Laws, Feds, & the Internet

Richard F. Dutcher rfdutcher at
Fri Feb 10 20:02:39 PST 1995

> Date:          Fri, 10 Feb 1995 18:17:55 -0500 (EST)
> From:          Dave Harvey <warrior at>
> Subject:       Re: Laws, Feds, & the Internet
> To:            "Richard F. Dutcher" <rfdutcher at>
> Cc:            cypherpunks at

> On Fri, 10 Feb 1995, Richard F. Dutcher wrote:
> > 
> > The following was in today's San Francisco Chronicle.  BTW, quoting 
> > the entire article as I have done is probably a violation of "fair 
> > use" - but de minimis ...
> > 
> > All under *current* law, folks.
> > 
> > [hmmm -- encryption doesn't do much for exhibitionists and 
> > braggarts, does it?  ;-]
> > 
> > ==============================
> [Article Deleted for the sake of Brevity]

And David Harvey wrote:

> Now mind you, this kind of writing is demented, however, what ever
> happened to fiction, free speech and such.  At this rate, Steven Spielberg
> should be in jail as well.  I thought you had to prove intent, the saying
> something or writing it is not bad as long as you didn't have the intent
> or present capability to carry out such.  BTW, I like all of Steven
> Spielberg's writings and movies, and now HB830 from Oregon rears its head
> and fangs.  Did this guy intend to threaten or was it fiction?  How would
> they even know? 
> Next thing you know they will limit all free speech.

They *do* have to prove intent -- as to how, that's what juries are 
for.  BTW, he used her real name in the post, with no disclaimers 
about fiction.  From what I have heard, if he had said the same thing 
in her presence, he could have been arrested for assault.

So is saying something that would be actionable in a public space
also actionable in a public cyberspace?  I dunno, and neither does
anyone else.  But it's a well-established principle that a threat is 
a shout of "Fire!" in a crowded theater.

The "Law" is very conservative.  Not like Newt the Grinch, but like 
the Catholic Church -- make the least change necessary to accomodate 
the pressures.  If you've got laws to cover telephones and cybercomm 
looks like telephones, get out the shoehorn.

"Free" speech has always been a balancing act.  The founders
certainly didn't intend to provide "free" speech for blacks and
women.  Our current case law structure is, in large part, the results
of the ACLU's 80-year struggle to prevent a repetition of the
wholesale imprisonment of dissidents during WWI.  Previously, people
were *commonly* tossed in local hoosegows [sp?] at the whim of the
local authorities for speaking out on anything [Quakers, Methodists,
Baptists, temperance, free love, abolition, suffrage, pacifists, 
Romanists, Masons, anti-masons, anarchists, populists, free silver, 
etc. ad nauseum].

"They" have never liked "free" speech ... :-(

Wei Dai has the right idea -- be a specialist, support other 
specialists.  [But keep those cards and letters coming ... ;-]

Rich Dutcher, San Francisco Greens
P.O. Box 77005, San Francisco, California 94107 USA

"That's libertarians for you - anarchists who want police protection from their slaves."
                          Kim Stanley Robinson, "Green Mars"

Greens, of course, only enslave plants - so weed-whackers work better than cops ...

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