Friday, November 30, 2007

Henry Hyde's free-speech landmine

While most of the media is busy publishing encomiums to the late Rep. Henry Hyde, CNet's Declan McCullagh reminds us that the Illinois politico authored one of the more breathtaking attacks on free speech in recent memory.

Whoever...knowingly uses any...interactive computer service...for carriage...any drug, medicine, article, or thing designed, adapted, or intended for producing abortion, or for any indecent or immoral use; or any written or printed card, letter, circular, book, pamphlet, advertisement, or notice of any kind giving information, directly or indirectly, where, how, or of whom, or by what means any of such mentioned articles, matters, or things may be obtained or made...shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both, for the first such offense and shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both, for each such offense thereafter.

The law, which would have effectively banned any discussion of abortion on the Internet, has gone unenforced by the Clinton and Bush administrations because of its patent unconstitutionality. But it remains on the books, awaiting the enthusiasm of a potential future Justice Department whose opposition to abortion is matched by its disdain for the First Amendment.

Something to think about.



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