Monthly Archives: June 2005

porn in America, part 2

Following up on my previous post, a man was sentenced to 20 years last week for looking at child porn on the Internet. The man did not save any porn to his computer, but rather had it in the cache of his Internet browser. As the defense unsuccessfully argued, a computer user has no control over the contents of his browser cache – content is automatically downloaded to the cache when a user enters a website. Depending on your browser, others pages of a website may be downloaded from pages you don’t ever visit. Under the law, possession of child porn is treated as child sex exploitation, with a minimum of 5 years in prison.

Continue reading “porn in America, part 2” »

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The DOJ goes after porn

This story begins in 1983, when a 15 year old with used a fake California Driver’s License and birth certificate to get a state identification card that identified her as Kristie Elizabeth Nussman, age 21. In the next three years, she became the adult industry’s first superstar, making about 107 porn films and winning numerous awards. She formed her own adult film production company, got a luxury apartment and a Mercedes and dated a number of much older men. Her screen name was Traci Lords.

Continue reading “The DOJ goes after porn” »

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Microsoft censors Chinese blogs

Chinese bloggers posting their thoughts via Microsoft’s net service face restrictions on what they can write.
Weblog entries on some parts of Microsoft’s MSN site in China using words such as “freedom”, “democracy” and “demonstration” are being blocked.
Microsoft said the company abided by the laws, regulations and norms of each country in which it operates.
…The censorship is thought to have been introduced as a concession to the Chinese government.
…Also being restricted on the free parts of the site are journal entries that mention “human rights” and “Taiwan independence”.

Users who attempted to use these words… were greeted with a message stating: “This item should not contain forbidden speech such as profanity. Please enter a different word for this item.”

Realistically, Microsoft must either forfeit the potentially huge China market, or obey China’s laws. Like Yahoo, Google and other Western companies, Microsoft has clearly chosen the latter. What do you think is the ethical choice?

Crossposted on the Egosphere

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Should drunk driving be legal?

The issue of drunk driving is one of those highly politicized topics that appeals to a cross-section of conservatives and leftists because it promises both a revival of the temperance movement and an avenue for the growth of state controls. Aside from these political implications, the issue of drunk driving provides insight into a more general question of political philosophy. The essential question is: under what conditions, if any, can the state legitimately outlaw certain forms of behavior that pose a risk to others?

Before addressing this issue, it is necessary to establish certain prerequisites. I will distinguish “drunk driving” from “drinking and driving” or “driving while drinking.” While drunk driving is the act of driving while intoxicated, drinking and driving is act of consuming some quantity of alcohol, but not necessarily being intoxicated. Likewise, driving while consuming alcohol does not necessarily imply intoxication. I will define “intoxicated” to mean “an alcohol level sufficiently high to pose a significantly increased risk to others while driving.”

Furthermore, I will presume that the only legitimate function of the state is to prevent and punish the initiation of force. Since neither drinking and driving nor driving while drinking as such pose a significant risk to others, I will consider it as self-evident that they should be legal. On the other hand, I will presume that drunk driving creates a significantly risk that the majority of drivers would strongly want to avoid.

Since the provision of roads is not a legitimate function of the state, this issue is complicated…

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Spray on mud

There has been a trend in the UK to outlaw driving, and ridiculously low speed limits combined with speed cameras are one of the main weapons of the environmentalists. To avoid the cameras, UK drivers are resorting to tricks like spray-on mud to obscure license plates and GPS devices which warn drivers when approaching speed traps.

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China Censorship #81

The Chinese government has ordered individual owners of websites and bloggers to register with the government or face being shut down…

The decree requires owners of websites, whether commercial or non-commercial, to comply with the edict by the 30th of June and give the name of the person or persons responsible for the sites.

Bloggers in China have had email messages telling them to register or face sanctions. And, said the organisation, one blogger who contacted the Shanghai police to register was told there was no point in registering as independent blogs would not be granted permission to continue.

“‘The internet has profited many people but it also has brought many problems, such as sex, violence and feudal superstitions and other harmful information that has seriously poisoned people’s spirits,’ said a statement on the MII website, explaining why the new rules were necessary.”

This is not unusual by the way – most authoritarian regimes either ban all independent “media” or require government registration and approval. China has developed the technology to discover and automatically ban (or worse) “unregistered” sites. The majority of filtering software and hardware, in China and elsewhere is made by American companies.

In related news, “most Americans believe bloggers should not be allowed to publish sensitive personal information about individuals, according to a new survey.”

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India censors tobacco

From Division of Labor: India is censoring tobacco products in cinema and television, including any new or past films and television shows. The Indian government has enaged in official censorship since 1952, so this is nothing new, but I wouldn’t be surpised if “voluntary” restrictions of the same sort came to the U.S.

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New Shop

I have a new CafePress shop dedicated to PETA: http://www.cafepress.com/animalsarefood

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SPCA guilty of cruelty to humans

There are SPCA’s, or Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in many cities in America. They are charged by city governments to “stop animal abuse” and have the right to confiscate and sell all the animals of any owner with a judge’s warrant. In states like Texas, the SPCA can seize the property of owners without the right of appeal. Even in states where the owner can appeal, judges usually rely on the expertise of the SPCA and dismiss the owner’s appeals.

Often, the seized animals are sold within days of seizure, and the unsold animals put to death. (The SPCA charges $50-150 for all “adoptions,” and more for show animals.) When the SPCA seizes animals, it will typically seize the entire inventory of a breeder, including both “sick” as well as healthy animals, often putting the breeder out of business. Sometimes, there really are sick animals – but because of diseases, not abuse. Other times, photos of dirty but empty cages are enough to put a breeder out of business.

The SPCA is run by volunteers and employees, and rarely involves veterinarians in requesting a warrant from the judge or evaluating the condition of seized animals. The Dallas SPCA is one of the biggest SPCA’s in the nation, but (according to 20/20) its highly paid manager has no professional education treating animals, and does not involve veterinarians anywhere in the process.

Does that sound like a recipe for abuse? Continue reading “SPCA guilty of cruelty to humans” »

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