The First Amendment under attack...


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Autolycus
July 12, 2006, 03:24 AM
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2003114976_danny09.html

Read this while it's still legal
By Danny Westneat

As most of us toasted liberty and pursued happiness last week, Jim Harvill opened his mailbox and learned these rights are not as unalienable as he thought.

On July 3, Harvill, an affable operations manager for Sprint PCS near Spokane, got the following letter from the publisher of two magazines he has subscribed to for years. "It is with deep regret that we must inform you ... " it read, "we must cancel all subscriptions to Washington State."

The magazines are "Casino Player" a monthly review of U.S. casinos and hotels and "Strictly Slots" a guide to one-armed bandits, video poker and other mechanized means of gambling.

Hardly classic literature. But Harvill liked them. And now he can no longer read them, thanks to a twisted reading of the state's new law against Internet gambling.

The state says placing bets online is against the law. Fine. But the state goes on to say that even writing about Internet gambling in a way that's promotional is "aiding and abetting" an illegal industry.

So now two print magazines consider themselves banned in this state. It's not clear whether the publisher pulled them on his own or was asked to by the state. The letter vaguely cites "new state laws regarding the legality of online gaming."

Mind you, no actual betting occurs via these magazines. People like Harvill buy them just to read about gambling.

"It's completely surreal," Harvill says. "My government is saying there is something I'm not allowed to read. I've lived in this country for 60 years and I can't remember anything like this happening to me before."

Well, it has certainly happened to others. Ask Larry Flynt. But it is almost never allowed to stand. Has to do with all that stuff we heard ad nauseam last week about independence and the freedom to think and speak as we want.

The nation's birthday week was a dark one for the most unruly and inconvenient of our freedoms, expression.

We learned that a high-school band in Everett had been barred from playing "Ave Maria" because the song is too religious. This is as baffling as if an art class were not permitted to study Michelangelo.

And then a Fort Lewis Army officer, who was properly accused of refusing to ship out to Iraq, was inexplicably charged for saying "contemptuous words against the President of the United States."

Lt. Ehren Watada had said the president misled us into a war that, in retrospect, was a mistake. Shocking! Even in the military, how can stating the obvious be a jailable offense?

I realize there are arguments for all these clampdowns. Still, it ought to give us pause that in one Fourth of July week we had two magazines banned in the state, one song muzzled in a school district and a slew of words outlawed in the military.

Would a confident people do this to themselves?

Oh, well. So we can't read up on Internet betting. Students can't play songs about Jesus' mother. Soldiers can't call the president a charlatan.

If we all get really bored, at least we can still burn the flag.

Danny Westneat's column appears Thursday and Sunday. Reach him at 206-464-2086 or dwestneat@seattletimes.com.

Copyright 2006 The Seattle Times Company



Where is the country going?

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Zedicus
July 12, 2006, 04:28 AM
Where is the country going?
Exactly where many people who often get classed as "Conspiracy Theorists" & "Tinfoil Hat Nuts" have long feared.:( :banghead:

Robert Hairless
July 12, 2006, 04:48 AM
Where is the country going?

It's easy to become despondent about incidents such as this and conclude that they indicate a new and deplorable direction. But in fact there's nothing new about situations like these in the United States.

Do some homework on censorship in America, with particular attention to the following for starters: D.H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley's Lover; Henry Miller, The Tropic of Cancer and The Tropic of Capricorn; Margaret Sanger and contraception. You can go back even further in time.

What these magazine publishers will do or should do if their case is virtuous, is to file suit. My guess is that they will win said suit.

The most interesting thing about this incident (and my information is no more than what you've posted) is that it's further evidence of what everyone here should know but that many people seem to forget. It's rare for insignificant rights to be attacked. When a right is attacked there's an unmistakable sign that the right is significant, and when it's attacked repeatedly and forcefully, that right must be mightily significant. It therefore demands vigorous defense even by people who are not directly affected by that particular attack. Because when any right is attacked successfully and destroyed, all of the rest become susceptible and eventually will topple.

To turn this discussion away from gambling specifically and into a channel that seems more appropriate to this forum, it has always troubled me that many Americans don't care to defend the Second Amendment because they themselves have no interest in keeping and bearing arms. Their position is shortsighted. Let the Second Amendment fall and there is precedent to destroy other amendments, starting (I think) with the First Amendment. That's why I've always been even more troubled by widespread antagonism from the media towards the Second Amendment issues. My best explanation is that they, most of them, must be so naive and ill educated that they can't see that they're next.

c_yeager
July 12, 2006, 04:50 AM
It's not clear whether the publisher pulled them on his own or was asked to by the state.

This comment would seem to belie the title of the article in which it appears:

Read this while it's still legal


Yeah, no freedom of speech, maybe.

I do think the prohibition on online gambling is kinda silly in a state where there are three card rooms within walking distance of my house, and a number of tribal casinos littered around as well.

Nehemiah Scudder
July 12, 2006, 04:51 AM
They would have a tough time winning the suit, because I betcha that a significant percentage of thier advertising comes from illegal internet gambling outfits.

Is advertising part of free speech? Why haven't the alchohol and tobacco companies appealed to the Supreme Court?

Autolycus
July 12, 2006, 05:23 AM
I agree with you about the fact many only protect the amendments they have an interest in. I have many friends like this who think that the 2nd is kind of pointless. I always have to ask why they put it right after the first? They say that religion and freedom of thought was very important to the founding fathers. They also say the 4th and 5th are very important but they negelct the 2nd and 3rd amendmnets. There logic does not fly, because I think the Founding Fathers put the BOR in order of importance.

I also think that the alcohol and tobacco companies should make an appeal to the SCOTUS. It is a freedom of expression issue. If people are so offended by advertisements then they should not watch or read anything with those advertisements.

Its 3:20 am and my time for bed. Please ignore my rambling.

Warren
July 12, 2006, 05:35 AM
Moron legislators passing moronic laws that are supposed to "help" the small percentage of compulsive morons that cannot control their gambling.

So the many pay for the idiocy of the few....again.

I remember some idiot republican out of AZ IIRC that had a big chubby for making online gaming illegal. That did not get a lot of traction and died out. But I'm sure he is still there and will try again especially if Wa State's law is upheld.

As to the magazine ban I'm sure a lawsuit is a'comin. I. Nelson Rose (pro-gaming lawyer) is not the sort to let something like this just happen.

mrmeval
July 12, 2006, 05:47 AM
If the magazines let it gnaw on that state by NOT filing suit then it is an open and unsettled wound. I would prefer the gangrene to eat the heart out of the scum that passed the law.

Nehemiah Scudder
July 12, 2006, 05:54 AM
The laws against Internet gambling are there for more reasons that just to stop degenerate gamblers. They're outside U.S. jurisdiction so they're totally unregulatable. That means that there's no penalty at all against rigging the games, charging outrageous interest, flat-out ripping you off.

Zrex
July 12, 2006, 10:42 AM
Where is the country going?

Where has the country gone?




had to correct the tense

mrmeval
July 12, 2006, 10:43 AM
So get rid of welfare and let the stupid gamblers live in boxes.

Zrex
July 12, 2006, 11:03 AM
That means that there's no penalty at all against rigging the games, charging outrageous interest, flat-out ripping you off.


Let the market regulate its self? What would happen, in the absence of govt regulation, is that companies would develop reputations for fairness and for fraud. With the internet being such a good conduit for the exchange of information, the industry would self regulate in short order. Its kind of like the buyer rating stuff on e-bay. Would you sell something to a buyer with 200 negative responses versus one with 1000 positive responses? Why not let the gambler be responsible for his own due diligence?

Or do you have some sort of a problem with free market capitalism?

Sergeant Bob
July 12, 2006, 11:37 AM
That means that there's no penalty at all against rigging the games, charging outrageous interest, flat-out ripping you off, and the State doesn't have the opportunity to rake in big bucks in taxes from all party's involved

Fixed.

RealGun
July 12, 2006, 11:45 AM
The Senate passed an internet gambling regulation bill yesterday. I haven't read it but heard some of the debate, partly interesting libertarian basics from Ron Paul. The debate focused mainly on gambling by minors. It left me wondering just where the line is for how much parenting, whether for minors or adults, should come from Congress. Other supposed behavior controls are sin taxes, mostly at State levels. Those just wind up taxing the poor, solving nothing.

Nehemiah Scudder
July 12, 2006, 11:46 AM
There is that, too. It is nice to think that the tax on the stupid (gambling aka. the Lotto) is going to some good use somewhere. (Like reducing property taxes.)

The problem with total free market capatalism is that, by the time you get done researching everything to make sure you're getting the best deal, then you'd have precious little time to do anything else. And, for gambling in particular, especially the smaller stuff, I don't see gamblers as pretty motivated to care that much, as long as the chicanery isn't blatantly obvious.

I could be wrong, and there could be a lot of Internet gambling watchdog sites out there. Haven't researched it.

Henry Bowman
July 12, 2006, 11:58 AM
Sgt. Bob nailed the real reason that the state is so "protective" of its citizens. The state isn't getting its cut of gambling that takes place online.

Autolycus
July 12, 2006, 03:41 PM
It seems like a Bull-Crap reason. I think that the tax revenue is the biggest motivator as well. However you would think that they could do the same to some magazines such as High-Times and others for promoting illegal activity.

Sergeant Bob
July 12, 2006, 07:14 PM
It seems like a Bull-Crap reason. I think that the tax revenue is the biggest motivator as well. However you would think that they could do the same to some magazines such as High-Times and others for promoting illegal activity.
You would think so wouldn't you? But, since the govt does collect taxes on the sales and profits of High times (and no one is squawking real loud about it), they don't have much af a problem with it.

Freedom isn't free.

c_yeager
July 13, 2006, 03:06 PM
The Washington state prohibition on internet gambling has nothing to do with helping compulsive gamblers, or with dealing with an unregulated industry. Washington state *has* legalized gambling, which has always been the case. The meat of the issue is how the state collects its revenue. When people gamble in our local casinos a large portion of that money ends up in the state's accounts. When a person gambles online that money evaporates.

Please remember that this article DID NOT state that the magazine was "banned" in the state. It said that the publishers *chose* not to distribute their rags here. That is a world of difference.

Art Eatman
July 13, 2006, 03:43 PM
While it's understandable that the insatiable maw of the Washington State Tax Grabber isn't satisfied by online gambling, it's still a First Amendment issue.

Robert Hairless' examples show that this sort of "inconvenient" First Amendment has long bothered all manner of folks. A more recent example is that of the Campaign Finance no-Reform law.

The DEA has long tried to close down "High Times" magazine.

But I gotta disagree with the inclusion of the cited Army officer. He's in the Army. In the Army, you don't smart off in public about a superior officer. He agreed to the UCMJ as a condition of service. Shame on him for being stupid.

Art

Autolycus
July 13, 2006, 03:56 PM
Originally posted by C_Yeager:

Please remember that this article DID NOT state that the magazine was "banned" in the state. It said that the publishers *chose* not to distribute their rags here. That is a world of difference.

True but the reason they withdrew was...

From the Article:

The state says placing bets online is against the law. Fine. But the state goes on to say that even writing about Internet gambling in a way that's promotional is "aiding and abetting" an illegal industry.

Well that is what vexes me.

c_yeager
July 13, 2006, 04:10 PM
Well that is what vexes me.

What vexes me, having read the full text of the bill, is where it states this.

The bill very simply alters the existing state statute regarding gambling, and simply adds the internet to the list of ways in which it is illegal to make wagers. (it used to be include television, printing, telephones, telegpraphs etc., now it inculdes the internet as well).

The issue here isnt wether or not the state can actually curtail the distrubution of a gambling magazine. Clearly *that* would be an invasion of free speach. The question here is wether or not THIS HAS ACTUALLY HAPPENED. All information at present would indicate that it hasnt. The article, and the magazine publishers have stated that they HAVE NOT been prohibited from distributing their magazines, and none of the changes to the law would indicate that such distribution has been made illegal.

My question is: Has anyone actually and verifiably had their freedom of speech in any way infringed by this bill? Yes or no, cite your source.

mordechaianiliewicz
July 13, 2006, 08:58 PM
We won't have any proof until election season that they've violated our rights. Think about it.

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