Here's a brief overview of what the bill says. The act would make it illegal to provide "indecent" material on the internet. The problem lies within the definition of indecency. This definition could ban anything from George Carlin's famous seven dirty words (now there's a contest... who can name all seven... ask that at your next trivial pursuit party) to famous pieces of literature, such as "Catcher in the Rye", "Romeo and Juliet" or "The Scarlet Letter".
This ban on indecency is unconstitutional in itself, because it doesn't fit within a Supreme Court ruling calling for "least restrictive means" when it comes to bans on indecent speech. Bans on indecency on the internet do not fit this "least restrictive means" definition, because users and parents have a number of programs available to them which control what can be seen on the net. Consequently, this provision should already be considered unconstitutional, but that hasn't stopped Congress.
The effect of restrictions on indecency would be the dumbing down of net content to only that material which wouldn't be indecent for children to view. Everything available on the net, whether it be text, sound, or pictures, would have to fit within this definition. As such, anything referring to such "indecent" things such as sexual abuse, abortion, or strong language could be prohibited. On top of this, those of us who send e-mail, post to Usenet, put up a web page, maintain an ftp directory, or have a gopher page, will fall under the indecency law, and be forced to screen our material and "dumb it down" or face prosecution.
And what's the penalty for breaking the indecency act? As it now stands, people who were found guilty of providing indecent net content could face a 2 year jail term and a US$100,000 fine. All for saying the word "fuck".
What you can do: Although it's probably a waste of time, you can call or write your US Senator or Congressperson and tell them to vote against the Communications Decency Act. If you don't know who your local legislator is or how to contact him or her, there are many ways to find out. In many cities, if you call the League of Women Voters, they will look up your legislator for you and give you the necessary information for contacting them. The local elections board will also often do the same. You can also call the capitol switchboard at (202)224-3121. If you have net access, you can use The Zipper, which is a service that lets you look up your legislator by entering your zipcode. The URL for it is http://www.stardot.com/zipper/ . A list of phone numbers for Congress is also available at http://www.vtw.org/congress/ .
Educate yourself: If you want more information about censorship on the net, there are a number of websites you'll want to check out. Remember, anytime you visit a website, check out there section of links to other places, and you will be able to find just about any piece of information on net censorship you desire. The most public of the net watchdogs is the Electronic Frontier Foundation. They can be found at http://www.eff.org . Also, check out the Voter's Telecomm Watch (http://www.vtw.org) -- they keep a constant update on what is happening with the Decency Act. Also, the Center for Democracy and Technology (http://www.cdt.org) has a ton of useful information.
For those of you who are technologically underprivileged (a fancy way of saying without a computer or net access), go visit your local library. They will have magazines and journals dealing with this issue. Just ask a librarian, and I'm sure they'll be more than happy to help you, blue hair and all.
That's about all the information I have for you on the Decency Act, though of course I will keep you updated on what is happening with it. Now it's time for our net rumor of the month. The Sex Pistols are reforming. The scary thing is, this one looks like it might be legit (or else I'm a sucker). Supposedly, the Pistols are suppose to tour Europe, the US, the Far East, and Australia this year, starting this spring in the US. Glen Matlock is said to be playing bass. I hope this one IS just a net rumor. If it's not, I hope EVERYONE will gob on the Pistols when they play, cuz something tells me they won't put up with it. We shall see.
Okay, now here are some cool net sites dealing with the punk scene and punk music for you to check out. This time around, I'm just gonna concentrate on web sites. Maybe next time I'll tell you how to subscribe to the straight-edge list (is it sXe to use a computer? - I get so confused these days), and maybe even the Northwest Punk List, but this time you'll just have to deal with the web.
I stumbled across this site purely by accident, but there is some pretty cool stuff here. The page is called "House of the Rising Punk" and includes sound files from some classic punk bands, as well as punk photos and drawings (mostly of album covers and the like). The guy who set up this page, Robert McBrady, seems to have a pre-occupation with the Dead Kennedys, as there is a ton of music and sound files related to DK here. Of course, there are links to other punk sites and resources. There is also a list of recommended reading, on which MR&R is included. Robert has scanned in a copy of the cover of issue #150 and has included all of the text of Tim's column detailing the changes he wanted to see and MR&R. Oh, and this website uses some of the newest web technology, so you'll want to use an up to date web browser to check it out. "House of the Rising Punk" can be found at http://www.accessone.com:80/~jesuschrist/ .
Another fun place to visit is the Page O' Punk. Jesse has put together a photo album of some of the users of the punk-list, so that everyone can see what everyone else looks like. (What a motley group, excluding me, of course). He also has areas with user rants, articles, sounds, animation, and a listing of contact names and addresses for bands and zines and stuff. Check out what he's put together at http://www.widomaker.com/~jesse .
The final site this issue comes from the Netherlands. Tony Slug has put together an impressive mix of music, humor, sick stuff, and blatant self-promotion for bands he's been in -- or as Tony puts it on his page "Sex. Drugs. Violence. RocknRoll. Something for everyone!" Check it out. You won't be sorry. It's called The Temple of Distortion and the URL is http://huizen.dds.nl/~tonyslug/contents.html .
I've started putting up these columns on my web page. You can find them at http://www.primenet.com/~hanford/maximum.html . I may also have some other columns from MR&R there in the future, if other columnists are interested in having their stuff online. You'll just have to check it out once in awhile to find out.
That's gonna do it for this time. As always, I can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can always write me via the good old Post Office (and not worry about whether you'll get busted for saying the word "fuck"). My address is PO Box 752; Boise, ID 83701.
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