Pages from Michael Butler's Journal


An Open Letter Regarding Internet Legislation

Sunday, 10 December 1995

From the organizations listed below, I received an urgent suggestion that I respond to a serious threat to the Internet.

American Civil Liberties Union

Center for Democracy and Technology

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Electronic Privacy Information Center

Wired Magazine

Voters Telecommunications Watch

I did as they asked and sent the message to all my friends on the Net also I sent out the enclosed letter to the list politicians submitted:

Sample letter (fax or email):

	The Senate conferees are considering ways to protect children
        from inappropriate material on the Internet.  A vote for either
        the House or Senate proposals will result in the destruction of
        the Internet as a viable medium for free expression, education,
        commerce.  Libraries will not be able to put their entire book
        collections online.  Everyday people like me will risk massive
        fines and prison sentences for public discussions someone
        somewhere might consider "indecent."

        There are other, less restrictive ways to protect children from
        objectionable material online. This is an important election
        issue to me.
More should be said and a personal feeling needs to be expressed. This country was founded upon Freedom. One can expand on that subject but the word "Freedom" says it all. The emerging move to censor the Internet is a serious threat to freedom. One of the principal aspects of freedom is freedom of communication. The freest form of communication is the Arts and in my case the Performing Arts. The theater offers one of the most open platforms of expression. That is why I love HAIR so much. It is a celebration of freedom; LENNY, REGGAE, and now POPE JOAN are the same. LENNY defended the right of an individual to say what he wanted. I didn't personally like Bruce's act, but he had the right to say what he wanted. REGGAE was about oppression, and POPE JOAN, among other topics, others deals with the freedom of Christianity from the machinations of power.

I remember well the fights we had over HAIR's freedom from censorship: Boston, Chattanooga, Oklahoma City, Las Vegas; twice to the US Supreme Court; closings in Acapulco and Tokyo. Similar issues were faced by the Smothers Brothers in their battles with CBS to defend their right of expression. Peter Fonda, Mick Jagger, Timothy Leary, Tom O'Horgan, Peter Yarrow are just some of the friends who have been on this battle field.

The Internet was created to defend the freedom of this country from the "Evil Empire." Remember that the Department of Defense (formerly the War Department) put together the Internet to give us a form of communication independent of the incursions of Russian nuclear attack. Then the brightest of our elite, eggheads and potheads took over Cyberia. It could have been in Siberia. Millions of people -- you, I and many of our friends -- found a new form of communication and information on topics from the inside news on Tiannenum Square to the battles of the Kremlin, or more mundane access to NASA or the Library of Congress.

Now the Luddites, radical right, religious militants are frightened. They can't control the Internet, which most of them do not understand. This new form of human medium is free. The other media have a love/hate relationship with the Internet. Deep in their hearts they would like to have it disappear.

It won't--this is the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius.

Michael Butler
"Compassion is the state of being in touch with the bright, beautiful, and flawed nature of humanity"

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