Now, presses were expensive, so it's a matter for debate whether the founders would have given the same right to everyone if presses were cheap like the interenet is today. Remember that only landholders could vote - they made distinctions based on wealth and status.
But it's not a matter for debate whether amateur press was intended to be afforded protection. The press by and large was amateur, and far closer to the full time bloggers of today than it was to the New York Times.
If anything, the scrutiny of lawmakers should be on the press conglomerates where so much power is in so few hands; but of course, that's not the way the world works.
Our Constitution is fundamentally built on the belief of individual freedom and equality of man in a "state of nature" (John Locke) and that the Bill of Rights builds on Locke's theories as to how the government should protect property and create Justice (The preamble to the Constitution, which also throws back to the Declaration).
The whole argument between the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans was about the balance of natural freedoms and government impediment of those freedoms. The culmination of these arguments (an argument which eventually led to the Civil War) boiled into the supreme court and led to the concept of judicial review, which lays the ground work for legal precedent.
So, we're obsessed with precedent and the founding fathers not necessarily because of what we think they wanted, but because every legal argument stems from the belief that man is, and of right ought to be, free and independent. The Constitution forms the basis of the social contract of free and independent people. The Constitution can be changed and we have done so some 27 times. However, every argument fundamentally stems from the original point of view that all men are created equal.
It's not about interpreting the words of "a couple of guys" from 200 years ago. It's about whether or not our government has broken the social contract. The idea of "equality" itself has been a moving target in America, from land-owners to the Civil Rights movement. We are a country born out of tyranny, you know... It's fair to say that fear of tyranny is embedded in our culture and our laws.
There's a clearly-defined process for changing it (it's been done 27 times, in fact). "Deciding what's best for now" inevitably leads to abuses, or so many of us see it (who gets to "decide" what's "best"?)
"Interpret the words of a couple of guys 200 years ago as a gospel about how the internet should work?
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
That still works for me. What problems do you see with it?
Who decides what speech is?
Who decides who the press are?
Who determines peaceful assembly vs riotous mob behavior?
Who determines the processes by which we can petition our government and the process' effectiveness?
At best, these are all still grey areas we've been trying to nail down since before these words were written.
The whole idea of a social contract makes much more sense there.
It would be best if pragmatism could rule the day. However, that presupposes that decisions are being made for the benefit of the country rather than for political and personal reasons. Even up to the highest levels of office, I just don't think that is a standard politicians are living up to. I'm not sure any human is capable of it.
The constitution provides an anchor point to restrict the government, especially during turbulent times. I think there's incalculable value in that, even though it's slowly being eroded. Sure, the Patriot Act slipped through, but how many more would have without it?
Being bound by a 200 year old document isn't ideal, but it's better than the alternatives.
What is best now is not necessarily what is best for everyone. The constitution prevents mob rule. Is a filter that allows changes at a very slow rate so that we do not screw ourselves or some other minority at the heat of the moment.
Altering rights in the heat of the moment is precisely what we don't want.
What you need is not greater adherence to a bit of paper, but sane elected officials and sane people electing those officials.
Actually, you have to go find twenty, since I'll just add RIPA.
Sorry, thirty: Terrorism Act 2000, even predates the 9/11 hysteria.
No, forty: Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001
Fifty: Terrorism Act 2006
England still has an established church. I'll be nice and just count that as one, so... Sixty...
Not all of our rights are as respected as they should be, but if you had any actual knowledge of US history, you'd realize that without our written constitution, we would have ten repressive laws for every one in the UK. It is only thanks to that constitution and the powers of our courts that we have any remaining freedom at all.
From a UK perspective, the US executive looks almost rampant. The constitution is not an effective check on federal power; the commerce clause seems to have magical capabilities. The US president has just recently asserted the authority to unilaterally assassinate US citizens without a trial upon conviction by some secret and undefined court ("due process, not judicial process").
At least RIPA creates legal justification for intelligence monitoring of communications. The US executive appeared to just unilaterally appropriate that capability with retroactive immunity.
I oppose both, but some things are more important than personal safety.
> The constitution is not an effective check on federal power; the commerce clause seems to have magical capabilities.
The constitution is in many ways an effective check on all levels of government, but not in all matters. Arguing about the commerce clause is very bizarre, however -- I have to think you don't understand what it's been used for if you're dragging this into a discussion of basic rights.
> asserted the authority to unilaterally assassinate US citizens without a trial
I suggest reviewing the SAS's conduct in Northern Ireland.
> At least RIPA creates legal justification for intelligence monitoring of communications. The US executive appeared to just unilaterally appropriate that capability with retroactive immunity.
The fact that warrantless surveillance had to be done in secret is exactly the point. I prefer a country where such evil must be carried out covertly to one in which it is openly accepted.
I'm sure I could be very "free" in the anarchy of Somalia, but without safety, effective freedoms are very limited. Quite a lot of government tyranny is needed to create a space for freedom to begin with. A social safety net, subsidized or free college education, socialized medicine (whether through public or universal private coverage), etc.; I consider some of these things fundamental to living a life of freedom rather than fear.
> Arguing about the commerce clause is very bizarre, however -- I have to think you don't understand what it's been used for if you're dragging this into a discussion of basic rights.
Gonzales v. Raich, for example.
> I suggest reviewing the SAS's conduct in Northern Ireland.
I'm not aware of the British prime minister ever standing up in the Commons and effectively announcing the right to kill UK citizens. Government wrongdoing, particularly by security services, are ten a penny in most large states, IMO. These days, in the western world, it's usually governments succumbing to US arm-twisting.
I understand that you're invested in defending the US. I, however, don't have a particularly strong motivation to defend the UK; I'm not a UK citizen, I've just lived here for a few years. I'm not interested in attacking the US in this argument. I'm just saying that, as a practical matter, I feel more free, and less afraid of the state, in the UK than I do in the US - and I work for a US company and visit the US multiple times every year for weeks at a time.
(If I wanted to attack Parliament's involvement in Ireland, I'd rather point to Cromwell. But those days are past.)
> I prefer a country where such evil must be carried out covertly to one in which it is openly accepted.
If this is your true position, be aware that you have not chosen one of a dichotomy; you have in fact chosen a superset of tyranny. Not just evil acts; but covert evil acts.
But, of course, the UK has committed its own share of covert evil acts. I don't think it's ever been caught running a network of secret prisons in modern times, though.
(PS. Run through the Bill of Rights and count how many amendments could even possibly be in effect. I count three.)
Wow, I definitely didn't know this. From when were non-landholders (i.e., all adult white male citizens) allowed to vote?
The several states each had (and have!) their own laws and regulations. Immediately following the ratification of the Constitution, states largely restricted voting rights to landholding white men. But by the 1840s most states had extended the right to vote to almost all white men, having done away with the requirement to own land, or pay taxes.
States continue to have different laws regarding voting rights, perhaps most notably surrounding the the rights of convicted felons.
Universal women's suffrage didn't happen until 1920.
Joe tells me "Frank just killed three people and is a thief".
I go to a well attended town meeting and say "Joe told me that Frank just killed three people and is a thief".
Am I liable for defamation of character if Joe did not tell me the truth?
Am I liable for any damages caused to Frank for this?
How is this different from a blog posting something that a third party said or having its users post their own content?
So in your example, a Tumblr blogger could get sued, but Tumblr would not be. The provision in the Communications Decency Act was intended to shield internet service providers like AOL. Before the Act passed, let's say AOL had reviewers looking over comments and removing some of them. Someone could then turn around and sue AOL by saying, "Hey look, your reviewers let this comment stand and it's defamatory!" Whereas if AOL had taken a more hands off stance, they might have have better off legally. Congress put in the provision to encourage internet providers to police their content without fear of legal repercussions. It's sort of like how Good Samaritan laws protect people who try to help accident victims.
Then the inmates bought all the shares.
If he is not, his view of the world, and his decision process that brings him to rationalize supporting some of our most destructive legislation is truly disturbing.
However, I just want you as a PERSON to know that at least one other human out in the void that is the United States agrees completely with you.
When I think of people like Joe Lieberman still having a job in 2012, and then realize that he and others like him are continually elected by people who buy from me, work with me, and live with me because on some level they want(??) people like this in office............
Words are incapable of describing my sadness, anger, and eventual apathy towards the process.
That may explain "all his years in the Senate"
Some would say Ron/Rand Paul, but despite agreeing with them on more than a couple of things, there are aspects of their positions I can't get on board with. They are probably less delve serving than some of their peers, though.
"You mean, it comes from a world of lizards?"
"No," said Ford, who by this time was a little more rational and coherent than he had been, having finally had the coffee forced down him, "nothing so simple. Nothing anything like to straightforward. On its world, the people are people. The leaders are lizards. The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people."
"Odd," said Arthur, "I thought you said it was a democracy."
"I did," said ford. "It is."
"So," said Arthur, hoping he wasn't sounding ridiculously obtuse, "why don't the people get rid of the lizards?"
"It honestly doesn't occur to them," said Ford. "They've all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they've voted in more or less approximates to the government they want."
"You mean they actually vote for the lizards?"
"Oh yes," said Ford with a shrug, "of course."
"But," said Arthur, going for the big one again, "why?"
"Because if they didn't vote for a lizard," said Ford, "the wrong lizard might get in. Got any gin?"
"I said," said Ford, with an increasing air of urgency creeping into his voice, "have you got any gin?"
"I'll look. Tell me about the lizards."
Ford shrugged again.
"Some people say that the lizards are the best thing that ever happened to them," he said. "They're completely wrong of course, completely and utterly wrong, but someone's got to say it."
 but better and with more dolphins.
What scares me is that this amazing new level of self-expression and communication seems to be facing an ever-increasing number of threats. Each time stuff like this comes up, it increases fatigue on the parts of those of us who work to fight against such threats...
The disparity in effort required to author such legislation and the effort required to defeat it makes me fear that loss is only a question of 'when', not 'if'.
He is the worst of the worst scum of the government.