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Judge Strikes Down COPA, 1998 Online Porn Law

kdawson posted about 7 years ago | from the one-for-free-speech dept.

Censorship 348

Begopa sends in word that a federal judge has struck down the Child Online Protection Act. The judge said that parents can protect their children through software filters and other less restrictive means that do not limit others' rights to free speech. This was the case for which the US Department of Justice subpoenaed several search companies for search records; only Google fought the order. The case has already been to the Supreme Court. Senior U.S. District Judge Lowell Reed Jr. wrote in his decision: "Perhaps we do the minors of this country harm if First Amendment protections, which they will with age inherit fully, are chipped away in the name of their protection."

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348 comments

A step in the right direction. (5, Insightful)

Short Circuit (52384) | about 7 years ago | (#18443265)

For once, the mouth on the Censorship icon should have the black strip removed. This law has been the dark specter over every forum I've seen for years, and many non-communication-related services, too.

The question is, is COPA finally dead, for good? No more judgements to be made on the case? Please? The article doesn't specify if it could be appealed again.

I realize they'll just pass another law with similar provisions, but at least this helps set the tone in the courts.

Re:A step in the right direction. (0)

MikeyTheK (873329) | about 7 years ago | (#18443343)

"Perhaps we do the minors of this country harm if First Amendment protections, which they will with age inherit fully, are chipped away in the name of their protection," wrote Senior U.S. District Judge Lowell Reed Jr. I'm not sure where I sit on this law, but this seems like an odd reason to strike it down, since children aren't given the same rights as adults in our society. The most obvious example of this is the right to vote. This comment seems to be out of line with the rest of the opinion.

Re:A step in the right direction. (1, Insightful)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | about 7 years ago | (#18443475)

but this seems like an odd reason to strike it down, since children aren't given the same rights as adults in our society.

Heck, let's just remove all prisoner's rights, because they don't have the same rights as free citizens in our society. I like the way you think.

Re:A step in the right direction. (2, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 7 years ago | (#18443741)

Heck, let's just remove all prisoner's rights, because they don't have the same rights as free citizens in our society. I like the way you think.

Although I am wandering somewhat offtopic here, this is an excellent point for me to drag up my soapbox and make the case for ending the disenfranchisement of felons.

America's prison population passed the two million mark back in 1992. By 2001, one in 37 adult Americans had been in prison [cnn.com] for some period of time (including those who were still there.) For over a decade, sixty percent of the prison population is made up of minorities [cnn.com]. While less than one percent of the population is in prison, nearly five percent of the black population of the US is incarcerated.

It's long past time to recognize the disenfranchisement of felons for what it is; a denial of democracy. If you take the vote away from an entire class of people, their needs and problems need not be addressed; they are effectively denied a voice in government. This becomes far easier when they are people who have been dehumanized by society.

Re:A step in the right direction. (0, Offtopic)

ari_j (90255) | about 7 years ago | (#18443931)

I agree. Provided that "rehabilitated" and "cannot be rehabilitated" ought to have very high standards set for showing each one, I tend to go with the following:
  1. If you are not in prison, you should have every right that I have
  2. If you are not rehabilitated, you should not be out of prison
  3. If you cannot be rehabilitated, you should not remain alive
No purpose is served by a rehabilitated former prisoner being denied any rights, except that he is less likely to remain rehabilitated if he has decreased liberty because of what he used to be but no longer is.

Re:A step in the right direction. (0, Offtopic)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 7 years ago | (#18444301)

If you cannot be rehabilitated, you should not remain alive

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

If you must take away the liberty to ensure those rights to others, then so be it. But you cannot convince me that it is necessary to deprive men of life to ensure my ability to pursue happiness.

Either it is wrong to kill, or it is not. If it is not wrong, then I should be able to kill indiscriminately. It is wrong, so we should not be killing people. And of course, the ultimate hypocrisy is to kill someone as a punishment for killing.

Re:A step in the right direction. (4, Insightful)

AndersOSU (873247) | about 7 years ago | (#18444567)

I don't know why I feel compelled to join a debate every time a similar point comes up, but here I go again...

Prison, and punishment in general is not about all about rehabilitation. Other important reasons for punishing law breakers include, but are not limited to, incapacitation, general and specific deterrence, and good old fashioned punishment.

The measure of a persons punishment should consider much much more than the person's current rehabibility status.

A couple of examples:

A bum breaks a window because it gets really cold in Chicago in the winter - he'd rather face the punishment than freeze to death. Sure there may be better ways to stay warm, and he may have chosen unwisely, but given similar circumstances in the future he'd likely do the same thing. Do we lock him up forever for breaking a window - or execute him as you suggest?

I get pulled over for speeding - 60 in a 55 zone, and pay my fine. Three months later I get pulled over again in the same spot again doing 60. Clearly I haven't been rehabilitated of my wanton need for speed. How do you deal with me?

A severely mentally ill person is caught running around your local park naked. Rehab is impossible because there are no known treatments for his condition. Numerous experts testify that in the future he may cause more nuisance crimes, but he is in no way a danger to himself or others. Do we jail him? Is permanent civil commitment a better option? Do we execute all mentally handicap persons? What if is mother testifies that she takes care of him, and she foolishly left the back door unlocked allowing the streaker to escape. She vows that she will be more diligent - and points out that nothing like this has ever happened before. She also makes the excellent point that he will certainly be better cared for at her home than in a state institution. She unfortunately can't guarantee another event like this will never happen again - and as was previously mentioned the man certainly isn't rehabilitated.

Re:A step in the right direction. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18444097)

Someone who has committed a FELONY (as opposed to a Misdemeanor) loses their rights as a consequence of their decision to commit the crime. This is done because Felonies are much worse in scope than misdemeanors, and need an ongoing punishment after the felon is released from prison. This additional punishment helps remind the felon that they made a choice, and choices have consequences.

Re:A step in the right direction. (1)

kir (583) | about 7 years ago | (#18444449)

Those that commit felonies lose their right to vote. Not just black felons or hispanic felons -- all felons. What does the race of the felon have to do with your argument? Once they serve their time (sometimes including parole/probation), they get this right back.

From what I understand, 14 states continue to disenfranchise convicted felons even after they have completed their sentences (including parole/probation). While this is clearly wrong, it's an equal opportunity screwing-over. Race is not a factor. //Signed//

Re:A step in the right direction. (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | about 7 years ago | (#18444531)

Those that commit felonies lose their right to vote. Not just black felons or hispanic felons -- all felons. What does the race of the felon have to do with your argument?

The arguement is that since minority (read "non-white") felons make up such a disproportionate part of the system, it is effectively limiting that group's voice in government. Disenfranchising "enemies" of your politcal group is usually seen as a Bad Thing, especially given what they were sentenced for (mostly drug crimes) are not seen as crimes by everyone.

Re:A step in the right direction. (3, Interesting)

Spaceman40 (565797) | about 7 years ago | (#18444551)

While I don't (yet) have a position on the disenfranchisement of felons in the United States, I'm not sure if your argument really sways me either way.

America's prison population passed the two million mark back in 1992. By 2001, one in 37 adult Americans had been in prison for some period of time (including those who were still there.) For over a decade, sixty percent of the prison population is made up of minorities. While less than one percent of the population is in prison, nearly five percent of the black population of the US is incarcerated.

Summary: lots of people are convicted felons.

It's long past time to recognize the disenfranchisement of felons for what it is; a denial of democracy.

I think that's kind of the idea -- disenfranchisement is basically the removal of citizenship.

If you take the vote away from an entire class of people, their needs and problems need not be addressed; they are effectively denied a voice in government.

The former half of this is part of a point, but again, I think that's kind of the idea.

This becomes far easier when they are people who have been dehumanized by society.

By here, you begin to expand on your main idea, but then your argument ends.

"Disenfranchisement" -- kicking people out -- as punishment has been around forever. The English sent people to Australia (and even America, IIRC). Pirates maroon. We remove their rights as citizens. This doesn't make it good, just tested. I assume that you understand the reasons behind the policy in general.

Your argument seems to be that there are so many felons at this point, we might as well just let them back into citizenship. This is a non sequitur; why should it matter how many felons there are, or how many are minorities, etc.? The reason that a felon is disenfranchised is to remove them from society -- I'm sure the framers would have sent people to some uninhabited area if they could (the wild west, for instance). A few more felons wouldn't have made much difference.

Perhaps it's the permanent disenfranchisement that bothers you. You know, that bothers me a bit, too.

tl;dr: Re-word your argument.

Re:A step in the right direction. (5, Informative)

Dance_Dance_Karnov (793804) | about 7 years ago | (#18443499)

he is saying they won't be children forever, and that the 1st amendment protections everyone enjoys shouldn't be reduced because of them.

Re:A step in the right direction. (-1, Flamebait)

MBraynard (653724) | about 7 years ago | (#18443725)

Except that kind of reasoning is the job of legislators, not judges. Like many judges, he has forgotten his role and taken the job of dictator for life.

Re:A step in the right direction. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18443845)

The legislators *already* made the law. It's the constitution. If the free speech provisions are an obstacle to protecting children, the legislators can propose an amendement to it.

Good luck with that.

Re:A step in the right direction. (2, Informative)

Dance_Dance_Karnov (793804) | about 7 years ago | (#18443873)

that thinking would still have us with segregated schools, if a law is unconstitutional it is the duty of the judiciary to rule against it.

Re:A step in the right direction. (5, Insightful)

Ardeaem (625311) | about 7 years ago | (#18443925)

Except that kind of reasoning is the job of legislators, not judges. Like many judges, he has forgotten his role and taken the job of dictator for life.
Actually, all this judge did was say that this law was inconsistent with another, higher law (the Constitution). Simply because he notes that the First Amendment is a good idea for adults doesn't mean he's a dictator.

When did protecting Constitutional rights become being a dictator? This is EXACTLY his job.

Re:A step in the right direction. (3, Insightful)

Short Circuit (52384) | about 7 years ago | (#18443503)

which they will with age inherit fully
It's not about harm done the children as children, but the harm done the children as human beings.

Re:A step in the right direction. (4, Insightful)

zrobotics (760688) | about 7 years ago | (#18443645)

The real question I've always had is: Why is porn bad for kids? Seriously, I can't come up with any reason at all. Unless it's ultra-violent rape porn or something, porn is typically far less disturbing to a kid than the evening news.

Wait, that's it. Censor CNN!!

Re:A step in the right direction. (2, Funny)

Short Circuit (52384) | about 7 years ago | (#18443805)

Unless it's ultra-violent rape porn or something
You've illustrated the primary argument, that porn can have an influence on children's learned behavior. And there's millions of Americans who, for some reason, believe that any knowledge of sex will cause children to grow up to be something they shouldn't. (Like, "parents", I suppose.)

Re:A step in the right direction. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18444339)

I was a kid not long ago and I remember growing up, when parents wasn't home looking for dads porn stash.

I also remember one news broadcast showing a Palestinian being shot through the head.

Guess what haunted me during the nights...

Re:A step in the right direction. (4, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | about 7 years ago | (#18443979)

And this is why when i turned 13, my parents bought me a porno mag...they used it as a diagram for "the talk". Instead of telling me NOT to have sex, they encouraged me to have SAFE sex. Teaching abstinance helps no one, teaching safe sex helps everyone.

Seemed to work pretty good to me, I turned out well.

Re:A step in the right direction. (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | about 7 years ago | (#18444365)

That's sweet. My parents gave me "the talk" when I was 12, after I'd already been raiding my dad's collection of porno floppies for six months. I have to wonder what he kept on those 5.25" floppies, though...

Re:A step in the right direction. (3, Funny)

Pojut (1027544) | about 7 years ago | (#18444437)

from the time I was 15, I was my step-dad's porn supplier lol

Re:A step in the right direction. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18444511)

You let him take photos while he fucked you in the ass?

Re:A step in the right direction. (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | about 7 years ago | (#18444607)

You might want to keep that under wraps. Your parents are likely guilty of sex offenses depending on jurisdiction for providing pornography to minors.

Remember, sex offender lists have +2 immunity to ex post facto prohibitions.

Re:A step in the right direction. (5, Informative)

prichardson (603676) | about 7 years ago | (#18443515)

He's saying it's more important for the children, when they grow up, to have full first-amendment rights. Basically he's shooting down the ye olde thinkofthechildren argument.

Re:A step in the right direction. (3, Insightful)

dragonsomnolent (978815) | about 7 years ago | (#18443851)

Personally I think that for once someone was thinkingofthechildren, just thought of their well being in the long run, as opposed to the present.

Re:A step in the right direction. (1)

ari_j (90255) | about 7 years ago | (#18443985)

It's not per se bad to think of the children. It is, however, per se bad to justify something bad with an amorphous call to "think of the children." "My idea is good, and if you question it then you are against the children" is the type of argument that's bad. Logically sound arguments that happen to involve specific thoughts about children are just fine.

Re:A step in the right direction. (1)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | about 7 years ago | (#18443631)

You might not have heard, maybe they're censoring your net access and keeping you away from bad books. But you, along with the rest of the kids, _will_ get bigger, grow hair all kinds of weird places and eventually look like your parents.

Childhood won't last forever.

Re:A step in the right direction. (4, Insightful)

EzInKy (115248) | about 7 years ago | (#18443641)


"Perhaps we do the minors of this country harm if First Amendment protections, which they will with age inherit fully, are chipped away in the name of their protection," wrote Senior U.S. District Judge Lowell Reed Jr. I'm not sure where I sit on this law, but this seems like an odd reason to strike it down, since children aren't given the same rights as adults in our society. The most obvious example of this is the right to vote. This comment seems to be out of line with the rest of the opinion.


If you take away the rights of adults today there will be none for minors to inherit tomorrow.
.

Re:A step in the right direction. (1)

maxume (22995) | about 7 years ago | (#18443757)

So because they are disenfranchised, that's a reason to take away their other rights.

Re:A step in the right direction. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18444153)

Yeah, try thinking next time, and maybe you won't be so confused.

Re:A step in the right direction. (5, Interesting)

statusbar (314703) | about 7 years ago | (#18443381)

I am very happy about this.

I wrote the first available internet filter for windows 3.1 The Internet Filter [internetfilter.com] specifically because it is the parent's responsibility to decide what their children should and should not see, not the government's responsibility.

--jeffk++

Re:A step in the right direction. (5, Funny)

toleraen (831634) | about 7 years ago | (#18443689)

You sir, were the primary motivation for me to learn how to format a hard drive and reinstall Windows when I was younger!

Re:A step in the right direction. (1)

computational super (740265) | about 7 years ago | (#18444439)

Ummm... as a parent, I think I would probably notice something like that... but I guess you might get some temporary gratification for a few hours before you lost all computer privileges.

Re:A step in the right direction. (1)

mykdavies (1369) | about 7 years ago | (#18443633)

Forgive my ignorance on this, but can the US Congress pass a law that clearly violates the Constitution? Are there any mechanisms in place to censure those who pass any such laws, or can they just immediately pass COPA-II that's word-for-word identical, and will have full force of law until the courts knock that down as well?

Re:A step in the right direction. (1)

daeg (828071) | about 7 years ago | (#18443733)

Legally, I think they can, yes. However, with this ruling, it will make it extremely easy for further laws to have semi-permanent injunctions against their enforcement until the courts can rule on the new laws set immediately after a law hits the books and even before it goes into enforcement.

IANAL.

Re:A step in the right direction. (4, Informative)

Short Circuit (52384) | about 7 years ago | (#18443759)

Congress can pass any law it wants. The executive branch enforces the laws. When someone gets screwed over, the related court case has the potential to strike the law down, if it's deemed unconstitutional. (Which is, largely, a matter of whether the defendant has a good enough lawyer.)

At least one attempt at getting a law (the DMCA) struck down prior to a citizen being charged was dismissed because, in the judge's eyes, said citizen wasn't then under threat of being charged. As I recall, that had to do with some academic researcher whose research was made illegal, or at least part of a gray area, by the DMCA.

Re:A step in the right direction. (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | about 7 years ago | (#18443827)

but can the US Congress pass a law that clearly violates the Constitution?
br> Oh my, yes. Legislative branch can pass anything they like. Who's going to stop them? Are there any mechanisms in place to censure those who pass any such laws

Now we get to that. The judicaial branch can strike it down, or perhaps it can be nullified by widespread refusal of The People (likely) or the police (less likely). Then you're pretty much left with submitting to it or moving on to armed revolt.

or can they just immediately pass COPA-II that's word-for-word identical, and will have full force of law until the courts knock that down as well?

That's the difference between de jure law (what's on the books) and de facto law (what actually is). If the leglislative branch passes an unconstitutional law the those with guns (the police) enforce it, the activity is still constitutional however you will be punished with prison regardless.

Re:A step in the right direction. (1)

computational super (740265) | about 7 years ago | (#18444467)

Who's going to stop them?

Now there's an idea - if I break the law, I go to jail for it. The people who passed this law broke the first amendment when they passed it...

Re:A step in the right direction. (1)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | about 7 years ago | (#18444409)

As has been said, Congress can pass an illegal law if it wants to, and it will be struck down by the courts.

The mechanisms in place to prevent them from passing the same law again are twofold: One, the people should vote out anyone that stupid. (Ok, so that one's unlikely.) Two, the courts can use previous rulings as precident on similar cases, so all you have to do is point out that the reason that the previous law was illegal is also valid on this law, and the courts will overturn the new law. If the new law is close enough to the old, this will happen in the first court that sees a case on the law, so the effort is futile.

This does not prevent Congress from passing laws that are close to the old law, but are specifically designed to not fall to the same reasoning. That happens all the time.

Re:A step in the right direction. (1)

0p7imu5_P2im3 (973979) | about 7 years ago | (#18443953)

Did they ever pass another law to defeat Roe v. Wade?

(For those who don't know, that's the court case that overturned the anti-abortion laws.)

Re:A step in the right direction. (2, Interesting)

Short Circuit (52384) | about 7 years ago | (#18444047)

Sure. Lots. Every time you hear about restrictions on who can get an abortion, or when, or mandatory counseling prior to surgery. And it often happens at the state level, where it's not as easy to get it ruled unconstitutional. (Yay! We're an independant state, and we can sometimes legislate our rights away!)

Re:A step in the right direction. (2, Insightful)

Martin Blank (154261) | about 7 years ago | (#18444149)

This law has been the dark specter over every forum I've seen for years, and many non-communication-related services, too.

Are you sure you're not confusing COPA with COPPA? Both can apply to forums, but COPPA is a more constant point, requiring that forum admins collect parental permission from potential users age 12 or under.

bout time (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18443305)

Its about time that courts are finally seeing that our personal liberties are more important than fascist legislation that only appears to protect us and/or our children. Lets hope more are to follow.

Awesome (5, Insightful)

arootbeer (808234) | about 7 years ago | (#18443327)

This is a Good Thing®. I'm so tired of hearing about how people aren't being responsible enough, so we need to remove those responsibilities from them. Seems kinda counterintuitive to me.

Community standards are not a good way to police a country that promises liberty and justice for all.

Quote FTA (4, Insightful)

RingDev (879105) | about 7 years ago | (#18443367)

"It is not reasonable for the government to expect all parents to shoulder the burden to cut off every possible source of adult content for their children, rather than the government's addressing the problem at its source," a government attorney, Peter D. Keisler, argued in a post-trial brief.

Mr. Keisler then pointed at a child in the back of the the court playing a PSP and continued, "I mean, it's not like I have time to watch this brat."

-Rick

Re:Quote FTA (1)

sgholt (973993) | about 7 years ago | (#18443767)

"It is not reasonable for the government to expect all parents to shoulder the burden to cut off every possible source of adult content for their children, rather than the government's addressing the problem at its source,"

NO, it is reasonable...if the parent can't monitor or trust THEIR child on the internet...don't let them use the computer. It is that simple. If you think government should raised your children, you don't deserve to have children. It does not "take a village" ... just one more warning sign of socialism.

Re:Quote FTA (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | about 7 years ago | (#18443885)

If the Internet is so dangerous for children, I don't know why we don't treat it just like any other thing which is seen as dangerous for children, and make it adult only. For example, we wouldn't prevent adults from buying alcohol (or criminalise it) to prevent children getting hold of it.

The Internet may be widespread, but it's not like any child can have access to it - children don't sign up for their own ISPs, and Internet-cafes can be just like pubs. That just leaves using the parents' connection, which they can have total control over it. Yes, some will let them use it unsupervised, just as some parents buy their children alcohol, or don't care if their children get hold of their alcohol. It should be up to the parents, not the Government.

Re:Quote FTA (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 7 years ago | (#18443903)

He's also just assuming that every parent will want to cut off every possible source of adult content for their children. Perhaps some parents want to raise their children with their own values.

Re:Quote FTA (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | about 7 years ago | (#18444519)

What makes that comment especially stupid is that you *don't* cut this material off at it's source. You cut it off where it enters your home: at your PC. And guess what? A parent can do a far better job of this, at home, than the government can by policing the Internet.

Props (1, Insightful)

R3s0lut3 (861752) | about 7 years ago | (#18443437)

I know Google has been falling out of favour with the /. crowd of late, but I think they really deserve some big kudos on this matter. If they hadn't stood up to the DoJ on this one, no one would have and this law would still be in place. Way to not be evil!

Re:Props (2, Informative)

Short Circuit (52384) | about 7 years ago | (#18443531)

Read the article. Google stood up against the DoJ on trade secret grounds, not privacy grounds.

Re:Props (1)

BillyBlaze (746775) | about 7 years ago | (#18444235)

Google can hardly be blamed that the privacy rights for corporations (trade secret protection) are (in some cases, e.g. not financial) more strongly codified in law than those for humans.

Re:Props (4, Insightful)

vidarh (309115) | about 7 years ago | (#18443615)

You completely miss the point: Google did not fight COPA - they fought a subpoena asking them to hand over search data that the DOJ wanted to use to try to find examples of how "innocent" searches would return porn, only. Since the government got that data from the other targets, and got some data from Google too, Google's stand on the matter had little to no effect on the overall case.

Instead of fawning over Google, thank Salon.com and the other sites that sued, and ACLU for helping them.

Yay for google (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18443541)

Boo for AOL, MSN and Yahoo.

Re:Yay for google (1)

r_jensen11 (598210) | about 7 years ago | (#18444173)

How are you saying yay for google? Are you so short-sighted that you forgot how they're handling their Chinese operations?

Re:Yay for google (1)

KinkoBlast (922676) | about 7 years ago | (#18444317)

In compliance with Chinese law? Honestly, they had two choices in China:

- Accept a degree of censorship
- Don't offer the service at all

They took the former - and from what I've heard, they generally go as far against that as they can without major, major trouble.

And anyway, one word: Tor :P

A lot has to change to make parents responsible (5, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | about 7 years ago | (#18443575)

And just how many families are going to give up that unnecessary second income? *crickets chirping* I thought so.

I've seen a lot of people of both sexes talk the talk, but then not even walk at all when it's time to walk the walk.

Parental responsibility includes a recognition that your needs aren't important compared to your family's. You like your job, but don't need it to support your kids? You have a moral obligation to quit if it is getting in the way at all of being a parent.

But we can't say that today because that's "sexist" and "backward." Funny how well "modernity" seems to be working out for families. Divorce rates through the roof, kids screwed up right and left, but hey, let's ignore all of that and focus on abstract ideas that make us feel good, right?

Re:A lot has to change to make parents responsible (1)

stratjakt (596332) | about 7 years ago | (#18443743)

And just how many families are going to give up that unnecessary second income? *crickets chirping* I thought so.

Unnessesary?

You think that in most dual income households, both parents work because they LIKE TO?

Re:A lot has to change to make parents responsible (4, Insightful)

realmolo (574068) | about 7 years ago | (#18443745)

While I agree with you in principle, you seem to be confused about the "unnecessary second income".

For a LOT of families, that second income is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. Mortgage payments are higher than they've ever been. Gas prices are higher than they've ever been. Work for a company that doesn't provide insurance? Insurance prices are ASTRONOMICALLY high.

Throw a couple of kids into the mix, and anyone at or below the "lower-middle-class" income bracket is struggling, big-time.

Yes, a lot of those families probably don't manage their money particularly well. But even if they did, they probably wouldn't be saving much. They'd still live paycheck-to-paycheck, they just wouldn't be going into debt every month to pay bills.

Re:A lot has to change to make parents responsible (2, Insightful)

forand (530402) | about 7 years ago | (#18443949)

Perhaps I am wrong but I read it as sarcasm. Most of the people I know feel they must have the second income to live a "comfortable" lifestyle. That being said I know others who have three kids and survive off only one income which is not very good in and of itself. So I guess I can see it both ways: we feel we need the second jobs but we most certainly do not, your family will not starve or be out on the street with only one bread winner but you might not be able to afford two cars and all the crapy in the garage.

Re:A lot has to change to make parents responsible (3, Insightful)

malkavian (9512) | about 7 years ago | (#18443963)

The thing is, a generation ago, this wasn't the case.
Over the last 30 years, both partners have started working. At the beginning of this, the two worker partnerships brought in a very good sum, comparatively.
So, it became the thing to do, as everyone wanted to get the 'extras'. And as more money was available within limited segments (read the housing market), the prices rose to the point that the new double incomes would be able to support.
Childcare services were now more in demand, which meant the prices were able to inflate commensurately too.
So, in effect, what we have now is more or less the same quality of life overall that was available a generation ago, except it now requires two partners to be working to maintain that standard, rather than one.
The option to have one partner working has more or less vanished, unless you're really willing to cut corners.

Re:A lot has to change to make parents responsible (2, Insightful)

mungtor (306258) | about 7 years ago | (#18444099)

I think one of the things to consider is whether the lifestyle afforded by the second income is necessary. You don't _need_ a 4500 sq ft McMansion, a pool, a live-in nanny, and 2 $50k+ SUVs. Housing is expensive because too many dual income "families" are willing to overbid on a house where the greatest feature is that it's close to work.

Most people are unwilling or incapable of changing their lifestyle to provide a decent home for their kids. It seems that most parents are completely unwilling to give up their toys. Maybe because they didn't get them when they were younger or something, but generally they're a pretty selfish lot lately. They have kids and buy them things just to gain status with the other dysfunctional idiots in their particular gated community.

In the "lower-middle-class" bracket tho, you're screwed. You're pushed out of the housing markets by the other greedy fuckers who only had kids because they suddenly woke up to their own mortality. You can't afford to live close to work, so you lose 3 hours a day driving, leave before your kids are awake and get home just in time to eat dinner and put them to bed. If you care about your kids, it's depressing as hell.

Re:A lot has to change to make parents responsible (1)

PlatyPaul (690601) | about 7 years ago | (#18444183)

I almost feel like a jerk saying this, but...

If you can't manage to have children and ensure that they are responsibly taken care of (by you or another person), then perhaps you should not have children in the first place (at least until a time when you could do so responsibly). I'm not saying that this requires a single-income family, but it absolutely shouldn't require government intervention to be feasible.

I'm a grad student, and my wife just got a new job. We couldn't manage the time to have children right now and raise them properly, even though we could afford it. We'll wait.

I am not confused about that second income (1)

MikeRT (947531) | about 7 years ago | (#18444367)

Why do you think I explicitly put the qualification, "unnecessary" in there. Please, don't lecture me on this because I can actually appreciate how hard it can be to live on one income because I live in Fairfax County, Virginia, one of the richest and most expensive parts of America. When many Americans in smaller areas were whining about $2 gas, we were contemplating driving down to the small towns to buy our gas there!

What I am talking about are the families that really don't need a second income. There are more of those than you probably realize, and if you cannot afford to live on one income, you might need to move to a new town or city, if for no other reason than it'll increase your own happiness and ability to feel like you can make it.

The problem is that to live on one income, unless the one income is very large, you need to make things like going to Starbucks a once a week luxury, not a daily or several times a day activity. You cannot have a big TV, you cannot have an expensive car; you'll have to go for that Honda Accord instead of the Acura TL or RL or Lexus equivalents. See what I mean?

My fiance and I are following what seems to be more and more the pattern of religious couples we know, which is that she will work hard for 3-5 years when we get married, then have kids. That 3-5 years will give me the chance to build up my career and for us to save some serious money so we have options. I know couples that are living in one bedroom apartments just to save money to compensate for not having a terribly large combined income, but it works for them while they're making their plans on where to move to.

How is that sexist? (2, Insightful)

TheAxeMaster (762000) | about 7 years ago | (#18443881)

You didn't say which parent should quit their job and it doesn't matter. If one of the two incomes in a household can support the household, the other one can and probably should quit. It doesn't matter which parent that is.
 
Though the truth is that almost everything is sexist one way or another. The average person would probably assume that the statement above was referring to the female in the household. The "femenist" would assume the same and get pissed about it because it is sexist. But try being a good father with a good job and trying to get full custody of your kids from a bad mother and see what happens...life is skewed one way or the other.
 
Back to the decision, I applaud it. I'm tired of parents not taking responsibility for their kids. If they don't want them to see porn on the internet but aren't willing to put forth the effort to filter the content, then they should cut off their kids' access to the net. It really is that simple, no matter what they say.

Re:A lot has to change to make parents responsible (1, Insightful)

ericski (20503) | about 7 years ago | (#18443911)

You have a moral obligation to quit if it is getting in the way at all of being a parent.

Well, my kids need a house, food, and clothing. Me going to work sometimes gets in the way of some of my parenting but if I quit my job because of that, they'd become homeless, starving kids. Dual incomes are needed for many a family to barely scrape by. My household, like many others, is a single parent, single income household. So your blanket statement needs refining. Things are not so simple when it comes to raising children.

Re:A lot has to change to make parents responsible (1)

Floritard (1058660) | about 7 years ago | (#18444061)

If you need both parents working to barely make ends meet, why are you paying for internet access that poisons the minds of your sweet children anyway? Seems you could save some money and your offspring's innocence by pulling the plug on satan's information superhighway in the home. Let them check their email on library computers running the filter software you're too dumb or too busy to install for the home computer. Hard to jerk it at the library anyway, I would imagine. Or you could just lighten up a bit and trust that your careful parenting can't be completely undone by pixels on a computer monitor.

Materialism leads to evil (1)

0p7imu5_P2im3 (973979) | about 7 years ago | (#18444157)

It's all about "what you've got" in our society. It's been so since the beginning of man. Some would even say it's genetic.

There was a man, a couple of millenia ago, that said something about taking care of one's family being more than "providing" for them. He advocated change to make both governments and parents, even individuals, responsible for their actions. His mentor's book is the number one best seller every month. It's been at the top of the list for so long that people don't even mention it on the list anymore. I think everyone should give it a read once in a while.

Materialism leads to moral ambiguity (1)

0p7imu5_P2im3 (973979) | about 7 years ago | (#18444321)

I disagree with the responses you're getting, MikeRT.

If you can't manage two cars and a big, or even medium sized, house without both parents working, here's a novel idea to help you out:

Sell the house and get a smaller one. Poof! Less debt, and if you managed your equity correctly, you have a major down payment on a smaller house, giving you a substantially lower house payment as opposed to just a lower one.

Then when the kids are old enough for their own jobs (and thus old enough that you have little else that they will learn without experience) you can re-upgrade your house and the homemaker probably won't even need to get a job if the commuter has impressed his/her employer.

W00T Fp (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18443609)

of OpenBSD. How Distribution make would cho0se to use won't be shouting

finally (2, Insightful)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | about 7 years ago | (#18443709)

Finally a Judge who understands the First Amendment. Now if we could just get "Inciting a Riot", and "Disturbing the Peace" laws struck down.

Re:finally (3, Interesting)

Intron (870560) | about 7 years ago | (#18443965)

...and my favorite, "Free Speech Areas" at political conventions.

Re:finally (3, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | about 7 years ago | (#18444539)

...and my favorite, "Free Speech Areas" at political conventions.

Um, just out of curiosity... if you and, say, 500 of your idealogical or cultural fellows applied for and got a permit to occupy a public street or use a facility of some sort, and held such an event... and then someone else gathered 1000 drum-banging loons you can't stand to march in and shout down the communication you're trying to have between yourself and your 500 friends, would you consider the complete inability to hold the event for which you obtained the permits, paid the fees, etc., to be an example of your first amendment rights being protected? Or would you consider the 1000 people without the permits, who are specifically stepping in to disrupt your activity, to be the ones at fault? Should every peaceful demonstration or political rally really just be a complete shouting and shoving and size-of-signs contest to see who can drown out who? Why is it that some people think that only disruptive and sometimes destructive street antics are valid discourse in a public space, and don't get the irony because their typical idealogical opponents don't consider such amateur theatrics to be actually persuasive, and as such they don't "retaliate" with the same when the roles are reversed?

If your protesting or demonstration group - or, a much larger political organization to which you belong and which holds events that you attend - goes through the right steps to spend a day holding an event on the mall in DC (or wherever), would you consider your rights well looked after if your speeches or performances or other messages were simply disrupted/ended by idiots with giant puppets while the police, who are there to enforce the conditions of the permit that you properly obtained, just stand by and watch your event - and your use of the space you arranged to use - become worthless to you? You can't have it both ways.

Good by to a crud law. (4, Informative)

Anon-Admin (443764) | about 7 years ago | (#18443753)

As I read the article, the following jumped out at me.

"The Web sites that challenged the law said fear of prosecution might lead them to shut down or move their operations offshore, beyond the reach of the U.S. law."

Move their operations offshore?? We see how that worked for the casinos, They will get you when changing plains. :

How about move it offshore, Move out of the country, and NEVER set foot on US soil again! A hard thing to do in these times. Next you know the US will divert plains and instruct them to land on US soil, just to arrest some one.

Oh well, welcome to the Land of the Free and home of the Brave....

Please note that the above statement predates the current laws restricting your freedom of speech, Freedom of the press and freedom to assemble(1). The restrictions on gun ownership(2), The no-knock warrants (4), Holding people with out a trial outside of the country (5,6), Setting bail above the amount a person can make in there lifetime (7), and the loss of amendments 9 and 10 after the civil war. But you are free to excersize you 3rd amendment right! "Amendment #3 No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law."

Oh, and as for the Brave part. You can not be brave and defend your self with deadly force unless you have first tried to run away and hide. If there is no where to run, then you can be brave and defend your self.

I am all for a constitutional Tea party to show that the Americans have not lost the spirit of what was started, Just this time we should sink cigarette trucks! The Tax on them is through the roof! The government makes more from a pack of cigarettes than the cigarette companies do!

Ok, I am going to put away my soap box and get back to work.

Re:Good by to a crud law. (4, Funny)

Intron (870560) | about 7 years ago | (#18443995)

Before the US starts diverting or changing plains, it will need an environmental impact statement.

Brave my hairy, white... face. (0)

0p7imu5_P2im3 (973979) | about 7 years ago | (#18444491)

You ask for bravery and I will show you an unarmed man who stands in front of a gun to give time for complete strangers to get away and tells the would-be assassin that he should think about the consequences of what he is doing.

You ask for cowardice... and I will show you a man standing over a dead would-be burglar dialing 911 with a smoking gun in his hand.

Bravery != Killing People
Bravery == Saving Lives

FirfsT (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18443829)

There's no 1. Therefore it's

Senior U.S. District Judge Lowell Reed Jr. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18443941)

Wow, that is one American that doesn't make me laugh!

Thank God for separation of powers... (2, Interesting)

Etherwalk (681268) | about 7 years ago | (#18444015)

Well, thank the founding fathers, at any rate. Yes, the world has changed and the powers of the federal government have grown beyond the dreams of Jefferson and Madison and those folk. And Yes, maybe they're a bunch of dead rich white slave-owners. But they weren't nincompoops!

The legal system in this country is pretty messed up, riddled with inefficies and outright injustices. But it still does some things right. =)

Kudos to this judge! (1)

Churla (936633) | about 7 years ago | (#18444059)

He has managed to see the forest to spite all the trees.

My wife and I already plan on her staying at home to raise our kids when they are spawned. For reasons just like this. Parents have a responsibility to be the safeguards of their children. If you aren't up to that responsibility, don't have kids.

Now , if we could just get clones of this judge to march on Washington.. maybe curtail this damned Nanny State we have brewing.

Re:Kudos to this judge! (1)

hesiod (111176) | about 7 years ago | (#18444487)

> has managed to see the forest to spite all the trees.

Take that, you stoopid trees! Did you, perhaps, mean "despite all the trees"? Anyway, no offense intended.

I love to see stuff like this:
> If you aren't up to that responsibility, don't have kids.

Woo! I agree completely. Too many people think that the meaning of life is propagation at all costs.

I once said to my brother that many parents don't really care what happens to their children. He said it was one of the stupidest things I had ever said, but I believe it is one of the most insightful. If people are willing to have children despite having no ability to pay for their proper care, then they REALLY don't care about the children, they only care about having children. That's assuming it was an intentional pregnancy, of course. If it was intentional, then the problem is greed and lack of self control. Can't afford kids ? Stop having unprotected sex, you ignorant slut (I aim that at males as well as females, because "stud" isn't really an insult).

Sorry to go off like that, but I was annoyed today after reading an "article" that basically suggested that celebrities (B. Spears in this case) should use their children as personal decoration. That made me SOOOO disgusted.

Finally. (1)

penp (1072374) | about 7 years ago | (#18444307)

For once, we leave raising children to the responsibility of the parents rather than the government. Think the same thing will happen with videogames? Or will we still have those insisting that violent games are to blame for children who commit crimes, not bad parenting?

Parents ARE The Sum of Responsibility for Kids (3, Insightful)

ShrapnelFace (1001368) | about 7 years ago | (#18444403)

American Parents need to be prosecuted by our laws for the actions of their children. Growing up, I was constantly reminded by my teachers and my parents that if I commit a crime as a minor, my parents could be held equally accountable. Not knowing if that was actually true then, it seems like a pretty good idea to me. Placing the entire responsibility in plain view like this would be a positive post-action to this decision. Sure the liberals will quip "but what if [substitute a situation]", but lets get one thing straight here: You are the conscious of your children until they are 18 years old. Therefore, the ultimate responsibility for protection from all things evil and wrong is the parent. "What if my child is just wild, and just commits a crime to get me in trouble?" Let me say this: If you have a precedence set which shows you have done everything imaginable to prevent that crime from happening, how can you be held accountably negligent? In itself, this wipes out the majority of slacking little fund sucking little freeloading parents in the US that are basically asking Legislators to raise their children- in the schools, in the afterschool programs, and on the weekends. I'm sick of all the oversite. Childporn is wrong, disgusting, and a very real problem. However, the gating point for access to my children is me

Nicccce (2, Interesting)

Goblez (928516) | about 7 years ago | (#18444429)

parents can protect their children

Isn't this a concept. That those charged in the protection and upbringing of children should take care of these things, and leave our personal freedoms alone. Who is this judge, and someone give him a promotion and a raise for using common sense and some foresight.

I liked this as well: which they will with age inherit fully

Gives some real insight into the Protect the Children mentality. How about we protect what they will value as adults?

recommend content filters for homes? (1)

rjnagle (122374) | about 7 years ago | (#18444501)

At the risk of sounding like a newb, can anyone recommend a good content filtering system for a home?

I don't worry about these things normally (because I am unmarried) but my sister and brother (who both have small children) are petrified about letting their child touch a network-enabled computer.

From a standpoint of ease of use and effectiveness, what's good?

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