I woke up to a strange day.
I didn’t know it at first. It was just another lazy Saturday. A day to forget the week and do something truely pointless with great meaning.
But while waiting for the bus to take me to great meaning, I stopped to read the front page of the newspapers, through the vending machine windows.
The first article I read, in the Washington Post, explained that a three judge panel had declared the 2 decade old prohibition on protesting next to the Capitol Building to be unconstitutional. They said the Capitol Police’s concerns did not outweigh the citizen’s first amendment rights.
I’m sure you think this is about as astonishing as Oprah Winfrey gaining weight. But dispite the fact that this is the Capital of the United States, those who spend any time here know it is also one of the most restrictive, oppressive, unfair, and secretive places in the world. There’s a law on the books that you cannot protest here without first obtaining permission from the Police Chief; telling him what you want to protest about. On any given day your route to work is likely to be barricaded by National Guardsmen with machine guns cradled in their hands; (the guns are never slung over their shoulders here). And the Shrub is so scared from having received more death threats than any American President in history, that he typically demands quadruple the security measures instituted for any head of state. The Secret Service regularly lies about his whereabouts and access to the man, as a means of protection.
In this city, no one is shocked that you weren’t allowed to protest outside the Capitol.
I also looked at the front page of the Times. They had an unfortunatly small article about the ruling of a 3-judge panel in Phillidelphia, which declared the much despised Child Internet Protection Act (CIPA) to be unconstitutional. The problem found with this Act involved the Internet filtering basically forced upon public libraries. As anyone who’s read up on Internet filtering knows, there is no reliable way to block access to supposedly pornographic material without also blocking a great deal of legitimate educational material. This led the court to overturn CIPA.
This alone is heartening. Now if someone would tell me a good reason why we are blocking public access to anything on the Internet, I would be very appreciative. We are talking public libraries here. These aren’t the third rate movie theatres where Pee Wee Herman was found jacking off to Fourth Rate pornos. If librarians who should be keeping at least a cursory watch on their computers cannot keep youth from viewing such materials, than what hope does filtering software have? There is more sex in Shakespear and Catcher in the Rye than on most web sites. And frankly, since I’m technically an adult, I don’t need your morals thrust upon me. If I wish to use an idle library computer to download Pamala and Tommy’s honeymoon video, what business is it of yours? Libraries are meant to provide us with access to information and media, not to dictate it’s value or uses.
While waiting at the barbershop, I was again reading the business section of another newspaper. And there was a blurb about third judicial panel overturning the court order that required Sonicblue, who handles client accounts for one of the digital-TV recorder companies (Tivo or one of those), to commence monitoring their client’s use of the product and turn that information over to their major media corporations (theoretically for use in anti-piracy invetsigations).
This panel were apparently the second – to – last people in the country to realize how much of an invasion of privacy this order was. But better late than never.
In the age of Rudy “freedom – is – about – how – much – liberty – you – are – willing – to – give – up” Gulliani, I can’t believe how many judges took the time to consider the idea of liberty, privacy, and freedom yesterday. What next? Open elections in Florida?