What's a viewpoint?
crossf at MAIL.UTEXAS.EDU
Wed Nov 13 10:55:46 PST 2002
I'm not sure what to think about the internet library policy, but I do
question a theme I see on the list about viewpoint discrimination. Eugene
"The filtering mandate is not invidious viewpoint discrimination, at least
when it's applied to screening out material based on explicit sexual
content and not political ideology (e.g., supposedly bigoted speech,
religious speech, and so on). That, I think, would be the argument."
I must say, this reasoning escapes me. It seems like it significantly
privileges political ideological speech over other speech. This is a fair,
debatable point. But more troublesome to me is the political result of
that privilege. I see "political ideological" as being very arbitrarily
defined, which in turn gives the definer the functional power to censor.
While I don't doubt Eugene's good faith, his use of the qualifier
"supposedly" before bigoted speech but not before explicit sexual content
already seems to reveal a subconscious bias in definition.
I cannot understand why "supposedly bigoted speech" is political, while
"explicit sexual content" is not. In fact, I suspect that the free
dissemination of explicit sexual content could easily have a greater
political effect than free dissemination of supposedly bigoted speech.
Even if the Constitution privileges political speech, I don't think that it
necessarily defines political speech as those matters that a particular
interpreter thinks fit within a conventional left/right ideological spectrum.
Herbert D. Kelleher Centennial Professor of Business Law
University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX 78712
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