Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Thin-skinned Arlen strikes again

Be careful of what you post or write in an email. You could join the Oklahomilist as a bonafide federal scofflaw!

As Declan McCullagh at CNET News explains:

Annoying someone via the Internet is now a federal crime.

It's no joke. Last Thursday, President Bush signed into law a prohibition on posting annoying Web messages or sending annoying e-mail messages without disclosing your true identity.

In other words, it's OK to flame someone on a mailing list or in a blog as long as you do it under your real name. Thank Congress for small favors, I guess.

This ridiculous prohibition, which would likely imperil much of Usenet, is buried in the so-called Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act. Criminal penalties include stiff fines and two years in prison.

"The use of the word 'annoy' is particularly problematic," says Marv Johnson, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. "What's annoying to one person may not be annoying to someone else."

Here's a case where we find ourselves on the same side as the ACLU. This is getting scary.

(UPDATE -- A friend of ours called to remind us that, as pertains the ACLU, "even a blind pig finds an acorn once in awhile." Thanks. We feel better for that.)

And who do we have to thank for this un-American piece of garbage legislation?

Why ol' Republican "mainstreamer" Arlen Spectre.

To grease the rails for this idea, Sen. Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, and the section's other sponsors slipped it into an unrelated, must-pass bill to fund the Department of Justice. The plan: to make it politically infeasible for politicians to oppose the measure.

The tactic worked. The bill cleared the House of Representatives by voice vote, and the Senate unanimously approved it Dec. 16.

Obviously the new law is so broadly written as to be unconstitutional on its face, yet in order to prove it someone is going to have to take it to court. A small sacrifice on someone's part is called for. (If only there was a comparable annoyance statute over daffy legislation!)

What's a true conservative lover of freedom to do when there the people you elect to Congress go Mad Dog Nuts and the president you thought wanted to defend freedom doesn't have the courage to veto a single bill in over five years?

Go back to voting Democrat? Are you insane too?

There is no joy in mudville.


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