This page is now lavender to signify the brightening prospects for freedom indicated by the decision of the USA's highest court. Read the decision here.

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Supreme Court Rules CDA Unconstitutional

from Spreme Court Rules CDA Unconstitutional

[Thursday June 26 1997] "The (Communications Decency Act) is a content-based regulation of speech. The vagueness of such a regulation raises special First Amendment concerns because of its obvious chilling effect on free speech." "The CDA, casting a far darker shadow over free speech, threatens to torch a large segment of the Internet community." -- Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for the majority

The Supreme Court today ruled unanimously that the Communications Decency Act violates the First Amendment. Writing for the court, Justice John Paul Stevens held that "the CDA places an unacceptably heavy burden on protected speech" and found that all provisions of the CDA are unconsitutional as they apply to "indecent" or "patently offensive" speech. In a separate concurrence, Chief Justice William Rhenquist and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor agreed that the provisions of the CDA are all unconsitutional except in their narrow application to "communications between an adult and one or more minors."

Court Strikes Down CDA

The effort to eliminate the CDA using the judicial system has had a great sucess. The very positive decision is now available. Some interesting quotes on/from the decision:

North Carolina Congressional Voting Record

In North Carolina, both Senators voted for the CDA:

And my representative from district 4:

And of course the Prez & Veep:

Steve Russell's Rant on the CDA

From American Reporter:

by Steve Russell
American Reporter Correspondent
San Antonio, Texas

                            by Steve Russell
                     American Reporter Correspondent
        SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- You motherfuckers in Congress have dropped
over the edge of the earth this time.  I understand that very few of the
swarm of high dollar lobbyists around the Telecommunications Bill had any
interest in content regulation -- they were just trying to get their
clients an opportunity to dip their buckets in the money stream that
cyberspace may become -- but the public interest sometimes needs a little
attention.  Keeping your eyes on what big money wants, you have sold out
the First Amendment.
        First, some basics.  If your children walked by a public park and
heard some angry sumbitches referring to Congress as "the sorriest bunch
of cocksuckers ever to sell out the First Amendment" or suggesting that
"the only reason to run for Congress these days is to suck the lobbyists'
dicks and fuck the people who sent you there," no law would be violated
(assuming no violation of noise ordinances or incitement to breach the
peace).  If your children did not wish to hear that language, they could
only walk away.  Thanks to your heads-up-your-ass dereliction of duty, if
they read the same words in cyberspace, they could call the FBI!
        Cyberspace is the village green for the whole world.  It is the
same as the village green our Founders knew as the place to rouse the
rabble who became Americans, but it is also different.  Your blind
acceptance of the dubious -- make that dogass dumb -- idea that children
are harmed by hearing so-called dirty words has created some pretty stupid
regulations without shutting down public debate, but those stupid
regulations will not import to cyberspace without consequences that even
the public relations whores in Congress should find unacceptable.
        In cyberspace, there is no time.  A posted message stays posted
until it is wiped.  Therefore, there is no way to indulge the fiction that
children do not stay up late or cannot program a VCR.
        In cyberspace, there is no place.  The "community standards" are
those of the whole world.  An upload from Amsterdam can become a download
in Idaho.  By trying to regulate obscenity and indecency on the Internet,
you have reduced the level of expression allowed consenting adults to that
of the most anal retentive blueballed fuckhead U.S. attorney in the
country.  The Internet is everywhere you can plug in a modem.  Call
Senator Exon an "ignorant motherfucker" in Lincoln, Nebraska and find
yourself prosecuted in Bibleburg, Mississippi.
        In cyberspace, you cannot require the convenience store to sell
Hustler in a white sleeve.  The functional equivalent is gatekeeper
software, to which no civil libertarian has voiced any objection. 
Gatekeeper software cannot be made foolproof, but can you pandering
pissants not see that any kid smart enough to hack into a Website is also
smart enough to get his hands on a hard copy of Hustler if he really wants
        In cyberspace, there is the illusion of anonymity but no real
privacy.  It is theoretically possible for any Internet server to seine
through all messages for key words (although it seems likely the resulting
slowdown would be noticeable).  Perhaps some of you read about America On
Line's attempt to keep children from reading the word "breast?"  An
apparently unforeseen consequence was the shutdown of a discussion group
of breast cancer survivors.  Don't you think more kids are aware of "teat"
(pronounced "tit") than of "breast?" Can skirts on piano legs, er, limbs
be far behind?
        But silly shit like this is just a pimple on the ass of the
long-term consequences for politics, art and education.  You have passed a
law that will get less respect than the 55 m.p.h. speed limit dead bang in
the middle of the First Amendment.  Indecency is nothing but a matter of
fashion; obscenity is the same but on a longer timeline.  This generation
freely reads James Joyce and Henry Miller and the Republic still stands. 
The home of the late alleged pornographer D. H. Lawrence is now a
beautiful writers' retreat in the mountains above Taos, managed by the
University of New Mexico.
        Universities all have Internet servers, and every English
Department has at least one scholar who can read Chaucer's English -- but
not on the Internet anymore.  Comparative literature classes might read
Boccaccio -- but not on the Internet anymore.  What if some U. S. Attorney
hears about Othello and Desdemona "making the beast with two backs" -- is
interracial sex no longer indecent anywhere in the country, or is
Shakespeare off the Internet?
        Did you know you can download video and sound from the Internet? 
Yes, that means you can watch other people having sex if that is
interesting to you, live or on tape.  Technology can make such things hard
to retrieve, but probably not impossible.  And since you have swept right
past obscenity and into indecency, the baby boomers had better keep their
old rock 'n roll tapes off the Internet.  
        When the Jefferson Airplane sang "her heels rise for me," they
were not referring to a dance step.  And if some Brit explains the line
about "finger pie" in Penny Lane, the Beatles will be gone.  All of those
school boards that used to ban "The Catcher in the Rye" over cussing and
spreading the foul lie that kids masturbate can now go to federal court
and get that nasty book kept out of cyberspace.
        But enough about the past.  What about rap music?  No, I do not
care much for it either -- any more than I care for the language you
shitheads have forced me to use in this essay -- but can you not see the
immediate differential impact of this law by class and race?  What is your
defense -- that there are no African-Americans on the Internet, since they
are too busy pimping and dealing crack?  If our educational establishment
has any sense at all, they will be trying to see more teens of all colors
on the Internet, because there is a lot to be learned in cyberspace that
has nothing to do with sex.
        There are plenty of young people in this country who have
legitimate political complaints.  When you dickheads get done with Social
Security, they will be lucky if the retirement age is still in double
digits.  But thanks to the wonderful job the public schools have done
keeping sex and violence out, we have a lot of intelligent kids who cannot
express themselves without indecent language. I have watched lawyers in
open court digging their young clients in the ribs every time the word
"fuck" slipped out. 
        Let's talk about this fucking indecent language bullshit.  Joe
Shea, my editor, does not want it in his newspaper, and I respect that
position.  He might even be almost as upset about publishing this as I a
about writing it.  I do use salty language in my writing, but sparingly,
only as a big hammer.  Use the fucking shit too fucking much and it loses
its fucking impact -- see what I mean?  Fiction follows different rules,
and if you confine your fiction writing to how the swell people want to
see themselves using language, you not only preclude literary depiction of
most people but you are probably false to the people you purport to
        Do you remember how real language used by real people got on the
air and in the newspapers?  Richard Nixon, while he was president,
speaking in the White House about official matters.  A law professor and a
nominee for Supreme Court Justice arguing about pubic hairs and porno
movies during Senate hearings.  Are these matters now too indecent for the
Internet?  How much cleansing will be required of the online news
services?  Answer:  Enough cleansing to meet the standard of what is
appropriate for a child in the most restrictive federal judicial district.
        This is bullshit -- unconstitutional bullshit and also bad policy 
bullshit.  To violate your ban on indecency, I have been forced to use 
and overuse so-called indecent language.  But if I called you a bunch of 
goddam motherfucking cocksucking cunt-eating blue-balled bastards with the 
morals of muggers and the intelligence of pond scum, that would be 
nothing compared to this indictment, to wit: you have sold the First 
Amendment, your birthright and that of your children.  The Founders turn 
in their graves.  You have spit on the grave of every warrior who fought 
under the Stars and Stripes.
        And what mess of pottage have you acquired in exchange for the 
rights of a free people?  Have you cleansed the Internet of even the 
rawest pornography?  No, because it is a worldwide system.  You have, 
however, handed the government a powerful new tool to harass its 
critics:  a prosecution for indecent commentary in any district in the 
        Have you protected one child from reading dirty words?  Probably
not, if you understand what the economists call "substitution" -- but you
have leveled the standards of political debate to a point where a history
buff would not dare to upload some of the Federalist v. Anti-Federalist
election rhetoric to a Website.
        Since the lobby reporting requirements were not law when the 
censorship discussion was happening, I hope you got some substantial 
reward for what you gave up.  Thirty pieces of silver doesn't go far 
these days.
   (Steve Russell, retired after 16 years as a trial judge in Texas,
   is Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of 
   Texas at San Antonio.)

           This article may be reproduced free forever.

John Perry Barlow's Declaration of Indendence

And via VTW ( BillWatch #36

>Posted-Date: Fri, 9 Feb 1996 15:26:35 -0500
>Date: Fri, 9 Feb 1996 17:16:35 +0100

A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace

Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and
steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the
future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome
among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.

We have no elected government, nor are we likely to have one, so I
address you with no greater authority than that with which liberty
itself always speaks. I declare the global social space we are
building to be naturally independent of the tyrannies you seek to
impose on us. You have no moral right to rule us nor do you possess
any methods of enforcement we have true reason to fear.

Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.
You have neither solicited nor received ours. We did not invite you.
You do not know us, nor do  you know our world. Cyberspace does not
lie within your borders. Do not think that you can build it, as though
it were a public construction project. You cannot. It is an act of
nature and it grows itself through our collective actions.

You have not engaged in our great and gathering conversation, nor did
you create the wealth of our marketplaces. You do not know our
culture, our ethics, or the unwritten codes that already provide our
society more order than could be obtained by any of your impositions.

You claim there are problems among us that you need to solve. You use
this claim as an excuse to invade our precincts. Many of these
problems don't exist. Where there are real conflicts, where there are
wrongs, we will identify them and address them by our means. We are
forming our own Social Contract . This governance will arise according
to the conditions of our world, not yours. Our world is different.

Cyberspace consists of transactions, relationships, and thought
itself, arrayed like a standing wave in the web of our communications.
 Ours is a world that is both everywhere and nowhere, but it is not
where bodies live.

We are creating a world that all may enter without privilege or
prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station
of birth.

We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her
beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into
silence or conformity.

Your legal concepts of property, expression, identity, movement, and
context do not apply to us. They are based on matter, There is no
matter here.

Our identities have no bodies, so, unlike you, we cannot obtain order
by physical coercion. We believe that from ethics, enlightened
self-interest, and the commonweal, our governance will emerge . Our
identities may be distributed across many of your jurisdictions. The
only law that all our constituent cultures would generally recognize
is the Golden Rule. We hope we will be able to build our particular
solutions on that basis.  But we cannot accept the solutions you are
attempting to impose.

In the United States, you have today created a law, the
Telecommunications Reform Act, which repudiates your own Constitution
and insults the dreams of Jefferson, Washington, Mill, Madison,
DeToqueville, and Brandeis. These dreams must now be born anew in us.

You are terrified of your own children, since they are natives in a
world where you will always be immigrants. Because you fear them, you
entrust your bureaucracies with the parental responsibilities you are
too cowardly to confront yourselves. In our world, all the sentiments
and expressions of humanity, from the debasing to the angelic, are
parts of a seamless whole, the global conversation of bits. We cannot
separate the air that chokes from the air upon which wings beat.

In China, Germany, France, Russia, Singapore, Italy and the United
States, you are trying to ward off the virus of liberty by erecting
guard posts at the frontiers of Cyberspace. These may keep out the
contagion for a small time, but they will not work in a world that
will soon be blanketed in bit-bearing media.

Your increasingly obsolete information industries would perpetuate
themselves by proposing laws, in America and elsewhere, that claim to
own speech itself throughout the world. These laws would declare ideas
to be another industrial product, no more noble than pig iron. In our
world, whatever the human mind may create can be reproduced and
distributed infinitely at no cost. The global conveyance of thought no
longer requires your factories to accomplish.

These increasingly hostile and colonial measures place us in the same
position as those previous lovers of freedom and self-determination
who had to reject the authorities of distant, uninformed powers. We
must declare our virtual selves immune to your sovereignty, even as we
continue to consent to your rule over our bodies. We will spread
ourselves across the Planet so that no one can arrest our thoughts.

We will create a civilization of the Mind in Cyberspace. May it be
more humane and fair than the world your governments have made before.

Davos, Switzerland
February 8, 1996

John Perry Barlow, Cognitive Dissident
Co-Founder, Electronic Frontier Foundation