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Friday, April 19, 2002

Harmful to Minors

by Clinton Fein

One of the most frequently misquoted women of the moment is Golda Meir, who sagely suggested: “The only way to eliminate war is to love our children more than we hate our enemies.” How do we love our children? Let us count the ways.

While the Mideast exploded in a deadly blend of suicide bombing desperation and tanked optimism, innocent children, with the encouragement of their parents, lost limbs and faith at the hands of aging leaders incapable of making peace in a world that glorifies killers as martyrs.

While the Vatican prayed for peace in the Middle East and spoke out loudly against the violence and bloodshed, children lost innocence and faith at the hands of negligent parents and Catholic priests in a church that shrouds in silence and denial, the rampant pedophilia in its ranks.

While unprecedented carnage continued in the wake of the Bush administration’s Middle East policy (which changes quicker than editorial directions at CNN) -- and against the backdrop of an unprecedented execution record -- the President took time from his busy bombing schedule in Afghanistan to oppose cloning human stem cells. A decision that could result in a scientific brain drain that would rival the one in the Oval Office, relegate the American scientific community from leaders to merely envious observers, and allow ethicists and religious hypocrites to focus back on weapons of mass destruction like cluster bombs and daisy cutters.

While horrified parents scraped from their fingernails the entrails of the skin of their exploded children splattered on the bloodied rubble of bombed buildings in Jenin and Netanya, officials in Jeb Bush's Florida prevented kids from placement in loving homes because of what the doting parents -- anxious to love and raise children -- might do in the privacy of their bedrooms. As if, somehow, a kid barging in unexpectedly on their parents would be any less shocked to see Daddy sucking Daddy's cock than eating Mommy's cunt.

Amidst this wonderful montage of human intelligence, a savior emerged from the ashes of the World Trade Center and flattened compounds in Ramallah to save the children where everyone else has failed. Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu.

After presumably soiling the couch watching a Lifetime Original Movie "Video Voyeur," about a woman in Louisiana, Susan Wilson, who discovered after she was secretly taped that there was no law against such an act, Landrieu introduced a bill that would make secretly videotaping a person in intimate situations without their consent a federal crime -- punishable by up to three years in prison in case of adult victims, and up to ten years in prison when a child is involved.

"Susan Wilson had to learn the hard way that a high-tech invasion of privacy wasn't against the law in Louisiana-- or any other state," said Senator Landrieu in a press release issued by her office, along with photo ops with the victim and actress who played her. "She's fought to make changes in Louisiana’s laws so that victims in Louisiana can pursue a legal remedy. But there shouldn't have to be a Susan Wilson in every state in order for people to be protected from this kind of horrifying event. I hope this legislation will act as a deterrent-- but if it doesn't, at least victims will have the strength of federal law behind them."

Lost in the air kisses, tears, smudged mascara and flash photography -- and offered as a mere afterthought in the Senator’s press release -- was the meat of the bill, insidiously entitled, the "Family Privacy and Protection Act.” The bill would set up an Internet domain (such as .prn) for material harmful to minors and require all websites containing such material to register on that domain name. Any websites currently on other domains (such as .com, .org, etc.) would be required to close down those sites and move to the new domain.

Reading the language of a new bill carefully, some things remain predictably the same. Politicians with no clue about technology and a penchant for publicity at the expense of children, will keep American children about as safe as hiring Osama bin Laden as a babysitter or confiscating toenail clippers from grandmothers in Oklahoma.

Landrieu’s legislation specifically prohibits one from videotaping “for a lewd or lascivious purpose” only. So if you videotape, without her consent, her plying a dildo up her butt without having douched, and use the imagery as an appetite deterrent, you’re not guilty of any privacy violations.

For Landrieu, forbidden images of another person only involve “actual or simulated vaginal, anal, oral, or manual sexual intercourse, masturbation, any unclothed portion of the female breast below the top of the areola, or any unclothed portion of the anus, vulva, or genitals”. Apparently the dripping of semen globules on a male nipple is fine, along with Barney dancing naked.

Does Landrieu’s legislation mean news organization web sites that streamed a video file of, say, Yasser Arafat's wife suggesting the sacrifice of children in the guise of suicide bombers would turn the children into martyrs (and inspiring thoughts that might be considered harmful to minors -- in some communities) will now have to register as a .prn site? Or are "legitimate" media organizations exempt, so our kids can happily access "Temptation Island" online (or Page Three of The Sun) or if blocked, simply satellite surf between Al Jazeera and freeway shootings live on MSNBC?

Or are minors only harmed by images of what their parents might have done to 'create' them with to begin with, not what they might be suggesting to 'destroy' them?

And further, if this brilliantly crafted legislation only applies to a 'commercial' online service, would subscription-based sites that included such items as this very legislation (which would be harmful to not only minors, but pretty much everyone else) be forced to register as .prn sites?

Of course, Landrieu forgets to address who decides what is harmful to minors. Could vegan parents decide that a commercial site like McDonald's that encourages the unhealthy eating of genetically engineered meat is harmful to their children in their world view? Or will Representative Bob Barr take time between marriages and the disbursing of money to battered women (and their kids who are too bruised to even use a mouse if they could afford the electricity) that are being encouraged to stay married for a few extra government bucks, to decide what's harmful to minors or not?

What about sites selling condoms? Harmful to minors if their lives are nothing more than a mistaken result of their parents having missed the site to begin with. Harmful if they're HIV positive because some idiot decided that safe sex information is harmful to minors (who happen to be the child's parents), and were blocked from access to .prn sites offering safe sex information. According to Landrieu’s own web site, more than 20 percent of teen-age girls in Louisiana give birth before their 18th birthday. Is she aiming for 30 percent?

Luckily very wealthy, albeit non-commercial, organizations like the Boston Archdiocese need not worry about what they promote online since they would be exempt. A child alone in a confessional with a pedophile in a habit with a habit, shielded and protected at great expense, cannot be as harmful to kids as seeing what goes on in the Oval Office when Presidents are bored with government shutdowns.

And all of this because Ms. Landrieu arrogantly and neurotically fantasizes that someone sitting across the table from her at dinner has a mini-cam attached to their shoe! Clearly, she's never dined with Richard Reid, or she would be focusing on more important issues.


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