Letters to The Ethical Spectacle

If you have any interest in issues relating to censorware, please take a look at Blacklisted by CyberPatrol, a report by a group of people, myself included, calling itself The Censorware Project. This analyzes numerous bad and even ludicrous blocks by CyberPatrol, which is installed in the Austin and Boston public libraries, among others. Jamie McCarthy did the bulk of the work, to his great credit. The report has been picked up on the Pathfinder and Wired sites and in the Australian Financial News, among other places.

Advocating against censorware has unfortunately put me in contact with a fellow named David Burt, of the Filtering Facts organization. Burt enjoys ad hominem attacks; in his latest, which I posted on the top page of this issue, Burt calls me a "a washed-up ambulance chaser turned porn pusher." This kind of thing would be more annoying from someone I respected, but it makes me thankful for the friendly tone of most of the mail I get, even from people who radically disagree with me. Entire months go by without a flame, and most of those are of the less personal character of the "you leftists" mail reprinted below.

Excessive self-righteousness is the cause of a lot of the flaming that takes place on the Net; this is a good time of year to remember that a little humility goes a long way. The dangers of self-righteousness remind me of the city of Berenice in Italo Calvino's magical Invisible Cities, in which a just city is hidden within an unjust city, but itself contains the seeds of injustice, which however harbor.... "[T]he real Berenice," Calvino wrote, "is a temporal suggestion of different cities, alternately just and unjust....[A]ll the future Berenices are already present in this instant, wrapped one within the other, confined, crammed, inextricable." Although its very easy to take a binary view of the world and the people in it, humility (which in last month's death penalty article I suggested was the best cornerstone for any system of morality) requires that we look for common ground as hard as possible, for as long as possible. Or, as Yeats said, "There is not a single soul that lacks a sweet crystalline cry". Even David Burt's.

The Web, as we all know, is not a linear medium. I used to be a pretty linear sort of guy, and the Spectacle gives a lot of evidence of that, not least of all the fact that it is a scheduled monthly publication, and that I don't simply post new content whenever I feel like it, as many web publishers do. Experiments in hyperfiction, starting with Kazoo Concerto, have led me to better appreciate the Web's differences from print media. One result is that, though I will keep presenting the Spectacle as a monthly publication (that keeps me organized, if nothing else) I will no longer schedule topics months in advance, as I used to do. Instead, I will announce, as I did on this issue's top page, that I am constructing issues on certain topics, but I will not say when they will run. When they're ready, I'll put them up, and in the meantime, I'll feel freer to wander, and to write about what interests me today, rather than what did six months ago. This issue's essay, The Future, is an example. The scheduled topic for this month was equality, which I still plan to write about sometime later.

I have been working on another hyperfiction, called Brooklyn of Dreams, which I'll probably publish in February, and am about ready to turn in a briefing paper on anonymity to the Cato Institute.

May all your dreams come true in 1998.

Jonathan Wallace

Diversity and Racial Conflict: Michael Sullivan Replies

Dear Mr. Wallace,

It is a shame that Mr. Greene a); Assumed my intent was to be evil and "racist," and called for censorship rather then open consideration of any possibly valid observations on my part (yet why am I not surprised?), b); That he somehow felt that where I've lived for the last two years (Mississippi) had anything whatsoever to do with my views (they were formed at Kent State, while I myself am from New York; we see here that the adhominem attack is alive and well among Diversity proponents at Stanford), c); That he failed to consider the possibility that my family just might be made up of Catholic immigrants from Northern Ireland, and that therefore any notion of "racial unity," be it white or black, is seen by most of us for what it is--an asinine, violence-promoting and simplistic appeal to humankind's most primitive instinctual tendencies that only encourages irrational group-level conflict and leads to the death of innocent non-combatants who want no part of such tribalism, and d;) That he failed to perceive the clearly racist and communist (equal ethnic outcome uber alles) ideology inherent in his own views.

Mr. Greene attacked my "color" (excuse the pun). He attacked where I lived. He stated that he really felt "whites" deserve an increased number of violent attacks upon them in spite of his belief that among those who attack whites blacks are "over-represented," and he evidently has nary a concern about the probable reactions to such attacks or the tit-for-tat nature of intergroup violence. Lastly, Mr. Greene mistakenly assumed that others assisted me in writing my essay (et al?), perhaps demonstrating the typical multicultural extremist's =inability or unwillingness to accurately perceive= the reality of the fact that =individuals= can and do carry out creative activities all by themselves. In short, I would argue that Mr. Greene illustrated very nicely the infection I am concerned about within the halls of American academia, where name calling and censorship all too often take the place of respectful reasoned debate and socialist economic biases fuel a poorly hidden desire to =promote intergroup violence= among young Americans =rather then reduce it.= I feel both postings should, when compared and contrasted, give readers at the very least food for thought.

Respectfully yours,
Michael B. Sullivan mbs2@Ra.MsState.Edu

The Death Penalty

Dear Mr. Wallace:

A Proposal To Change The Death Penalty, by Bruce A. Clark, is an interesting opinion piece but it misses some interesting pieces of the crime/punishment/rehabilitation puzzle.

The first question we need to ask ourselves as citizens is; what are prisons for? Are they for punishment or rehabilitation? This is not an easy question to answer, because most prisons try to do both. Guess what; you can not do both. The institution must either be a tool for punishing the guilty or a tool to make the guilty a worthwhile part of society. Obviously prisoners who get killed in the electric chair pay no taxes.

Now I know you are thinking that I am a nut, but taxes or money is what it is all about, and I will deal with the dollar issue shortly. But lets first talk about what could be good about the death penalty.

I would like to see the death penalty in wide scale use, even done in town square or broadcast on TV. Why? Because it sends a deterrent message to the youth who think the justice system is a revolving door, and they will get away with whatever they want to. Just like the public hangings in the wild west for cattle rustling. In today's youth there is no connection between crime and punishment. They do a crime, they do a little time, and it is like a badge of honor. They were not punished or rehabilitated, just re-enforced that crime does pay. I think that if the message were a more violent societal response, like an armed citizen thwarts the robbery by stopping the assailant with a legally owned and carried handgun, or the assailant is punished in jail perhaps the revolving door justice system would cease to be. If a violent young youth sees society enforce the death penalty in a fair and swift way (the only way to do this is to continue to the the government do it, but there should be a nationwide standard procedure), it is probable to assume that the youth will think twice about killing someone. Therefore reducing the homicide rate. As to who does the actual killing, I don't really care. It probably should remain the government, after all we let them kill people in war. It is in fact one of the few things a government can do well. But there are problems.

It is with one of the problems where I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Clark. There can be no greater injustice than the prison system putting an innocent person on death row and then actually killing them. If it happens just once in the history of our nation (and I know it has happened many times) then our justice system, perhaps even the foundation of the country, is a farce. If our justice system is a farce, then the remaining two thirds of the government, must also be out of whack because the balance of power is then shifted. I hold no illusions about "We the people..."

How does all of this deal with dollars, you are still asking? Well the reason is that we must be vigilant to prevent the killing of another innocent. Being vigilant costs lots of money. The reason to be against the death penalty should all come down to dollars and cents. We can almost never be sure that a person is guilty of a crime. Police have been known to plant evidence, forensic scientists make mistakes, good lawyers can sway juries, etc. And if found guilty of a crime worthy of the death penalty and sentenced to death, there will be at minimum eight appeals. Those eight appeals will absorb thousands if not tens of thousands of man hours, and cost millions if not billions of tax dollars. And the system could still end up killing someone who was not guilty.

The solution, ban the death penalty. Life in prison with no possibility of parole. Be much harsher on all other crimes.

Of course it costs money to build prisons, but that is a different argument.

Josh A. Grossman bullet@city-net.com
B.A. in Administration of Justice

Dear Jonathan:

Sometimes I love Libertarian ideology, I really do. It beats 90% of science fiction in terms of working out appealing axioms to weird conclusions. Part of Bruce Clark's article is a straight crank-through of the idea "government action is remote, disconnected, subject to abuse, but individual action is local, connected and much better". Sounds really good, right? So we plug in "execution", and viola', his proposal. It's not abrupt, but completely logical once you understand the basis for it.

My quick take on it is he bypasses that fundamental problem of State taking of life by putting it into a framework where he attributes it to the aggrieved individual. This is actually characteristic of a lot of Libertarian thought, they push the State aspect back one level for actions they think are right, and then pretend it's disappeared. It comes off as barbaric because Libertarian law, which is based on property for everything, runs 100% opposite to *centuries* of Anglo-American legal tradition on this specific point, removing the family blood-vengeance tribal right.

Seth Finkelstein sethf@mit.edu

Dear Jonathan:

.. I think the strongest arguments against the death penalty (as with gun control, BTW, so I hope this doesn't make me on the 'far right') are the history of racism involved. I am "for" the death penalty, but only applied in such an honest way as could only be obtained if the prosecutor were in fear for his/her life if he fucked up and killed an innocent. Some cases, especially the sexual serial killers, whose next orgasm really IS more important than anyone else's next breath, deserve death, and death SOON. My dad wrote a law review article in the University of Miami Law Review about how slowly the death penalty gets carried out in cases of obvious guilt. In the late '60s. In one ear, out the other.

Still, this position is *not* a libertarian (or Libertarian) one, it is me. I can perfectly understand those who say the state is just SO racist (BATF picnics) and messed up generally that they can't trust it, and I fully admit that only one person is deterred by the death penalty: Ted Bundy (in Ted's case, or whoever gets fried). The thing is, I don't mind admitting rage and a wish for revenge and all that politically-incorrect shit, and that can be taken out of context all too easily by opponents, when all I'm for is fewer, and faster, BUT CAREFUL!!! deaths, if we're gonna kill 'em at all. I also find the injection methods kinda morbid, and while I'd personally prefer the firing squad if it were me, the austere-state guy wants hanging, as a rope can be re-used. 1/2 :^) I suppose the articles focused more on whether than how, though.

The problem with not killing them at all is simple: Sexual serial killers tend to be bright. Brighter, on average, than for example, prison guards. This leads to trouble if care is not taken, ask the Chi Omega sorority in Tallahassee. They also tend to be recidivists. :( I like the idea of putting the victim's family into the decisions, if possible. I think Islamic law has something about that. Oh well. Tough subject.

Jim Ray jmr@shopmiami.com

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I found the following passage somewhat troubling-

"I would always rather debate an honest adversary. My question is, if you would kill Ted Bundy yourself, without remorse, what kind of person are you? You may respond that you are well equipped for survival in a cruel and Godless world, where force is paramount."

Actually, no. I would argue that people who are clearly murderers have earned the privilege to be treated as their victims- to die. This part of using death as a penalty is very clear to me, though of course it brings many questions with it. Many problems exist with a death penalty, and it may not be a correct punishment for a variety reasons. But mercy and morality may be somewhat confused in the above statement- at some point, an individual's actions lead to responses. Killing a killer does not trouble my conscience more than letting a killer live- in either case, the decision is taken from the person who has murdered, and placed in the hands of a community. But the murderer has certainly not earned a claim to a continued existence, regardless if the community grants one or not. This has nothing to do with being fit to survive in a 'cruel and Godless' world. The responsibility of the murderer is part of the balance, and seems somewhat ignored in the article.

It is certainly true that at the beginning of the article that you did not dispute that some people may deserve death as a result of their actions, and this point was not made merely as a concession to clarifying the arguments that follow. But granting the point, and then saying it is not possible to apply seems hollow. Of course, trusting people to make decisions about life and death is very scary, since we are so bad at it- for example, would a death penalty which is automatically applied in the case of a drunken driver who killed another person be appropriate? In such a case, I trust my judgment more than that of the drunken driver, heartless and immoral though it may seem- after all, the driver only had an 'accident;' it certainly wasn't intended as the execution would be.

Perhaps the problem in such discussions is between ethics and morality. I remember once reading that ethics applies to the individual and morality to society. I keep believing that only individuals exist, and groups are an abstraction, and often an excuse for behavior which an individual knows is wrong. That this perspective has flaws is beyond doubt- but the search for perfection has resulted in vast harm throughout history. Admittedly, so has ignoring imperfections- but generally, imperfections (women's rights, for example) can be changed gradually without the radical measures which seem necessary in the pursuit of perfection.

Many arguments exist against the death penalty, and they are generally ignored or brushed aside by its proponents- several of the practical reasons cited in the article are problems which I feel makes the death penalty virtually unusable. But to use morality as an argument is very tricky- society has already decided that police officers killing someone actively engaged in killing others is acceptable, for example, and nobody questions their judgment in such cases. It is true that the police officers are to use death as a last resort, but (generally) no one argues that they should wait until the killer's gun is empty, then arrest him to preserve his life because no one can be trusted to decide on such an important issue. For me, there is no qualitative difference if instead of the police killing him then, the murderer is arrested and then executed. In either case, the result of the murderer's actions are death. Somehow, having compassion for a murderer is beyond my capacity.

But now a partial confession- in English, it is easy to make a distinction between 'murderer' and 'killer,' and it seems a 'moral' distinction. Unless one is a true pacifist (rare, since having the courage to die for one's convictions is rare- most people follow 'necessity'), then an immoral distinction is made between a soldier, a 'good' killer, and a criminal, a 'bad' killer. The preceding arguments certainly suffer from this flaw, also. This point was brought into stark relief in Germany, where I live. There was a court case related to the Gulf War, where a person put a bumper sticker on his car with the expression 'Soldaten sind Morder' (Soldiers are murderers), which is actually a quote from the antiwar writer Tulcholsky in the 1920s. Free speech has a very different framework in Germany, which isn't for this lettter, but one of its restrictions is in harming another's 'personal honor.' A soldier felt insulted, and brought the case to court. (Repeating history too, as this happened to Tulcholsky 70 years ago.) When talking to Germans, the lack of distinction on the use of Morder struck me as interesting. Whether the German language is more or less moral in this point is still unresolved for me. On one hand, it has an unflinching honesty in describing the moral dimension of killing, which is immoral. On the other hand, since anyone who kills is a 'Morder,' some effort is expended to avoid its implications- witness the court case. Like flag burning in America, it had (and continues to have) political implications- in this case, the German supreme court decided that the statement was general enough, and documented enough by human history, that no individual German soldier could take offence, since the Bundeswehr has not murdered anyone. Such tortured reasoning stands in stark contrast to American free speech concepts. As you can imagine, the outraged political rhetoric against the decision was similar, though the Nazi oriented overtones here were more a lot more apparent.

An interesting issue for the e-zine would be free speech worldwide- people living the US generally can't imagine how absolute free speech is there. The energy used in defending free speech is probably necessary, but seems somewhat imcomprehensible to people in other countries. For example, Germans seem shocked when told that calling soldiers 'baby killers' is completely legal, or that when working at a TV studio, I had been responsible for broadcasting KKK programs as part of a local cable channel's programming- and that such programming was 'supported' through community access laws. But sometimes, the perspective in other countries could bring American questions into sharper belief. In Germany, 'hate speech' is illegal- and even for someone committed to absolute free speech, it is chilling to hear someone in Germany talking about the necessity of 'removing' certain groups, or 'cleaning' society of its undesirable elements- after all, this was already done here once, and they aren't talking about the theoretical, they are talking about an 'unfinished' job, which they would be all too glad to continue. And since Germans went along with it once, relying on public opinion against such people seems unreliable, at best. Whether laws are a better remedy is impossible to measure, but possibly free speech works so well in America because we have always had such traditions, and so little historical baggage.

George Turner turner@ilk.de

Freedom of Speech

Dear Jonathan,

Thank you for sending your useful position paper on censorware in libraries to the CU digest. From the revision date, I gather that you have been revising it from time to time. The attached suggestions may be of help for the next version. I should note that (1) I am in full agreement with your position; (2) I am not a lawyer.

The suggestions are in the form of "possible objections" that arose as I was reading the document, and which the next version might wish to defuse.

I have also a general comment, which is that some of the arguments that you make seem to apply fairly narrowly. For this reason, your broader statements may inspire mistrust in the reader, as if you're overplaying your hand and trying to make the law do more than it can (at some point, wise public policy has to take over). You might try to state in one place exactly what actions you believe are illegal, and distinguish these carefully from the actions that you believe are poor policy. An excellent way to do this is to describe, first, what a government would have to do differently in order to construct a constitutional blocking regime, and second, any moral or practical objections you would have even then.

(As far as I can make out, you think it's illegal for a library to handicap all (any?) of its terminals with government-mandated software that blocks some non-obscene material based on content and that is written in a hurry by someone other than the librarian. While this is certainly an evil, its lesser versions are also a threat, and I'd like to know what legal ammunition is available against those as well.)

Most advocates of the use of blocking software by libraries have forgotten that the public library is a branch of government, and therefore subject to First Amendment rules which prohibit content-based censorship of speech.

Possible objection: Does the Bill of Rights apply in full to state and municipal governments?

Although Pico dealt expressly with the removal of books, it governs the use of blocking software for two reasons. First, blocking a Web site is analogous to removing a book. Second, Pico strongly implies that even the acquisition of books must be carried out according to

"Second, as we shall see, Pico strongly implies..." [you haven't made the case yet]

The thought process followed by the worker deciding to add a site to the blocked list bears no resemblance to that of a trained professional, the librarian, deciding to acquire a book for the library. It is, however, identical to the thought process of a harried censor rapidly scanning a printed work for suspect words or phrases, without taking the time to understand the work or place the suspect terms in context.

Possible objection: What is the legal status of these comments? The comments suggest, by the way, that carefully trained professional censors would be preferable to harried librarians.

Advocates of blocking argue that a library has no legal obligation to buy any particular book or to allow the viewing of any particular Web site. However, this reliance on Pico is misplaced. In limiting its decision to the facts before it, the Court was clearly not holding that a librarian could legally follow any imaginable agenda in the selection of books for acquisition.

For example, it would not be constitutional for a public librarian to refuse to purchase anything by Malamud or Wright, based on the concerns of the Pico schoolboard. Similarly, a public librarian could not decide only to purchase books approved by the Christian Coalition.

Possible objection: From your description of Pico, it seems to make no claim either way about the constitutionality of selective acquisition -- as the first paragraph above says. Thus, what is the basis for your claim in the second paragraph?

Pico's subtext is that only the librarian, and not anyone else, should decide what the library is to offer, and that the librarian is expected to do so pursuant to the standards of his or her profession.

Possible objection: Needs to be supported with quotes from Pico.

Possible objection: This line of argument is rather weak at any rate, because it does actually not forbid public libraries to install content-selective blocking software. It appears that you would support a librarian hired by the school board who decided to install Cybersitter, so long as no law obligated her to do so, and particularly if the standards of the profession had changed to make this action commonplace. In other words, your argument treats a library as a mere private institution that should not be subject to governmental interference. Does the Constitution (or another principle) perhaps hold public agencies to a different standard?

While certain speech, such as obscenity, is considered outside the protection of the First Amendment and can be barred at will, the

Then the current title and introduction of the paper are misleading, aren't they? Software that only blocked obscenity would be legal.

When a library installs blocking software, it chooses to exclude First Amendment-protected, socially valuable sites based on the obscure criteria or political agenda of the blocking software publisher. This point is further discussed in the next two sections.

Possible objection: Criteria might be used that were neither political nor especially obscure. In your opinion, would it be illegal to install blocking software that only blocked "entertainment" sites and/or disabled Java? What if such software was installed on most terminals but not all? After all, terminals are limited resources in a crowded library, and the library may wish to budget its Internet resources just as it budgets its book-acquiring resources. Hence the question by analogy is this: What tests must a library's book budget pass in order to be constitutional (and how do we know)? Also: Is there something illegal about outsourcing the selection of books, or do you just find it objectionable?

I'm also curious: Is it possible to argue, on any legal grounds, that limited resources is the only legal justification for limited libraries? E.g., if there were no budgetary constraints, would conventional libraries be required to buy all the books they could? Correspondingly, is there any constitutional imperative for libraries to disable blocking software during periods when terminal usage is low?

Advocates of the use of blocking software by libraries have failed to explain why, if the government could not directly ban the National Organization for Women pages via the CDA, it can do so indirectly through the use of blocking software.

Possible objection: These situations are not analogous. The blocking software does not ban private transmission. Indeed, outside the FoA Act, the government is rarely under compulsion to provide any information -- they are not required to have libraries at all. It's just that they can't prevent us from buying or disseminating information on our own, if we have the money. (And even there, I bet they could get away with imposing stiff taxes on newspapers or printing presses.) Or am I wrong about all this?

It is a constant of First Amendment cases that speech rules, in order to be constitutionally acceptable, must be clear enough to communicate to citizens which speech is legal and which is not. There is no consistent set of standards followed by blocking products, and almost all of the publishers refuse to disclose their database of blocked sites. ... In short, as Justice Frankfurter said, 'Legislation must not be so vague, the language so loose, as to leave to those who have to apply it too wide a discretion.'"

Possible objection: Again, doesn't this confuse "legal speech" with "speech that is permitted in the Twin Hills Library"?

Possible objection: It is true that a law mandating the use of CyberPatrol in the Twin Hills Library might well run afoul of Frankfurter's opinion. But your argument seems to be against CyberPatrol and its ilk, not against blocking software per se. It seems like you're working up a set of criteria that blocking software would have to meet in order to be permissible for library use. It just happens that currently popular choices don't meet these criteria. While CyberPatrol and Net Nanny will probably continue to use very broad policies (because their market is parents), you could imagine another product designed for library use, whose policies were more carefully explicated and enforced.

As we will see in the next section, the delegation by the library of its decision-making to private parties--the publishers of blocking software--is also unconstitutional.

Possible objection: You say "delegation is unconstitutional" a couple of times, but your subsequent discussion suggests that you mean "delegation of unconstitutional actions is unconstitutional."

No questions about section IV., which I think is right on target!

with best regards, jason eisner (grad student in computer science, u. penn)

Dear Jonathan:

I skimmed over Paul Kneisel's article on hate speech article in the latest Spectacle. Two parts jumped out at me:

hysteria culminated with J. Quitter's article in TIME magazine about an ostensible study of "kiddie porn" on the net via Marty Rimm and Carnegie Mellon University.

This is wrong. The article was written by Philip Elmer-DeWitt, not Quitter. And it was general porn-mongering, not specifically kiddie, it wasn't connected to that particular sub-sensation.

Chillingly, *the* "major investigation" for today's FBI does not involve any of the bank robberies or murders for which right-wing hate-based forces are suspected.[2] It involves cemetery desecrations. It's easy to imagine that the investigation centers on those who spray paint swastikas and Nazi slogans in Jewish cemeteries since we read so many stories about this in the daily papers. But the imagination is wrong. Rather the *top-listed* investigation is of inferentially anti-hate activists for ostensibly desecrating cemeteries with the phrase ""H[awaii] P[olice] D[epartment] ignores hate crimes.

This is almost amusingly wrong. Looking over the page, the reason it's "top-listed" is not because it's the highest priority, as you imply, but it looks like the page is in reverse chronological order. It also goes to the FBI because it's a *National* veteran's cemetery. Desecration cases are typically state or local matters. It's jurisdiction, not bias.

Seth Finkelstein sethf@mit.edu

Dear Mr. Wallace:

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. I enjoyed your essays on freedom of speech, and I find your perspective on the topic commendable.

You may find it interesting to note that, despite the absence of quotation marks in Milton's text, he was not the originator of the maxim, "Prove all things, hold fast to that which is good." It can be found in the Bible, in Paul's first epistle to the Thessalonians, chapter 5, verse 21.

When Christians suggest that we should limit the terms of public discourse according to their personal notions of "obscenity" or "decency," they would be well-counselled to give serious attention to these words of their scripture, and the resulting implications as charted by Milton.

Love is the law, love under will.

Matthew Rogers Matthew_Rogers@dell.com

Dear Jonathan:

You wrote in a posting to the fight-censorship mailing list:


Another point: Its in the interest of the small-f fundamentalists to make this a statistics contest (dozens vs. hundreds vs. thousands of bad blocks) or a popularity contest (number of library patrons complaining.) There is no basis in constitutional law for this; First Amendment cases frequently turn on the status of a single work.

Exactly. I would further point out the use of the term "collateral damage" has a certain military (and therefore authoritarian IMO) sound to it.

The Supreme Court never held that a particular state obscenity or indecency law was acceptable because it had ONLY been used to ban one book. And since the First Amendment protects the unpopular speech, the same constitutional issue is presented if ONE user complains or a thousand.

Sometimes we let David Burt (http://www.filteringfactsorg) set the terms of debate a little too easily.

I think that allowing the enemy to define debate is important enough to be the topic of an entire Spectacle issue. Anyway, my total war against the misuse of the term "escrow," in combination with the rants of countless others, was interesting. Rather than even allow opponents to argue their position, we got to spend a while arguing about who's more like Orwell's 1984 first. Not exactly a "fair" tactic, but neither was choosing to mangle an olde English legal term for political gain.

Jim Ray jmr@shopmiami.com

Dear Mr. Wallace:

WOW! Your site on free speech is wonderful. I can't wait to dive in and explore the whole thing. Kudos to you!


Dear Mr. Wallace:

I found your internet pages today on cyber-censorship. Like you, I am appalled at the speed this fundamentalist ploy is taking hold. Do you have any suggestions for "waking up" the people around me? I plan to email them you page markers.

I have never been an "activist" of any kind, but I think that the time is now, and the topic is censorship on the net.

Keep up the good fight!

Tony Wilson bobodad@echo.sound.net

Dear Mr. Wallace:

The Ethical Spectacle is great stuff. Thought I'd pass along the URL to a piece I wrote for the Central Colorado Library System and the Colorado State Library a few months back. It's a public librarian's analysis of not just the filtering software debate, but on the roles and responsibilities of the public library in the information age.

Check it out at


And keep up the good work.

James LaRue jlarue@csn.net

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I just wanted to thank you for your efforts on tackling the debate over pornographic material and publishing them on your website. I am writing a paper on porn and the moral problem it may pose. You website has provided a great deal of assistance in my research. Thank you.

Jason Roland rolandji@centum.utulsa.edu

Dear Mr. Wallace:

as a new user to the internet, i find it difficult to understand how an isp can block the delivery of mail they deem unsolicited or unwarranted. further, since the internet is public domain (taxpayer funded) what gives an AOL or Earthlink the right to interfer with mail? as if the phone company decided it didn't like what a phone solicitor was selling, they decided not connect the call? i was just curious about your position on 'spammers', as it seems this war between the spammer and the isp seems more like an infringment of rights to use the internet, with a side order of unfair competition. just curious, not seeking advise, just opinion, should you care to respond.

ps. since you did not request this email, am i a spammer?

pps. great briefing re: library blocking software.


I dislike receiving spam, and get too much of it, but I am not in favor of any law banning people from sending it to me, because such a law would inevitably drag in valid unsolicited speech. There's no clear line between the irrelevant solicitation to buy RAM chips and mail from a stranger on a political issue of importance to me. However, I am in favor of prosecuting spammers who misuses other people's domain names and servers in order to send their mass mail.

Dear Mr. Wallace:

When will you Leftists stop acting as if everything negative in your life is exclusive of the political Right?

The Left has always engaged in censorship, especially in your grand system of communism.

President Clinton ( a Leftist in the disguise of a moderate ) has been talking about hate speech legislation. Who decides what is hate speech? I didn't realize that speech would now be a crime.

You people are so caught up with the religious Right, yet you ignore the swift moving politicians of the Left that are just as involved with censorship in all mediums including the Internet. Tipper Gore was one of the leaders back in the 80's when the thought police were trying to blame rock music, especially heavy metal for the suicides of young people. Censorship is a joint venture from both sides of the political spectrum by people who love to have authority over others as well as being praised for saving the day.

Do you know that there are politicians that you would probably consider Rightwing who are against all kinds of censorship?

I'm basically a Libertarian, I believe in freedom and self-responsibility, not "burdensome" regulations or laws of any kind. I'm into common sense type stuff. I'm no religious fanatic, I'm very open-minded to the many views on existence, healing and way's of life.

Answer me this if you could; Do you believe it should be against the law for a person to dislike someone because they are gay, a specific race or because they hold particular views that you may not agree with? If so, do you think it should be against the law for a person to dislike someone because of their religion, their wealth or because they hold particular views that you may not agree with?

We all have our own view of the way we think life should be, our own unique utopia's here on earth. As long as people of all kinds have to inhabit this planet together, we must learn how to live amongst each other, not necessarily love each other. As long as we do not violate the rights of others, live and let live.

I agree with you that certain sects of the political Right violate liberty. When you realize that the political Left, does this just as much, you'll be closer to your utopia.

Happy Holidays and Go Liberty!

Gerard gegan3 gegan3@erols.com

Dear Mr. Wallace:

Do you have cites to any intelligent replies to your paper on why purchase of blocking software in public libraries is unconstitutional?

wms wms@bellatlantic.net

Bruce Taylor of the National Law Center for Children and Families has written a briefing paper defending censorware.

An Auschwitz Alphabet

Dear Mr. Wallace:

We have been studying WWII and were wondering why the concentration camps were mostly in Poland? Another question we have is how were the camps named? Were they named after geographical places or did the nazis just make them up? We know Dachau was named after the town it was in.

Thank you, Jwadek

Dear Mr. Wallace:

My name is Sonja Smigiel, I am a student from Florida. I came across your page while searching the net for Holocaust information for a school report. My grandfather was imprisoned in Auschwitz for 4 years, I don't know much about his experience because he did not talk about it and I never met him. Your page has been most helpful for my report. It is a very good thing that you have done with this web-page.

Thank You,
Sonja Smigiel

Dear Sir,

I like your web-page very much, but I disagree very vehemently with one thing you say. God is very much alive, and does care about us. He allowed the Holocaust to happen because he gave us free will, and even though it hurts Him very much when we do wrong, like the Holocaust, he allows it to happen because he gave us free will. I don't know if you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, but I do, and when I think that God sent His only Son to die for us, on a cross no less, it shows me that God cares about everyone. Humans crucified Jesus, like humans killed so many Jews. The human race and Satan are responsible for the Holocaust, not God, he only allowed it to happen. God loves us so much and cares about all of us! I'll pray for you. Thank you for reading this email.

Mary O'Connor fxocon@epix.net

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I appreciate your response to my earlier email. I had simply emailed you "thank you.. bless you" as the email subject (with no content in the message)

The specific reason I had emailed you my thanks was because I had just read "An Auschwitz Alphabet", and it seemed to make sense to thank you for writing it.. even though it was extremely painful to read, it must have been much more painful to assemble.

My middle daughter was doing research for a school project about the Holocaust and we came across the site.

Calvin cd@citizen.infi.net

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I saw your Auschwitz page on the web.

My wife and I are planning a trip to Europe this summer and we are considering visiting Auschwitz. Are there trains that go there? How would you recommend getting to the camp? (We do not want to fly into Poland.)


Michael l Herron m-herron@nwu.edu

Desr Mr. Wallace:

To begin, i would like to say i greatly appreciate that you have taken your time to create such an informative web page. For my class project and from a personal view i have learned a great deal. To give you a bit of back round information about my family both my grandfathers on both sides (maternal and paternal) were in World War II. My grandfather on my mothers side built bombs during the war, and my grandfather (who is Jewish) on my fathers side was in the infantry. For some reason I have always found an interest in World War II, more specifically the concentration camps. At this time I am a junior in high school, and for our project we have to write a ten to fifteen page research paper on the topic of our choice. I chose the war, but that was a very broad topic, as you most likely know. So I narrowed it down to the doctors at Auschwitz. I could have just done a report on the daily life at Auschwitz, but i felt it was over used.

I was wondering if you could help me locate more information on this topic. It could be on the web and off. I live in Pennsylvania and planned a trip to the Holocaust museum in Washington D.C. Please replay as soon as you have the time.

Thank you,

Chris Knapp

Dear Mr. Wallace:

Let me start by saying, "Good Work!" I am very impressed and pleased by how well rounded and detailed your site is. I am encouraged by the fact the presentation is not a rambling of idea's and suppositions.

I feel I've read most of your material and very little I skimmed through. When I was reading small bits of your take on Schindlers List, however, I felt some points were valid and some petty. Allow me to explain.

The movie was made to pander to an audience that need's to be shocked to get their attention. As a statement, it's not great. But the fact that he used a gentile to play lead gives those who aren't Jewish the chance to identify. If it was a Jew as the main character, it is very possible, that the story would not have prompted non-Jews in America to think.

Kevin Costner made Dances with Wolves one of the most popular "Native American" movie around. I have seen better. Much better. Unfortunately, those movies don't really make it because white didn't identify with a "Indian" lead.

Also, like your site, the movie encouraged many to think and compare. It gave many the sense of perspective they needed by raising the question, "What would I do if I was in such a position?"

Albeit, many Americans have little grasp of the world, let alone make stands on what they feel is right. That's why I hope that you will not revise your pages even if you think I'm right. I'd rather your thoughts produce independent thought from those who read it. That's the biggest struggle.

You've done an outstanding job and I am glad you included past and current American involvement and un-involvement in gneocides that have occur and are occurring. Take care.

Joe Atredies josiaha@fbcs.fujitsu.com

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I am greatly perplexed by the question, Where was God in Auschwitz?. The summary relating to the idea of God by Karen Armstrong is a good one. If He is all-powerful why or how could he allow such a terror, if He is indeed loving and concerned for each individual, as we are taught. I have pondered over this many times, and always become frustrated. Ashamed that I subscribe to the hope or belief in God, yet also hopeful that He is indeed there.

donald sabo donalds@im4u.net


Dear Mr. Wallace:

What has feminist legal theory contributed to understanding the role of law in society?

Paul J White pjwhite@geocities.com

I make a distinction between diagnoses and prescriptions. There are more good diagnosticians than there are people who know how to solve the problems they spot. I value critics such as Catharine Mackinnon for the insights they have into our society, though I am sometimes horrified by the proposed solutions.

Dear Jonathan:

I wish I could get a tape copy of your interview with the radio host whom you refer to as a member of the "radical right" because he supports the Constitutional protection of our right to own firearms. Of course, the "left" which supports a ban on guns is never the "radical left." I sense that you might have gotten your "knickers ripped" by the host. Now you say you will more carefully research your interviewers…why? You are a smart guy. If you have logic and truth on your side, could you not win the day on such a program?

I also enjoyed some of the letters in your December issue from the "Christian right." The one from the guy who says the Holocaust was not proof of the non-existence of God (your contention) because everyone has to die sometime--was a real laugher.

I am a conservative. But, I define that term; not you are anyone else who would like to put me in the same category as those religious zealots who explain everything in biblical terms. (You are quite correct to point out that a biblical "scholar" can justify anything.) I define my conservatism mostly in economic concepts, with a dose of humanity and morality, which may be shared by people on both sides of the "political" spectrum. The key difference is, my morality is based on facts and human consequences, not scripture written by "spirits and supernatural beings." To say that these disillusioned people created God in their own image is to pay them undue respect. I agree with your "radical left" buddies on one aspect of religion. It is the "opiate of the masses." For those inclined to accept fairy tales and mythology as a defining and primary focus of their existence, I say goody for them, but leave me out.

Bob Wilson

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I am very impressed by your web site, your publication and your humble biography. Of course, you would be the first attorney I have met who did not like to talk about himself (or herself).

I certainly look forward to visiting this site over and over again. Thank you for this opportunity!

Shirley P. Starling sstarlin@solar.acast.nova.edu

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I just read a piece at your site that claims that the goverment should not support controversial art anymore. You say that we have no need for the pieces that are being supported. You say that we should celebrate times like the Renaissance. Do you realize what is being said by half the pieces that were made during the Renaissance? I don't think that you do. As you might know, much of the work was publicly funded. What you might not know, is that a good portion of it was considered extremely controversial. As an example, I shall use the Sistine Chapel. Many consider this to be a masterpiece because of its depiction of biblical stories, the size and dedication (he spent five years up in scaffolding without coming down once), and the technique and skill. What many people do not realize is the back wall of the chapel. On the back wall, is depicted a scene from hell. Depicted in hell are: priests, nuns, angels, top political figures of the time, aristocrats of the time, and most important, Jesus. I think that before you be so quick to write off the usefulness of any art you should consider the benefits of art. It is the free expression of ideas in a format unmatched anywhere else. We need public funding so that these artists can survive to enlighten our society more. By the way, NEA only received, while it was still in the budget, about $200,000 a year, which is nothing in the big scheme of things. By the way, no, I'm not a bleeding heart liberal artist who is supported by the NEA. I'm a college student who wishes for his children to have the most vivid resources available for their understanding and enrichment of their lives.

Kier Selinsky kiers@nls.net