Rhode Island repeals law that made it a crime to fib online

June 27, 2012
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — If you’ve ever lied to a potential Internet date about your weight, texted your spouse that you were someplace you weren’t or emailed mom to say how much you love that ugly new sweater, you were breaking the law if you did it in Rhode Island.

But state lawmakers have now decided that white lies online should no longer be a crime. The General Assembly voted this month to repeal an obscure 1989 law that made fibbing on the Internet a misdemeanor punishable by fines of up to $500 and as much as a year in prison. Gov. Lincoln Chafee signed the measure.
“This law made virtually the entire population of Rhode Island a criminal,” said Steven Brown, executive director of the Rhode Island American Civil Liberties Union. “When this bill was enacted nobody had any idea what its ramifications were. Telling fibs may be wrong, but it shouldn’t be criminal activity.”
The law — which legal experts say was unusually broad compared to similar laws across the country — was written to stop fraud, con artists and scammers, but it also outlawed the “transmission of false data” regardless of whether liars stood to profit from their deception or not.
Only a handful of people were ever prosecuted for lying online, but legislators said it made no sense to keep a law on the books that is violated so often by so many people. Rep. Chris Blazejewski, who proposed eliminating the law, said it was likely unconstitutional.
Lies may make you a scoundrel, cost you a relationship or get you fired, but they shouldn’t make you a criminal unless you’re trying to commit fraud or some other offense, he said.
“There are a lot of things we don’t condone in our society that aren’t crimes,” Blazejewski said. “We take freedom of speech very seriously in this country and we should be concerned about the real and serious possibility of further erosion to our First Amendment civil liberties.”
While the right to lie about your waistline is not spelled out in the Bill of Rights, even despicable speech must be protected, according to Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University. Although Rhode Island’s former law is unusual around the nation, Turley said a federal law making it illegal to lie about receiving top military honors brings up similar First Amendment questions. The U.S. Supreme Court could rule this week on that law, called the Stolen Valor Act.
“It’s part of human nature to embellish and at times lie,” Turley said. “It’s not a redeeming characteristic maybe but it’s a common one. When you give the government the power to criminalize lies, you give it the power to determine what is true and what is false, and which lies to prosecute. That’s a dangerous tool.”
The repeal of the Rhode Island law was prompted in part by a 2010 case in which a former prison guard was arrested for setting up a fake Facebook page in the name of his boss, the state’s corrections director. The charges were later dropped, though the guard lost his job. The man’s attorney, John Grasso, said what his client was accused of doing “may not be bright, but it shouldn’t be illegal.”
“Everybody lies online,” Grasso said. “You shouldn’t be dragged into court and told that you can’t tell people you’re 6 feet tall when you’re not.”

further I could think of many reasons that a lie would be the only ethical response. Don’t legislate morality. It’s a fail


Pity the folks in Washington’s 7th District. Sadly their actions effect the rest of the country

April 1, 2011

….Their Congressman,Jim McDermott,is whining that he’s “tired of reading the Constitution”(for a “progressive action score”of …..71.)McDermott is not only one of the Original 54 Hamas Congressmen but unfortunately also one of those left standing after Republicans swept the midterms.  He’s a bona fide J-Street kinda guy and No. 10 on the (Muslim Mafia) list of Congressional recipients of $upport from CAIR.  So no wonder he’s tired of reading the Constitution. He marches to a different agenda.

Media_httpfarm5static_trpzi
Sultan Knish’s list of the 54 HAMAS Congressmen or HC
(many of whom were left standing
even after the Republican sweep in the midterms),
as well as this list of politicians supported by CAIR
Media_httpwww3picture_bntez
via bokertov.typepad.com and Thanks to Don Surber
image via zimbio.com and via Jim McDermott 




The War in Libya: Unprecedented Strangeness

March 23, 2011

Should the United States and Europe want Libyan dictator Muammar Qadhafi out of power? Sure. But the real question is how U.S. policy is dealing with this crisis.
1. Nothing could be more obvious than the fact that all of these people talking about how evil Qadhafi is are doings only because he is being so severely challenged in a civil war. Where were all of these humanitarians when nobody was writing about his repression? Better late than never but let’s get real about what has happened here.

Does US Military
Action Against Qaddafi
Require
Congressional Authorization?

2. How can a president go to war without even seeking congressional support. Some in the media are so ridiculously eager to support Obama that one CNN reporter defended him by saying that he had telephoned some members of Congress! Note how this parallels the use of czars, regulation, and executive orders to bypass Congress regarding domestic affairs. Just because Barack Obama is a Democrat and an alleged “liberal” (this is a radical, not a liberal White House), why should he be allowed to act in a non-democratic fashion?
3. What is the aim of the war? Overthrowing Qadhafi? Forcing a ceasefire? Protecting civilians? I’ve never before seen anarchy on the side of a U.S.-led (or is it a French-led?) coalition. From minute to minute the strategy seems to change.
4. Who is the opposition that the West fights to help? Islamists? Tribalists? Regionalists? Moderate democrats? Before you help someone win a war it helps to know who they are.
5. How can people who spent years criticizing the war in Iraq, telling us that war is not the solution to problems, decrying civilian casualties from other countries’ defensive activities, arguing that such interventions led to endless commitments, and such things now plunge the United States into a third simultaneous war in a Muslim-majority country?
6. This war was entered into on the premise that the “Arabs” support it. But now the Arab League opposes the war. Has anyone in the U.S. government considered the regional implications? One might note that the Arab nationalists oppose the intervention while the Islamists support it. That’s not a good indication.
7. Just calling something a humanitarian intervention does not solve all problems. The U.S. intervention in Somalia–the perfect example of a disaster in this regard–was also humanitarian in motivation.
At least the Iraq war was a huge success at the beginning and only later became something of a mess. This war is a mess from the start.
I am not saying that I oppose military intervention in Libya in principle. But such a confused and ill-defined operation is horrifying. The real issue is not whether something should be done but how it’s being done.

Posted via email from noahdavidsimon’s posterous

America’s Greatest Weakness: The Insecurity of Freedom

January 24, 2010

Sultan Knish concludes correctly that the greatest threat to freedom is Security. The issue is not should we go without security… (whether economic or military threat), but rather can we maintain a proportion where we are still free thinkers with the opportunity to be judged by the quality of our lives and still live safely?

Tyranny then could only come from the desire for security. Because not all tyrants march in at the head of an army. Rather they assure the masses that giving up their freedom will improve their security. That was the position of the English during the Revolutionary War, when they placed soldiers in people’s homes and applied taxes for the defense of the colonies. The revolution was an explicit rejection of exchanging freedom for security, of giving up political representation and personal liberties for security’s sake.

But in the aftermath of the Revolution, the problem of security remained. Particularly economic security. The need to stabilize the currency of the new country and find revenue sources to meet its debts, quickly dragged the new country back to some of the tactics of the old… as the Whiskey Rebellion unfortunately demonstrated. Similarly slavery was protected in order to protect the country’s trade in cotton. The race between the factory and the plantation helped drive the country into a Civil War, and put an end to First American Republic.

The Second American Republic that followed was a republic of the factory and the mine, in which the winners of the war profited from using immigrant labor to increase their production and resource exploitation. It was the twilight of the farmer and the sunrise of the urban worker. And above it all was a changing America under a progressive government in which both Republican and Democratic Presidents were besotted with the possibilities of using science to create an ideal state. And when in the Great Depression, the factory stopped, the railroad stilled and the unemployment lines grew– those same ideas were skillfully used to create the first socialist state in America. FDR’s New Deal. The Third American Republic.

It is of course overly simplistic to pretend that the New Deal had come out of nowhere. FDR’s New Deal was not a radical break with the governance and philosophies of Hoover, Wilson or Theodore Roosevelt– much in the same way that Obama’s governance is not a radical break with that of Bush, Clinton or Carter. Like Obama, the New Deal was shocking in the extent of its radicalism, the breathtaking arrogance with which it was implemented and its casual willingness to upend the Constitution. But it was not a true break, rather it was the idea of a domestically powerful government taken to its radical conclusion, through the exploitation of fears of economic insecurity.


America’s Greatest Weakness: The Insecurity of Freedom

January 24, 2010

Sultan Knish concludes correctly that the greatest threat to freedom is Security. The issue is not should we go without security… (whether economic or military threat), but rather can we maintain a proportion where we are still free thinkers with the opportunity to be judged by the quality of our lives and still live safely?

Tyranny then could only come from the desire for security. Because not all tyrants march in at the head of an army. Rather they assure the masses that giving up their freedom will improve their security. That was the position of the English during the Revolutionary War, when they placed soldiers in people’s homes and applied taxes for the defense of the colonies. The revolution was an explicit rejection of exchanging freedom for security, of giving up political representation and personal liberties for security’s sake.

But in the aftermath of the Revolution, the problem of security remained. Particularly economic security. The need to stabilize the currency of the new country and find revenue sources to meet its debts, quickly dragged the new country back to some of the tactics of the old… as the Whiskey Rebellion unfortunately demonstrated. Similarly slavery was protected in order to protect the country’s trade in cotton. The race between the factory and the plantation helped drive the country into a Civil War, and put an end to First American Republic.

The Second American Republic that followed was a republic of the factory and the mine, in which the winners of the war profited from using immigrant labor to increase their production and resource exploitation. It was the twilight of the farmer and the sunrise of the urban worker. And above it all was a changing America under a progressive government in which both Republican and Democratic Presidents were besotted with the possibilities of using science to create an ideal state. And when in the Great Depression, the factory stopped, the railroad stilled and the unemployment lines grew– those same ideas were skillfully used to create the first socialist state in America. FDR’s New Deal. The Third American Republic.

It is of course overly simplistic to pretend that the New Deal had come out of nowhere. FDR’s New Deal was not a radical break with the governance and philosophies of Hoover, Wilson or Theodore Roosevelt– much in the same way that Obama’s governance is not a radical break with that of Bush, Clinton or Carter. Like Obama, the New Deal was shocking in the extent of its radicalism, the breathtaking arrogance with which it was implemented and its casual willingness to upend the Constitution. But it was not a true break, rather it was the idea of a domestically powerful government taken to its radical conclusion, through the exploitation of fears of economic insecurity.