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DOJ Dot-Narc 67

Posted by timothy
from the your-friendly-neighborhood-block-committee dept.
GigsVT writes: "Wired has a story about how the DOJ wants to "[Target] five types of people [on the internet], including previous drug offenders, legalization advocates, anarchists and people promoting 'an expanded freedom of expression' that pushes the boundaries of the First Amendment.""
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DOJ Dot-Narc

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  • by PD (9577) <slashdotlinux@pdrap.org> on Thursday March 14, 2002 @03:03PM (#3163986) Homepage Journal
    that John Ashcroft is harming our country more than any terrorists could dream of doing.

  • What limitations? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheReverand (95620) on Thursday March 14, 2002 @03:19PM (#3164064) Homepage
    Why are there limitations on the first ammendment at all?

    The only possible valid limitation I could see would be the "don't shout fire in a crowded room" one; any other is precisely what the ammendment was designed to protect.

    • Actually, you can shout "fire" in a crowded room (theatre, to be exact) IF there is a fire present.

      The prohibition exists only because people can't rationaly evaluate the merit of those words in a potential emergency, and the resulting panic if there is no emergency is harmful.

      • So if I have a lighter and lit it and yelled fire everything is cool?
        • If, by "lighter", you mean a flame thrower, yeah, I guess so.

          The point was that while you can say what you want, doing so when it will likely cause a panic that can be expected to cause more harm than not saying anything, is considered subject toreasonable restraint on free speech -- it isn't what you say that is harmful, it is the consequences of saying it.

          Laws aganst incitement to riot are similar (though, when the Meech Lake accord died due to a sunset clause, Quebeckers were told that flying a Canadian flag on the aniversery of Canadian independence from Britian would be considered incitement to riot) but, like "reasonable restraint of speech" laws, can be used to oppress perfecly reasonable speech.

      • People always get confused about the fire thing. It's perfectly legal to shout 'fire' in a crowded theather, even if there isn't a fire. Later, you will be arrested for starting a panic, not 'shouting fire'. In fact, that's the reason that you don't get in trouble if there is a fire...you didn't start the panic, the fire did. And if you yelling 'fire' doesn't start a panic, even if there isn't a fire, you probably won't get arrested, though the police might 'have a few words' with you about attempting to start a panic, and the theater wouldn't be too happy with you either. (Don't try that at home, for all I know, 'attempted panic starting' is also a crime in some places.)

        Just like if you hire someone to murder someone else, you get arrested for murder, not 'telling someone to murder someone else'.

        Same thing with libel and slander. Telling falsehoods about people is legal. Damaging their reputation with falsehoods is not. (Hence the reason that Larry Flint got away with calling someone a pig fucker or whatever, as there's no way anyone thought he was serious.)

        The speech is legal, but the results (or the attempted results) of the speech, which have caused (or tried to cause) direct harm to others, are not. Which is the reason this doesn't apply at all to what the DOJ is trying to do, these sites aren't causing harm to anyone. Encouraging people to break the law isn't illegal in any form or fashion in the United States. (Unless you don't tell them it's illegal, in which case you could be causing harm to them, but that's more a civil matter they would sue you over then anything illegal.)

    • by oni (41625)
      Why are there limitations on the first ammendment at all?

      Well, let's see what the first amendment says:

      Congress shall make no law [snip] abridging the freedom of speech [...]

      abridging is a big word, lets see what that means:
      To cut short; curtail.

      So if laws meant anything, Congress would be forbidden from limiting the freedom of speech in any way.

      Unfortunately
      a. The legislative branch doesn't actually believe that (famous quote: "the constitution is a living document" - Al Gore) other quotes available on request.

      b. the judicial branch doesn't actually believe that. Witness the limitation on shouting 'fire' in a theatre. In a truly free society no one would suggest that you were not free to shout 'fire' only that you would be held responsible for doing so.

      c. The executive branch obviously doesn't belive this. As evidenced by Ashcroft. To be honest though, I am far less worried about Ashcroft than I was of Janet Reno. Sure Ashcroft has said some scarry things, but Reno actually did scary things.

      The libertarian party is looking better and better all the time.
      • The libertarian party is looking better and better all the time.

        No it isn't.

        a) the Constitution *is* a living document. Screw Al Gore. The Founders themselves said so and provided the amendment process to make sure of it. The checks and balances are there to ensure the possibility.

        b) The libertarians would suggest that shouting fire in a crowded room was a form of fraud (and therefore a form of aggression) which would allow everyone in the room to sue the shouter for damages, and if he/she couldn't pay he would have to work it off in a corporate prison. Either that or anyone injured in the panic gets to sue everyone else in the theater for panicking-- or maybe doesn't get to recover any damages at all since there wouldn't be any good witnesses to the trampling. And all of this would be adjudicated by private judges and enforced by private police forces, each apparently using their own set of laws.

        c) Name five things Reno did that were scary that would've been handled all that differently by Ashcroft. Let me know when you get past Ruby Ridge, Waco, and the Gonzales Boy (and I'm not sure how these would've been all that different under Ashcroft unless he would've managed to avoid them altogether, but they are the only things that spring to mind that Reno did that were scary). Ashcroft has been in office less than a year and already we have a Microsoft getting a slap on the wrist, soldiers carrying M-16s in the airports, some bigoted remarks about Islam, and now a prime example of the sort of chill-power these guys want to apply to free speech. That's pretty scary when you consider they seem to be targetting drug users and political speech. And it's only the beginning.

        And before you jump on me. I didn't like Clinton/Reno either. Personally I think our best bet for true freedom and equality at this point is the Green party. They promote the end of the drug war (wonder if they'll start to be hunted by the FBI now) and they say they support freedom of speech (with the usual restrictions: "fire!", threats, incitement).

        Otherwise if you can't beat 'em join 'em. Become a born-again Christian or a conservative Jew and as long as you're male and have a senator for a father, you too can run for President. :)
        • Name five things Reno did that were scary that would've been handled all that differently by Ashcroft. Let me know when you get past Ruby Ridge, Waco,

          I've always wondered why Ruby Ridge gets lumped in with Reno's "atrocities". It happened in August, 1992 - months before Reno took office.

  • The full quote (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Eagle7 (111475) on Thursday March 14, 2002 @03:24PM (#3164099) Homepage
    The full "push the limits" quote can be found on this [usdoj.gov] page.

    Advocates of an expanded freedom of expression are purveyors of information with yet another agenda. These individuals and groups publish information on the Internet to push the boundaries of self-expression and the First Amendment. The information they provide may induce minors and young adults to break drug laws or to become a danger to themselves or to others by abusing illegal drugs.

    I find this infuriating... that the our government considers people who "push the boundries" of the amendment that gives the freedom to do just that criminal, and that they feel that it is within thier purview to control the content of the Internet. *grumble*

    • Re:The full quote (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Deagol (323173)
      So, in the spirit of the quoted drug context, would the hyperreal [hyperreal.org] "chemistry" archives be pushing these limits? Or does this only apply to sites that say things like "here's why the gov'ment shouldn't ban drugs..."?

      Quite frankly, if I knew a kid who wanted to do drugs (parental/adult advice be damned), I would send them to a site like the above for at least some decent high-level info about some drugs. I'd rather someone make an informed choice about drugs than an ignorant one, regardless of the law.

      Drug laws are pretty amusing, anyway. I can go to prison for possessing weed, but not nutmeg? :) Anyone with half a brain and a local library card can read up on things legally attainable in the produce department, the spice rack, or a local plant nursery that are just as potent and fun and the banned substances.

      Besides... this entire "agenda" thing is bunk. Show me a Pepsi ad (pushing caffeine), a Marlboro ad (pushing nicotine), or a Budwiser ad (pushing alcohol) which doesn't have an agenda! Granted these are legal substances, but they are arguably responsible for more social grief than all the banned substances combined (plus they make a few companies a lot of money).

      Disclaimer: IANAP (I am not a pharmacist)

      • (pushing caffeine) ... but they are arguably responsible for more social grief than all the banned substances combined

        How did caffeine get onto your list? I might understand the tobacco (causes lung cancer) and alcohol (causes traffic accidents), but why caffeine??? What happened? Did you spill coffee on your lap in a McDonald's drive up once???

        What is "arguably responsible for more social grief than all the banned [controlled] substances combined" is the fact that medicines are controlled in the first place. IANAL or doctor, but I understand if you are a doctor, it is perfectly legal for you to possess and administer cocaine and heroin. However, if you're a terminal patient, you have to ask the FDA if you're allowed some new experimental medicine, which most likely they will say "no!" How is that protecting anyone?

        • The person may become addicted -- they're dying anyway -- which is more important?
        • It may cause illness -- well they're going to die without the drug anyway.
        • It may cause death -- which is worse? Taking the drug with a chance of death, or not taking it and guaranteeing death?
        • Caffeine is a drug just like all the others. It is a drug that is used by many people, but a still a drug. People who use caffeine to wake up in the morning or to be more alert at work are no different than people who take drugs at parties to be more social.

          Caffeine has some level of addiction, it could definitely cause illness, and it can cause death in sufficiently high doses (a lot lower doses than the LD50 of many illegal drugs, BTW)
          • Yeah if you take enough caffeine, you can cause death. Same thing with vitamins and window cleaner. However I dont see how any of these three items cause "social grief."

            • I don't see how certain drugs cause much "social grief" either. Th number of deaths attributed to LSD, ecstasy, GHB, and these club drugs that justify this stupid new effort, combined, are less than the number of deaths caused by intentional overdose on alcohol, bug spray, or any other number of things you can buy at Wal-Mart.
        • How did caffeine get onto your list?

          To place it in its rightful rank along with other addictive substances. Tobacco and alcohol are not supposed to be directly marketed to kids. Caffeine can and is, which makes it even more of a problem. Britney singing, "For those who think young." That overly-cute little Pepsi girl. The teen targets of the Mountain Dew and Surge ads. Hell, there's a bloody Coke/Pepsi machine in damned near every public school, now.

          Why do you think caffeine became an additive (in addition to the natural caffeine in Kola nut) after its original addictive ingredient (coca -- natural cocaine) was outlawed? Gotta keep 'em hooked!

          Like most drugs, it isn't inherently bad. It's just that it is consumed far in excess (by most people, at least) of what is healthy. If you drank alcoholic beverages of any proof as frequently as most consume caffeinated drinks, your liver would revolt. The chronic presence of any toxin in your blood will trash your liver, which in turn causes all kinds of grief.

        • Caffeine kills about 2000 people per year according to the CDC, which is about 2000 more than marijuana kills.
    • Ah, but the amendment doesn't *give* you that freedom, the amendment recognizes the freedom as self-evident (as I understand it anyways)
  • Sleepless nights (Score:2, Interesting)

    by george399 (537785)
    This should be a wake up call to every person with a brain in their head. The idea that I have to pay taxes, in order to pay people to annoy & arrest decent citizens sure makes it hard to sleep at night.

    Sometimes I wish I was an American so I could (pretend to) make my vote count, and get rid of this 2nd wave of Reefer Madness. (Don't get me started on the ridiculous amount of resources wasted on marijuana enforcement).

    Now I guess I just wait until the FBI text scanner picks up the word marijuana in my post, eh?

  • Certainly this sounds like yet another worrisome development in the curtailment of freedom of speech on the Internet. However I think it's important we keep in mind this is only a recommendation at this point, not actual policy. In addition, I think it's important to consider the source of this article...Wired isn't exactly known for balanced reporting on free speech issues. (Better than /. maybe, but still ;-D)
  • by linzeal (197905)
    Few would remember when the government spoke for the people at all anymore. It has been decades since the people were protected as the corporations under these dehumanizing and dismal politics of souless neo-liberalism and age old conservitivism. Do not fall prey to the illusion of the democrats being anymore thoughtful on the nature of human rights. This system does not and will not stand for ethical progress on any scale, give up or take down that which impedes us!
  • The DOJ wants to target five types of people: drug offenders, legalization advocates, anarchists, and free-speech pushers. I only count four types of people there. Who are the mysterious fifth target group? Presumably terrorists, but that's hard to infer from the tone of this article. It seems that the DOJ thinks that ravers and First Amendment advocates are a bigger threat to America than Al-Qaida. Something's fucked up here.
    • There are three types of people: those that can count, and those that can't.
    • From DOJ website (URL posted previously):

      Other lawbreakers use drug websites to encourage minors to perpetrate crimes unrelated to drugs or to lure them into being victims of crime. Pornographers and pedophiles would fit this threat group.

      The fifth group is essentially "miscellaneous" ;-)

      Paul B.
  • "the DOJ wants to "[Target] five types of people [on the internet], including [...] people promoting 'an expanded freedom of expression' that pushes the boundaries of the First Amendment."

    So, slashdot then.
  • A S S H O L E ! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gnovos (447128) <gnovos AT chipped DOT net> on Thursday March 14, 2002 @04:40PM (#3164600) Homepage Journal
    I cannot stress enough how much of a complete and total jerkwad this guy is. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand how destroying or damaging the ONE AND ONLY THING that this country was founded is, by definition, bad for this country.

    If we cannot discuss the flaws of our current system of laws, then how can we ever hope to create new and better ones?

    Here's a very simple way to understadn what is so incredibly wring with everything that is going on in that guy's head: Take every single argument he makes and place the replace the word "legalization" with "slavery".

    Imagine if a hundred years ago people were hunted down by the government because they were against slavery laws?

    The current stance our country takes on drugs was NOT handed down by God. It was written by men who had motives. Maybe the laws are good, maybe they are NOT. ANY attempt to squash the discussion and merits of changing the laws is tantamount to advocating totalitarianism.

    A republic or a democracy where the "people" can not advocate new and better laws is not a free place. It is a banana republic.
    • No one were against slavery laws 100 years ago, at least not in the US, considering slavery was outlawed about 135 years ago. ;)
  • Anarchists... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mjed (514439)
    First of all, the DOJ (or for that matter, any government orginazation), has no right whatsoever to target (and presumably arrest) anarchists. As long as said anarchists have not committed a criminal offense, they are free to believe whatever they choose. This is the same as targeting Jews because they don't believe in Jesus. Only in America can basic civil rights be infringed upon with nary a peep from the public.
    • Worse yet, this is aimed at taking down the whole rave culture, good parts and (argubly) bad parts.

      This is the supression of a whole group of people. I don't rave, I don't see what the appeal in raving is, but I sure as hell will fight to protect their rights.

      Arresting people for possession of water bottles and glowsticks as "paraphenlia" is total and utter bullshit. This has to end. I'm glad that Slashdot saw it fit to post this story.
  • I can never read arguments against even permitting discussion of liberalizing drug laws without making a simple substitution:

    Replace "drug laws" with "slavery."

    We can't discuss ending slavery. We can't discuss the social costs of the misguided attempts to enforce slavery (e.g., the "recovery" laws that allowed abuse of free citizens of free states.) We can't even discuss the really braindead proposals, like the time Maryland (IIRC) proposed a law making all black freemen (and there many) slaves at the stroke of a pen.

    No, we gotta keep our head in the sand until the legitimate grievances blow up into a civil war. I don't want to do drugs, but I am terrified of "law enforcement agencies" who want to see kids FUCKING DIE from bad Ecstacy rather than be flexible enough to realize that DanceSafe saves lives... and is a far more effective anti-drug message than the official efforts.

    <B>NOTHING CANNOT BE DISCUSSED.</B>. I don't give a flying fuck about the morons who still think that we should be worker's paradise. Where I draw the line, and the only place I will accept this line being drawn, is at discussion of the violent overthrow of the legitimate government of the United States. The government that was duly elected by the majority of the voters, or at least the plurality.

    Like President Bus... Oh shit!
  • DOJ targeting legalization advocates, that is,
    just another group of people lobbying to change
    their country's laws peacefully. I see, Comrade
    Ashcroft...
  • From the article:
    You must have JavaScript enabled in order to use the Wired News Multimedia Player.We apologize for any inconvenience. That has set off alarm bells at the American Civil Liberties Union.

    God damn. Is there nothing the ACLU won't complain about?

We warn the reader in advance that the proof presented here depends on a clever but highly unmotivated trick. -- Howard Anton, "Elementary Linear Algebra"

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