Online Free Speech On the Line 

Online Free Speech On the Line 
Posted by FoM on July 02, 2000 at 06:38:55 PT
By Jake Ginsky
Source: MoJo Wire
Update: The idea of criminalizing the distribution of drug-related information is catching on, from the US Congress to the United Nations. Mix Americans' fears around illegal drugs with their fears around technology and you've got a powerhouse of a congressional bill -- even if it does threaten the First Amendment. 
The Methamphetamine Anti-Proliferation Act, which would make it illegal to distribute information on the manufacture of any controlled substance if the distributor knows that the person receiving the information intends to use it to break federal law, now appears almost certain to pass through the House, having already made it through the Senate. In the meantime, it has spawned two other bills that some say will go even further in limiting free speech. The House Judiciary Committee will consider its version of the bill sometime in early July. If approved, as expected, it will go on to the House for a vote. Should the bill fail in the House, it still has a good chance of survival, having been recently tacked on as a rider to an entirely unrelated bankruptcy reform bill. "I think in the end, some version of the bill is going to pass," says Bill Piper, policy analyst for the Drug Policy Foundation. " It's just a matter of controlling the damage." of the Meth Act's critics say they are even more concerned about a pair of recently introduced bills. The Senate's Ecstasy Anti-Proliferation Act -- accompanied by the House's nearly identical Club Drug Anti-Proliferation Act -- would ban the spread of information about not only the manufacture of controlled substances, but also their use and acquisition. The purported goal of the Ecstasy act is to heighten penalties for ecstasy dealers, and to cut down on the spread of information about the drug on the Internet. But, by prohibiting discussions -- online or otherwise -- about the use of drugs, the bill could stifle those who seek to reduce the harm associated with drug use. Such organizations as DanceSafe, which educates ravers on how to take drugs more safely and tests users' drugs for dangerous impurities, would technically be breaking the law. fact, the criteria for criminal activity is so broad that the bill practically makes itself illegal. A section of the bill calls for a greater effort to educate young people about the danger of mixing ecstasy with other club drugs and alcohol. This, says Eric Sterling of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, is technically information on how to use the drug. "If this law is being broken by its own author, it tells you how dangerous this kind of legislation is," says Sterling. "It tells you that many other innocent, public-minded people are in danger of breaking this law." Mike Tiddy, a spokesperson for Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., who introduced the bill, says that portion of the bill would only target "people who are engaging in criminal activity" and that the law "would not touch" those who provide harm-reducing information on how to use drugs., the speech-restricting spirit of the meth and ecstasy bills seems to be catching on internationally. Pino Arlacchi, the head of the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, recently told The New York Times that he sees "a lot of extremely dangerous information" about illegal drugs on the Internet. "And unfortunately," he added, "these views are spreading, and we are now thinking about some instrument to at least stop the expansion of this flow of information." What do you think? Letters to the Editor: Send letters to the Mother Jones editors at: backtalk motherjones.comWeb Posted: June 30, 2000Foundation for National Progress MoJo Wire Articles:Speed Limit Drugs: Kill Addicts Mistreatment Under the Influence
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Comment #1 posted by kaptinemo on July 02, 2000 at 10:28:31 PT:
"Club drugs", eh?
Oh, boy, these idiots have really done it now. They've just stepped into a minefield with their eyes wide open. But they're so dull-witted they didn't read the signs.For years, the antis have been able to dodge the most obvious hole in their arguments against drug usage: the alcohol 'exception'. Namely, their refusal to admit that that alcohol is, indeed, a drug. That those who use it are drug users, and that those addicted to it are drug addicts. And that if the public weal was *truly* the primary concern, that alcohol would have joined the ranks of Schedule 1 substances long ago. (Of course, we all know how that turned out; the Cosa Nostra will be undyingly grateful for the windfall that Prohibition provided them... namely, the seed money to enter the narcotics business. But these twits never seem to learn anything, and I will predict that some time in the next 10 to 15 years, you might once again see an attempt to resurrect alcohol Prohibition. Because they've already had some success with tobacco suppression; and once these guys get a taste of 'success', they want more, and their ambitions are adjusted accordingly. After all, they're 'succeeding' with their DrugWar, aren't they?) For years, whenever the question came up, they merely brushed it aside, dismissing it. And secretly thanking whatever God they claim that no one forced them to really defend their indefensible reasoning.Well, now they have to address it. Because what is the 'club drug' most often used - to excess - in any club, anywhere? Good ol' See Two Aytch 5 Oh Aytch. Ethanol. We just might be able to hold their feet to the fire on this one.
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