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Judge Strikes Down COPA, 1998 Online Porn Law 348

Posted by kdawson
from the one-for-free-speech dept.
Begopa sends in word that a federal judge has struck down the Child Online Protection Act. The judge said that parents can protect their children through software filters and other less restrictive means that do not limit others' rights to free speech. This was the case for which the US Department of Justice subpoenaed several search companies for search records; only Google fought the order. The case has already been to the Supreme Court. Senior U.S. District Judge Lowell Reed Jr. wrote in his decision: "Perhaps we do the minors of this country harm if First Amendment protections, which they will with age inherit fully, are chipped away in the name of their protection."
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Judge Strikes Down COPA, 1998 Online Porn Law

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  • by Short Circuit (52384) * <mikemol@gmail.com> on Thursday March 22, 2007 @10:54AM (#18443265) Homepage Journal
    For once, the mouth on the Censorship icon should have the black strip removed. This law has been the dark specter over every forum I've seen for years, and many non-communication-related services, too.

    The question is, is COPA finally dead, for good? No more judgements to be made on the case? Please? The article doesn't specify if it could be appealed again.

    I realize they'll just pass another law with similar provisions, but at least this helps set the tone in the courts.
  • bout time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 22, 2007 @10:56AM (#18443305)
    Its about time that courts are finally seeing that our personal liberties are more important than fascist legislation that only appears to protect us and/or our children. Lets hope more are to follow.
  • Awesome (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arootbeer (808234) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @10:57AM (#18443327)
    This is a Good Thing®. I'm so tired of hearing about how people aren't being responsible enough, so we need to remove those responsibilities from them. Seems kinda counterintuitive to me.

    Community standards are not a good way to police a country that promises liberty and justice for all.
  • Quote FTA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RingDev (879105) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @10:59AM (#18443367) Homepage Journal
    "It is not reasonable for the government to expect all parents to shoulder the burden to cut off every possible source of adult content for their children, rather than the government's addressing the problem at its source," a government attorney, Peter D. Keisler, argued in a post-trial brief.

    Mr. Keisler then pointed at a child in the back of the the court playing a PSP and continued, "I mean, it's not like I have time to watch this brat."

    -Rick
  • Props (Score:1, Insightful)

    by R3s0lut3 (861752) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @11:03AM (#18443437)
    I know Google has been falling out of favour with the /. crowd of late, but I think they really deserve some big kudos on this matter. If they hadn't stood up to the DoJ on this one, no one would have and this law would still be in place. Way to not be evil!
  • by voice_of_all_reason (926702) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @11:04AM (#18443475)
    but this seems like an odd reason to strike it down, since children aren't given the same rights as adults in our society.

    Heck, let's just remove all prisoner's rights, because they don't have the same rights as free citizens in our society. I like the way you think.
  • by Short Circuit (52384) * <mikemol@gmail.com> on Thursday March 22, 2007 @11:06AM (#18443503) Homepage Journal

    which they will with age inherit fully
    It's not about harm done the children as children, but the harm done the children as human beings.
  • by MikeRT (947531) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @11:11AM (#18443575) Homepage
    And just how many families are going to give up that unnecessary second income? *crickets chirping* I thought so.

    I've seen a lot of people of both sexes talk the talk, but then not even walk at all when it's time to walk the walk.

    Parental responsibility includes a recognition that your needs aren't important compared to your family's. You like your job, but don't need it to support your kids? You have a moral obligation to quit if it is getting in the way at all of being a parent.

    But we can't say that today because that's "sexist" and "backward." Funny how well "modernity" seems to be working out for families. Divorce rates through the roof, kids screwed up right and left, but hey, let's ignore all of that and focus on abstract ideas that make us feel good, right?
  • Re:Props (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vidarh (309115) <vidar@hokstad.com> on Thursday March 22, 2007 @11:13AM (#18443615) Homepage Journal
    You completely miss the point: Google did not fight COPA - they fought a subpoena asking them to hand over search data that the DOJ wanted to use to try to find examples of how "innocent" searches would return porn, only. Since the government got that data from the other targets, and got some data from Google too, Google's stand on the matter had little to no effect on the overall case.

    Instead of fawning over Google, thank Salon.com and the other sites that sued, and ACLU for helping them.

  • by EzInKy (115248) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @11:15AM (#18443641)

    "Perhaps we do the minors of this country harm if First Amendment protections, which they will with age inherit fully, are chipped away in the name of their protection," wrote Senior U.S. District Judge Lowell Reed Jr. I'm not sure where I sit on this law, but this seems like an odd reason to strike it down, since children aren't given the same rights as adults in our society. The most obvious example of this is the right to vote. This comment seems to be out of line with the rest of the opinion.


    If you take away the rights of adults today there will be none for minors to inherit tomorrow.
    .
  • by zrobotics (760688) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @11:15AM (#18443645)
    The real question I've always had is: Why is porn bad for kids? Seriously, I can't come up with any reason at all. Unless it's ultra-violent rape porn or something, porn is typically far less disturbing to a kid than the evening news.

    Wait, that's it. Censor CNN!!
  • finally (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mastershake_phd (1050150) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @11:19AM (#18443709) Homepage
    Finally a Judge who understands the First Amendment. Now if we could just get "Inciting a Riot", and "Disturbing the Peace" laws struck down.
  • by realmolo (574068) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @11:21AM (#18443745)
    While I agree with you in principle, you seem to be confused about the "unnecessary second income".

    For a LOT of families, that second income is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. Mortgage payments are higher than they've ever been. Gas prices are higher than they've ever been. Work for a company that doesn't provide insurance? Insurance prices are ASTRONOMICALLY high.

    Throw a couple of kids into the mix, and anyone at or below the "lower-middle-class" income bracket is struggling, big-time.

    Yes, a lot of those families probably don't manage their money particularly well. But even if they did, they probably wouldn't be saving much. They'd still live paycheck-to-paycheck, they just wouldn't be going into debt every month to pay bills.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 22, 2007 @11:27AM (#18443845)
    The legislators *already* made the law. It's the constitution. If the free speech provisions are an obstacle to protecting children, the legislators can propose an amendement to it.

    Good luck with that.
  • by dragonsomnolent (978815) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @11:28AM (#18443851) Homepage
    Personally I think that for once someone was thinkingofthechildren, just thought of their well being in the long run, as opposed to the present.
  • by TheAxeMaster (762000) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @11:30AM (#18443881)
    You didn't say which parent should quit their job and it doesn't matter. If one of the two incomes in a household can support the household, the other one can and probably should quit. It doesn't matter which parent that is.
     
    Though the truth is that almost everything is sexist one way or another. The average person would probably assume that the statement above was referring to the female in the household. The "femenist" would assume the same and get pissed about it because it is sexist. But try being a good father with a good job and trying to get full custody of your kids from a bad mother and see what happens...life is skewed one way or the other.
     
    Back to the decision, I applaud it. I'm tired of parents not taking responsibility for their kids. If they don't want them to see porn on the internet but aren't willing to put forth the effort to filter the content, then they should cut off their kids' access to the net. It really is that simple, no matter what they say.
  • by ericski (20503) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @11:32AM (#18443911)
    You have a moral obligation to quit if it is getting in the way at all of being a parent.

    Well, my kids need a house, food, and clothing. Me going to work sometimes gets in the way of some of my parenting but if I quit my job because of that, they'd become homeless, starving kids. Dual incomes are needed for many a family to barely scrape by. My household, like many others, is a single parent, single income household. So your blanket statement needs refining. Things are not so simple when it comes to raising children.
  • by Ardeaem (625311) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @11:32AM (#18443925)

    Except that kind of reasoning is the job of legislators, not judges. Like many judges, he has forgotten his role and taken the job of dictator for life.
    Actually, all this judge did was say that this law was inconsistent with another, higher law (the Constitution). Simply because he notes that the First Amendment is a good idea for adults doesn't mean he's a dictator.

    When did protecting Constitutional rights become being a dictator? This is EXACTLY his job.

  • by forand (530402) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @11:33AM (#18443949) Homepage
    Perhaps I am wrong but I read it as sarcasm. Most of the people I know feel they must have the second income to live a "comfortable" lifestyle. That being said I know others who have three kids and survive off only one income which is not very good in and of itself. So I guess I can see it both ways: we feel we need the second jobs but we most certainly do not, your family will not starve or be out on the street with only one bread winner but you might not be able to afford two cars and all the crapy in the garage.
  • by malkavian (9512) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @11:34AM (#18443963) Homepage
    The thing is, a generation ago, this wasn't the case.
    Over the last 30 years, both partners have started working. At the beginning of this, the two worker partnerships brought in a very good sum, comparatively.
    So, it became the thing to do, as everyone wanted to get the 'extras'. And as more money was available within limited segments (read the housing market), the prices rose to the point that the new double incomes would be able to support.
    Childcare services were now more in demand, which meant the prices were able to inflate commensurately too.
    So, in effect, what we have now is more or less the same quality of life overall that was available a generation ago, except it now requires two partners to be working to maintain that standard, rather than one.
    The option to have one partner working has more or less vanished, unless you're really willing to cut corners.
  • by Pojut (1027544) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @11:34AM (#18443979) Homepage
    And this is why when i turned 13, my parents bought me a porno mag...they used it as a diagram for "the talk". Instead of telling me NOT to have sex, they encouraged me to have SAFE sex. Teaching abstinance helps no one, teaching safe sex helps everyone.

    Seemed to work pretty good to me, I turned out well.
  • by mungtor (306258) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @11:43AM (#18444099)
    I think one of the things to consider is whether the lifestyle afforded by the second income is necessary. You don't _need_ a 4500 sq ft McMansion, a pool, a live-in nanny, and 2 $50k+ SUVs. Housing is expensive because too many dual income "families" are willing to overbid on a house where the greatest feature is that it's close to work.

    Most people are unwilling or incapable of changing their lifestyle to provide a decent home for their kids. It seems that most parents are completely unwilling to give up their toys. Maybe because they didn't get them when they were younger or something, but generally they're a pretty selfish lot lately. They have kids and buy them things just to gain status with the other dysfunctional idiots in their particular gated community.

    In the "lower-middle-class" bracket tho, you're screwed. You're pushed out of the housing markets by the other greedy fuckers who only had kids because they suddenly woke up to their own mortality. You can't afford to live close to work, so you lose 3 hours a day driving, leave before your kids are awake and get home just in time to eat dinner and put them to bed. If you care about your kids, it's depressing as hell.
  • by Martin Blank (154261) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @11:46AM (#18444149) Journal
    This law has been the dark specter over every forum I've seen for years, and many non-communication-related services, too.

    Are you sure you're not confusing COPA with COPPA? Both can apply to forums, but COPPA is a more constant point, requiring that forum admins collect parental permission from potential users age 12 or under.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 22, 2007 @11:58AM (#18444339)
    I was a kid not long ago and I remember growing up, when parents wasn't home looking for dads porn stash.

    I also remember one news broadcast showing a Palestinian being shot through the head.

    Guess what haunted me during the nights...
  • American Parents need to be prosecuted by our laws for the actions of their children. Growing up, I was constantly reminded by my teachers and my parents that if I commit a crime as a minor, my parents could be held equally accountable. Not knowing if that was actually true then, it seems like a pretty good idea to me. Placing the entire responsibility in plain view like this would be a positive post-action to this decision. Sure the liberals will quip "but what if [substitute a situation]", but lets get one thing straight here: You are the conscious of your children until they are 18 years old. Therefore, the ultimate responsibility for protection from all things evil and wrong is the parent. "What if my child is just wild, and just commits a crime to get me in trouble?" Let me say this: If you have a precedence set which shows you have done everything imaginable to prevent that crime from happening, how can you be held accountably negligent? In itself, this wipes out the majority of slacking little fund sucking little freeloading parents in the US that are basically asking Legislators to raise their children- in the schools, in the afterschool programs, and on the weekends. I'm sick of all the oversite. Childporn is wrong, disgusting, and a very real problem. However, the gating point for access to my children is me
  • Re:finally (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ScentCone (795499) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @12:13PM (#18444539)
    ...and my favorite, "Free Speech Areas" at political conventions.

    Um, just out of curiosity... if you and, say, 500 of your idealogical or cultural fellows applied for and got a permit to occupy a public street or use a facility of some sort, and held such an event... and then someone else gathered 1000 drum-banging loons you can't stand to march in and shout down the communication you're trying to have between yourself and your 500 friends, would you consider the complete inability to hold the event for which you obtained the permits, paid the fees, etc., to be an example of your first amendment rights being protected? Or would you consider the 1000 people without the permits, who are specifically stepping in to disrupt your activity, to be the ones at fault? Should every peaceful demonstration or political rally really just be a complete shouting and shoving and size-of-signs contest to see who can drown out who? Why is it that some people think that only disruptive and sometimes destructive street antics are valid discourse in a public space, and don't get the irony because their typical idealogical opponents don't consider such amateur theatrics to be actually persuasive, and as such they don't "retaliate" with the same when the roles are reversed?

    If your protesting or demonstration group - or, a much larger political organization to which you belong and which holds events that you attend - goes through the right steps to spend a day holding an event on the mall in DC (or wherever), would you consider your rights well looked after if your speeches or performances or other messages were simply disrupted/ended by idiots with giant puppets while the police, who are there to enforce the conditions of the permit that you properly obtained, just stand by and watch your event - and your use of the space you arranged to use - become worthless to you? You can't have it both ways.
  • by AndersOSU (873247) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @12:14PM (#18444567)
    I don't know why I feel compelled to join a debate every time a similar point comes up, but here I go again...

    Prison, and punishment in general is not about all about rehabilitation. Other important reasons for punishing law breakers include, but are not limited to, incapacitation, general and specific deterrence, and good old fashioned punishment.

    The measure of a persons punishment should consider much much more than the person's current rehabibility status.

    A couple of examples:

    A bum breaks a window because it gets really cold in Chicago in the winter - he'd rather face the punishment than freeze to death. Sure there may be better ways to stay warm, and he may have chosen unwisely, but given similar circumstances in the future he'd likely do the same thing. Do we lock him up forever for breaking a window - or execute him as you suggest?

    I get pulled over for speeding - 60 in a 55 zone, and pay my fine. Three months later I get pulled over again in the same spot again doing 60. Clearly I haven't been rehabilitated of my wanton need for speed. How do you deal with me?

    A severely mentally ill person is caught running around your local park naked. Rehab is impossible because there are no known treatments for his condition. Numerous experts testify that in the future he may cause more nuisance crimes, but he is in no way a danger to himself or others. Do we jail him? Is permanent civil commitment a better option? Do we execute all mentally handicap persons? What if is mother testifies that she takes care of him, and she foolishly left the back door unlocked allowing the streaker to escape. She vows that she will be more diligent - and points out that nothing like this has ever happened before. She also makes the excellent point that he will certainly be better cared for at her home than in a state institution. She unfortunately can't guarantee another event like this will never happen again - and as was previously mentioned the man certainly isn't rehabilitated.
  • "With age" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fang2415 (987165) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @12:18PM (#18444625) Journal

    First Amendment protections, which they will with age inherit fully

    Oh, that's right. I forgot about that part of the First Amendment that says that the protections it guarantees are limited to people above a certain age. Can somebody remind me exactly which age group of people it is to whom the Bill of Rights doesn't apply?

    Goodbye mod points, but I feel too strongly about this to keep my trap shut...

  • Re:finally (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sconeu (64226) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @12:19PM (#18444639) Homepage Journal
    Yep. Funny thing... I always thought (and was taught in school) that the ENTIRE COUNTRY was a "Free Speech Area".
  • by Sloppy (14984) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @12:26PM (#18444737) Homepage Journal

    Throw a couple of kids into the mix, and anyone at or below the "lower-middle-class" income bracket is struggling, big-time.
    I just wish we could figure who is forcing people to have kids.
  • Re:Yay for google (Score:3, Insightful)

    by voice_of_all_reason (926702) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @12:29PM (#18444799)
    That's one more choice than the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuremburg_defense [wikipedia.org]
  • by ScentCone (795499) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @12:34PM (#18444867)
    Bravery != Killing People
    Bravery == Saving Lives


    Nice sophomoric false dichotomy you've got going on there. Of course you know that, and you're just trolling.

    Even so... do you really find it brave to stand there while the thug you're lecturing does something irrational, like not listening to your well considered logic about how his life has gone astray and how much happier he'd be if he didn't actually, just now, rape your wife? Is your wife being brave, or cowardly, if she just lies there and takes it while the police take their 15-20 minutes to respond to your 911 call? Um, that's assuming the thug you're lecturing has allowed you to place such a call, and that you haven't frozen in your tracks trying to decide whether the police you're summoning will be either brave or cowardly if they're forced to use force to deal with someone who is irrational and dangerous. Wouldn't want to call the police if they're just going to show up and, cowards that they are, actually threaten the person raping your wife with harm if he doesn't stop what he's doing. Maybe you can talk your local PD into a brave new policy of only doing Greco-Roman wrestling when confronting murderous people?

    Suggesting that it's all just some either-other situation so that you can childishly demonize anyone who would actually defend themselves and their family is pretty embarassing, and suggests that you've not really ever had to face such a situation. Talk to some people who have, and then get back to us.
  • by sadler121 (735320) <msadler@gmail.com> on Thursday March 22, 2007 @12:40PM (#18444997) Homepage
    No couple is forced to work two jobs. If a couple works two jobs, it is more likely that they are living beyond there means. That could be buying expensive crap they don't need to inflate their ego in relation to their peers, or they are in a mountain of debt, most likely related to the results of living beyond their means.

    In the US, we have to have everything now, we can not wait for it to go on sale, and we deffiently can't wait to save up money to buy the product. I guess that is why the US has a negative savings rate [cbsnews.com].
  • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Thursday March 22, 2007 @12:45PM (#18445073) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, but this is early Windows, people reinstalled weekly anyway.
  • by Bluesman (104513) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @12:47PM (#18445139) Homepage
    Huh.

    I find the idea that minority people are so fundamentally different from white people that they can't be adequately represented by votes from other races both ridiculous and offensive.

    The fact that people think like this is a symptom of the triumph of democracy over a republican form of government. Politics in this country is no more about the rule of law but is now all about deciding which special interest group gets how big a slice of the pie.

    Unfortunately, arguing about who is getting their fair slice of pie in the context of political debate in a constitutional republic is asinine. We might as well argue about Anna Nicole Smith.
  • by mutterc (828335) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @12:47PM (#18445149)

    Why is porn bad for kids?

    The only reason I can think of, is the non-realistic behaviors.

    Imagine you were a 12-year-old boy, having no experience with real-world women, except through porn. You might learn:

    • Normal women are just a couple of drinks away from a girl-on-girl adventure.
    • If you blackmail/force a woman into sex, she'll end up enjoying it so much that she eventually thanks you.
    • (corollary) Prudes and/or lesbians just haven't had a good-enough-in-bed guy yet.
    • Group sex is common, and unlikely to tear apart one's primary relationship. Ditto cheating.
    • From the way porn is marketed, you might learn that sex is "dirty" or "nasty", and that women with a high sex drive are "out-of-control sluts".

    Not that all of these things don't have a place in healthy fantasies, but you need enough real-world experience to know where this differs from reality. Even if these kinds of ideas aren't learned overtly, they still could color a person's thinking if exposed to them enough in formative years.

  • by garett_spencley (193892) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @01:10PM (#18445585) Journal
    While I do mostly agree with your message, I wanted to reply to this particular point:

    For over a decade, sixty percent of the prison population is made up of minorities

    60% is only 10% greater than 50%. If the prison population was 50/50 minority/majority isn't that pretty much what you'd expect from a purely chaotic system where there isn't any "targetting" going on ? I mean one minority group would obviously represent a small portion of the population (hence the term "minority") but if you take all of the different minorities and group them together how much of the population do they represent ? I'm in no position to be making any kind of guesses but I'm sure it's a lot. I've heard that in Los Angeles the population is 50% Hispanic. So it would make sense that in LA jails 50% of the population would be Hispanic. In other words, 50% would be a "minority".

    I think this is most likely a case where statistics are used to bring awareness to a "problem" that doesn't really exist.

    A recent related example comes to mind (and this is really OT but it's an example of a blind statistic): I was watching a debate on TVO (public television in Ontario) about genetic screening in embryos to detect predisposition to disabilities. In the course of their debate a statistic arose that claimed that 80% to 90% of mothers who request genetic screening chose to terminate the pregnancy if a genetic mutation is found. However, as sobering as the statistic may be, it is only a statistic with no perspective or context placed on it. It completely ignores the fact that the mothers who chose the genetic screening probably do so because they've already made up their minds to terminate the pregnancy if a genetic mutation is present. Chances are, all of the pregnant women who chose not to undergo the screening are the ones who don't care and will raise the child regardless of whether or not they have a disability and the statistic does nothing to indicate what ratio of pregnant women chose the genetic screening vs. those who don't.

    To get back on topic, I would be very much interested in knowing what the total percentage of the population "minorities" (grouped together) represent in the USA. Take African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Muslims and all racial and ethnic minorities and put them all together and I wouldn't be surprised if they, collectively, represented 50 - 60% of the population. Of course I may be completely wrong. But either way that simple statistic completely ignores that issue.
  • Re:Free speech? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Vexorian (959249) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @01:17PM (#18445703)

    The law would have criminalized Web sites that allow children to access material deemed "harmful to minors" by "contemporary community standards." The sites would have been expected to require a credit card number or other proof of age. Penalties included a $50,000 fine and up to six months in prison.
    This is less about child porn and more about parents that want the government to babysit their children for free.
  • Re:Free speech? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Xentor (600436) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @02:06PM (#18446725) Homepage
    This isn't about child porn or murder.

    Child porn is completely illegal, because kids under 18 (Varies by state, actually) are legally unable to consent to it.

    COPA is about preventing children from SEEING LEGAL porn. Basically, I think COPA requires web sites to make an effort to prevent children from accessing stuff like that... You know, age checks, requiring credit cards to prove age, etc etc. The judge is saying that forcing webmasters to restrict their content like this is a violation of free speech, and that the government has no right to determine when a child is old enough to view adult material. That's the parents' job.

    (This is Slashdot, so I'm sure someone will chime in if I have this wrong)

    How did that meme go? I am intrigued by this judge's ideas, and would like to subscribe to his newsletter.
  • by Shadowlore (10860) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @02:46PM (#18447547) Journal
    For a LOT of families, that second income is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. Mortgage payments are higher than they've ever been. Gas prices are higher than they've ever been. Work for a company that doesn't provide insurance? Insurance prices are ASTRONOMICALLY high.

    Wages are higher then they have ever been, and more unnecessary luxuries are deemed as "necessary" than ever before. Blah blah blah. How about using real data? Raw numbers are irrelevant. you need to compare the indices to get a real picture.

    Yes, a lot of those families probably don't manage their money particularly well. But even if they did, they probably wouldn't be saving much. They'd still live paycheck-to-paycheck, they just wouldn't be going into debt every month to pay bills.

    You are so wrong and your assertion is a prime example of what is wrong. Congratulations you are perpetuating the problem.

    Fact is most people, including families, can save a lot of money by paying attention and separating needs from wants, then taking a hard look. For example, take the young couple who become parents. What is the "mainstream" route for them? both are to work so they can have two cars, cable or satellite, plenty of toys for the grown ups, buy formula and diapers. But what really happens? What is really needed? First, the secondary income (hers or his, usually hers) is dwindled away by the cost of childcare and additional taxes. For most people I've dealt with the net "loss" in income from mom staying home is very minor, and more than a third see a net increase in monthly cash flow. That job mom has making 1000/month is usually more like 150 after taking into account the cost of having the job such as transportation (including a second car and the accompanying payments and insurance), childcare, etc..

    Next we turn to the "cost of the child" beyond babysitting. Let us start with diapering. Most people lament the high cost of disposables. And rightly so. Disposable diapers are expensive as hell. Cloth diapers and a washing machine are much cheaper. Now I know many of you are having this image of a sheet of fabric held together by "safety pins". This is not the state of cloth diapering today, nor has it been for a decade. Today's cloth diapers are actually easier than disposables to use. A simple "pickle bucket" setup and a good washing machine will ensure that you don't have this stench about the house. If that isn't enough, the cloth diapered children are less cranky due to less irritation, and healthier due to not having chemicals applied to their nether regions that have been banned from feminine hygiene products for toxicity reasons. Using cloth diapers for the first year alone will save over two thousand dollars on average - including the cost of washing them.

    Now we turn to the other high cost of young children: formula. Again, by taking the natural route you can save thousands. In addition the children are healthier and happier (by not being as cranky and irritable). Breastfeeding is also very convenient for the parents as well. And while on this subject news flash: a separate nursery for the new baby with beds, changing tables, etc. is also entirely unnecessary. Another several thousand dollars you don't need to spend. Baby should sleep with mom and dad for the first year or so. Don't worry dad, if mom is breastfeeding you'll still sleep well -usually better even.

    I've done the mainstream route as well as the route listed above. I can personally vouch for over 5500 in savings for the above route over the "standard" of baby getting room with all manner of furniture, bottles, formula, disposable diapers, etc.. For one child, first year, not counting the unnecessary daily childcare costs. Yet all this is considered "absolutely necessary" today, and it isn't. Buying cotton clothing for your young children (birth through at least 3-4) instead of the more expensive polyester clothing will keep you from spending on "fad" clothing that is really unnecessary. honestly, your 6 month old doesn't care what
  • by fyngyrz (762201) * on Thursday March 22, 2007 @04:11PM (#18448889) Homepage Journal
    This additional punishment helps remind the felon that they made a choice, and choices have consequences.

    Mostly what it reminds the felon of is that he is a criminal, there is no going back, he has little to no hope in legitimate society in terms of job or rights, and so said felon will be best rewarded by honing skills that are outside legitimate society. In other words, one way or another, making you and yours a target for crime. For example, if he wants a gun, he has to steal yours. If he wants to live at a higher standard than the street, he needs to rob you. If he wants diamonds for his girlfriend, your wife's are easier to get than those in a jewelry store, and stealing those from a jewelry store are still easier than buying them. Unless he steals your money, of course. Voting? No, he cannot affect society that way - presuming he ever could. Insurance costs are higher for him, assuming he can even get insured. But he can't get a good job. He can get your money. Or if not, he can sell your daughter. People will do anything to survive; especially if they're pissed off at the people they're doing that "anything" to.

    Infinite punishment in the realm of a free person's rights and reputation is self-defeating for society. You might like the idea, but you really won't like the results when they get around to finding you. And the more people from whom we take these abilities, the more likely you and yours are to be victims. We're creating a broad underclass with a very specific set of skills and giving them a very good reason to resent the rest of us.

    Either adjust the punishment so that criminals who commit the crime at hand must remain in prison for a longer amount of time if you're not satisfied with the current punishment, or leave it the same if you are, but either way, when you release them from imprisonment say they've paid their dues. Don't mix public life with punishment. It is, in the final analysis, harmful to society at all levels.

    The same problem applies to prison conditions. They have to reach minimum standards of humanity. No rapes. No beatings. No exposure to STDs. A chance to improve one's self. Otherwise, when you release these people, you have been effectively beating the wasp's nest with a broom and you really shouldn't be surprised when the first thing that happens is they jam their stinger right into your tender parts. And you know what? After they mug you and kill your spouse, there's no fixing it. And just as you want to tell those felons your ideas about post-prison punishment "helps remind the felon that they made a choice, and choices have consequences", I would simply say the same to you. You made a choice to abuse these people far beyond what is reasonable for society's sake, and now the consequences have come home to roost. maybe next time, you'll be smarter. Because for you, there is nowhere to turn.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 22, 2007 @05:03PM (#18449751)
    The only reason I can think of, is the non-realistic behaviors.

    So, are you saying that we shouldn't expose children to anything non-realistic? Obviously, their little brains can't handle it -- watching Sesame Street will make them go digging around in garbage cans looking for friendly puppets, you know. Playing Super Mario Brothers will teach them that you can break bricks by jumping into them, and eating flowers will let you shoot fireballs from your hands.

    Children aren't as stupid as people want to believe.
  • by fyngyrz (762201) * on Thursday March 22, 2007 @05:21PM (#18450001) Homepage Journal

    Lending, housing, employment, education, clearance, (lack of) privacy, forfeiture of rights, mandatory registration, classing and suppression of political power.

    There's a full array of law out there to make sure these people remain as criminal as possible in their behavior once released. Don't you worry about that. No, sir. And they'll stay away from you out of pure respect. Sure they will.

  • by Sloppy (14984) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @09:14PM (#18452945) Homepage Journal

    Would you rather that everyone just stop having kids?

    I'd rather they take some fuckin' responsibility, instead of having kids w/out thinking about it. Or instead, going ahead anyway, and then being whiney bitches about how they can't afford it because they didn't get their financial shit together first. I'd rather they think about things instead of blaming other people or "the economy."

    It's a huge committment and responsiblity. Take it seriously, people.

  • by StikyPad (445176) on Friday March 23, 2007 @12:16AM (#18454545) Homepage
    Perhaps it's the permanent disenfranchisement that bothers you. You know, that bothers me a bit, too.

    Ironically, a felon isn't precluded from holding many elected positions.

    As far as removing the right to vote, I don't see the point. Crime is an antisocial behavior, and voting is social participation. We should discourage the former by encouraging the latter.

    Additionally, you are incorrect that numbers are irrelevant, because it's based on the premise that all laws are just and equally applied. When an unjust law, or the unequal application of a law, causes one group to lose what little influence it had, it creates a self-sustaining injustice, particularly when you remove the right to vote because then the disenfranchised group no longer holds enough sway to elect officials which will either repeal the unjust law, or work toward equal application.

    In essence, it makes a mockery of the concept of democracy, particularly for extreme examples of the above. If a law were passed which, for example, made the possession or consumption of alcohol a felony, and the majority of people decided not to comply and subsequently became felons, then the law might stand indefinately, despite the fact that many (perhaps the majority of) people disagree with it. Ideally, people would abstain until the law could be repealed, however reality somewhat differs from ideals.

    I feel similarly about firearms. I know -- most people's reaction will be, "How can you say that? Why would you ever give a gun to a convicted murderer?" However, I believe (all) felons should still have the same rights to self-defense as anyone else (once they've served their time), and I believe that attempting to curtail that right is rather pointless, in that anyone who is not dissuaded by the laws against murder and physical violence will not be dissuaded by a law against possession of a firearm. It only hurts the people who want to be law abiding, who are the very people we should be helping. The counter-argument would be that highly impulsive people would be more dangerous if they were allowed to keep a firearm than if they did not. However even if that is true, other considerations must be made. First, if people are not to be given second chances, then why let them out of jail? Second, an entire group should not be punished for the actions (especially the potential actions) of a few. Third, preemptive action (i.e., you might do A, therefore we will restrict your rights in order to reduce the opportunity/liklihood) tends to be self destructive for a society. I think a restriction during probation would be fine, as long as there was a method to request exemptions in circumstances of high risk, i.e., the dealer who testified against his supplier for a reduced sentence (assuming he made it out of jail alive).

The F-15 Eagle: If it's up, we'll shoot it down. If it's down, we'll blow it up. -- A McDonnel-Douglas ad from a few years ago

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