Nanny Statism

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t often find himself in the company of Salon.com and the American Civil Liberties Union. But, if he had had the time or inclination to write an amicus brief, he would have been on their side in their successful efforts to strike down the Children’s Online Protection Act. A judge ruled that the 1998 law was unconstitutional on free speech grounds.

The above linked Washington Post article reads in part:

The law would have criminalized Web sites that allow children to access material deemed “harmful to minors” by “contemporary community standards.” The sites would have been expected to require a credit card number or other proof of age. Penalties include a $50,000 fine and up to six months in prison.

Sexual health sites, the online magazine Salon.com and other Web sites backed by the American Civil Liberties Union had challenged the law on grounds it would have a chilling effect on speech. Joan Walsh, Salon.com’s editor in chief, said the law could have allowed any of the 93 U.S. attorneys to prosecute the site over photos of naked prisoners at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison.

“The burden would have been on us to prove that they weren’t” harmful to minors, Walsh said Thursday.

In his ruling, [US District Court Judge Lowell] Reed warned that “perhaps we do the minors of this country harm if First Amendment protections, which they will with age inherit fully, are chipped away in the name of their protection.”

Daniel Weiss of Focus on the Family Action, a lobbying arm of the conservative Christian group, said it would continue to press Congress for a workable law.

“The judge seems to indicate there’s really no way for Congress to pass a good law to protect kids online,” Weiss said. “I just think that’s not a good response.”

You know, your Maximum Leader has always adhered to the variation of Cicero’s maxim that “the welfare of women and children is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” Attempts by the state to “protect” children almost always attract the ire of your Maximum Leader. In the case of this particular WaPo peice, the quotation from Daniel Weiss was the bit that most raised your Maxmium Leader’s ire.

Perhaps we would all be better served if Congress didn’t attempt to pass a “good law” to protect kids online. Perhaps we would all be served better if parents monitored their children’s access to the internet and did what good parents do. Which is to say, set boundaries for their children and properly educate them in civilized behavior.

It is the job of parents to educate their children concerning morals. It is not the job of the state.

Carry on.

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