Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

Sen. Hatch, a presidential candidate, threatens free speech

Author:Philippe Dambournet
Posted:2/2/2000; 6:17:44 PM
Topic:Sen. Hatch, a presidential candidate, threatens free speech
Msg #:14902
Prev/Next:14901 / 14903

Orrin Hatch is a co-sponsor of a bill just passed by the Senate which contains an outrageous attack on free speech. It conceals an attempt to criminalize forms of speech about drugs. Would you like to land in jail for publishing a web page explaining, say, how Colombian drug lords prepared cocaine in the 1980s?

Here is the relevant section of the bill:

This is a news alert pertaining to the issue:

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[One of the most dangerous bills of the last session was a measure unanimously passed by the Senate that would make it "to teach or demonstrate the manufacture of a controlled substance, or to distribute by any means information pertaining to, in whole or in part, the manufacture or use of a controlled substance." This measure - sponsored by Orin Hatch and Diane Feinstein - could potentially criminalize any published speech associated with drug use].

DRUG POLICY FOUNDATION: The bill would apply to information about safe dosage levels of illegal drugs and which combinations of drugs pose dangers. It would apply to explanations about how to use marijuana for medicinal purposes. Additionally, the bill makes advertising any information that could lead to the sale of drug paraphernalia a felony. This would mean that if one were to post the address of a head shop to a news group, or the e-mail address of someone who makes water-pipes as a hobby, it would be a crime punishable by three years in jail, even though head shops themselves remain legal. Under this bill, even linking to a paraphernalia site is illegal.

Given the vague and inclusive interpretation of federal conspiracy laws, almost any information about criminalized drugs and any dissent against existing drug laws could be construed by federal law enforcement as furthering drug crimes. Any anti-Drug War web site could be shut down directly, or indirectly because Internet service providers, who could also be prosecuted under the law, would refuse to host such sites.

S.486 already passed the Senate by a voice vote on Nov. 19. The bill is now awaiting House action. Chris Cannon, the sponsor of the House version of the bill, told the Village Voice in a recent article that legislators supporting the bill were pushing for hearings in March, and wanted to pass the bill this year, "sooner rather than later."

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