BELIEVE EVERYTHING THAT YOU READ
or
Controversy in our Little Virtual Community


Just joking folks! The New York Times did not buy out Sonoma County Online. The thought seemed so utterly absurd, that a publishing GIANT would purchase a small fledgling Web publication (which, BTW, has not made dollar one), that we felt it would be obviously a parody of the recent acquisition fever. We were wrong. Some people (more than one person and/or "entity") out there thought that this item in our recent Fax broadcast was for real! Sorrrrrrrrrry.

Anybody out there have a sense of humor anymore? Or do you greedy, litigation-obsessed freaks seek another victim to compensate for your own lack of morality and excessive (but selective) gullibility? Do you believe everything you read in the "Enquirer." Consider the source, folks. Do you want to sue us? Stand in line. The IRS gets first crack.

OK. So I'm back on the soapbox again.

But certain things burn me ballistic. With that bit of business out of the way, let's get to something really important.

The following news items appeared on Compuserve this morning:


(June 15) The U.S. Senate has passed, by an 84-16 vote, an amendment to a telecommunications reform bill that aims to crack down on pornography on the Internet and online services. The measure would outlaw the posting of obscene materials and hit violators with penalties ranging up to a two- year prison term and stiff fines. To avoid prosecution, online services and users would have to prove they made a good- faith effort to keep indecent material from falling into the hands of minors. "Commercial online services like America Online, CompuServe and Prodigy would be required to provide barriers between children and indecent materials on their computer networks," observes Reuters reporter Joanne Kelley. "It is children who are computer experts in our nation's families," Rep. Dan Coats (R-Indiana) told Reuters. Critics claim that the rules are unfair, cumbersome and will be impossible to enforce.
----Reuters News Service----


(June 15) A voluntary rating system is being proposed for the Internet by three software publishers, along with an electronic filter that would allow individuals to block access to sexually explicit content. Microsoft Corp., Netscape Communications Corp. and Progressive Networks Inc. have formed a group to create industry standards for rating content and for the software filter. The companies made the announcement just as the Senate approved a measure that imposes stiff punishments for those who knowingly distribute obscene material over computer networks. Reporting from Seattle, the Reuters News Service says the companies have founded the Information Highway Parental Empowerment Group and plan to issue a report by the end of the year on ways to prevent children from gaining access to electronic bulletin boards and discussion groups considered "inappropriate." Reuters says Netscape Communications "is likely to add some kind of parental filters into its Netscape Navigator" web browser software. A Microsoft official told the wire service the effort is part of that company's commitment to make "family friendly" its forthcoming Microsoft Network online service. The third participant, Progressive Networks of Seattle, markets an audio-on-demand system for the Internet. The new group is inviting other companies to join the effort.
----Reuters News Service----


COMMENTARY

First, let's get something straight. The legislative system in this county, comprised largely of lawyers, create laws for lawyers. The truly controversial issues, particularly those involving "morality" serve only to create new frontiers to be explored and exploited by the legal system. Who gains from this? A few greedy litigants and, of course, lawyers.

I don't condemn lawyers. I don't condemn legal system in general. The system provides a necessary function in our society. The true issue is the legislation of moral guidelines for society and, more specifically, the effort to control the Internet.

The Internet was created to diffuse information. The intent was to ensure that, in the event of a catastrophic event, that certain critical information would be available to reconstruct after that event.

The Internet was created to share information. It makes it possible that peoples all over the world be able to exchange thoughts for the noble cause of the betterment of humankind.

The Internet is free. Free from control by any one nation. Free of cost for anyone who can access it. Free of regulation, until now.

Are legislators so naive that they feel they can control this decentralized and open forum for freedom of thought? Don't count on it. They aren't stupid. Do you think legislators feel they can legislate morality? Of course they can. This male-dominated gr oup has spent millions of taxpayers dollars deciding what women can do with their own bodies.

Are you as confused as I? Why is commerce relatively free and freedom of thought not? Why can you go out and buy an semi-automatic weapon, yet the dissemination of "pornographic" materials on the Internet is illegal? Almost everybody has sex, but not ever ybody is potentially a mentally unstable mass murderer with easy access to weapons.

I'm still confused. Are politicians so morally pure that they feel that they can dictate what is proper and what is not? Are parents so morally bereft, hypocritical and inadequate that they cannot provide a child with the tools necessary to deal with the society we've created?

One thing I am sure of are a couple of basic economic laws. Scarcity creates demand. Demand increases price. Who gains? Who loses?

I don't think I like the answers to any of these questions. So I say, at least while I can say it, BULLSHIT! There. I said it. I'm glad I said it.

That's what I think. What do you think? Use our Response Form to reply.

For more detailed info regarding Internet related legislation see The Electronic Frontier Foundation.


CROSSFIRE

.... Back To You Bob

There's something so special about "Tom," that I simply have to comment... publicly. Tom is a "magnificent doer," slow to speak, quick to act, in a positive way, to get things done. As you can see ... there are some things that "tick him off," and in those moments .... he does speak out ... unafraid of the power of his own thoughts.

I ... as you will come to know ... particularly believe and enjoy the opportunity to "convert" thought and action into "positive forces" because I believe, from experience, that "positive action" is the only effective way to learn and to grow. The problem is ... we don't all know this ... and as a result ... we have a tendency to follow blindly forces and folks who exercise "control."

As a parent ... I long ago adopted the notion ... that the purpose of parenthood was fulfilled when the "bird" was successfully able to "leave the nest," on their own. If that be the purpose then I must begin to allow the child the space to "act" and discover, what I have discovered, that "positive acts" tend toward "positive results," and that it is very difficult to achieve positive results, of any kind, through negative acts: control, deceit, greed, hate, violence, tend to lead toward "destruction" of the goal.

Early on ... I found myself doing things that others did not do. Rather than "childproofing" the house ... it would be my attempt to "houseproof" the child. Does that mean that I, or my child, have never performed a negative act, made a mistake, destroyed something that was near or dear ? Converting this thought to the positive .... Yes ... becau se we not yet lost the capacity to create, to learn, or to grow.

Now ... the question will always be ... will we exercise it ?


FOOTNOTE:

We do not necessarily advocate the dissemination of pornographic materials on the Internet any more than we advocate the sale of automatic weapons.

We do advocate the protection of rights under the First Amendment. We do question the actions of our government in the attempt to legislate the control the Internet, which, by the intent of its very creation, is contrary to control.

To paraphrase, "We may not believe in what you say, but will fight to the death for your right to say it."


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