Freedom, Sex, and Censorship, as Reported by the Internet

Several news stories and blog posts worth noting, discussing topics that bear discussion and offer the potential of deeply  interesting further developments.

And so, with no further ado, here’s the Tuesday round-up.

An NPR report about a current lawsuit challenging the Patriot Act as unconstitutional:

The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Tuesday in a case that pits an individual’s right of free speech and association against a federal law aimed at combating terrorism. At issue is part of the Patriot Act that makes it a crime for an American citizen to engage in peaceful, lawful activity on behalf of any group designated as a terrorist organization.

Sassymonkey Reads brings us an examination of “Common Sense” ratings of YA books on the Barnes & Noble Website:

I was prepared to be really ranty about Common Sense Media. I was prepared to dislike them and everything that they stood for. When I saw the ratings on BN.com last night I was angry. After going to their website I really don’t have an issue with what they are doing. I may not agree with their age-appropriateness on a lot of items (I was a free-range reader as a kid) but they are giving kids their voice as well as the adults and I appreciate that. They are anti-censorship. They aren’t against any of the books, but they are trying to provide ways for families to discuss the issues in the books rather than for them to simply not read them. I can see Common Sense Media being a good tool for parents and educators. I have to give them kudos for their efforts.

But (there’s always a but) I have issues with the way that their service has been implemented on BN.com. The focus is entirely negative. It lists only what the book has in it that is potentially “wrong.” There is no context for any of those potential issues. There are no merits to any of the books like how they deal with those issues.  I think it completely derails what Common Sense Media set out to do.

The Political Carnival discusses a new bill being awaiting the governor’s approval in Utah. Masquerading as a measure against illegal abortions, the bill’s actual content should make anyone with even potential access to a uterus absolutely ill with outrage:

In addition to criminalizing an intentional attempt to induce a miscarriage or abortion, the bill also creates a standard that could make women legally responsible for miscarriages caused by “reckless” behavior.

Using the legal standard of “reckless behavior” all a district attorney needs to show is that a woman behaved in a manner that is thought to cause miscarriage, even if she didn’t intend to lose the pregnancy. Drink too much alcohol and have a miscarriage? Under the new law such actions could be cause for prosecution.

“This creates a law that makes any pregnant woman who has a miscarriage potentially criminally liable for murder,” says Missy Bird, executive director of Planned Parenthood Action Fund of Utah. Bird says there are no exemptions in the bill for victims of domestic violence or for those who are substance abusers. The standard is so broad, Bird says, “there nothing in the bill to exempt a woman for not wearing her seatbelt who got into a car accident.”

Finally, because after all that you might be wondering where on earth this kind of stuff gets started, Jon Stewart deconstructs how those memes get started, and the cognitive disconnect required to spread the some of the racist, sexist, anti-progressive, unconstitutional, and anti-American sentiments that cloak themselves in modern American conservatism .

MacAllister Stone is Editor in Chief of AbsoluteWrite.com and CoyoteWildMag.com. She attended the Viable Paradise specfic writing workshop in October of 2006 and has been a member of the VP staff, since. She can often be found on the Absolute Write forums.

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