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Re: Protest Unconstitutional Bill

Feb 06, 1996 01:20 PM
by Fredrik Montelius

>Comment to the "Protest Unconstitutional Bill": The "Protest
Unconstitutional Bill" was sent to theos-buds pleading members of the TS to
"sign" the protest referring to the notion that freedom of thought is a
central belief among American Theosophists. But let's pause to think for a
moment what it all means before we jump to conclusions. Almost any Good
American would stand up for the rights of the First Amendment Right to
Freedom of Speech.This is very understandable. Far too many can testify to
the pains of restrictions on this freedom, forced by a state upon the
individual man. But among all cries for The Individual Rights, often the
aspect of Individual Responsibility is forgotten. Did not HPB rage against
the media and did she not just hate all the "mental pollution" (my
expression) distributed by newspapers (and I am more than certain she would
include any other media operating today) saying that journalists were
responsible for spreading mental diseases by writing articles in an
unresponsible manner, and did she not say that the Masters had said there
would some day in an unspecified future be neccesary to appoint an entirely
new police force, a "thought police" unit, to defend people against
destructive thinking? The Internet of today held so sacred by so many people
can ideed be an earthly "blessing" in many ways, but it does contain A LOT
of what a theosophist would call "destructive articles". The problem is the
same as always. People just don't take their moral responsibility toward
their fellow men and themselves. This is exactly why we cannot have an
anarchist society, because people don't live their "free" lives in a
responsible manner. Many factors intervene in this discussion; for example
the fact that most people raging against, say, pornography, consume
pornograhy in secret. A vast number of men do, and to a much lesser degree,
women also. Remember that Clinton's reason for signing the Communications
Decency Act has little to do with morality, much more with power and
influence. Signing the Act will probably increase his popularity with the
strong, expanding Christian Movement within the USA. This way a lot of
people will be happy. Unfortunately the Act may also become an instrument to
opress women, minorities, and other people already suffering from what from
a secular viewpoint is an unjust world. If we stop to think about the matter
we can see that there are many pros and cons of a Decency Act. If it is
installed we should all see to that it is not abused (urealistic thought?)
This forum is perhaps not intended for political discussions, but since the
topic has been included with the regular theosophical articles, the need was
felt to comment upon the matter. This is all worth thinking about before we
all cry "Hail to Internet".

Fredrik Montelius, ULT Malmoe, Sweden

  I am postng this mainly for members of the TS with Web pages.  The U.S.
>has just passed a Bill - the Communications Decency Act (part of the
>Telecommuncations Reform Bill) - which makes it illegal to swear, discuss sex,
>or show pictures of the nude human body on the internet.  This means that the
>content of books such as "Catcher In the Rye" are now illegal on the internet,
>for example.  This very letter is now illegal by Federal Law because I am going
>to say a swear word: shit.  See, this letter is now illegal and I could be put
>in jail for up to 2 years, or pay a fine of $100,000 simply because I said the
>word "shit" in this message.
>Clearly, this action by the U.S. Congress completely violates our First
>Amendment Right to Freedom of Speech.
>For Theosophists in the USA, to whom freedom of thought is a central
belief, you
>should be highly concerned about this action by Congress.
>The following message is for a World-wide protest of the U.S. Congress' actions
>to be held on the WWW.  If you have a Web page, please read the following and
>consider participating.
>If you want more information about the Communications Decency Act, read the
>following and consult the sources within it.
>Thank you for your time with this matter.
>Don DeGracia
>Received: from ( []) by
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>Date: Sun, 4 Feb 1996 17:58:59 -0500 (EST)
>From: "Shabbir J. Safdar" <shabbir@VTW.ORG>
>Message-Id: <>
>To: vtw-announce@VTW.ORG
>Subject:  ALERT: 48 Hours of Protest: turn your WWW pages black (2/4/96)
>Sender: owner-vtw-announce@VTW.ORG
>Precedence: bulk
>Reply-To: vtw-announce@VTW.ORG
>		     * 48 HOURS OF PROTEST *
>	Update: -Latest News: Congress passed the net censorship language
>			      on 2/1/96.
>		-What You Can Do Now: Help demonstrate the extent of the
>			impact of the Internet Censorship legislation. Join
>			Hundreds of thousands of Internet Users in an
>			International protest for 48 hours after Clinton
>			Signs the bill.
>		  Feb 3, 1996 (expires Feb 29, 1996)
>		This alert and coalition coordinated by the
>	       Voters Telecommunications Watch (
>	The Latest News
>	What You Can Do Now
>	Chronology of the CDA
>        For More Information
>        List Of Participating Organizations
>Last week Congress approved sweeping restrictions on online speech and
>conduct, imposing fines of $250,000 and jail sentences of 2 years for
>anyone who makes "indecent" material available in a public forum online.
>This legislation threatens the very existence of the Internet as a viable
>means of free expression, education, and political discourse.
>Despite loud objections from civil liberties groups and the public,
>the measure is part of a massive telecommunications bill that President
>Clinton has already pledged to sign.  Although you should feel free to
>continue to express your objections directly to the President, there are
>other ways to express our outrage for this legislation.  The President
>is expected to sign this bill into law during the week of Feb 5-9, 1996.
>For 48 hours after Clinton signs the Telecommunications Reform bill into law,
>join hundreds of thousands of Internet users everywhere to show the far
>reaching impact this bill will have on all Internet users.  TURN YOUR
>WORLD WIDE WEB PAGES BLACK with white lettering to demonstrate that the
>Internet will not accept this kind of second class treatment from the
>United States Government.
>1. For 48 hours after Clinton signs the net censorship language in the
>   Telecomm bill into law, TURN YOUR WORLD WIDE WEB PAGES BLACK with
>   white lettering.  To know when the bill is signed, check these
>   sources:
>   	Newsgroups: alt.society.civil-disob
> (watch for mail on this list)
>	WWW:
>   You can also just watch CNN; they'll announce the signing of the bill.
>   To turn your pages black with white lettering, simply add the following
>   tag to your World Wide Web pages:
>	<body>
>   Put this right after your <head></head> tags, and before any </body> tags.
>   To explain to people who may be confused by the color change, temporarily
>   add the following link to your page:
>	<a href="";>My World Wide Web Pages are
>		black for 48 hours to protest second-class treatment from the
>		US Government for free speech.  Read about it at this WWW
>		page.</a>
>   The Center for Democracy and Technology has also agreed to mirror a
>   similar page at URL:
>   If your pages get lots of hits from services that cache their pages like
>   America  Online, you may wish to start turning your pages black early.
>   Please try and wait though until Clinton signs the bill, for maximum
>   effect.
>   Also, urge your Internet Provider and any Internet WWW pages you
>   frequent to turn their pages black.  Send us interesting sites that
>   comply to
>   	$ Mail
>	Subject: ZTV.COM is turning their pages black!
>	I'm the head of the ZTV Website and I've decided to turn our
>        pages black.  Thought you'd like to know.
>	^D
>	Mail sent!
>2. Don't forget to send Clinton a message, contact him at:
>	Telephone:202-456-1111
>	Fax:202-456-2461
>   Sample communique:
>	<ring ring>
>	You're about to sign a bill into law that imposes a terrible
>	set of speech restrictions on the Internet that belong in the
>	broadcast medium, not the interactive one.
>	I'm turning my World Wide Web pages BLACK for 48 hours after you
>	sign the bill as a symbol of protest to show how many people will
>  	be affected by this bill.
>   It is unlikely that he will veto the bill.
>3. Make a commitment become involved!  There will be several court cases
>   coming up to challenge the Internet censorship legislation, as well as
>   an election that will put every single member of the House, and 1/3rd
>   of the Senate (most of whom voted for this legislation) onto the ballot.
>   Don't let them get away with this.  Make this a campaign issue, and
>   keep an eye out for legal defense funds for those challenging these
>   laws in court.
>Feb  1, '96	The House and Senate pass the Telecomm Bill (S652/HR1555)
>		414-16 and 91-5.
>Jan 31, '96	The House and Senate prepare to signoff on the conference
>		report for the Telecomm bill and rush a vote to the floor.
>Dec  7, '95	The House half of the Telecomm conference committee
>		votes the "indecency" standard for online speech into
>		the Telecomm Deregulation bill.
>Sep 26, '95	Sen. Russ Feingold urges committee members to drop
>		Managers Amendment and the CDA from the Telecommunications
>		Deregulation bill
>Aug  4, '95	House passes HR1555 which goes into conference with S652.
>Aug  4, '95	House votes to attach Managers Amendment (which contains
>		new criminal penalties for speech online) to
>		Telecommunications Reform bill (HR1555).
>Aug  4, '95	House votes 421-4 to attach HR1978 to Telecommunications
>	 	Reform bill (HR1555).
>Jun 30, '95	Cox and Wyden introduce the "Internet Freedom and Family
>		Empowerment Act" (HR 1978) as an alternative to the CDA.
>Jun 21, '95     Several prominent House members publicly announce their
>                opposition to the CDA, including Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-GA),
>                Rep. Chris Cox (R-CA), and Rep. Ron Wyden (D-OR).
>Jun 14, '95     The Senate passes the CDA as attached to the Telecomm
>                reform bill (S 652) by a vote of 84-16.  The Leahy bill
>                (S 714) is not passed, but is supported by 16 Senators
>		who understand the Internet.
>May 24, '95     The House Telecomm Reform bill (HR 1555) leaves committee
>                in the House with the Leahy alternative attached to it,
>                thanks to Rep. Ron Klink of (D-PA).  The Communications
>                Decency Act is not attached to it.
>Apr  7, '95     Sen. Leahy (D-VT) introduces S.714, an alternative to
>                the Exon/Gorton bill, which commissions the Dept. of
>                Justice to study the problem to see if additional legislation
>                (such as the CDA) is necessary.
>Mar 23, '95     S314 amended and attached to the telecommunications reform
>                bill by Sen. Gorton (R-WA).  Language provides some provider
>                protection, but continues to infringe upon email privacy
>                and free speech.
>Feb 21, '95     HR1004 referred to the House Commerce and Judiciary committees
>Feb 21, '95     HR1004 introduced by Rep. Johnson (D-SD)
>Feb  1, '95     S314 referred to the Senate Commerce committee
>Feb  1, '95     S314 introduced by Sen. Exon (D-NE) and Gorton (R-WA).
>Web Sites (roughly in alphabetical order)
>        URL:
>        URL:
>        URL:
>        URL:
>        URL:
> (General CDA information)
> (Current status of the CDA)
>In order to use the net more effectively, several organizations have
>joined forces on a single Congressional net campaign to stop the
>Communications Decency Act.  Because the list is so long, we've been
>forced to omit many fine organizations.  See the VTW Free Speech Web Page
>at URL: for the whole list.
>Public Interest Organizations			  Businesses
>Voters Telecommunications Watch (VTW)		| ECHO (
>						| Hotwired (
>Center For Democracy And Technology  (CDT)	| Mindvox (
>Center for Public Representation  (CPR)		| Panix (
>Computer Professionals for			| The WELL (
>	Social Responsibility (CPSR)		| Wired (
>Cyber-Rights Campaign				+-------------------------
>Electronic Fronter Foundation (EFF),
>   and independent regional Electronic
>   Frontier organizations
>Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)
> Feminists for Free Expression			Hands! Off The Net
>Internet Users Consortium (IUC)			Joint Artists' and Music
>The Libertarian Party (LP)			 Promotions Political Action
>National Campaign for Freedom of Expression	 Committee (JAMPAC)
>National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) 	National Gay and Lesbian
>National Writers Union (NWU)			 Task Force (NGLTF)
>People for the American Way (PFAW) 		Republican Liberty Caucus
>	End Alert

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