Chilling Effects: Spamfighters' Edition


Wendy McElroy explains how a pair of "child protection" laws led to the suspension of a political e-mail list.


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  1. Political genius in Utah & Michigan! With one act, they have managed to (1) grandstand on another “for the children” issue, (2) create a new revenue stream, and (3) chill free speech without lifting a finger.

    How I love clever politicians! So creative!

  2. you’re giving them to much credit–the effects (or even effectiveness) of laws aren’t considerations, just as long as they sound nice

  3. How many degrees of separation are allowed? For that matter, is there any website on earth that is more than six degrees of separation away from child-damaging material??

  4. You’re probably right, but when it comes to politicians (especially when they use the noxious excuse “for the children”), I prefer to assume they have the worst possible motives at all times. It makes me paranoid and unpleasant. 🙂

  5. Warning: the following is a rant from a nutcase.

    I may actually hurt someone if I hear “it’s for the children” one more time! I am absolutely sick of this line. It’s my job to protect my children…mine, mine, mine! If I screw up and totally warp their minds, then feel free to blame me. If I cannot (or will not) ensure that they grow up to be decent citizens, then take me out and have me shot.

    But if I am OK with their internet usage, video games, where and how they ride their bikes, what they eat, and so on, then stay out of their hair and mine. So far, the little twerps haven’t burned down the city or put on 300 pounds or raped the neighbors’ kids. In fact, they’re rather nice. I may even reward their niceness by purchasing Grand Theft Auto for them, because I’m their father. I get to be paternalistic…nobody else does!

    Sorry, occasionally I like to vent.

  6. Mr. JMoore? We’re here to take your children away.

  7. I was at a bloody Kimpton hotel bar in Boston last month and the freaking bartender changed the channel from the Simpsons because some blowhard was bringing his kids there and he didn’t want them watching it. When I said, “Hey, I was here first and I was watching that,” the hotel staff just vaguely apologized.

    These laws about email newsletters, though, are really depressing.

  8. Yep, I suspected you would show up any day now. They’re doing too well at school and they’re just too damn happy. They keep grinning all the time. Clearly, I’ve been abusing them.

  9. He was afraid of the Simpsons, but he was OK with taking them to a bar? Why does that just sound wrong?

  10. JMoore-I wondered the same thing. “Don’t watch that dangerous TV show, watch daddy swill drinks!”

  11. But first we’re off to swill some drinks!

  12. I intern for one of those father’ rights advocates that McElroy mentions and just finished up the weekly news digest in which I give links to various news sites. It’s good to know that the link to could get me put in jail for 3 years because of a disgruntled feminist.


  13. C’mon, gang, the concerned father wasn’t going to drink in front of his kids in some hotel bar!

    He was there for the hookers, not the booze.

  14. …and do some hookers!

  15. How are the laws written? Could I just link to a page that forwards to a page that forwards to a page [etc] that forwards to the page I wanted to link to? I see a market for dynamic forwarding services that put a whole bunch of (seamless, nearly invisible to the user) hops between the link I provide and the link I /really/ wanted to provide.

  16. I know it’s way too late to be saying this, but the Internet was built by researchers, engineers, developers, and college students. It was built by adults for adults. If you don’t want your kids to see something here then get your god-damned kids off our internet! We were here first.

  17. I’ve spent some time at work lately writing ad copy for software that lets parents control their kids’ Internet access–blocking certain sites, limiting how long the kids can stay online, limiting who the kid can receive emails from, all sorts of things. Pretty much everything the paranoid parent of a Web-surfing kid could possibly want. And the software is pretty cheap (especially when you consider that the money is being spent FOR THE CHILDREN!).

    No real point to this, except that the government’s being even more bullshitty than usual with this piece of wholly unnecessary legislation.

  18. Too bad I can’t use “everything the paranoid parent of a Web-surfing kid could possibly want” as a tagline. Alliteration rocks.

  19. Jennifer- Alliteration alleviates alcoholism, angina, and adroitly ameliorates anhomie.

  20. *golf clap*

    Well done, 6.

  21. The best part about these laws is that they’ll never touch hard-core Ukranian spammers from e-mailing every Mormon in Utah the latest epistles from “lonely slut whore teenie boppers.”

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