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[P]
Bring on the filters

By aphrael in News
Wed Jun 25, 2003 at 11:06:13 AM EST
Tags: Internet (all tags)
Internet

A plurality of the US Supreme Court today held that the Internet is not a "traditional public forum" on the grounds that only those things which have "immemorially been held in trust for the use of the public and, time out of mind, ... been used for purposes of assembly, communication of thoughts between citizens, and discussing public questions" qualify as traditional public forums; nor does Internet access within libraries constitute a "designated public forum", because they have not been explicitly designated as such.


This subtle point was enclosed within the Chief Justice's plurality opinion, whose primary thrust was to argue that it's perfectly fine for Congress to require, as a condition of receiving federal government aid for the purpose of providing Internet access, that libraries install Internet filtering software: the government is allowed to define what it is paying for, unless it is requiring an unconstitutional activity of other government agencies; and filtering software is clearly not unconstitutional as the Internet is not a public forum.

(There is actually a kernel of a good point here: libraries which do not wish to install such software can reject the federal grant money, and installing such software but allowing it to be overridden at patrons' request does not actually prevent access, so it is somewhat hard to see a constitutional violation. But the phrasing is unfortunate).

Much hay was made on both sides about the question of whether or not libraries actually do disable the filtering software on request - but Justice Kennedy has a good procedural point when he observes that failure to do so would be the basis for an as-applied challenge (eg., a suit saying the law is unconstitutional as applied) as opposed to a facial challenge (eg., a suit saying the law is simply flat-out unconstitutional with any conceivable application).

The major difference between the plurality and its concurrences and the three dissenters appears to be whether or not requesting the unblocking of a site is a major burden on speech. Justice Stevens has an entertaining analogy when he observes that "it's as though the statute requires a significant part of every library's reading materials to be kept in unmarked, locked rooms or cabinets, which could be opened only in response to specific requests. Some curious readers would in time obtain access to the hidden materials, but many would not."1 I think Justice Breyer has a better point, though, when he compares the unblocking procedure to the cumbersome interlibrary loan procedure (although surely part of the point to modernizing our infrastructure is to do away with such antiquated procedures).

Reading the opinions, I'm reluctantly forced to agree with the outcome (although not the rhetoric: I'm particularly unhappy with the bold claim that the Internet is not a public forum) in theory: in theory, given perfectly functioning software, there is nothing wrong with requiring filters which can be disabled by any adult. However, in practice it's problematic: filtering software does not work, it both overblocks and underblocks, and there are no alternatives. I look forward to the as-applied challenges which dispute the constitutionality of using particular software packages for filtering.

1The statute does not, however, require a wizened monk to refuse access to the locked cabinets to all but the most intrepid explorers; nor does it require the pages of unpalatable books to be laced with poison.

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Bring on the filters | 151 comments (95 topical, 56 editorial, 0 hidden)
Let's fight it at the state level... (4.83 / 6) (#10)
by dipierro on Mon Jun 23, 2003 at 03:45:49 PM EST

First of all, I'd like to note that the plurality opinion is totally non-binding, since it is not a majority. Only the judgement, which received a majority concurrance, sets a binding precedent.

Now that that's out of the way, I propose that we continue to fight the CIPA at the state level. Most if not all state constitutions contain their own version of the first amendment. The states' highest courts (which aren't always called supreme courts) have the final say in interpreting their own constitution. For instance, in New Jersey it is illegal to search someone's car without probable cause even if you get permission from the car's owner, even though the SCOTUS has ruled that this is not necessary.

If a state's high court rules that a library cannot implement these filters without violating the state consitution, then that decision may not be appealed to the SCOTUS. Sure, in the short term that means no library within that state will receive that portion of funding which is tied to compliance, but if enough states pass these decisions, Congress will be forced to repeal the CIPA.



Library by Library (2.50 / 2) (#120)
by feline on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 11:42:33 PM EST

Instead of embroiling ourselves in a lengthy court battle in a state's highest court to prevent any library in the state from receiving funds, why wouldn't one simply ask their library to reject the funding in favor of freedom.

Ideally, if enough libraries did this, the Congress would reconsider its stance, and without the trouble of going to the state.

[ Parent ]

plenty of libraries are doing that (none / 0) (#132)
by ethereal on Wed Jun 25, 2003 at 01:06:57 PM EST

At least around here in Illinois. Partly out of the free speech implications, and partly because (according to at least one library director) the management of the filtering would add up to just about the amount of the federal grants in the first place.

Most libraries around here seem to have settled on a reasonable system: children's computers are filtered but adults aren't, and if you're viewing something that bothers the other patrons, the librarian will make the call and ask you to stop. No need for any mandatory filtering, and each community ends up making the decision based on their relative tolerance for certain kinds of information.

Here's a question: would a library in one of those senior citizen retirement villages (no kids allowed) have to install filters? By definition, all patrons are adults and not liable to be warped by evil evil pornography, right?

Just another example of an unwise and unnecessary federal law, IMHO.

--

Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

sheer numbers (none / 0) (#144)
by dipierro on Thu Jun 26, 2003 at 12:23:02 AM EST

There are only 50 states. There are thousands of libraries. Besides, the libraries are being paid to make the wrong decision. Judges are required to remain neutral.

[ Parent ]
how many sites (5.00 / 1) (#12)
by slothman on Mon Jun 23, 2003 at 04:02:34 PM EST

Here's a question. Does CIPA have any provisions on the type of filter? Canm I program my own that only blocks a few sites and still get money?

No (5.00 / 2) (#13)
by dipierro on Mon Jun 23, 2003 at 04:30:38 PM EST

It's up to the Secretary of Education to determine whether or not you are "failing to comply substantially." The Secretary's decision can, of course, be appealed to the court system, but if you're only blocking a few sites your appeal will fail.

[ Parent ]
Yes (none / 0) (#130)
by GhostfacedFiddlah on Wed Jun 25, 2003 at 12:20:43 PM EST

The question was whether he'd be able to write it and get money, not whether the libraries would have to buy some new software after he gets on his plane to Mexico :)

[ Parent ]
My new library filter (2.83 / 6) (#14)
by TheOnlyCoolTim on Mon Jun 23, 2003 at 04:39:38 PM EST

playboy.com 127.0.0.1
goatse.cx 127.0.0.1
cumfiesta.com 127.0.0.1
tubgirl.com 127.0.0.1

There we go.

Tim
"We are trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death."

You host all those sites? (4.78 / 14) (#16)
by Tex Bigballs on Mon Jun 23, 2003 at 04:56:36 PM EST

you sick fuck

[ Parent ]
no, yousickfuck.com is mine [nt] (5.00 / 2) (#31)
by j1mmy on Mon Jun 23, 2003 at 08:07:55 PM EST



[ Parent ]
I am on to you, Tom Jerry of Hollywood, CA! [nt] (none / 0) (#32)
by pb on Mon Jun 23, 2003 at 08:55:13 PM EST


---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]
Watch your back, son. (1.00 / 1) (#66)
by j1mmy on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 08:18:30 AM EST

lest I act out some of the vignettes I create for yougotadickallupinyourass.com.


[ Parent ]
Who Chooses? (4.66 / 6) (#23)
by Gedvondur on Mon Jun 23, 2003 at 05:55:30 PM EST

I think the real fight is now going to be about who chooses what is objectionable content.  I am not sure  how that can be handled.  I do know that I don't trust SurfPatrol or WebSense any farther than I can spit a rat.

Corporations can be bribed or unduly influenced.  Lets say that WebSense gets installed at 75% of libraries and then the Southern Baptist Conferance buys them.  Hoo-boy, that could end badly.

Too many freedoms are removed by people crying "What about the children?!?" and this is another example.

You need to guide your children in what they read, according to your own beliefs.  That goes for the Internet too.  Just don't force it on everyone.

Gedvondur
"Er. You loony bastard, what do you make of this?"--Lance-Constable Detritus

Ed Does (3.00 / 2) (#86)
by feline on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 01:57:58 PM EST

Since the final decision on compliance is handled by the Department of Education, it would seem that they would decide which standards are put in place. If you're using Websense or whatever and Ed doesn't dig the sites that they allow or disallow, then Websense won't be suitable option.

[ Parent ]
How far CAN you spit a rat? (4.00 / 1) (#123)
by mjfgates on Wed Jun 25, 2003 at 12:40:54 AM EST

And, do you get better distance pooting them head-first or tail-first?

[ Parent ]
Rat Spitting Technique (5.00 / 1) (#129)
by Gedvondur on Wed Jun 25, 2003 at 10:09:18 AM EST

It's more of a side thing.  You bite it on it's side and spit it.  Head or tail simply doesn't give you enough material to blow against.  In rat-spitting circles, that's called "drafting".  That air pressure is vital for extra distance.

However, it should be noted that regardless of which of the many rat-spitting techniques you use, the damn thing doesn't go that far.  :-)

Gedvondur
"Er. You loony bastard, what do you make of this?"--Lance-Constable Detritus
[ Parent ]

rather blase... (3.50 / 2) (#26)
by Work on Mon Jun 23, 2003 at 06:57:07 PM EST

This is a pretty dull ruling. The case for the govt though is pretty obvious... libraries already choose not to include porn in their printed collections, therefore not including porn on their internet isn't all that different.

The view of the internet as a public forum is debateable, as it depends on what one defines the primary use of the internet is. Is it public discussion? Information retrieval? One imagines in the sense of a library, one is going to use it for information retrieval rather than public debate.

The court does leave it open though to future question. As it's highly likely that infractions are bound to happen de facto, the de jure constitutionality of the law really won't mean much. But it will take time to establish the fact it doesn't work in the eyes of the court.

The plurality of the ruling further compounds how tenuously the court views this.

All in all, its a 'we'll wait and see how this goes' ruling and not really groundbreaking.

huh? (4.00 / 1) (#33)
by pb on Mon Jun 23, 2003 at 09:02:55 PM EST

The Internet is a public forum in exactly the same way that the telephone system is a public forum... it obviously isn't 'a public forum' by itself, but it can contain public fora. I don't see why those would be any less deserving of the same protections that any other public forum would have.

For example... um... IRC, USENET, kuro5hin or any other weblog, etc., etc., can all be (and often are) used in this fashion. And if they weren't, then there would be substantially less (and more boring) information to be retrieved on The Internet. (like .PDFs of Supreme Court decisions, sans commentary)

Also, I don't see why a single "primary purpose" has to come into it. That would be like asking what the primary purpose of the phone system is--business or personal use?

It'll be interesting to see what the libraries end up doing, and how little filtering they can get away with. Hopefully they won't be required to fully enable one crappy filtering package or another that ends up effectively censoring much of the web, as these things are wont to do. Can't they at least whitelist most of the stuff that isn't in the "Mature Content" section of Google Directory or something? Or will we all be limited to just disney.com now...
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]

whaaAAt? (none / 0) (#68)
by martingale on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 09:09:23 AM EST

libraries already choose not to include porn in their printed collections,
Now you tell me! And here I've been spending all my free time going to the library looking for dirty pictures. I've already gone through the telephone book section without luck (you know, like in those late night commercials?) and now I'm halfway through the chemistry section (chemistry, nudge nudge, wink wink, get it?). You can't be serious! Are you absolutely sure? No porn at all? I think I'm going to faint.

[ Parent ]
Libraries Stock What Patrons Demand (3.00 / 2) (#90)
by feline on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 02:15:10 PM EST

...libraries already choose not to include porn in their printed collections, therefore not including porn on their internet isn't all that different...

A librarian choose the components of his collection by evaluating how he could defend the addition to any patron that disagreed with the inclusion of the material in the system. He could say that someone specifically requested that particular item be included, or that there is some inherent value in the work.

One can obviously see that many patrons would feel uncomfortable asking for the addition of Barely Legal to sit next to 'Buisness Week' on the magazine rack, and thus it's unlikely that a librarian can justify the addition of pornography based on patron demand. Likewise, a librarian is unlikely to say to his constituents that he sees an intellectual or artistic value in that issue of Barely Legal.

Thus, the library doesn't stock printed porography in its collection because there is no available justification for doing so.

Work asserts that not including porn in the explicit collection isn't 'all that different' from not allowing patrons to access pornography on the library's computers. However, allowing it can be justified to the public by saying that pornography isn't accessed in a 'push' manner, but by a pull.

Ideally, a patron that wants to see Barely Legal on the web actively seeks out that material, requesting it as he might request the library carry the printed version if he weren't so shy.

[ Parent ]

well hell (2.00 / 5) (#27)
by Recreational Abortion on Mon Jun 23, 2003 at 07:04:14 PM EST

what is this, "let's listen to NPR and do a writeup" week?  I can read about current events somewhere else, let's get some original content.
----
colorless green ideas sleep furiously
well (4.33 / 3) (#28)
by Work on Mon Jun 23, 2003 at 07:27:05 PM EST

then read the ruling for yourself and provide your own commentary. I find court ruling synopsis to be lacking as it doesnt include the nuances of language used by the justices. They are very deliberate people in their words. Eloquent too.

[ Parent ]
er no. (4.25 / 4) (#35)
by aphrael on Mon Jun 23, 2003 at 09:08:42 PM EST

this is 'read the supreme court decision and write about it', which (if you look at my story record) is a fairly traditional activity for me.

[ Parent ]
I think I speak for everyone when I say... (1.43 / 37) (#29)
by BinaryTree on Mon Jun 23, 2003 at 07:34:34 PM EST

WRONG BITCH
I'M SICK OF YOU
AND YOUR LAME STORIES
NOBODY HERE THINKS YOU'RE FUNNY
NOBODY HERE WANTS TO READ YOUR STORIES
IN FACT
IF YOU DIED RIGHT NOW
I DON'T THINK ANYBODY WOULD CARE
SO WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THAT FAG


Oh yeah and... (2.57 / 7) (#30)
by BinaryTree on Mon Jun 23, 2003 at 07:39:24 PM EST

+1 FP.


[ Parent ]
"Anyway, so as I was saying..." (2.85 / 7) (#34)
by pb on Mon Jun 23, 2003 at 09:05:51 PM EST

  • bt left the room (Kicked by manobes: don't be a dick).
  • bt [~sgn@cloaked.socal.rr.com] entered the room.

---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]
Not the problem (1.75 / 12) (#36)
by duncan bayne on Mon Jun 23, 2003 at 09:40:16 PM EST

The problem isn't public library policy - it's public libraries. What right has the Government to take peoples money by force, and set up a book-borrowing system in competition with the book market? None.

See The Scourge Of Public Libraries for a good argument against public libraries.



What right? (4.00 / 3) (#37)
by qpt on Mon Jun 23, 2003 at 11:23:57 PM EST

They appear to have a legal right. I highly doubt that any challenge brought through the courts against the public library system would succeed.

Beyond that, what do you want? A moral right? Hah. Might as well ask permission from Zeus. Consult the ancestral spirits, would you, and ask about the government's right to operate libraries.

Domine Deus, creator coeli et terrae respice humilitatem nostram.
[ Parent ]

Agreed :-( (1.85 / 7) (#39)
by duncan bayne on Mon Jun 23, 2003 at 11:31:49 PM EST

The Government has no moral right to enforce compulsory taxation.  Libraries funded by voluntary taxation would be moral, provided:

 - the taxpayers consented to have their money spent on libraries
 - the book publishers didn't preclude libraries from publicly lending their books

Of course, you're right in that there is a legal 'right' for the Government to steal money, & with that money buy books, then lend those books to people, all without asking permission from the publishers.

Under our current system, morality and legality are often far removed.


[ Parent ]

I'm content. (3.00 / 1) (#41)
by qpt on Mon Jun 23, 2003 at 11:37:13 PM EST

Since I'm not a mystic, I don't believe in morality, as such. Certain behaviors are socially efficacious, yes, and often personally satisfying, but certainly not obligatory.

Domine Deus, creator coeli et terrae respice humilitatem nostram.
[ Parent ]

Morality (4.00 / 3) (#43)
by duncan bayne on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 12:01:33 AM EST

You don't have to be a mystic to believe in morality; rational self-interest doesn't demand a God dictating your behaviour.   See www.importanceofphilosophy.com for details.

[ Parent ]
A Randian! (4.00 / 3) (#45)
by qpt on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 12:08:46 AM EST

No, I'm not going to laugh.

However, why should one be obligated to act in his own self interest, and how is establishing and maintaining a system of public libraries contrary to the self interest of the government bureaucrats who do so?

Domine Deus, creator coeli et terrae respice humilitatem nostram.
[ Parent ]

Sigh (5.00 / 1) (#46)
by duncan bayne on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 12:11:29 AM EST

Firstly, I'm not a Randroid - I have as much of a beef with the quasi-religious nature of the ARI, and the relativist stance of the TOC, as do many non-Objectivists.

However - no-one should be obligated to act in his own rational self-interest, but morality is based upon the freedom to do so.  That is, around non-initiation of force (& the subset of force known as fraud).

I guess you didn't read the material on the site, huh? :-)


[ Parent ]

Are you proposing (none / 0) (#47)
by qpt on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 12:13:12 AM EST

A non-obligatory morality? One that people needn't follow if they don't like, but boy, it sure would be nice if they did?

I'm not sure that qualifies as a morality.

Domine Deus, creator coeli et terrae respice humilitatem nostram.
[ Parent ]

Sorta (5.00 / 1) (#48)
by duncan bayne on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 12:16:59 AM EST

Sort of - no-one need act in their own rational self-interest, *provided* they don't initiate force or fraud against others.  

Thus, I can paint my head purple, claim there's a God, & eat nails - that's my choice, and though immoral w.r.t. myself, only becomes immoral w.r.t. *others* (and hence illegal) if I try to force others to do likewise.


[ Parent ]

There's that provided! (none / 0) (#49)
by qpt on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 12:24:10 AM EST

Am I obligated to refrain from stabbing people in the eyes or not? Assume I'm clever enough to get away with it.

Domine Deus, creator coeli et terrae respice humilitatem nostram.
[ Parent ]

No (5.00 / 1) (#50)
by duncan bayne on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 12:37:09 AM EST

You are obligated not to initiate force or fraud against someone.  

You may stab someone in the eyes if that's a reasonable response to force that has been initiated against you - i.e., in self defense.  Or, you may stab someone in the eyes if he's given you genuine consent.

You may *not* simply walk up to someone and attack him, in any fashion, including stabbing in the eyes - i.e., intiate force against another.


[ Parent ]

Finally. (none / 0) (#52)
by qpt on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 12:41:56 AM EST

What is the source of that obligation? Please refrain from giving a mystical answer.

Given that I'm clever, and the odds of me getting caught times the loss of utility I would endure when punished is less than the enjoyment I would gain from committing the act, why should I abstain?

Domine Deus, creator coeli et terrae respice humilitatem nostram.
[ Parent ]

I give up (5.00 / 1) (#58)
by duncan bayne on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 02:27:03 AM EST

Okay, I give up.  I'll quote directly from the site:

-----
Man survives by reason, and in order to do so, he must be free from the initiation of force. Society can be greatly beneficial to the individual because of mutual protection, division of labor, and economies of scale. But it is only beneficial to the extent that the individual is still free to act and survive according to his own reason.

    A 'right' is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man's freedom of action in a social context.
    Ayn Rand

Individual rights state explicitly the requirements for a person to benefit rather than suffer from living in a society. They codify man's protection from the initiation of force, as required by his rational nature. Being required by man's rational nature, rights are not arbitrary or negotiable. They are absolute requirements for life within a society. Rights are absolute.
-----

Does that make it any clearer?

[ Parent ]

Useful (none / 0) (#59)
by qpt on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 02:37:54 AM EST

But only if you assume everyone must act the same. If you were god, trying to create a rule set that all your automatons would follow, the one you describe seems reasonable, on the face of it. However, people can choose for themselves what they will do, and many will choose selfishly. That man survives by reason and freedom from force, even if it is true, will not compel all to free him from force.

What will obligate them? Rand has described a system in which she believes human beings can in the long term flourish, but many individuals care little for the future, preferring instead to pursue their own immediate gain. What would she say to them?

Domine Deus, creator coeli et terrae respice humilitatem nostram.
[ Parent ]

What I'd say (I guess) (5.00 / 1) (#62)
by duncan bayne on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 03:06:38 AM EST

> What would she say to them?

I presume (Rand being dead & all), that she'd say something similar to what I say: "you're wrong, but it's your life to destroy, just don't try to force anything on me", or more simply "who cares?"

Immorality (acting against ones rational self-interest) is only of concern to me if that action includes the initiation of force or fraud against others.


[ Parent ]

But I set it up favorably; (none / 0) (#63)
by qpt on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 03:25:43 AM EST

I'm more likely to profit than not through "immorality," and don't argue, some are. Where does rational self interest enter for them?

Domine Deus, creator coeli et terrae respice humilitatem nostram.
[ Parent ]

Society (5.00 / 1) (#65)
by duncan bayne on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 04:37:40 AM EST

Because it's not in their rational self-interests to create, or foster a society in which individual rights are not respected.  This because, most likely, someone will do it to them in short order.

[ Parent ]
I am a cannibal. (5.00 / 1) (#80)
by duffbeer703 on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 12:09:47 PM EST

I feel morally compelled to club people to death and eat them.

How dare you attempt to indoctrinate me with an obligation to not initiate force against anyone.

[ Parent ]

Dumbass (1.00 / 1) (#99)
by duncan bayne on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 04:10:35 PM EST

I'm not trying to indoctrinate you - your beliefs, no matter how misguided, are your affairs.  What I'm saying is that I (or the Police) will kick your ass if you try to eat me.

[ Parent ]
What gives the police the right? (5.00 / 1) (#125)
by duffbeer703 on Wed Jun 25, 2003 at 01:56:22 AM EST

I need to eat people to go to heaven. What moral authority gives a policeman the right to stop me?

[ Parent ]
Non-initiation of force? (none / 0) (#92)
by dipierro on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 02:22:46 PM EST

What counts as initiation of force? If I steal your car while you're sleeping, I haven't initiated any force against you. A government where no one could initiate force against anyone else would be about as socialistic of a government as you can get.

[ Parent ]
Sigh, again (1.00 / 1) (#100)
by duncan bayne on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 04:11:57 PM EST

Theft of property is initiation of force.  Again, see www.importanceofphilosophy.com for details - I think what you're struggling with is the absence of consent - your stealing a car while I'm asleep is akin to raping me while I'm drugged.

[ Parent ]
Property is a designed concept (5.00 / 1) (#108)
by dipierro on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 05:35:36 PM EST

What gives you the right to the car and not me? Because you bought it from someone? What gave them the right to the car? Because they made it from natural resources? What gave them the right to the natural resources? Why is it that one person gets to hoard natural resources while another gets none?

Why is theft of property initiation of force? Because you defined it to be so? What if I say that the government owns all property, and allows you to use it under the condition that you obey the laws (including paying your taxes)? Why is your system any more natural than mine?



[ Parent ]
RTFS (1.00 / 1) (#109)
by duncan bayne on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 05:46:20 PM EST

Okay, I'm tired of this.  Read the bloody site I've been linking to, & then critique the points raised there.

[ Parent ]
That's what I'm doing... (3.00 / 1) (#110)
by dipierro on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 06:00:20 PM EST

From the site: "Force includes such acts as murder, theft, threats, and fraud. It is acting against another person without their consent."

Why is theft force? Theft is acting against an object, not against another person. A person may have an interest in a certain object, but that doesn't give them the right to stop you from doing what you want with that object. When two people's interests in using the same object collide, how is this conflict to be resolved?



[ Parent ]
Ownership (none / 0) (#118)
by duncan bayne on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 09:41:39 PM EST

Consent must be sought from the owner of the object.  If consent is not given (through refusal, or any other means), then any attempt to use the owned object constitutes an initiation of force.

[ Parent ]
WHY is it force? (none / 0) (#119)
by dipierro on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 11:37:58 PM EST

Consent must be sought from the owner of the object.

Who gets to say who the owner of the object is?

If consent is not given (through refusal, or any other means), then any attempt to use the owned object constitutes an initiation of force.

You're begging the question.



[ Parent ]
Eh? (none / 0) (#136)
by duncan bayne on Wed Jun 25, 2003 at 05:31:50 PM EST

The owner of an object is the person who:

 - claimed it first (if a natural resource)
 - made it
 - bought it
 - was given it

[ Parent ]

You forgot inheritance (none / 0) (#137)
by dipierro on Wed Jun 25, 2003 at 05:38:03 PM EST

but in any case, that's not fair. Furthermore, you do not explain why it is an initiation of force to claim rights to something that someone else has claimed rights to first.

BTW, this idea is not capitalism, it's feudalism.



[ Parent ]
why force? (none / 0) (#138)
by Bwerf on Wed Jun 25, 2003 at 08:03:29 PM EST

It is force because they define theft as a force. What else could it be? In my daily speak force is a physical thing which I measure in newton. This obviously doesn't apply to what you're dealing with here, so I use a different definition. What does it matter what they call it?

(disclaimer: I didn't read the site, just using my common sense ;)

[ Parent ]
It's where the argument breaks down... (none / 0) (#140)
by dipierro on Wed Jun 25, 2003 at 09:10:47 PM EST

I don't have a problem with a government whose sole purpose is to stop the initiation of force. But my idea of force does not include such concepts as trespassing, picking apples from an apple tree, drinking the water from a natural spring, or driving the car of a dead guy. Duncan asked me what my problem was with the argument presented on the site. That's my problem, their definition of force. Alternatively, if you allow them to define force to include "theft" of natural resources, then my problem is that the government has a responsibility to do more than merely stop the initiation of force.

That is the critical flaw in objectivist reasoning.



[ Parent ]
claimed it (5.00 / 1) (#143)
by zzzeek on Wed Jun 25, 2003 at 09:32:22 PM EST

the government of the country you live in claimed the land it consists of long before you were born, and therefore they set the rules, which hopefully include that the populace of that government can affect change within it through elections of some kind.  

however, by your own reasoning, the resources are owned by the government; they set the rules whereby you may use them, including the collecting of taxes.

if youd like to live free of government, then find some space either on the earth or another planet which has not been claimed yet.


[ Parent ]

hmm? (none / 0) (#152)
by SlamMan on Sat Jun 28, 2003 at 03:51:24 PM EST

So you're basing your argument on "finders, keepers?"

[ Parent ]
duncan bayne is a fuckwit (none / 0) (#149)
by Homburg on Fri Jun 27, 2003 at 11:10:32 AM EST

However, some more intelligent libertarians (Robert Nozick, for example), have actually argued that theft is force, rather than just asserting that it is.

The basic argument starts from the idea that people work in order to get things they want. If you take something that someone else has worked to acquire, without compensating them, you effectively force them to do more work in order to acquire what they originally wanted. Because of this, libertarians claim, theft is coercive.

Now, I think this argument is a crock of shit - in particular, it begs the question by covertly depending on a notion of ownership in order to distinguish the case of theft from other situations where another person's actions interfere with the satisfaction of your desires. Nonetheless, it's a genuine argument worth engaging with, so it's not really fair to judge libertarianism on the basis of the Randoid crap you usually come across on the Internet.

[ Parent ]

but what about natural resources? (none / 0) (#150)
by dipierro on Fri Jun 27, 2003 at 08:54:59 PM EST

The basic argument starts from the idea that people work in order to get things they want. If you take something that someone else has worked to acquire, without compensating them, you effectively force them to do more work in order to acquire what they originally wanted. Because of this, libertarians claim, theft is coercive.

OK, but what about natural resources? I can see how it's force to break into someone's house, but until they build a house on "their land" shouldn't you be free to claim that land for your own?

Nonetheless, it's a genuine argument worth engaging with, so it's not really fair to judge libertarianism on the basis of the Randoid crap you usually come across on the Internet.

Libertarianism isn't the only possible government for Randians though, is it? After all, some things, like for instance pollution, clearly are an initiation of force. As for how the government should deal with that initiation of force, there are a whole lot of different possibilities. Or maybe I'm just not taking Objectivism literally enough?



[ Parent ]
It beggars belief... (none / 0) (#148)
by synaesthesia on Fri Jun 27, 2003 at 09:19:23 AM EST

...how anyone could ever say anything like, "Theft of property" in a moral debate.

Please explain the concept of "ownership" without relating to an act of force at some point.


Sausages or cheese?
[ Parent ]

We like in a democracy, not anarchy (4.00 / 4) (#54)
by Score 5 Demented on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 12:54:43 AM EST

The Government has no moral right to enforce compulsory taxation.

Yes, they do have a moral right. The Goverment is (somewhat) democratic, so it represents the will of  the people.

What's more, there are many cases I can imagine in which raising taxes is essential for our very survival. For example, if they were raising money to fight a war to defend the country, that's an extremely moral thing to do.

[ Parent ]

Really? (2.75 / 4) (#102)
by duncan bayne on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 04:13:54 PM EST

Really?  So what you're saying is, a group of people has a moral right to do what an individual would be forbidden to do?  Clear to justify that?

[ Parent ]
Group v. Individual morality (none / 0) (#145)
by RadiantMatrix on Thu Jun 26, 2003 at 12:52:12 AM EST

a group of people has a moral right to do what an individual would be forbidden to do?
Yes.

Consider the Justice system. A group of 12 people (jurors), plus a judge, decide the guilt of an individual. Sometimes, this means condemning that person to death. Would you honestly place that moral burden on an individual?

Groups of people do, in fact, have their own morality, separate from individual morality. This is because a diverse group of people tends to be more balanced than an individual.

Another example: an individual is not free to lock up the person who stole their car. However, society (acting via the government) does have that capability.

Perhaps you care to explain how reasonable order and safety could be preserved if individuals could do everything that currently requires a group to accomplish?

----------
I don't like spam - Parent ]

What is a "moral right" (4.50 / 2) (#78)
by duffbeer703 on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 12:04:47 PM EST

Your morals are an absurd joke to me. My morals are an anethma to you.

The common ground, or compromise are laws, which we are all bound to as citizens of a civilied society.

Morality and legality are two entirely different concepts have no direct correlation.

[ Parent ]

Correct (1.00 / 2) (#103)
by duncan bayne on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 04:14:46 PM EST

And that's a problem.  Can you name a reason that morality and legality must be at odds?

[ Parent ]
Sure (5.00 / 2) (#126)
by duffbeer703 on Wed Jun 25, 2003 at 02:03:53 AM EST

Morality varies from person to person. The law is constant.

Reactionary conservatives think that blowing up abortion clinics is moral and righteous. Tribes in New Guinea believe that human sacrifice and cannibalism is just fine. Some americans think that killing insects is immoral.

The law acts as a compromise and keeps the extreme elements of society from destroying it.

[ Parent ]

Based on what? (5.00 / 1) (#89)
by dipierro on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 02:15:07 PM EST

The Government has no moral right to enforce compulsory taxation.

Why not? Your municipality owns the land you're living on, after all.



[ Parent ]
Copyright... (none / 0) (#117)
by Sanction on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 09:11:57 PM EST

They have no need to ask permission of the publishers. "Intellectual Property" does not exist, there is simply copyright. The ownership of ideas is not a natural construct, it only exists because the government agrees to enforce a temporary monopoly on the distribution of a work in return for the release of said work into the public domain. The right of libraries to loan out books is based on the First Sale doctrine, and also is likely a part of copyright law. If the government is providing the protection, it may also set the terms. If you don't want to abide by the government's terms, simply don't release your work to anyone without a signed contract first.

Wow, This is the most amazing loaf of bread I've ever owned!
[ Parent ]
It isn't truly compulsory (none / 0) (#133)
by Eccles on Wed Jun 25, 2003 at 02:28:18 PM EST

The Government has no moral right to enforce compulsory taxation.

It isn't compulsory. The government of New Zealand does not tax me. The U.S. government does not tax you. Only those of us who choose to reside on (or at least visit) a country's land are subject to the rules and the taxes. You're free to live on a boat and avoid all the taxes from all the governments.

But Libertarian rules allow owners to set pretty much any conditions on the use of their property. This includes the right to tax to fund libraries, to restrict drug usage, and do all sorts of things that Libertarians dislike and think Libertaria would prevent.

[ Parent ]
Oh my god (4.80 / 5) (#40)
by poyoyo on Mon Jun 23, 2003 at 11:35:27 PM EST

I read the article convinced that it was an adequacy.org type joke, a brilliant parody of nutty free-market advocates. I mean, [Libraries] represent houses of death and should be spat upon and cursed in the most creative language possible. But it appears that the site is intended seriously and this guy actually believes what he's spouting.

I had heard objectivists were loonies but I hadn't read enough of their stuff to grasp exactly how. Thanks for the hilarious link :)

[ Parent ]

Critique (2.42 / 7) (#44)
by duncan bayne on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 12:03:06 AM EST

Do you understand how compulsory taxation represents theft of time from people?  If you do, you'll probably understand why anything that's funded by compulsory taxation can be considered an 'house of death'.

I'm still waiting for a critique of the argument, beyond 'loonies'.

[ Parent ]

taxes represnt theft of time from people? (5.00 / 8) (#56)
by Hana Yori Dango on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 02:17:21 AM EST

First off, it's funny you say "compulsory taxation" because all taxation is compulsory once you get right down to it. But that's not the point.

I'm not going to link this, because it's pretty well obvious, but taxes pay for important projects such as roads, police, and national defense. Without these little perks of civilization, your John Galt wouldn't have gotten a chance to thrive in his glorious self-dependence. Objectivists remind me of the old Western ranchers -- proud of their "self-sufficiency" while relying on Federal troops to clear land and Federal money to settle it and Federally backed railroads to transfer goods to market.

Compulsory taxation certainly represents the "theft of time from people" but one would argue that the benefits, such as civilization itself, outweigh the negatives substantially.



[ Parent ]

it's not all benefits (2.33 / 3) (#97)
by Delirium on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 03:34:45 PM EST

One might argue that a substantial portion of the world's ills stem directly from taxation. You brought up a good one: national defense. National defense is, quite simply, the ability of a government to kill people from other countries. Obviously, the more money collectively put into national defense by th world's countries, the more killing there will be. Bankrupt militaries can't kill as many people as well-funded ones.

Police I will grant are a good use of tax money, as are a few other essential services (fire, EMS, etc.; I might even go so far as to support a minimal level of socialized medical care, at least for a basic sort of emergency care).

[ Parent ]

sure (none / 0) (#151)
by SlamMan on Sat Jun 28, 2003 at 03:45:28 PM EST

Can't wait for you not to have a national defense, because then my extensive private militia will be better able to annex you as new territory.

[ Parent ]
Libraries of death (4.80 / 5) (#57)
by poyoyo on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 02:20:10 AM EST

I'll just point out that if you use preposterous hyperbole like "house of death" to describe a public library of all things, you shouldn't be too surprised to be called a loony. I mean, what? Does book mold turn into lethal green fumes, requiring a full biohazard suit to enter the Rare Books section? Is the fat library woman actually a sadistic killer who hides an AK-47 in her bra? I'll make sure to think twice the next time I'm about to return a book late.

It looks to me like the problem with your position is that your "moral" principles are ridiculously rigid. You set a rule and then blindly apply it to everything with no regard for pragmatism. The fact that your principles lead you to consider something as harmless as a library as absolutely evil should give you a hint that you're applying them too far.

[ Parent ]

Harmless? (1.00 / 2) (#101)
by duncan bayne on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 04:12:52 PM EST

Did you even read the article?  Do you understand why I consider them evil?  Do you understand why pragmatism when applied to morality is itself evil?

[ Parent ]
You do, of course, realize... (5.00 / 4) (#116)
by Sanction on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 09:07:44 PM EST

The problem is that you are arguing from a premise that you state as being true, but has not been proven. In the same way taxes can be regarded as theft, so too can the ownership of unused property. After all, there is no worse theft of time than to charge someone money for the use of land that was possibly stolen ("at gunpoint! to get in the libertarian catchphrases) from their ancestors in the first place. Taxes are simply a way of addressing the inequality created by declaring a certain set of people that stole property by killing those living on it the "rightful owners" regardless of how they aquired it. They are charged taxes that should be applied to improving the general welfare of all who must live with the scarcity of resources created by this legally legitimized theft. Am I advocating this view? Who knows. The point is that the objectivist view depends on definitions that are most certainly not proven to be true, or even accepted by a majority of the citizens of this country (see the libertarian definition of "force", and the odd limitations).

Wow, This is the most amazing loaf of bread I've ever owned!
[ Parent ]
yeah... (4.00 / 4) (#55)
by pb on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 02:04:33 AM EST

Objectivists are loonies. They also believe that Laissez-Faire economics are the 'fairest' way to do things, and apparently they don't believe in libraries. So god forbid we help our fellow man; it must be our goal to instead exploit him for personal gain!
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]
Hmmm (4.50 / 4) (#51)
by pyramid termite on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 12:37:33 AM EST

Does anyone hold a gun against people to vote for a library tax? Or for that matter, to live in a locale where there is a library tax? (Don't tell me there's no such place - my township doesn't have one.)

I've got a better argument against public libraries anyway - it's called alt.binaries.e-book.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
High Dudgeon (4.85 / 7) (#73)
by OldCoder on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 10:56:43 AM EST

Nowadays I buy books as often, maybe more often, than I go to the library. I think it's fair to say I'm acquainted with both systems. Who isn't?

Your primary issue seems to be that you want to de-legitimate public and electoral expressions of human will in favor of individual, uncoordinated expressions. Objectivism, without wanting to, favors the creation of feudal centers of power, free to control thought and issue endless taxation. Power corrupts, objectivism knows no limits. There is no magic structure of power and rights that can by its shape prevent the powerful corrupt combination of acquisitive individuals and government power. Government must be organized to limit this power. Taxation is a part of that. Education is another. To argue against public libraries as you do is to argue against public schools.

Not that the government is innocent and pure. But between the powerful individuals and the State, and the conflicts between the individuals and the State, the rest of us manage to get by. It is simple enough to observe that the relatively statist areas of the world, Scandanavia, Germany, France, even Britain, with a mixture of forces, does quite well for its people. You should visit. Start with Iceland.

Blockbuster could not have been created had not the nation first pulled itself up by its bootstraps with public libraries, public schools, compulsory education, tax-supported higher education, and all the rest. Many people need to pull themselves up yet.

Objectivism is a silly cult that will fall into a hole in history, because it is not plugged into the factual political economy of modern society. Industry needs tax-supported schools to provide productive workers. Masses need jobs that produce enough wealth to allow them to consume wealth. So the masses pay taxes to educate themselves and to educate those who cannot afford to pay school bills. All in the interest of prosperity and the self-preservation of western civilization against the array of hostile entities history provides.

Objectivism is founded on a vision of clean hard-working capitalists coming to the fore by dint of hard work and superior talent. What we have instead is Bill Gates and Rupert Murdoch as our industrial Titans. And, at the other end, the leaders of Enron and Adelphia and Global Crossing and MCI and Arthur Anderson pursuing "Ethical Self Interest". Western civilization, at least in the US, depends on crusading prosecutors like Elliot Spitzer. Materialist philosophy without spiritual values results in individuals who simply cannot be trusted to perform the tasks needed by society. Would Martha Stewart be in the pickle she's in if she were more in tune with her spiritual legacy and less with visions of Self Interest?

The changing face of history and technology changes, in turn, needs of society. At one point, land grants were sensible and essential. At another point, the confiscation of private property in the form of slaves was required. At one time, socialized highway construction swept the nation, enabling great growth. Today we ponder socialized internet wiring. Crossing the digital divide as well as the literacy divide does not impoverish us, it is a matter of survival. Three separate cultures within industrial civilization are currently sending tax-supported probes to Mars. How does Objectivism respond to that challenge, or the worldwide problems of SARS or AIDS or Malaria?

Human beings are social creatures. At about age one, we sacrifice the safety of being able to breathe and swallow at the same time, reshaping our throats to enable us to speak. Individuals do not survive, civilizations may. The genepool is not in an individual, it is in the species. This is a matter of straight biology.

Objectivism was invented when the foremost threat to civilization was the cult of the individual in states run by terror and infused with collectivist ideologies. A forgivable over-reaction, but totally out of step with todays realities and tomorrows challenges.

FUND THE LIBRARY!

--
By reading this signature, you have agreed.
Copyright © 2003 OldCoder
[ Parent ]

Privatization of everything is great (4.00 / 2) (#77)
by duffbeer703 on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 11:57:40 AM EST

As long as you are in a positions to benefit.

I find it amusing that people who claim to be "conservative" or "libertarian" (ha) spend lots of time bitching and moaning for taxpayer-funded perscription drugs or government intervention against Microsoft (or oil companies or pollution, etc)

The public library is a relic of an earlier age, when learning and substance was more highly regarded than vapid pop culture. 8th graders 80 years ago read Plato and Homer; today they are lucky if they are exposed to Harry Potter.

[ Parent ]

Name me some.... (none / 0) (#139)
by spectra72 on Wed Jun 25, 2003 at 08:36:05 PM EST

Name me these people who have indeed claimed to be conservative or libertarian and who also "bitches and moans" for taxpayer-funded pescription drugs or government intervention againt Microsoft (or oil companies or pollution).

You see this type of B.S. all the time. Someone is "amused" by a caraciture and gleefully points out the *gasp* hypocrisy of it all. How nice. How insightful.

You have constructed a fantasy strawman that can never be assailed. Bravo!

[ Parent ]

Well, it has every right... (none / 0) (#115)
by Sanction on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 08:58:49 PM EST

The government is granted those powers that the people choose to give it, not only those powers that fit your ideology.  Public support does matter in issues of appropriate government power, and opposing public libraries puts you in company that probably numbers about the same as the flat earthers.

Wow, This is the most amazing loaf of bread I've ever owned!
[ Parent ]
you been... (none / 0) (#142)
by blisspix on Wed Jun 25, 2003 at 09:20:50 PM EST

talking to Pat Schroeder again?

As a librarian I say, more libraries, not less!

[ Parent ]

Hmm.. (4.83 / 6) (#91)
by Kwil on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 02:19:56 PM EST

..if the internet is not a public forum, does that mean all basis for libel cases on the 'net are now wiped out?

After all, I thought libel required the offending remarks to be available in a public forum.

That Jesus Christ guy is getting some terrible lag... it took him 3 days to respawn! -NJ CoolBreeze


read the ruling. (4.00 / 1) (#93)
by Work on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 02:36:26 PM EST

The statement is being taken out of context. It makes somewhat more sense when you see what the justices had to say about it.

Moreover, the 'not a public forum' had more to do with what kind of tests the court was going to apply, rather than setting future legal precedence (though it may set future court testing precedence in similar styled laws)

[ Parent ]

Are you looking for "sense" (2.00 / 1) (#147)
by mayor on Thu Jun 26, 2003 at 02:33:26 AM EST

It is my impression that the "logic" of our esteemed justices often depends on what what you want the outcome to be, I seriously doubt they reach decisions through logic.

What are their qualification in logic? I suspect that none of them studied Predicate Calculus, and perhaps not even boolean logic. So here you have it, they orate elaborate fluff while almost everyone is mesmerized at their wisdom. Nothing new here, except that perhaps their skills are more suited for the science of marketing and promoting. But, certainly, not in the science of logic.

[ Parent ]

Any Umberto Eco reference... (none / 0) (#104)
by atreides on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 04:20:17 PM EST

...gets a +1 from me.

"...heroic hearts, made weak by time and fate, but strong in will, to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."

One Factual Correction (none / 0) (#105)
by artsygeek on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 04:23:46 PM EST

From the way I read the plurality's opinion the internet in libraries is not a "traditional forum.

You might want to link to... (5.00 / 1) (#128)
by debacle on Wed Jun 25, 2003 at 06:48:59 AM EST

http://www.peacefire.org

It tastes sweet.
yay! (5.00 / 1) (#131)
by Suppafly on Wed Jun 25, 2003 at 01:04:21 PM EST

Internet filtering in libraries and more Affirmative Action.. Makes me proud to be an American.

---
Playstation Sucks.
The internet as a public forum... (1.00 / 3) (#135)
by Golden Hawk on Wed Jun 25, 2003 at 03:00:43 PM EST

This is a repost of a responce I posted to an editorial comment.  I don't feel this belongs under the banner of an editoral comment so I reposted it.  Here is the origional message, then my responce.

-----
Editorial: -1. too usian, just waaay too usian. (1.00 / 1) (#127)
 by dimaq on Wed Jun 25th, 2003 at 05:24:53 AM EST
(nobody@dev.null.org)

besides you are too addicted to the net. you seem to take the net as the solution to spree feach problems in your country, but the solutions are never technological - only social.
-----

Perhaps you should have made this two separate posts so that people uninterested in editorial posts could see what you have to say as well.

 It's very inflamitory to claim that technology does not or should not cause serious changes to our social interactions.

 Especially considering the audience.

 Consider this... you must have known your opinion would be unpopular.  Had it not been for technology, would you have ran up into a room with so many other people and yelled out such an unpopular opinion?

 Does your bravery help or damage your ability to affect social change?

-- Daniel Benoy

what? (none / 0) (#141)
by blisspix on Wed Jun 25, 2003 at 09:14:18 PM EST

Justice Breyer has a better point, though, when he compares the unblocking procedure to the cumbersome interlibrary loan procedure (although surely part of the point to modernizing our infrastructure is to do away with such antiquated procedures).

Cumbersome? I think it's efficient as it can be, given draconian restrictions on copying for research purposes, the poor nature of most document delivery software, and the time necessary to send books between libraries. We will be able to do away with ILL when we are allowed to copy materials (books, maps, journals, etc) more freely and send them instantly.

The reluctance of electronic journal providers to digitise material prior to 1970 (or 1990 in some cases) hampers this. They won't do it unless profit is involved. As ILL is generally only a cost recovery exercise, I don't see this happening any time soon.

As for filtering, the point that is brought up time and time again is that most public library users are not savvy enough to fiddle with computer settings in order to disable a filter. That leaves them with the choice of asking for help from a librarian, which could be embarassing depending on the subject matter being searched for (eg, cancer, diseases, etc) or to just walk out.

Bring on the filters | 151 comments (95 topical, 56 editorial, 0 hidden)
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