Saturday, January 14, 2006

Does This Blog Annoy You?

Does this blog annoy you? Or for that matter have you ever received an annoying anonymous email or read a comment on a forum that is abusive and not signed with the author's real name?

If so, then you now have a recourse. According to the Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act, which President Bush signed into law January 5, anyone who "utilizes any device or software that can be used to originate telecommunications or other types of communications that are transmitted, in whole or in part, by the Internet ... without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any person ... who receives the communications. ... " has committed a federal crime. The penalties are fines and prison terms up to two years.

My account of the New England Laser Masters was surely annoying to Antony Clay (whose style I was intentionally mocking),
Whisperer? was definitely abusive to Steve Cockerill, and I think even Tinkerbell has a case.

Go on. I dare you. Turn me in to the feds.

Let freedom ring.


Anonymous said...

In my opinion, being turned into the Bush administration is probably a badge of honor. It is probably also a fairly strong statement about the strength of your beliefs and your personal integrity.

Carol Anne said...

I have noticed that both ends of the political spectrum seem to want to get into censorship when the content being communicated is displeasing. On the liberal side, there have been all of the advocates of political correctness, who fear that words may hurt someone's feelings (such as "niggardly," which has nothing at all to do with the N word). Meanwhile, the conservatives seem to believe that any criticism of current policies (such as how we're handling things in Iraq) is somehow un-patriotic.

As someone who studied journalism in college and worked in journalism for a while, I have a strong belief in the First Amendment. I have heard many people say that one of our weaknesses is that we allow the rest of the world to see how we argue among ourselves. However, I believe that to be a strength. We're not afraid of opposing opinions, and out of the debate we draw consensus, or at the very least, respect for each other.

I must agree with Dan -- if you get hauled in, it means you've done something right.

Tillerman said...

I have deliberately tried to keep my political views out of this blog, though one commenter claimed to have detected a liberal bias in a rant that was meant to be humorous a few months ago.

So this post was not intended to imply that the Bush administration or the Republican congress is deliberately trying to constrain our legitimate free speech. Maybe I'm too trusting of our leaders' intentions, but I can't help feeling that this law is more of an example of bad legal drafting, failure of our lawmakers to understand the Internet or simple lack of attention to detail. (Do you really believe everyone who voted for this bill read every clause of it?)

What I didn't make clear was that this provision in the law was intended to deal with extreme cases of cyber-stalking amounting to harassment. However it seems to have been drafted so vaguely that it might even encompass my occasional rants in this innocuous little blog - not to mention some of the more abusive posts cluttering up the Sailing Anarchy forums.

bonnie said...

oh, fer pete's sake. I just had some jerk leave a couple of nasty comments on my "Sailing the BVI's" Buzznet gallery. I deleted them & mentioned them to the guys that run the thing.

So should I have reported him to Bush?


ooh, now I must go back and read your contentious posts.

bonnie said...

ok, if Tinkerbell turns you in, do people who snickered too hard over that post stand to bear any guilt themselves? accessory to the crime sorta thing?

Carol Anne said...

You're right, Tillerman, that this particular law is a sterling example of the "baby with the bathwater" effect that can happen when laws are too hastily written, by people who may not understand the technology behind the problem.

Some other examples come to mind that were enacted as part of the hasty Homeland Security legislation in the wake of 9/11. Vandalism to a mailbox, for example, is now defined as a terrorist act and subject to severe penalties, including some potential suspension of Constitutional rights -- never mind that bored rural teenagers have been vandalizing mailboxes from time immemorial.

Tillerman said...

Geeze - next thing you know cow tipping will be a terrorist crime.

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