When was "Barbie" ever an innocent word?
Web pages that use innocent words like "Barbie" or "Furby" but actually feature sexual content will be subject to felony charges, thanks to a bill the U.S. Senate approved Thursday.
Anyone who includes misleading words or images intended to confuse a minor into viewing a possibly harmful Web site could be imprisoned for up to 20 years and fined, the legislation says.
"I appreciate the willingness of all members to put aside unrelated controversial issues so that we could focus on the core purpose of this bill--protecting children," Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said during the floor discussion. The Senate approved the bill by a voice vote. (read more of the article by Declan McCullagh and Anne Broache at CNet News)
Obviously the purpose of this bill is to criminalize sexuality. Lots of people have sexual identities shaped by the media images they consumed as children, and if you want to go all Taliban-crazy I think you need to start by retroactively fining MATTEL for not selling Barbie with a permanently affixed burqaa. Burqaa Barbie.
MATTEL also obviously has failed to protect its trademark, literally allowing hundreds, if not thousands of little girls to grow up and become strippers and pornstars, and then change their names to Barbie. One of my personal favorite examples is Lanny Barbie. According to the court, it's not dilution of a trademark, it's social commentary, protected by the First Amendment. (See also MTV News about Mattel vs. Aqua)
And what about the Barbie inspired play-acting that is worse than porn? Literally hundreds of people with webcams are wasting their lives, dancing and lip-syncing to Aqua's I'm a Barbie Girl. There are 16,000 or so Barbie Girl-related videos on YouTube. If we just outlawed the whole internet, maybe those folks would find some way to be more productive members of society, assembling cluster bombs or paying taxes that will eventually pay down our deficit financed wars in the Middle East. The center-right posturing Democratic Senate leadership (Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer) need to be reminded that Iraq is the issue this election year, and that right now American taxpayers are not happy buying Israel jet fuel and precision-guided munitions to drop on civilians fleeing the indiscriminate bombing in Lebanon, bombing that Bush and Condi allow to be prolonged, stalling before starting any dialogue on a ceasefire. Nobody wants to send Lanny Barbie (link warning - nipples - not necessarily work safe!) to jail. Nipples are a wedge issue, not a urgent threat that needs attention more than finding a plan for Iraq, or dealing with the drought, crop failures, heat and power outages that are plaguing the American landscape. Or the war...
Furby is different than Barbie. Of course anyone who makes porn with a "Furby" theme is a sick fuck, a danger to pets and people who have to wear animal suits at work, etc, and I am all about imprisoning them. Dan Savage has written about these people, who call themselves furries. As the Furries have not organized within the Democratic party (or DFL, Democratic-Farmer-Labor) to the same level as have the GLBT Community/Stonewall Caucus, it probably is a politically savvy thing for Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer to beat up on them. And it helps us forget that Ned Lamont leads Bush's Boy (and the DSCC/Schumer's Boy) Lieberman in the polls: TPMCafe: Analysis of Ned Lamont's Lead Over Joe Lieberman, Taegan Goddard's Political Wire: In CT, Poll shows Lamont ahead by 10%
Anyway, back to the censorship/protection of children issue, I demonstrated a little bit of the ICRA.org content labeling technology in my last post: Naughty pictures, protests. I think that the use of content labeling tags by internet publishers should demonstrate that publishers making "social commentary" about the Barbie doll who publish pics of models somehow named after or resembling the famously easy and materialistic Mattel doll should be safe, but if you have any questions you should call a lawyer, and you should call your representatives in Congress and tell them that what you do with Barbie online (or in the privacy of your own home) is between you and your god, and not a political football. The internet was designed be a military network that might survive a nuclear attack, but it has become a playground for naughty adults, and naughty adults can vote SOBs like Schumer (and his cronies) out of office. The internet is for porn, not a replacement for nannies, for quality time between children and their parents, for formal schooling of children. No amount of overly broad legislation curtailing free speech on the internet is going to keep unsupervised kids out of the trouble they want to get into, whether that means undressing their sister's dolly, or reading about "the birds and the bees" on computers that aren't properly secured with content filtering software or password-protected accounts.
Sen. Schumer and Sen. Harry Reid need to be told that Americans understand freedom comes with responsibility, but that we (especially progressives) also understand that government exists to protect, to expand and enhance our freedoms, not infringe on them! Call him and tell him just that! Schumer's phone numbers are listed here: Sen. Schumer's Senate Office contact numbers, Sen. Reid's Senate Office contact numbers and more contact info at the DSCC.
Update: I have trouble keeping Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer seperate in my mind, its not unlike the problem many Americans have in mentally seperating Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. This stems from the fact that Chuck Schumer's DSCC apparently requires beneficiaries to pledge to vote for pro-life/anti-choice Harry Reid for the Democratic Minority (or possibly Majority) Leader. These centrists have exactly the same interests as the Republicans. You have to be careful which Dems you support...
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