Right, Responsibilities, And The Real Deal Essay, Research Paper
Rights, Responsibility and the Real Deal
by Jeremy Butler
The Right to Free Speech is Protected
Ideas are the backbone of democracy. However we see fit to express those ideas is a right provided in the Constitution of the United States. No matter the format of that expression someone will find them offensive and seek to stop that expression. The Communications Decency Act is just the latest incarnation of small minds raging against the tide.
The CDA stomps on the first amendment of the Constitution like a bunch of bikers in hobnailed boots. It must be relentlessly pursued until dead. Everyone participating in the 24 Hours of Democracy is part of the hunting party that will see to that. Thankfully we are not alone, the ACLU, EFF, VTW and others are on our side. And let’s not forget our most powerful ally is the Constitution itself.
The framers of the Constitution fought a bloody Revolution based on freedom of speech and other rights of a truly free people. They included no qualifications on that free speech. That principle has been upheld with minimal exceptions (no shouting “FIRE” in a crowded theater, please). The CDA is not the first (or last) legislation to attack free speech, and it won’t survive in the courts any better than past laws. That is the purpose of the judicial branch of the government, to balance the excesses of the legislative (Congress) and the executive (President) branches. Our forefathers included that in the Constitution too, almost as if they knew that government would be dominated by self serving, arrogant prostitutes who could only be controlled by pitting them against one another.
I believe in the U.S. system of government, even while questioning the motives and methods of the participants. Our voices and votes will be heard. It’s not a conspiracy, it’s just government.
It is our Responsibility to Maintain the Net Culture
Pornography is a tripwire, out in the fringes of the larger issue of free speech. I’m glad it’s there, so we know when the storm troopers are coming (no pun intended), but it is not the reason the First Amendment is there. Open political discourse, such as 24 Hours of Democracy, is the idea the founders were protecting. So long as the general public only hears “We want our porn” they will never hear the real message “We are fighting for your freedom”.
We cannot forget the General Public; we must gather and nurture their support. The Net has always been about openness, but at the same time it has always been self policing (ask any flamee). It is our responsibility to maintain that environment. While the anything goes rule must be protected, we must provide the tools to allow parents to control the content of what their children access. We must voluntarily adopt some form of rating system that makes it simple. We must not only provide the means, we must aggressively and happily promote them (without whining). To do less is to avoid our responsibility and hand control over to others.
This is a political issue, if we don’t police ourselves then the public will demand that it be done for them. If it is done by the government, you can be assured we will come full circle to this point again. It is that simple.
Providing Content on the Net is the Real Deal.
The whole telecommunications bill is about the Net of the Future. The floodgates are open, the carriers can now build their pipes from any place to any place, everybody gets to create content for sale and the media giants are happy. Picture the land rushes into the West, a cannon goes off and everybody charges off to stake their claim. The Net has one key difference, unlimited territory. Right now anybody with the right equipment and the knowledge can be a Net/Web presence with the content of their choice and basically doesn’t have to ask ANYBODY. That must be protected from central authority, whether governmental or corporate.
That responsibility falls to us, because we are here and we understand what we have. We are the Thomas Paine’s of our age with a printing press, a burning desire for freedom and the will to risk it all to print a political pamphlet. We have the tools, the desire is evident in 24 Hours of Democracy, and thanks to a functional democratic system the risks are relatively low (no gallows at least). We must create our own territory and defend it. There will be casualties, just like Phil Zimmerman and Steve Jackson, but that is the price of freedom.
The public is coming to the Net, we must promote Net culture as we know it. If we fail ,then all we end up with is 500 channel cable, VoD, home shopping and whatever else the media giants deliver for us to consume (including all the pornography you are willing to pay for), while they sell us their products.
But That’s Just My Opinion, I May Be Wrong