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12th December Labelled as Repressive

Free Speech Coalition logoMandatory website labelling law sneaks in

Based on an article from the Free Speech Coalition

A federal spending bill recently submitted to Congress includes an added provision aimed at regulating porn websites.

Supposedly designed to shield children from sexually explicit images, the provision would require special “e-labels” for sites with X-rated content. The proposed legislation also prohibits such images from appearing on sites’ home pages where minors might view them.

Opponents of the plan argue that the ill-defined labels would violate free-speech rights, subjecting lawful providers of adult content to criminal penalties. Leslie Harris, executive director of the Center for Democracy and Technology, told the Star-Ledger: It would impose criminal penalties on operators of sites for the lack of labeling on content that is constitutionally protected… If you consider the vastness of the Internet, it potentially makes criminals out of an extraordinarily diverse set of content providers.

According to Harris, the labeling provision was added to the bill en route to the Senate without the benefit of committee hearings. Congress is expected to review the bill in January.
 

28th December Update: Offensive Politics

Free Speech Coalition logoMore on the sneaky website labelling law

From AdultFYI

Tucked away in a spending bill pending in Congress is language the porn industry finds offensive. There is a little-noticed provision that would require Web sites that feature "sexually explicit" content to contain special labels.

The provision's backers, led by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, say the language is a simple and logical step to keep kids a safe distance from porn and give parents greater control over their children's online travels.

The adult entertainment industry, joined by civil libertarians, says the labels would be a digital-age scarlet letter that would violate constitutional free speech protections. Opponents argue that labeling should be voluntary and, besides, a major portion of the Internet's X-rated sites are based overseas and are thus beyond the reach of U.S. law.

It would impose criminal penalties on operators of sites for the lack of labeling on content that is constitutionally protected, said Leslie Harris, executive director of the Center for Democracy and Technology. If you consider the vastness of the Internet, it potentially makes criminals out of an extraordinarily diverse set of content providers.

One of the bill's weaknesses, opponents say, is that it does not clearly articulate what kind of content would be defined as "sexually explicit." According to Harris, sites featuring the Victoria's Secret lingerie catalog or exhibitions of erotic art could find themselves exposed to criminal penalties.

Harris also noted the language was never the subject of committee hearings in the Senate or the House, was never approved by any committee and was simply inserted into the bill as it headed to the Senate floor.

Under the provisions, all Web pages that contain "sexually explicit" content would require a special label that would make them instantly recognizable to filtering software. In addition, the language would ban adult content from the opening page of adult sites so anyone inadvertently arriving there would have the chance to leave before being exposed to any flesh.

Though Congress adjourned earlier this month without passing the bill, both its supporters and its opponents have little doubt it will be back in January, when lawmakers reconvene after the holidays.

 

20th December  Indecent Enforcement...
 

   
FCC logo
Court hears plea for decent regulation of US TV

From AVN

Arguments will be heard Wednesday by a federal appeals court concerning the First Amendment rights of broadcasters, and whether the government's decisions on what constitutes indecent speech violate those rights.

Broadcasters will argue that an inconsistent and unconstitutional enforcement policy has been adopted and enacted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in regard to how it decides whether profanities uttered on broadcast stations are permissible.

On the other side of the issue, the FCC will argue that it has acted within its authority.

If the government loses its case, the appeals court will likely remand the dispute to the agency and ask it to rewrite its rules. If the government wins, it gives "court approval for the significant expansion of their approach to indecency enforcement.


23rd December  Judges have Strong Words...
 

   
FCC logo
When is it ok to say fuck on primetime US TV?

From Huffington Post

Three of the nation's most distinguished judges heard arguments in Fox vs. the Federal Communications Commission yesterday over whether the FCC's recent decisions on what constitutes indecency, and under what circumstances, are "arbitrary and capricious" under the law and therefore must be overturned.

Under the nonjudgmental gaze of C-SPAN cameras that carried the proceedings live and uncensored in mid-morning on cable TV -- which is not subject to FCC indecency rules - the able lawyer for Fox, Carter Phillips, strode to the lectern and didn't finish his first paragraph before unflinchingly firing "fucking" and "cow shit" at the judges.

With the words that the FCC claims are poisoning a generation of America's youth now out of the closet, Judges Pierre Leval and Peter Hall joined in, unhesitatingly dropping the F-bomb as they sparred with both sides' counsel. Surely, this was the first time that word had been so strenuously invoked within that august courtroom. Meanwhile, Judge Rosemary Pooler chose to rely on euphemisms and the circumlocution "those words," yet still managed to zing the sharpest questions.

For those at home watching on TV - including, no doubt, many schoolchildren home for the holiday break - often soporific "public affairs television" suddenly got a lot more interesting. C-SPAN also repeated the oral argument last night in primetime, again uncensored, will repeat it again on Saturday night in primetime, and also posted it on its website for streaming. By its actions, C-SPAN implicitly argued that it's important for all Americans to have the opportunity to hear this debate, uncensored - and we don't believe it's harmful to children. Kudos to C-SPAN.

The judges appeared to agree with that perspective, repeatedly pressing the game FCC counsel on the Commission's "evidence" that supported its sweeping assertion that hearing naughty words on TV harms children. The Commission's counsel could cite none. And the judges seemed highly skeptical of the FCC argument that it needed to censor speech because some parents allowed their kids to have a television in their bedroom. If America's parents are willing to accept the risk that their children might hear dirty words on broadcast TV, well, wasn't that their right? asked Judge Pooler. Why was the FCC robbing parents of their freedom to choose what -- and what not -- to allow their children to watch?

What the judges' questioning clearly established is that the FCC "process" in judging what is "indecent" is arbitrary, subjective, and inconsistent, and that the Commission has likely overstepped its legal authority. In the opinion of most in the courtroom, the question was not whether the Second Circuit judges would overturn the FCC, but how quickly they would do it, and on what grounds. Stay tuned for the next episode of What the FCC Happened to Free Speech?

Update: Muzzle Award

April 2007

For broadening substantially the scope of broadcast material that may constitute forbidden “indecency” and for targeting alleged “profanity” as well, a 2007 Jefferson Muzzle goes to… the Federal Communications Commission.

In 1927, Congress adopted the first law that regulated the content of material aired by federally licensed broadcasters. Since then “indecent” and “profane” utterances have been subject to sanctions by the Federal Communications Commission, along with material that is “obscene.” Until recently, the Committee declined to classify all uses of vulgar and taboo four-letter words on licensed broadcast stations as violations of this law and its successors. Several years ago, however, following widespread criticism of the infamous “Wardrobe Malfunction” during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show, and other widely publicized linguistic challenges, the FCC has adopted a markedly tougher stance on suggestive language and imagery. Specifically, use of the “f-word” regardless of context has now been deemed “to have an inherently sexual connotation.”

 

17th December  Bonkers...
 

   
AFA action alert
Nutters object to spoof Christmas carol

From Agape

Pro Family nutters are laying into CBS Television over a sexually-charged rendition of a popular Christmas carol.

The Monday (December 11) episode of the network's popular sitcom Two and a Half Men featured actor Charlie Sheen singing a song about extramarital sex to the tune of "Joy to the World," a well-known hymn about the birth of Christ. In the parody song, Sheen boasts in anticipation about having sex on Christmas Eve on his second date with a woman.

Joy to the world, I’m getting laid;
I’m getting laid tonight.
We’ll light the yule log,
deck the halls,
and then we’ll play some jingle balls.
It’s been a real long wait,
this is our second date!
It’s Christmas Eve and I’m getting laid.
Glo-oh-oh-oh-oh-ria,
tonight I’m boinking Gloria!

Bob Knight is director of the Media Research Center's Culture and Media Institute. He says the airing of Sheen's irreverent song suggests that CBS has gone into "Hollywood mode" in an effort to shock and to get more press: You know, it's bad enough that Two and a Half Men is a non-stop sex joke with a kid right in the middle of the set. But when they take on a Christmas carol that's beloved by millions and pervert it into an anthem of alley cat culture -- which is what the show's all about; it's not about men, it's about alley cats -- then they've gone over the line.

Pro-family nutter activist Don Wildmon, founder and chairman of the American Family Association (AFA), is encouraging fellow Christians to contact CBS and voice their displeasure over the episode

Wildmon says CBS and Sheen have used the Christmas season to ridicule and mock Christ, Christmas and Christians, and the network apparently approved the actor's vulgar adaptation of a favorite Christian Christmas carol, knowing full well that the parody would offend believers.

 

14th December Morals Tax

Kansas map showing cross and scientists as monstersSmut obsessed politicians look to tax as a weapon

Based on an article from the Free Speech Coalition

In what appears to be a growing legislative trend to regulate brick-and-mortar adult stores, a lawmaker in Kansas has said he plans to introduce a bill that would require adult-oriented businesses to apply for an occupation license and pay a special tax.

State Rep. Lance Kinzer said his bill, which he plans to introduce early in next year’s legislative session, will need to be carefully worded to clear what he called “legal technicalities.”

Kinzer’s plan to regulate adult businesses via taxation is part of a larger, nationwide legislative effort to put more power in the hands of local governments, according to Missouri state Sen. Matt Bartle, who is working on similar legislation.

That’s exactly the direction we’re going, Bartle said. We’re going to empower local governments to come up with a licensing fee that bears some relationship with the costs associated with regulating these smut shops.

Free Speech Coalition Executive Director Diane Duke said taxes on sexually oriented businesses infringe on 1st Amendment rights: In our case, you’re taxing free speech. That’s where a big line needs to be drawn.

Similar efforts across the country have encountered legal resistance. A bill introduced two years ago to tax adult entertainment in Utah is currently wending its way through the courts.

 

12th December Advertising Repression

large BillboardAnother attempt at controlling billboards for adult Business

From X Biz

The lawmakers who fought to limit the visibility and impact of the pornography industry in their state by drafting legislation that would ban sexually suggestive billboards along state highways have returned to the drawing board four months after a federal appeals court determined the bill was unconstitutional.

The new legislation will address the same issue, but it will be tailored to address the concerns expressed by the federal court, the lawmakers said.

Sen. Matt Bartle, who drafted the previous legislation, which he modeled after a New Jersey statute, said his proposal bans adult cabarets and sexually oriented businesses from advertising on billboards within one mile of the state highways, if the billboards display images or words that pertain to the adult aspects of the business.

For businesses located within a mile of the highway, Bartle created an exception, which allows them to display only two signs outside. One sign may identify the business and include hours of operation and contact numbers. The second sign must be a notice denying entry to minors.

Sexually oriented businesses and adult cabarets are degrading Missouri’s landscape with lurid and suggestive advertising, Bartle said. These measures will place meaningful regulations on an industry that refuses to police itself.

 

11th December Ray Guhn Defence

Ray Guhn Defence FundUS Government go after amateur porn producers

From AdultFYI
See also Ray Guhn Defense Fund

The December/January issue of Giant magazine has an article on the Ray Guhn case, calling it a landmark one over pornography, obscenity and prostitution in Pensacola, Florida.

Guhn aka, Clinton Raymond McGowen was arrested in June as were two of his business associates, Kevin Patrick Stevens and Andrew Kevin Craft. The charges were racketeering- conducting a criminal enterprise by engaging in prostitution and the manufacture and sale of obscene material. Guhn, who's pleaded not guilty, is the owner of the porn website cumonherface.com, which, according to an affidavit, generated more than $1 million a year in customer sales. The site had something like 5,000 subscribers who each paid $29.95 monthly to view online videos.

Guhn's attorney is Lawrence Walters. And, according to Walters, the case could very well shut down the production of adult entertainment filming in the state of Florida. Not only that, it could prompt other state governments to initiate a round of anti-pornography actions: Obscenity is completely discretionary. It's about the only crime where you don't know you are guilty until the jury comes back with a verdict.

The article says that red flags were raised on Guhn's site- where shots of abnormal penetration, interracial sexual activity and copious amounts of bodily fluids were contained: Amateur sites don't have a bankroll of attorneys. If you're Vivid Video, you've got [a lot of lawyers]. You can tie the government up in court. It's going to be lengthy. And expensive. The government is working the link between prostitution and porn which the porn industry in California successfully fought in the Freeman case: Pornography is when a third party pays two people, presumably actors, to have sex with each other,How it distinguishes itself from prostitution is that the man having sex with the woman didn't pay that woman. Instead, another person, the producer and/or director of that film paid both of those people.

The Guhn case also seems to be another step in the government's plan to go after amateur porn sites which have every reason to be scared.

Update: Guilty

16th August 2008

After pleading guilty to unlawful financial transactions related to the operation of his Cash Titans affiliate program, Clinton McCowen, aka Ray Guhn, was sentenced to four years in prison.

Santa Rosa County Judge Ron Swanson also sentenced McCowen’s co-workers Andrew Craft and Kevin Stevens to 34 and a half months and 40 months in prison, respectively. Both pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering.

Global Technologies Inc., doing business as Ray Guhn Productions and Cash Titans, made $10 million in its first five years, prosecutors alleged, while it shot adult Internet content in homes, at hotels, along the interstate and in public in Pensacola and Pace, Fla.

McCowen’s sentencing culminates his two-year-long tangle with Florida’s legal system. Ultimately, he agreed to plead guilty to a lesser charge and avoided a costly trial — and an obscenity conviction.

Escambia County prosecutors initially charged McCowen in June 2006 with racketeering, enterprise prostitution and the production and sale of obscene material. Escambia County then dropped the charges before refilling the racketeering and money laundering charges in neighboring Santa Rosa County in July 2007.

 

9th December Stop the Online Exploitation of Our Rights

Capitol buildingRepression in the name of child protection

From CNET News

Millions of commercial Web sites and personal blogs would be required to report illegal images or videos posted by their users or pay fines of up to $300,000, if a new proposal in the U.S. Senate came into law.

The legislation, drafted by Sen. John McCain would also require Web sites that offer user profiles to delete pages posted by sex offenders.

After a report of illegal activity is filed, the Web site must retain any information relating to the facts or circumstances of the incident for at least six months. Webmasters would be immune from civil and criminal liability if they followed the specified procedures exactly.

McCain's proposal, called the Stop the Online Exploitation of Our Children Act [pdf], requires that reports be submitted to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which in turn will forward to the relevant police agency.

Internet service providers already must follow those reporting requirements. But McCain's proposal is liable to be controversial because it levies the same regulatory scheme, and even stiffer penalties, on even individual bloggers who offer discussion areas on their Web sites.

This constitutionally dubious proposal is being made apparently mostly based on fear or political considerations rather than on the facts, said Kevin Bankston, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco.

According to the proposed legislation, these types of individuals or businesses would be required to file reports: any Web site with a message board; any chat room; any social-networking site; any e-mail service; any instant-messaging service; any Internet content hosting service; any domain name registration service; any Internet search service; any electronic communication service; and any image or video-sharing service.

McCain's proposal comes as concern about protecting children online has reached nearly a fever pitch in Washington. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales gave two speeches this week on the topic, including one on Friday in which he said we must do all that we can to protect our children from these cowardly villains who hide in the shadows of the Internet.

The other section of McCain's legislation targets convicted sex offenders. It would create a federal registry of "any e-mail address, instant-message address, or other similar Internet identifier" they use, and punish sex offenders with up to 10 years in prison if they don't supply it. Then, any social-networking site must take "effective measures" to remove any Web page that's "associated" with a sex offender.

 

8th December Huffing

You Tube logoInhaling videos on YouTube

From Azcentral

Two drug abuse prevention groups are calling on the video-sharing Web site YouTube to remove dozens of videos that show people getting high by "huffing," inhaling chemicals such as air fresheners, computer cleaning sprays and helium.

The National Inhalant Prevention Coalition (NIPC) sent e-mails to its 9,000 members just before Thanksgiving, asking them to complain to YouTube about the videos. This month, the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), asked its members to do the same. NIPC also posted public service ads on YouTube, warning that inhaling chemicals can cause brain damage and death.

These videos portray (inhaling chemicals) as a fun activity without showing the consequences, says Harvey Weiss, executive director of NIPC.

The issue illustrates how the freewheeling exchange of information on Internet Web sites, message boards and blogs raises difficult questions concerning speech rights, censorship and Web sites' responsibilities in monitoring content provided by viewers.

YouTube allows people to post, watch and share original videos on its Web site. The site is one of the busiest on the Internet. YouTube statistics indicate that 70 million videos are viewed on the site each day. Viewers can flag videos they find offensive or inappropriate, so YouTube staff can review them.

An e-mail from YouTube's public relations firm, YouTube marketing manager Jenny Nielsen said the company does not allow videos showing dangerous or illegal acts, which is clearly stated in the community guidelines on the site. Our community controls the content on the site, and they're the ones (not us) who flag content they deem inappropriate and/or questionable. Once a video is flagged, YouTube reviews the material promptly and reserves the right to remove videos from the system if they violate our terms of use.

 

7th December A Community of Faith

A community of faith, family, future logoChicago Nutters block adult cable TV

Based on an article from X Biz

A tiny Chicago suburb has blocked Comcast cable’s on-demand signal citing concerns that the citizens of the town will use the service to watch adult content.

According to South Holland resident Lisa Kozlowski, the town’s decision to block the on-demand signal smacks of censorship. When she confronted town officials about the blocked signal, they said: You can’t watch porn in South Holland.

Town officials cited a franchise agreement the community signed with a former cable company in the 1990s that granted the cable operator the right to provide service in the area.

In keeping with the prevailing community standards and the long established values associated with our motto of faith, family and future, the village has franchise agreements that protect these standards and values, a nutter official said in a statement.

Illinois American Civil Liberties Union legal director Harvey Grossman said the franchise agreement isn’t the final word on the matter: The contract can't waive the Constitution. This kind of censorship, and it clearly is censorship, raises very serious constitutional issues.

Comcast has said it will comply with the terms of the franchise agreement. However, officials from the company said that they would prefer to offer the service to the town and let users make their own decisions regarding adult content.

 

5th December The Hills Had Hands

Before & after: Hills Have Eyes 2 posterPoster censored for Hills Have Eyes 2

From AVN

The US censors, the MPAA have apparently wreaked their havoc down upon the new poster for The Hills Have Eyes 2.

The original poster, shown in the upper half of the accompanying image features a fully furnished body-bag being dragged by our friendly neighborhood nuclear mutant. Some of you may be horrified upon close inspection to find a hand protruding from the tail end of the bag implying that the person is being dragged against their wil. The MPAA can smell your horror and has swiftly moved to have the offending limb removed from the image.

 

3rd December Faith in Declining Freedom

Newt GingrichNewt Gingrich impossibly wants more faith and less hate

From AVN

Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich told a banquet crowd that restrictions on freedom of speech may be needed to reduce terrorists’ ability to use the Internet and free speech to recruit members and communicate their message.

The one-time speaker made his comments before 400 state and local power brokers at the annual Nackey S. Loeb First Amendment award dinner, which honors those that stand up for freedom of speech.

Gingrich said “a different set of rules” may need to be adopted to deal with terrorists who use the media, the Internet and other means of free speech to send out their hate message.

The former Georgia congressman also railed against court rulings over separation of church and state, saying they have reduced citizens’ ability to express themselves and their faith.

 

2nd December Update: Shit Regulators

FCC logoUS TV Networks fight back against ludicrous FCC regulation

From Buzzle

US TV networks and the TV regulator, the FCC,  have gone to court to determine what can and cannot be seen and heard on American televisions.

Last week two US networks, CBS and Fox, filed separate suits contesting decisions made by the federal communications commission concerning both language and nudity. Challenging rulings that they say are both tough and vague, the networks maintain that the resulting uncertainty could mean the end of live television.

Under the FCC's new policy, Fox argued in its brief to the 2nd US circuit court of appeals in New York, virtually any use of the words 'fuck' and 'shit' are prohibited, no matter how isolated or fleeting, no matter how inadvertent and no matter whether they occur spontaneously during live programming. The result is the end of truly live television and a gross expansion of the FCC's intrusion into the creative and editorial process.

The FCC argues that the networks are out of touch with the concerns of ordinary Americans. By continuing to argue that it is OK to say the f-word and the s-word on television whenever it wants, Hollywood is demonstrating once again how out of touch it is with the American people, the FCC said in a statement. We believe there should be some limits on what can be shown on television when children are likely to be watching.

At the heart of the dispute are money and the constitution. The networks argue that the new "zero tolerance" imposed by the FCC, whose commissioners are appointed by the president, violates both the statute and principles of administrative law and ... does serious violence to the first amendment.

The FCC must respond to the briefs filed by the networks within two weeks.

 

30th November Jackson has 'Words' with Comedian

Jesse JacksonCalling for the eradication of the word 'nigger'

From First Coast News

Jesse Jackson is calling on the entertainment industry to stop using the racial slur, "nigger', that Michael Richards used against hecklers in a Los Angeles comedy club.

Jackson and others told reporters today that they'll meet with TV networks, film companies and musicians to talk about the "n-word."

Jackson is also asking the public not to buy a DVD box set of the seventh season of "Seinfeld." The set was released last week, the same week that former Seinfeld star Richards was videotaped
unleashing a racist rant against the black hecklers.

Richards had made several apologies, including one yesterday on Jackson's syndicated radio show. He has said he's not a racist, and that he was motivated by anger.

 

26th November Wal-Mart Seduced by Nutters

The little black book for girlzBased on an article from Washington Times

Wal-Mart has stopped selling a sex-education book after protests from nutters that the book promotes lesbianism.

The Little Black Book for Girlz: A Book on Healthy Sexuality sparked criticism after it was published in September. The book was produced with some Canadian State funding by St. Stephen's Community House in Toronto.

Joseph Ben-Ami, executive director of the Institute for Canadian Values, called the book irresponsible and obscene. He said that the book includes statements such as, A lot of parents are homophobic, and so are their children until they get minds of their own.

Wal-Mart's Web site had advertised the book as not just a book about sex, but a look at girl culture by teenagers,describing it as an important, take-anywhere empowerment guide.

Last week, the Web site removed its listing for the book.

 

24th November FCC Fuck You

FCC FU t-shirtFrom AVN
See also FCCFU
See also www.cafepress.com/creativevoices

While some Hollywood companies showed their displeasure at the FCC’s indecency efforts on “FCC FU” coffee mugs and T-shirts, one media organization is upping the ante with mugs and T-shirts featuring slogans created by some top industry talent, Broadcasting & Cable magazine reported.

The Center of Creative Voices in Media, which is made up of such Hollywood creative types such as producer-writers Diane English, Tom Fontana, as well as Steven Bochco, Vin DiBona (both of whom were targets of indecency complaints), and others, are sounding off loudly against the FCC in this new effort.

Among the items offered by the organization are the “What the FCC happened to free speech?” mug, coaster and mousepad; the “What the Price Free ?” green T-shirt and “Murdoch: It’s Australian for Monopoly, Mate” T-shirt.

The group says one of its top selling items is the “WARNING: do not remove without permission of the FCC” tank top.

 

22nd November Common Carriers Carry the Day

California Supreme CourtFrom the BBC

Bloggers and US internet providers cannot be liable for posting defamatory comments written by third parties, the California Supreme Court has ruled.

It followed the case of San Diego woman sued after posting allegedly libellous comments online about two doctors.

Some of the internet's biggest names including Google, eBay and Amazon have supported a woman in a US legal battle that may save them from libel cases.

Overturning a decision by the San Francisco appeal court, the court ruled that people claiming they were defamed online could now only seek damages from the original author of the comments - and not the website which re-posted it.

The court ruled that that Internet Service Providers were protected by US Federal law that said providers of chat rooms or news groups are not considered the publishers of information furnished by others.

The prospect of blanket immunity for those who intentionally redistribute defamatory statements on the Internet has disturbing implications, said Associate Justice Carol A. Corrigan: Nevertheless ... statutory immunity serves to protect online freedom of expression and to encourage self-regulation, as Congress intended.

The lawsuit involved a health activist who posted someone else's letter on her web site. The subject of the letter sued the activist - as well as the author - for libel.

Internet service providers have long argued that, like telephone companies, they were "common carriers" who could not be subject to libel laws.

 

21st November Americans Love Junk Food Almost as Much as their Flag

Americans Love Junk Food T-ShirtBased on an article from First Amendment Center

An art exhibit featuring deep-fried American flags, complete with peanut oil and black pepper, has been removed by a museum director in the military town of Clarksville, Tennessee.

Art student William Gentry said his piece, The Fat Is in the Fire, was a commentary on obesity in America: I deep-fried the flag because I'm concerned about America and about America's health. I feel extremely censored.

Ned Crouch, the Customs House Museum's executive director & censor, took down the artwork less than 18 hours after it went up. It's about what the community values, Crouch said: I'm representing 99% of our membership: educators, doctors, lawyers, military families. Never in the history of the country has the flag been more hated or more loved.

Flag-burning at political protests is a guaranteed way to start scuffles and fistfights, and often to be arrested by local police. The U.S. Supreme Court, however, ruled in 1989 in Texas v. Johnson that flag-burning is a constitutionally protected form of political protest.

Politicians periodically attempt to rally support for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to ban flag-burning, but have always fallen short in their efforts.

The Customs House exhibit featured three U.S. flags imprinted with phrases such as Poor people are obese because they eat poorly and more than 40 smaller flags fried in peanut oil, egg batter, flour and black pepper.

 

25th October
updated to
21st November
Extreme Protection

Keep your kids safe on the internetFrom AVN

Free speech advocates and Web site operators argued in federal court Monday that an anti-porn law is flawed and hinders free speech.

Representatives from Salon.com, Nerve.com and other plaintiffs argued that the 1998 Child Online Protection Act could criminalize Web content such as sexual health information, erotic literature, news images and other things.

The law, which has never been enforced, was signed by President Clinton and aimed at preventing children from seeing material deemed harmful to them by requiring proof of age from computer users. Under the law, Web site operators who allow children to view harmful content could be fined up to $50,000 and face up to six months in prison. Harmful content, under the law, is defined by so-called “contemporary community standards.”

The plaintiffs say in their suit that the term “community standards” is too vague.

Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents the plaintiffs, argued that filtering software in home computers are more effective in keeping children away from harmful material than the existing law. Chris Hansen, an attorney with the ACLU, said that the government is basically saying that parents are too stupid to use filtering software.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department is seeking arguments to support the law.

15th November Update: The Explicit 1%

Keep your kids safe on the internetFrom ABC News

About 1% of Web sites indexed by Google and Microsoft are sexually explicit, according to a U.S. government-commissioned study.

Government lawyers introduced the study in court this month as the Justice Department seeks to revive the 1998 Child Online Protection Act, which required commercial Web sites to collect a credit card number or other proof of age before allowing Internet users to view material deemed "harmful to minors."

The U.S. Supreme Court blocked the law in 2004, ruling it also would cramp the free speech rights of adults to see and buy what they want on the Internet. The court said technology such as filtering software may work better than such laws.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which challenged the law on behalf of a broad range of Web publishers, said the study supports its argument that filters work well.

The study concludes that the strictest filter tested, AOL's Mature Teen, blocked 91% of the sexually explicit Web sites in indexes maintained by Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp.'s MSN.

About 6% of searches yield at least one explicit Web site, he said, and the most popular queries return a sexually explicit site nearly 40% of the time. But filters blocked 87-98% of the explicit results from the most popular searches on the Web.
 

21st November Update: Americans Into Copaphilia

Keep your kids safe on the internetFrom Australian IT

A US law designed to prevent children from viewing pornography online would undermine the free speech of millions of adult internet users, opponents of the measure say.

The law is so imprecisely written it would restrict most adult internet users to material that is only suitable for children, lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other plaintiffs said in closing arguments of a four-week trial.

The ACLU and others sued the US government, claiming the Child Online Protection Act (COPA) of 1998 violated the Constitution, and they argued on Monday that filtering was a more effective tool that does not curtail free speech.

But attorneys for the US government called the law necessary to protect young people from sexually explicit material and said internet filtering technology was not good enough to block offending web sites from personal computers.

Evidence shows that many parents do not actively use the filters, said Joel McElvain, an attorney for the US Justice Department.

Judge Lowell Reed of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania was expected to rule by mid-2007. Lawyers said the ruling was likely to be appealed because the case is seen as an important test of free speech limits on the internet.

The law has never been implemented because it was challenged in court immediately after its signing by former US President Bill Clinton. It was held to be unconstitutional by federal district and appeals courts. The US Supreme Court allowed an injunction against enforcement to stand, and referred the case back to the Pennsylvania court for a full trial.

The law would impose a maximum fine of $US50,000 ($65,000) a day and up to six months in prison for anyone who uses the internet to make any communication for commercial purposes that is available to any minor and that includes any material that is harmful to minors.

 

18th November Censorshit: Dishonorable Discharge

McKayla's Navy DVD coverFrom Airforce Times

A consumer group of enlisted members and officers should be formed: to help analyze material for decency, in addition to the senior civilians who weed out sexually explicit magazines, videos and audio materials from the shelves of military stores.

That’s what one person suggested to Defense Department officials during their periodic review and updating of procedures for reviewing sexually explicit materials.

Forming the suggested consumer group is unnecessary, defense officials wrote in their response to that comment. The Resale Activities Board of Review includes civilian representatives from the Army, Navy, and Air Force who are capable of identifying sexually explicit material, officials said.

The updated rule includes one new policy change that will open the door to reconsideration of some materials that have been previously rejected. Materials that have been determined by the board to be sexually explicit can be submitted for reconsideration every five years.

The Defense Department regulations are simply carrying out the Military Honor and Decency Act, passed by Congress 10 years ago.

Judging from the public comments in the Federal Register, it’s clear that many people are unaware of the law — and are surprised and concerned when they hear about it. I don’t want regulations on what I look at, one service member wrote.

But as defense officials wrote in response to every one of these concerns, the regulation does not prohibit the possession or viewing of the sexually explicit material by military personnel or Defense Department civilian employees. It only prohibits the sale of sexually explicit material on property under Defense Department jurisdiction.

 

10th November F*CK

Fuck posterFrom Dawgnet

An independent filmmaker has produced a movie titled, and all about the history of the English language's most vulgar word. 'Fuck'

I've always been intrigued with this one specific word that can be used in so many ways -- as a noun, a verb or an exclamation, filmmaker Steve Anderson said.

The film traces the linguistic history of the word and offers thoughts on the word from such diverse people as Miss Manners to porn star Ron Jeremy.

The movies also attained the dubious honour of containing the biggest number of uses of 'fuck' at more than 800, bumping out the previous record holder, Gary Oldman's Nil by Mouth, which included it 428 times.

Marketing the work will be a challenge, as most newspapers and magazines won't publish the film's title, broadcasters will avoid it and many movie houses would be reluctant to put its title on a marquee.

 

10th November Tortured by Nutters

Saw III posterFrom Dawgnet
Read the full article: O'Reilly vs Horror Films

The debate over the direction of the horror film genre and its societal implications have recently come under heavy scrutiny from hypocritical political pundit and Fox News Analyst Bill O’Reilly.

SAW III grossed 33.6 million dollars at the box office last weekend; consequently it was the one film that O’Reilly fired upon the greatest. Accompanying O’Reilly during the segment was Virginia Klein, a psychotherapist, and James Hirsen, author of the book Hollywood Nation.

According to Virginia Klein, the type of people who go to watch these ‘torture’ films simply: need to identify with rage and power, angry power because no one is listening to (their) feelings. She continues by explaining that people, who have suppressed their anger… use horror films as a way to identify with great power to cruelty to other people.

O’Reilly then grills her with the million dollar question: Is there any danger to the people who go to see these will act out in any way shape or form the sadism that they are ingesting in the theatre? to which she responds, Yes because according to her the truly troubled audience members who identify with the hero i.e. the maniac will act upon their rage as an expression of their own actual powerlessness.

O’Reilly then turns his attention to James Hirsen saying, This stuff is just sickening … when I was a kid when you were a kid it was Dracula and the Mummy you know harmless and they cut away and they never showed you the graphic things and now its so over the top. Also earlier in the segment aptly titled “Culture Wars” O’Reilly states that SAW III… is a sickening spectacle that could not even have happened in America even ten years ago.

Hirsen states that, there is this technological capability that just didn’t exist in the past with computer graphics that can make things so graphic. Next Hirsen says that, the violence takes the place of the story… (and) it happens in an amoral universe where you can’t tell who the good guys are and who the bad guys are.

Apparently what O’Reilly and Hirsen want is a trip back to the days of the Production Censorship Code which forbade there to be any ambiguity between who was good and who was bad and which forced the bad guy to be caught and punished at film’s end.

Finally at the end of the segment Bill O’Reilly begins to go after the companies producing these films (FOX is one of them producing the 2006 remake of The Hills Have Eyes). He believes that these companies should say, We’re sorry we do it we know that its garbage we just want the money.

 

9th November Taliban Rule in Virginia

Deep Throat DVD coverFrom Free Speech Coalition

Two owners of the Virginia sex shop Pheromoans were indicted on three misdemeanor charges of violating the state’s obscenity laws. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine.

In Virginia it’s a crime to sell adult movies but not to buy or posses them.

Detective John Hughes began his investigation into Lesley Mason and Meagan Pacheco’s Pheromoans store on Oct. 23 when he purchased Barely Legal Hotties and one other adult film. Another detective returned later that day and purchased two more adult films, according to court records.

On a subsequenttrip, detectives purchased The Devil in Miss Jones and Deep Throat, two classics from the Golden Age of adult film. The Gerard Damiano-directed Deep Throat was successfully used in an obscenity prosecution in Stafford 20 years ago, according to Stafford prosecutor Jim Peterson.

Given the relatively tame sexual acts depicted in both classic films, 1st Amendment Attorney Lawrence Walters found their selections in an obscenity bust to be strange: Both movies have been around for decades and now are part of American culture.This might be part of an intentional strategy by the prosecutors, because the bar will be set very low for what constitutes an obscene work if they get a conviction.

Peterson told Frederiksburg.com, a local news site, that the police investigation was: spurred by complaints from the community. Stafford has not pursued an obscenity case since the 1980s.

Free Speech Coalition Board Chair Jeffrey Douglas believes the prosecutors might be politically motivated to obtain an obscenity conviction: It’s hard to imagine in this day and age that Deep Throat and The Devil in Miss Jones are prosecutable in a county that’s not being run by the Taliban.

 

31st October Students Easily Offended

The Pope and the Witch From USA Religious News

The University of Minnesota's theater arts department has scheduled a controversial play for next spring. A work that's being labeled blasphemous and anti-Catholic by students on that campus. Titled The Pope and the Witch, it features a heroin-addicted pontiff who suffers a "crucifixion stroke" and is treated by, among others, a witch dressed in a nun's habit, who acts as an assisting nurse.

A nationwide call censuring the play has gone out from the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property (TFP). According to that grassroots Catholic movement, which has already held an initial protest against the production, more than 900 students and parents contacted the university president's office, all objecting to the play.

The Pope and the Witch was written by Dario Fo, the well-known author of a previous, allegedly anti-Catholic drama. TFP Student Action Director John Ritchie says press reports and reviews portray the clearly anti-Catholic nature of the newer play: You know, even the New York Times acknowledges that it's offensive in a review that they did.So it's very clear that we have a case here of anti-Catholic bigotry and a case of open blasphemy,e says.

Ritchie says TFP has initiated an online petition, asking the University of Minnesota to cancel the production of The Pope and the Witch. University officials have not responded to an interview request.

 

1st September
updated to
29th October
Sniping at Channel 4

Death of a PresidentBased on an article from The Mirror

A hard-hitting British TV drama that shows President Bush assassinated by a terrorist sniper sparked predictable outrage from nutters and Americans

The makers of Death Of A President say it is a thought-provoking film designed to promote "legitimate debate" over the legacy of Bush's war on terror. Channel 4 bosses, who will screen the film next month, insist they will not bow to pressure to scrap it despite howls of protest from Bush supporters and nutters in the UK and America.

In the film, set in 2007, Bush is shot dead after flying to Chicago to make a speech in the wake of massive anti-war protests. The story then follows a fictional investigation into the killing, carried out by a Syrian gunman.

John Beyer of MediaWatch-UK said the drama was irresponsible and could even spark a real-life assassination attempt. He added: There's a lot of feeling against President Bush and this may well put ideas into people's heads: If something happens as a consequence of this film, then blood is on their hands.

Gretchen Essell, spokeswoman for the Republican Party in Bush's home state of Texas, said: I can't support a video that dramatises the assassination of our President whether real or imagined.

Eric Staal, of the London-based Republicans Abroad organisation, added: This is an appalling way to treat the head of state of another country. Thomas Trapasso, a former aide of Bill Clinton, said: It's horrible - and irresponsible of the film-makers.

The 90-minute film, directed by Gabriel Range, will be premiered at this month's Toronto Film Festival before it is screened on digital channel More4 on October 9. It uses computer technology and archive footage of Bush to create the assassination scene.

Jim Shelley the Mirror TV Critic had a few fine words to say on the subject: So much for the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave, eh? There couldn't be anything more predictable than the Republicans going into uproar about this film. It's a film. Just ignore it. It isn't going to damage the President's popularity - partly because he hasn't got any.
 

13th September Update: Death Threats

Death of a PresidentFrom the BBC

Death of a President has now secured a distribution deal for the US.  The film was sold for $1 million to Newmarket Films. 

The movie’s subject matter has raised protests from conservatives in the US, and director Gabriel Range says he has received five or six death threats. 

29th October Update: A Killing at the Box Office

Death of a PresidentBased on an article from KVUE

Death of a President has opened across the US but it is noticeable that there's no scheduled opening date for Dallas, hometown of Bush and scene of a previous assassination.

In the movie, President Bush is gunned down after a speech in Chicago amid violent street protests in October 2007. Suspects, most of them Islamic, are rounded up and detained, and a new Patriot Act, called Patriot III, is signed into law. The assassination happens early in the film; the rest deals with the fallout on civil liberties.

Some of the country's largest theater chains, including California-based Regal and Texas-based Cinemark, have publicly refused to show the film. CNN and National Public Radio won't run ads or sponsorship messages.

We would not be inclined to program this film, Regal Entertainment Group CEO Mike Campbell told Reuters. We feel it is inappropriate to portray the future assassination of a sitting president, regardless of political affiliation.

This critic's assessment: Death of a President is well made and well acted, and the documentary verisimilitude is eerie. The film presents President Bush as a sympathetic figure, beloved by his staff. But it also crosses a line never before drawn, it makes for queasy viewing, and the fetishistic attention to detail is creepy.

 

16th October Heavy Handed Or What?

MySpace logoFrom AdultFYI

Upset by the war in Iraq, Julia Wilson vented her frustrations with President Bush last spring on her Web page on MySpace.com. She posted a picture of the president, scrawled "Kill Bush" across the top and drew a dagger stabbing his outstretched hand. She later replaced her page on the social-networking site after learning in her eighth-grade history class that such threats are a federal offense.

It was too late.

Federal authorities had found the page and placed Wilson on their checklist. They finally reached her this week in her biology class. The 14-year-old girl was taken out of class Wednesday and questioned for about 15 minutes by two Secret Service agents. The incident has upset her parents, who said the agents should have included them when they questioned their daughter. On Friday, the teenager said the agents' questioning led her to tears.

Her mother, Kirstie Wilson, said two agents showed up at the family's home Wednesday afternoon, questioned her and promised to return once her daughter was home from school.

After they left, Kirstie Wilson sent a text message to her daughter's cell phone, telling her to come straight home: There are two men from the secret service that want to talk with you. Apparently you made some death threats against president bush.

Moments later, Kirstie Wilson received another text message from her daughter saying agents had pulled her out of class.

Julia Wilson said the agents threatened her by saying she could be sent to juvenile hall for making the threat: They yelled at me a lot. They were unnecessarily mean.

Ultimately, the agents told the teen they would delete her investigation file.

 

12th September
updated to
17th October
Home of the Utterly Depraved

Based on an article from The Register

Bully Playstation game Games nutter Jack Thompson believes that last week's school shooting in North Carolina was caused by the teenager involved playing violent video games. Thompson is the lawyer behind a suit against Take Two games over its upcoming title Bully.

Thompson said he believed that teenager Alvaro Castillo was influenced by the games he played: This youth Alvaro Castillo. He's killed his father and he goes to his school and shoots up his school and he's talking at length about the violent entertainment he's been obsessed with since he was eight years of age and I now find from speaking with a family friend that some of the entertainment was violent video games.

Thompson is a veteran campaigner against violence in video games and their sale to young people. He told OUT-LAW that he wants the US to mirror the approach taken in the UK: In the UK, you embody in your laws the notion that there is certain adult entertainment that shouldn't be sold to kids. No one is trying to ban it outright, but as it stands now, regardless of the rating that the game may get, anyone of any age will be able to buy it and that is just very dangerous. America has become the land of the free and the home of the utterly depraved.

Thompson is now suing Take Two games using a different kind of law. He is suing the company over its upcoming controversial title Bully, which is set in schools: In Florida you have what is called a nuisance statute which says that a private citizen can get an injunction to shut down any commercial activity that is dangerous to the public, so I think that the statute is appropriate to apply to this game. So I filed the lawsuit to prevent the sale of the game to school age kids, because this is where the real danger is.
 

12th October Update: The Only Bullies are the Nutters

Based on an article from the Washington Post

Bully Playstation game Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. was ordered to demonstrate an upcoming video game titled Bully for a judge to determine whether it violates Florida's public nuisance laws. Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Ronald Friedman issued the order yesterday.

The move is a major coup for Miami nutter Jack Thompson, known for his crusades against pornography and supposedly obscene rap music, and now the video game industry. He claims that the makers of the game have designed a "Columbine simulator" in Bully, which follows the life of a prep school student as he navigates the social ladders of a fictional school called Bullworth Academy.

Thompson filed the lawsuit a month ago, claiming that the game would violate Florida's public-nuisance laws, which are more typically used to prosecute environmental polluters. Besides Take-Two, the suit also names retailers Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and GameStop Corp.

My view is that the game potentially impinges on public safety,"he said. I'm pretty sure that the game is harmful to minors.

The game is scheduled to be released Tuesday for the PlayStation 2. It has been rated "T" for Teen by the game industry's ratings board. It is rated 15 in the UK.

So far, the early write-ups seem to have reviewers surprised by the game's lack of violence. Clive Thompson, who reviewed the game for Wired.com, concluded that the game is "snarkily clever social commentary." His review described the game as not violent: The game doesn't glorify bullying at all. Indeed, it's almost precisely the opposite.

Fighting forms a large part of the title but the developers said it was displayed like a cartoon or Popeye fight: There's no blood at all in the game. There's no physical damage. Nobody dies in the game. There are no guns.
 

17th October Update: The Nutter Who Cried Wolf

Based on an article from Boom Town

Bully Playstation game Jack Thompson is embarrassed again after a Florida judge refuses to play ball in the anti-games campaigners latest case against Take 2 and Rockstar.

Judge Ronald Friedman decided after spending some time viewing the game that Bully did not constitute a public nuisance.

Thompson was aiming to prevent Take 2/Rockstar from releasing the PlayStation 2 game Bully (also known as Canis Canem Edit) however the case has ended with the judge finding for common sense and the games companies. Thompson's downfall? The judge has actually played Bully - or at least seen it played.

If you put the real game, which is a fun adventure depicting a humorous look at fairly mild schoolyard antics against one man's imagined version of a school massacre simulator - the real game is likely to win. The judge decided to go with reality on this case, rather than one man's lurid imagination.

Thompson didn't take the judgement very well and spat out his usual vitriol and disingenuous lies:
Now that you have consigned innumerable children to skull fractures, eye injuries from slingshots, and beatings with baseball bats, without a hearing as to the danger, let me tell you a few things, with all respect for your office and with no respect for the arbitrary way in which you handled this matter. I can handle an adverse ruling by a judge. I’ve had plenty of those in my lifetime, and that’s fine. But the way you conducted yourself today helps explain why a great Dade County Judge, the late Rhea Pincus Grossman, could not abide you. She was not the only one."

How dare you, Judge, promise a hearing today and then prevent that hearing from occurring. How dare you, Judge, petulantly order the production of the game after it is released on Tuesday morning. I didn’t even ask for that. You did that out of spite, and you were smiling when you did that. You really enjoyed that one, didn’t you, Judge?

Rockstar, obviously, is rather pleased with the judgement.

Some people like our games; some don’t, Rockstar's Rodney Walker told Associated Press. We can’t try to beat these arguments. Our whole process we believe with Bully is we have to let the game speak for itself. We just want them to know that this is just entertainment.

There's a lesson here for Jack Thomson and similar. Never rant and rave about a game being a Columbine massacre simulator having never actually played it. You may end up looking rather foolish.

 

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