by Jim Davies, 9/8/2010
Americans in 1788 were persuaded to approve creation of a new government in large part by the promise that it would be limited; that for example it would be forbidden (how?) to interfere with free speech. That was a swindle from the get-go, for if government is limited it does not govern, while if it governs it must have no limit. That's what "govern" means.
The hoax was soon revealed by the infamous Acts of 1798 which imprisoned critics of the Adams administration's war plans, and yesterday came the two latest proofs that speech here is very far from free.
First I saw an account of how LewRockwell.com had been penalized for its steady flow of fine articles critical of government, seen by a readership delivering it 2.3 million visits a month. This alarmed the Obama people, who let loose a lawyer to trouble Rockwell with allegations that copyright laws may have been infringed. He hired his own lawyer to counter the attack, and won; but he's in the hole for $46,000. Speech, for Rockwell, was not free. It cost him forty six grand.
Then last evening, PBS discussed the Craigslist censorship by 17 States' Attorneys General. One of them, Tom Miller of Iowa, explained that some ads on this popular classified-ad site evidently offered sex for money; a voluntary transaction which most governments try to forbid (in Iran, by whipping or execution.) Craigslist have caved; they pulled the "adult services" ad class by marking it "censored." In August the 17 had written Craigslist demanding that action, but Miller described the response not in terms of Craigslist having been intimidated or coerced, but as just a "pricking of the conscience." Sure; you or I might also just happen to change our conduct voluntarily, after receiving a demand from 17 Attorneys General. It's really too bad that PBS didn't sit him opposite some ACLU hotshot with the intestinal fortitude to call that revolting hypocrisy by its name.
Miller also alleged, without evidence, that some of the ads involved minors, and so amounted to "human trafficking." Now, if a child - or any person - is being coerced, in a free society that would be subject to litigation. With zero government (hence, zero laws) that would begin with complaints by victims, or their parents or guardians, and courts would resolve the complaints by ordering restitution of any self-ownership rights they found to have been damaged.
But there is no way that a mere advertising site would be held responsible for the content of what advertisers chose to say. Except by falling on one's head, notice boards can damage nobody.