On February 2nd, newspapers reported that a federal judge issued a ruling continuing to block implementation of a federal law designed to shield children from on-line Internet pornography. The judge said the law could hinder constitutionally protected speech and that the web site operators who peddle this filth to our children should not be prosecuted. The next day, a federal jury handed down a ruling that could lead to the actual dismantling of an anti-abortion web site that exposes the identities, locations and activities of abortion doctors. So the message seems to be that you can use the Internet to peddle pornography to kids, but you can?t use it to send out a controversial anti-abortion message.
What intrigued us about the latter ruling was the failure by some traditional so-called civil liberties groups to issue any firm public protest at all. It is apparent that they are really not interested in protecting controversial speech when it is practiced by those opposed to the liberal agenda. The Washington Post article about the case included a confusing statement from a state representative of the ACLU who failed to make the basic point that the web site did NOT threaten violence.
In fact, it contains no plea for anyone to do anything to an abortion doctor, except try them for “crimes against humanity” when abortions are outlawed. The New York Times article about the case included no criticism of the ruling from the ACLU. But it did quote a representative of the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center as making the point that the anti-abortion web site is protected under historical interpretations of the first amendment.
In one of our previous broadcasts, we made the point that this web site, on the Internet at Christiangallery.com, is offensive. Even if it promoted violence, however, it should not constitute a violation under the federal law its sponsors were prosecuted. That law is supposed to protect abortion clinics from direct physical street violence.
If this ruling stands and the web site is shut down, you can anticipate more such lawsuits. Another potential target is greenberet.com, which has been going after CNN for its phony Operation Tailwind story that accused our soldiers in Vietnam of using poison gas. The web site features a CNN “Target List” showing the hides of various CNN staffers who were fired or resigned because of the story. They are featured in boxes with a nail in each hide as it drips blood. There is a box reserved for CNN founder Ted Turner, who is also labeled “Mr. Jane Fonda.” There is also a box for CNN executive Tom Johnson. Another category on the web site is “shots fired,” referring to editorials and other articles that criticized CNN.
Is any of this in bad taste? Certainly. But does it constitute inciting violence and threatening physical harm? No. But under the precedent established in the anti-abortion case, one can imagine some liberals at CNN, perhaps Ted Turner himself, deciding to file suit. Those who want alternative media like the Internet to grow and prosper should take a hard look at this case.