CMC Magazine: November 1998

An Argument Contra Censorship, by Mark E. Kraynak


1Witness the free web space available at Geocities and others. A good listing of places to obtain free web page space is available at wave3tech.

2An underlying assumption, in my opinion, of the Comstock Act of 1873 which outlawed the use of "obscene, lewd or lascivious" material, and of the Supreme Courtís current definition of obscenitya aFrom the American Civil Liberties Union Briefing Paper Number 14 :

"...The Supreme Court's current definition of constitutionally unprotected Obscenity, first announced in a 1973 case called Miller v. California, has three requirements. The work must 1) appeal to the average person's prurient (shameful, morbid) interest in sex; 2) depict sexual conduct in a "patently offensive way" as defined by community standards; and 3) taken as a whole, lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value."
3A fantastically amusing example of which is the Texas driver's license information page, which gives access to a database of information on people holding Texas driver's licenses and license plates. The old URL ( was outlawed in the US, so they moved offshore to the beatific island of Anguilla in the Caribbean and their new URL (http://www.PublicData.Com).

4I have worked on and off as an Internet security consultant for a variety of large US corporations. Ironically enough, every time I've talked with a security administrator about who's really doing the dirty downloading, it's been the folks in the executive offices, and not Joe Cubicle, who've been responsible for the lion's share of this kind of stuff. Still, the perception exists that it is Joe Cubicle and not Joe VP who's out there looking for surfing for sexually explicit material.

5Witness the fact that it often takes lengthy, controversial court trials for judges to figure out whether something is indeed obscene.

6Pretty Good Privacy, for instance, is available for free download on the web at MIT.

7Funded, ironically enough, by the Department of Defense via the Defense Advanced Research Projects Association.

8Witness the black background effort which began once the Communications Decency Act of 1996 was enacted.

9Granted, this assumes the parents are anywhere near as technology competent as their children, which rarely is the case.

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