Censorship, Free Thought, Free Speech

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"Free speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game. Free speech is life itself." The basic rights guaranteed to Americans in the Bill of Rights is what holds the United States together. When Salman Rushdie wrote Guardian, he knew this. Unfortunately, the majority of congress and the President himself have forgotten the basic rights of Americans. When President William J. Clinton signed the Communications Decency Act that was proposed but the 104th Congress, he severely limited the rights of Americans on the Internet. The internet, just like books, magazines, artwork, and newspapers, should not be censored.

"We are willing enough to praise freedom when she is safely tucked away in the past and cannot be a nuisance. In the present, amidst dangers whose outcome we cannot foresee, we get nervous about her, and admit censorship." Even thought E. M. Forster lived over one hundred years before the Communications Decency Act was even proposed, he knew of the reason for its acceptance - fear. The Congress was afraid of the potential problems that could be caused by allowing Americans a new medium where animosity could be freely given. Rather than allowing this, lawmakers introduced a law that would handicap the freedom of speech. An internet provider could be punished for, in the words of the Communications Decency Act of 1996:

any comment, request suggestion, proposal, image, or other communication that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards, sexual or excretory activities or organs, regardless of whether the user of such service placed the call or initiated the communication; or knowingly permits any telecommunications facility under such person's control to be used for an activity prohibited by paragraph (1) with the intent that it be used for such activity, shall be fined under title 18, United States Code, or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.

There are several flaws in this section of the Communications Decency Act that are due to the wording of the section itself. The entire section "patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards" is not defined enough to give a basis for people to be fined or imprisoned. What is offensive to the "contemporary community?
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