.S. cultural elite.

There are several reasons why the Internet censorship proposals moved
through the Congress with lopsidedly favorable votes.  I want to address
just one of these.

Looking back at the outcome (barring a Clinton veto), I think we can all
conclude our efforts to stop this legislation did not succeed.  One silent
factor in the proposal's legislative success is an unwritten assumption
held by many: the Internet is the playground of "cultural elites."
Therefore, since the Net does not reach into the "heartland", the
consequence of suppressing it is well exceeded by the payoff (looking tough
on porn & crime).

Just as (many) Republicans attack Hollywood as being out of touch with
America, I think the attack on the Net may well spring from similar
sources, and explain, in part, the lack of success of our intellectual
arguments based on First Amendment and free-speech rights.  I am curious if
subscribers to this list are aware of _specific_ quotes or instances where
a senator or house member associated the Net with the so-called cultural
elite (local legislatures as well).  If so, then please let me know, as I'm
keen on pursuing this factor influencing the "debate" further.

Thanks in advance to all.


PS To read my NYT op-ed on the original decency act (5/22/95), point to

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Date: Tue, 2 Jan 1996
Sender: •••@••.•••
Subject: Re: "Christian Right" (viewpoint) [cr-951231]

In a message dated 96-01-01 22:22:35 EST, Craig A. Johnson writes:

>Please...  There is a time for everything -- a time for "contact and
>education" and a time for "opposition and derision."  Guess which
>time it is now?

I agree completely.

But still, the original message here was way out of line:

> Robert Smith wrote:
> >THose dirty hypocrites.
> > Frankly I am concerned with the
> >"religious right" 's concern over the internet, it's not as if they
> >are smart enough to boot up a mac, much less snoop in my
> >non-encrypted e-mail

It's just a bigoted charicature.  The problem with the Religious Right is not
a lack of intelligence, it's a lack of compassion and imagination.  That lack
leads many to leave the ranks (of the Moral majority [now defunct], the
Christian Coalition, etc.) over time. If we respond with a similar lack of
compassion and imagination, then guess who's won?

And what's the use of freedom of speech if you've nothing left to say?

Paul Rosenberg
Reason & Democracy

Date: Wed, 3 Jan 1996
Sender: Eric Folley <•••@••.•••>
Subject: re: "Christian Right" (viewpoint) [cr-960102]

Pesach Lattin has written:

>The true reason for this provision has nothing to do with morals. It is just
>our governement now realizes that with the internet we, all of us, no matter
>who we are, can speak freely and thousands listen. They are scarred that this
>country actually might become more democratic, and they will loose power.

This is an often-expressed sentiment on this list, and it is beginning to
bug me. The driving force behind the telecom reform legislation is *not*
the paranoia of our elected officials. The bill is bad because it was
written to satisfy the corporate special interests that shell the Congress
with millions of dollars in campaign contributions. You don't need
conspiracy theories to explain what's happening here -- it's just politics
as usual. Of course, the media conglomorates might be a bit paranoid, but
that is a different issue.

Of course, add to this mix a powerful group of concerned citizens, many of
whom probably sincerely believe that the very existence of anything which
cuts against the grain of their religious beliefs is evil and should be
eliminated, and Congress-folks have absolutely no political incentive to
stand up and "do the right thing." Money and morality is a powerful

Eric Folley          |     •••@••.•••
Columbia, SC  USA    |

Date: Thu, 4 Jan 1996
Sender: "T. Bruce Tober" <•••@••.•••>
Subject: re: "Christian Right" (viewpoint) [cr-960102]

rkm wrote>
> > It seems to me to be critical that we make this distinguish between
> > the "the organized lobby of the Christian Coalition", and the people
> > who are its supposed constituency.  This is a coalition that is led
> > from the top, and a good part of the propaganda that binds it
> > together is misinformation about who "we" are and what we're about.

And on this I would tend to agree, as with most, if not all of the
rest of your comments here. The CC is today's equivalent of the
former Moral Majority. And as was said at the time, the MM ain't
moral and ain't a majority, so today the CC ain't Christian and
ain't a majority.

They're just (and I use the term advisedly) loud, vocal and well
organised and extremely well funded.

We on the left can break their backs if only we'd learn the one
lesson worth learning from them -- We HAVE to forget our
differences and fight together for those things WE believe in. We
NEED to coalesce, there is more that we agree upon than disagree
and it is those things we need to work together on and fight like

When is the left going to learn that there's strength in numbers?

tbt - just say "piss off" to the Communications "Decency" Act

| Bruce Tober - •••@••.••• - B'ham, Eng  |
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Date: Tue, 2 Jan 1996
Sender: •••@••.••• (David S. Bennahum)
Subject: Gingrich on Cyberspace

Newt Gingrich wrote an article in the December 1995 issue of Boardwatch
magazine ( titled "Rediscovering a National
Dialogue: The Promise of Cyberspace."

FYI, here is what he writes:

"We as a society are better off when government gets out of the way so that
innovative technologies can see the light of day when it makes sense to do
so. However, that doesn't mean that some self-government of the Internet,
especially in the area of content, may not be a good idea. To parallel the
virtual world with the real one, we can say that simple residency does not
necessarily equate with citizenship, especially good citizenship. With
citizenship comes responsibility. Therefore, some industry involvement in
developing and enforcing its own rules and policies on Internet content
makes more sense to me than waiting for Congress to do it. Without some
self-regulation by the virtual community, there may be few options apart
from government intervention, which could be a setback for the Internet's

Too bad it's nothing more than words....



 Posted by Richard K. Moore (•••@••.•••) Wexford, Ireland
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