Freedom of Speech

The Supreme Court may be sending a signal.

 This ariticle in the LA Times deserves reading and comment.,0,3432275,print.story

It's about time.  If you do a search on online danger to children, you should be able to find a recent study ordered by 43 Atotrneys General that concludes the danger to children on the internet is vastly overblown.  I'll find the link and post it later.

Is this a signal that the hysteriics have finnaly made big enough fools of themselves and reason is emerging?  One can only hope.



Elizabeth's picture

Report: Children at greater risk from peer harassment than from adult solicitation

Thanks to Viviane for alerting me to a NYT article I'd missed on Tuesday. It announces the release of the Internet Safety Technical Task Force's Final Report to the Multi-State Working Group on Social Networking of State Attorneys General of the United States.

The task force was made of up of Internet service providers, social networking companies, academics, non-profit child and family safety advocate organizations and was formed in response to a call from state attorney generals for research and policy direction that would help keep kids safer online.

Interestingly the report finds that the greatest threats to kids come from their own peers and that the threat of sexual solicitation by adults, while worrisome and to be taken seriously, is not as great as one would guess based on the media fear-mongering of shows like "To Catch A Predator."

Here are some excerpts from the report's Executive Summary (PDF) :

Chris's picture

The Shrinking Public Square

If you want to get a good idea of what we're on about with the title of this website and why the concept of "the public square" is so important to us, go on over to Audacia Ray's site, Waking Vixen. You should be doing that anyway, but if you haven't been checking her out recently, she's had some experiences lately that illustrate neatly the realities and risks of talking publicly about sex.

  • First of all, Dacia tried last month to open an account at Citibank for her business, Waking Vixen Productions. After filling out the preliminary paperwork, she received a voicemail delicately informing her that her line of business made them unable to take her account.
  • Then, early this month, she got a similar notice from iTunes, notifying her that her podcast, Live Girl Review, could no longer be included in their directory. ITunes was less direct than Citibank, saying only that podcasts could be excluded "for a variety of reasons." On checking out their podcast spec sheet, she found "strong prevalence of sexual content"  included among the possible reasons that Apple can kick you to the curb.
  • And just last week, Google yanked her Google Checkout account, barely twenty-four hours after she'd put her new short film The Love Machine up for sale. According to the e-mail Google sent Dacia, "the products or services [she's] selling on [her] website are considered ‘Restricted’ per our policy- Adult goods and services."

Elizabeth's picture

Feminist sociologist seeks feminist bloggers

Dr. Jessie Daniels, a sociology professor at Hunter College, is looking for bloggers who consider themselves feminists (any sort) to participate in an interview-based research study. (Please click here if you are interested!) Her book, White Lies (Routledge 1997) is a well known investigation of the intersections of race, class and gender in white supremacist groups. Her new book, Cyber Racism (Rowman & Littlefield 2009) continues that investigation as such groups move their interactions to the internet.

I met Dr. Daniels when we were on a panel together at the Eastern Sociological Society meetings this past spring. She was presenting an excellent critical analysis of race and gender on sites like the Holla Back NYC blog I think her work is fabulous and I hope that some of you will help her in this new project. She also discussed Racism Review, the blog she maintains with Joe Feagin.

An overview of her feminist blogger project, in her own words, below the fold

Michael's picture

Moving forward in New Mexico

The announcement of the appointment of a new Director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of New Mexico is very welcome. Now it will be up to members of the English Department to rally round her and rebuild the program after so much public scrutiny over the last year.

We trust that good will and a recognition of the importance of placing the program, teaching and the students first will prevail over past differences . The University is to be commended for appointing a facilitator to try to bring the factions within the Department together and to overcome personal differences.  Strong leadership from within the Department and the College of Arts and Sciences will be needed to support her in this role.

Elizabeth's picture

United States v. Williams (2008 internet child pornography case)

US Supreme Court upholds §2252A(a)(3)(B) prohibiting offering or soliciting "any material or purported material in a manner that reflects the belief, or that is intended to cause another to believe that the material is illegal child pornography." (
Michael's picture

Conflict or Collaboration?

We continue to analyse and comment on the distressing conflict within the English Department at the University of New Mexico (UNM) because of two recent events. The first involves the resignation, effective April 15th , of the Director of the Creative Writing Program, and the second the follow up to our decision not to publish an anonymous commentary on this matter.

Lolita's picture

CLOSED: The feds want to shut down adult social-networking sites and invade your privacy!

Please do some activism on behalf of sexual freedom between consenting adults. Do it now before September 10th.
The federal government is proposing regulations that would effectively kill adult social-networking sites. This is being done under the guise of fighting child pornography. The proposed regulations would force adult social-networking services to obtain and maintain personal information about their users, including the user's photo ID (driver’s license, passport, or military ID). While this activism is being done by the NGLTF, it affects heterosexuals, too, both kinky and vanilla.
Read more here and send a letter.

Chris's picture

The Internet Might Not Kill Your Kids

Not only might your kids survive encountering the Internet, but it might also not turn them into crack fiends, serial killers, satan-worshipping trolls, or hook them up with Albert Fish as their prom date.

Forgive the snark, but for the first time, it looks like some common sense is being injected into the whole dialogue about kids and the Internetz.  We'll see how much effect it has -- there is something undeniably comfortable about the idea of menace lurking out there.  It's useful for those in power because it gives them a plausible excuse for control, and the fear of the shadowy other gives everyone else a certain unshakeable faith in their own virture.

Anyway, here's what a study by the National School Boards Association says about the Internet's threat to the fabric of our society: 

Goldslut's picture

Naked on the Internet

Naked on the Internet explores how women use cyberspace, personally and professionally, to learn about themselves, connect with others, and make a living. Author Audacia Ray then goes further, examining the Internet as a valuable — though often problematic — sexual space.

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