Fw: AOL Censors 2nd Amendment Rights
- ----- Original Message -----From: Scott JohnsonSent: Tuesday, September 12, 2000 6:38 AMSubject: AOL Censors 2nd Amendment RightsDate: 9/7/2000 11:53:00 PM Written By:
AOL Censors Out 2nd Amendment Rights
by Lisa Dean
NewsMax.com - The Internet is the only free uncensored system of
communication in this country. Talk radio would come in a close second
but there are many restrictions on the types of topics that can be
covered, limitations on the number of times individuals can participate,
restrictions from government on the radio stations
themselves. And, of course, at any moment a talk station today carrying
Rush Limbaugh and Dr. Laura and a host of popular local talk show folks
can tomorrow turn into an acid rocker station with 24 hours of
head-banging or what some claim is
That is why knowing who controls the Internet and what their
policies are becomes very important. For the last year or so, the
800-pound gorilla of the Internet in the US is America On Line. With 22
million subscribers it dominates everyone else in the field. That is why
it is extremely disturbing that AOL has adopted a policy that treats
guns and ammunition the same as child pornography and pedophilia. If you
try to buy or sell live ammo from your AOL account you will be
monitored and eventually you will be warned and if you don't cease and
desist, then your account will be closed.
Last year AOL sent an email to one of its customers, a licensed
firearms dealer saying:
"We have become aware of a web page site that is part of your
account. This web page violates Hometown AOL's Community Standards,
which prohibits sexually explicit graphics, links to other sites which
Hometown deems offensive, harassment, the use of vulgar or sexually
oriented language, discussion of illegal activities, and/or other
activities that may impair the enjoyment of our community's members.
"We have placed a note of this incident on your account history and
consider this a first warning. We have removed all the file(s) from your
web page/ftp site. A second occurrence will result in termination of
your account with no chance of reactivation."
AOL has made this policy arbitrarily and yet will not explain it to
its subscribers. Child pornography is illegal. Guns and ammunition are
protected under the Second Amendment. Yet AOL chooses to treat the two
identically by refusing to allow any one of its subscribers to engage in
his Constitutional right to keep and bear arms. In
doing so, of course, AOL has followed in the path of a host of smaller
Internet Service Providers who have the same policy.
When the Constitution provides that a practice is legal and yet
someone hinders our ability to exercise that practice, that someone is
setting himself up as an arbiter of our rights. From whom does AOL get
this authority? Well, of course, they are a private business and they
can adopt whatever practice they wish. But when you look at what
companies AOL has swallowed up in the past year and those few that are
left that don't have such arbitrary policies, it is truly frightening.
Unless someone with a lot of capital is willing to come in to start
a new ISP and is going to be open to keeping the Second Amendment alive
and well, there may come a time very soon when gun owners are simply
shut out of every medium of communication.
They have no television sympathetic to them. Radio, with the
exception of short wave, is very restricted. Now many newspapers and
magazines will not take ads for guns and ammunition and if they do,
gun-grabbing organizations are encouraging readers to tear them out. The
Internet was one place, for a short time, gun owners could go to
exercise their freedom.
Yes, AOL is a business free to make its own policies. But customers
are also free to make their own decisions as well. No person who
respects the Second Amendment should subscribe to AOL unless they change
There are millions of gun owners and other online services that will
gladly accept new customers and the cost is in dollar amounts, not in
If computer users take their freedom seriously and switch to another
provider, AOL will feel it in the bottom line. At that point perhaps
they may be willing to discuss the matter with their subscribers. At
that point perhaps AOL will respect and preserve the rights of Americans
to practice the right to keep and bear arms in practical terms.
If not, perhaps AOL should find a more comfortable home elsewhere .
. . say . . . in Havana or Beijing.
Lisa Dean is Vice President for Technology Policy at the Free Congress
Foundation. Reproduced with the permission of NewsMax.com. All rights