Thursday, January 12, 2006

Don't hate me because I'm a blogger

It's clearly obvious to me that many bloggers enjoy spreading havoc across cyberspace either through lies, deceit, harassment, threats, libel or any other sordid means. As discussed in an earlier topic, difficulty in fighting a blog attack arises from specific laws protecting the digital community. Therefore, it's harder to fight the libel often found in these extreme blogs much less track down the typically anonymous bloggers.

As various legal measures are taken to protect the average citizen, bloggers (generally speaking) tend to pick up the torch for a warped belief that they have the right to, for example, essentially libel someone. In other words, there seems to be a disgusting trend that the rights of one person to attack another outweigh the victim's rights to defend themselves. This thought process runs parallel to some believing it is perfectly legal to download music or software they have no license for.

Here's what I found this evening:
"Whoever...utilizes any device or software that can be used to originate telecommunications or other types of communications that are transmitted, in whole or in part, by the Internet... without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any person...who receives the communications...shall be fined under title 18 or imprisoned not more than two years, or both."
As Declan McCullagh writes, "This ridiculous prohibition, which would likely imperil much of Usenet, is buried in the so-called Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act. Criminal penalties include stiff fines and two years in prison." Declan adds, "Think about it: A woman fired by a manager who demanded sexual favors wants to blog about it without divulging her full name. An aspiring pundit hopes to set up the next Suck.com. A frustrated citizen wants to send e-mail describing corruption in local government without worrying about reprisals. In each of those three cases, someone's probably going to be annoyed. That's enough to make the action a crime. (The Justice Department won't file charges in every case, of course, but trusting prosecutorial discretion is hardly reassuring.)"

Actually, the three examples given by Declan are ridiculous. Since a blog is something a person visits or stumbles upon as opposed to having forced into their life, there is no expection for criminal action to take place. The same goes for someone establishing suck.com or fark.com; these and other sites are not characterized as being transmitted and would potentially have additional protection by the same laws shielding Saturday Night Live, Hustler and Doonesbury. There is always that Constitutional amendment. What number is it again? Anyway, example three fails the test as well since the un-signed e-mail is not intended to annoy or harass anyone. As written, the e-mail is "describing corruption in local government." The author of that e-mail is doing their civic duty.

Sure, the law is open to abuse just as is any other law. The situation is not as dire (if at all) as Declan writes.

Now, annoy me with an e-mail or comment in response to this blog and the situation just might become dire.

What is your name?

It never occured to me that it could be illegal for a police office to ask, What is your name? Until recently, it was illegal in Ohio. Now that it's not, the ACLU and others find this simple question a breach of civil liberties.

Passed by the state legislature as a tool to fight terrorism, the ACLU akins the Ohio Patriot Act to McCarthyism and the House Un-American Activities Committee.

The bill now allows police officers to "ask, 'What's your name?' ... Failure to identify oneself could land an individual in jail." An additional provision in the bill "instructs local law enforcement to lend assistance when able to federal authorities carrying out provisions of the Patriot Act." Once inacted, anyone who applies for an Ohio driver's license must "sign a form that they haven't supported terrorist organizations."

Marion Barry will probably be re-elected despite this ...

Having already spent six months in prison on drug charges and now facing further incarceration for income tax evasion, D.C. councilman and former Washington D.C. mayor Marion Barry is accused of failing "a court-ordered drug test in November ... The Washington Post reported in Wednesday's editions that Barry, 69, tested positive for cocaine following an Oct. 28 guilty plea to misdemeanor tax charges."

Perhaps he can vie for the U.S. presidency with Jonathon 'The Impaler' Sharkey as his running mate. Jonathon is honing his political skills by running in Minnesota's gubernatorial race. As the leader of the Vampyres, Witches and Pagans Party, Jonathon said that his platform includes "the impaling of terrorists, rapists, drug dealers and other criminals, (an) emphasis on education, tax breaks for farmers and better benefits for veterans." He has already filed as a candidate in the 2008 presidential elections.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

moron (noun): a stupid person; a dolt

Okay, I know, enough with the sports already. However, it makes things so much easier when the fodder is simply handed out on silver platters with a side of absurdity.

In speaking about being snubbed for inclusion on the 2006 U.S. men's Olympic basketball team, Ron Artest showed why he's the NBA's shining star:
Artest upset over Olympic shun?: "Yeah, I'm kind of upset about that. Me, being one of the better players in America, separate from the NBA, I want to play for the United States team in the Olympics ... I'm an American, I might not be a class act, but I'm an American."

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Marcus Vick is a hoodlum

I would rather draft my deceased grandmother, Ryan Leaf or Terrell Owens than have to deal with Marcus Vick. This punk is pure hoodlum. The most recent in a string of illegal and inane events involves Marcus' brandishing of a firearm on three unsuspecting teenagers at a McDonald's.

His history of unlawful activity includes:
  • Kicked off the Virginia Tech football team for unsportsmanlike conduct during a recent bowl game.
  • Speeding and driving with a suspended drivers license.
  • A drug arrest and a sordid array of other ineptness.
Marcus and Maurice Clarett seem to be cut from the same cloth. As written on SportsFan Magazine, "(Clarett has) wasted more opportunities than many ever receive and has been given more second chances than deserved because his potential on the field is so great. But from filing false police reports to bad-mouthing Ohio State in a national magazine and trying to bend NFL rules to go pro before eligible, the former running back from Youngstown has managed to tackle himself." If you recall, Maurice was recently arrested amid accusations he tried to mug someone at gun point. A spooky trend among NFL hopefuls.

For some reason this all brings me to the topic of racism in the NFL's upper echelon. Why, I don't know, but the New Orleans City Council decided it needed to pass a unanimous resolution to request the Saints hire former NFL player Doug Williams as the team's new coach. There seems to be no hint of this being a racial decision; however, I have my doubts. Again, SportsFan Magazine writes, "The next time someone tells you about how the NFL coaching fraternity is 'racist', ask them to explain this one. Mike Sherman went 4-12 with the Packers and that was his first losing season. He got fired and is looking for work as we speak. Herm Edwards went 4-12 with the Jets (giving him an NFL career head coaching record of 39-41). Edwards moved from the Jets to the Chiefs and got a raise of about $1M per year. I don't begrudge Edwards that position in the least; I do note however that coaching decisions are probably most often made on the basis of 'personal contacts' and 'friendships' and not always on the basis of race."

Monday, January 09, 2006

What illegal downloading has led to ...

The music industry has a notoriously sordid history in the continued endeavors of finding ways to control piracy and other copyright infringements. The latest conflict involves Coldplay's newest CD. As seen on Eminent Domain, the CD comes with a number of restrictions. Essentially, "the CD can't be burnt onto a CD-R or ripped to a hard drive and converted to MP3 files. The CD might not play in some computers, DVD players, car stereos, or personal CD players." If that's not insult enough to the innocent consumer, "except for manufacturing problems, we do not accept product exchange, return or refund."

Live in China? Then you're not reading this.

China has been receiving help from such companies as Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft in the filtering of Internet searches within the country. Concurring Opinions offered some insight into the situation by asking, "Is it acceptable when Yahoo or Google help France and Germany filter out pro-Nazi websites? Hypothetically, would it have been acceptable for Yahoo or Google to have helped the Nazi regime in identifying Jews? Where should the line be drawn?"

Most recently, Microsoft worked with Beijing officials to shut down the site of a Chinese blogger who opposed the countries political and social actions. The Associated Press reports, "Microsoft's China-based web-log-hosting service shut down the blog at the Chinese government's request, said Brooke Richardson, group product manager with Microsoft's MSN online division at the company headquarters in Redmond, Washington."

Companies like Microsoft and Google are not guided with a moral compass. Those, and any other company looking to make a profit, are guided by capitalist principles (and there is nothing wrong with that). As China opens up more and more for venture opportunities, we will begin seeing a greater number of companies selling their soul for economical greed.

In November 2005 a global summit convened to try and solve an array of issues. Among those was a shift of Internet control to a global level. Several countries —— including China, Cuba and Iran —— formed a coalition intent on "(wresting) control of the Internet from the United States ..."

Shortly after the summit, several interesting events occurred. The first involved a Chinese blackout of the news media and the Internet after several demonstrators were murdered by police. In referring to the atrocity, Reporters Without Borders noted China's constrictive measures taken to whitewash press coverage of the event. Efforts included the successful coverup of an Internet message about the police action that eventually distorted global views of the events surrounding the demonstration and subsequent events. Reporters Without Borders noted, "It is a striking demonstration of China’s capacity to censure both the traditional media and the Internet."

In a similar vane, Iran holds a death grip on its national media outlets and the Internet. Late last year the story came out about Omid Sheikhan, an Iranian blogger sentenced to a year in prison and 124 lashes for satirizing his country's political leaders.

Control of the blogging community is also an issue here in the United States. Whether it's the censorship of a university student accused of violating professional conduct codes or Eugene Kane's interest in blog control, there are definitive attacks on freedom of speech. However, there is a conflict of knowledge many have regarding the important role libel plays in controlling in a protective manner the aforementioned freedom of speech.