Internet Censorship Looks To Become Law

ATN editor & publisher Michael Goldberg


Don't look now, but it looks like President Clinton is going to sign the

telecommunications bill into law, and in doing so will subject the Net to

governmental censorship that goes far beyond that which any other media is

currently subjected too. Here's the problem. The telecommunications bill is

far-reaching, dealing with everything from allowing the regional Bell companies

to enter the long-distance telephone markets, to a requirement that new TV sets

include a "choice chip" that will allow parents to block offensive material.

And, tagged on, is the Internet censorship language that could find those

allowing "indecent" material to reside in their cyberspace, so-to-speak, to be

fined up to $100,000 and be sent to prison for two years. If you don't think

every content provider on the Net who deals in so-called controversial material

isn't concerned about how this will effect them, then you don't understand what

this will likely mean to the Net culture. For example, just yesterday in

Addicted To Noise's "Music News Of The World," we published a logo drawn by the

brilliant artist Coop that portrayed one of Coop's classic naked devil women

drapped over our logo. Would that get us a $100,000 fine? Wouldn't want little

Jimmy to see a drawing of a naked woman, particularly one who seems to be

enouraging men (and probably women too) to join her in Sin City. And what about

use of the word "fuck," which shows up more than once in our upcoming January

(2.01) issue? Is there something indecent about exclaiming "Fuckin' A!" Or what

about "fuck that shit?" Maybe it's OK to use fuck as a kind of exclamation

point. But what if we start talking about the guy and his girlfriend who were

fucking on the grass as the band played? Certainly someone might think that

sounded indecent. Or what about if we said something about a member of Congress

who removed his shorts. Now none of the words in that last sentence are

"x-rated," but what about the meaning, or the implication? What if we had the

member of Congress remove his shorts and then remove the bra worn by one of his

young, female aides? Now that's a sentence that could really get us into

trouble. How about a review that discussed the Nirvana song "Rape Me" or Tha

Dogg Pound album, with all those references to bitches. Or little Alanis

singing about giving head in the movie theater? You get the idea. And who,

exactly, is going to make the call? And are they going to allow kids out in the

"real" world to go buy an Alanis Morissette CD with a song about giving head in

the back of a movie theater, but throw me in jail for writing about it? I'd

suggest continuing to call President Clinton, as well as key members of

Congress. If this becomes law, the ACLU has promised to file a law suit

immediately. This is supposed to be government by the people for the people.

It's time for the people to really make themselves heard.