The Telecom Act's Fetal Attractions

Of all the things abhorrent in the Communications Decency Act, Section 507 has inspired the most fear. Some have referred to this demon within a parasite as the "abortion gag rule." The passage amends Section 1462 of the old Telecommunications Act, a clause prohibiting the broadcast of "any drug, medicine, article, or thing designed, adapted, or intended for producing abortion." Does that mean if you "abort" a download, a Puritan will leap out of your computer and book you? Yes and no, since like most obscenity laws, the logic of the CDA is fuzzier than Cro-Magnon Man. Rarely enforced, Section 1462 has lain dormant since a 1975 Supreme Court case, Bigelow v. Virginia, neutralized it, or so says the New York State bar's Steven Lieberman. Another clause in the new legislation--which has been put on hold by a federal judge, pending a wider judicial review--implies that it's not only punishable to place and exchange "indecency" on the Internet, it's punishable to view it as well. While the debates rage, the ACLU's lawsuit pends, and senators Patrick Leahy and Russ Feingold plead for the CDA's repeal, most netizens are left floundering. No one wants to obey the law, but they do want to know when they're breaking it. If the CDA is not overturned, keeping an eye on certain extreme sites featuring abortion themes might help. Not warm fuzzies like alt.abortion.support. I'm referring to sites perched like wasps over the pitcher plants of censorship. Like these: The Church of Euthanasia, a rather tongue-in-cheek organization whose members apparently adhere to the "four pillars" of the Church: abortion, suicide, cannibalism, and sodomy. Unlike the majority of other religions, they've designated theirs to actually reduce their congregations. One of the projects for which they're currently passing around the electronic collection plate is the "Suicide Assistance Hotline." It goes as far left as it does right. "The Humans (are) a hostile alien species, programmed to kill the planet," according to an editorial by some very radical environmentalists. The site is mainly a front for the multipartisan pro-death e-zine Snuff It, a morbid digest containing, among other things, a news item forwarded from Usenet about fetus eating in China--believe it if you want. But get there before the government if you want to savor the offensiveness. The First Church of Christ, Abortionist, a far more rational, and as a result, interesting website than the C of E, was begun in 1994 by students and staff at Carnegie Mellon University "to advance abortion as a moral instrument of personal liberty and public policy," stressing their allegiance to organizations like Zero Population Growth. They believe in abortion's use for population control, but draw the line well before placenta lo mein. Naturally, they are subjected to some very provocative pieces of negative e-mail, which they have archived at a link on their homepage. Their measured, intelligent, and controversial responses, though at times ringing of devil's advocate, provide plenty of food for thought. Order of the Virgin Mothers is an "idea play" written by someone identified only as "Grippy," whose downloadable oeuvre includes "Grippy and Cormo and the Bathtub" and a comparative literature essay proving the identical nature of Peter Pan and Moby Dick. Virgin Mothers takes place in a convent/orphanage run by pro-life sisters so courageous in their convictions that they salvage aborted fetuses and bring them to term two and three at a time, convinced that one of them will grow up to be the Messiah. They get excited when one of the orphans turns water into Kool-Aid. If one of these three sites isn't first on the abortion/indecency hit list, you can be reasonably assured that government enforcement is either very lenient or just plain slow. Perhaps by dropping a lawsuit against Phil Zimmermann, creator of the encryption program "Pretty Good Privacy," and attempting to pass the Telecom Bill/CDA at the same time, the feds are giving us a subtle nod, telling us to simply clothe our indecency. Frequently Asked Questions About the Communications Decency Act: http://www.vtw.org/pubs/cdafaqHyde: What the Hell Is or Isn't Being Banned Here?! http://uvacs.cs.virginia.edu/**Thwh6k/public/hyde2.htmlThe First Church of Christ, Abortionist http://www.contrib.andrew.cmu.edu/org/fcca/The Church of Euthanasia http://www.paranoia.com/coe/Order of the Virgin Mothers http://www.geocities.com/Broadway/1928/order.htm

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