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Nick Licata's Letter to Activists

Nick Licata, 911 Media Arts Center

Date: Fri, 22 Dec 1995 02:39:19 -0500
From: Nick Licata
Subject: Re: censorship threat looms

Censorship looms on the internet because the rightwing has successfully defined the national debate on this and other public policy issues within the context of their fighting for family "values".

Liberals, like Gore and Clinton, are afraid to oppose the Christian Right on the censorship issue in the telecommunications bill because they did not want to appear weak in the press on the "values" battleground. And the press has allowed the Christian Right to control the highground in this struggle by simply echoing their basic premise that their "family values" are the only legitimate ones.

The Christian right has smartly framed the debate on the freedom of speech as a values test for tolerating pornagraphy, and other unwholesome activities which are often identified by them as homosexuality, abortion, teenage pregnancy, and even secular humanism. All of which supposedly leads to the decline of family values, the family and ultimately the nation itself.

The best countervailing argument to oppose this morality driven march towards censorship is to offer an alternative set of values which are rooted in a classic American belief: freedom from government interferance in our private lives. Censorship is a top down invasion on individual's privacy.

A much broader coalition than might be expected could coalesce around privacy rights. For instance, a natural and unexpected constituent in this effort might be those that are for the right to bear arms. Their political philosophy is based on protecting a private right from government intervention. There should be an effort to arouse them to oppose this legislation, since the logic of the Christian Right could be used against them. Even at this late date they could have a major impact.

This kind of outreach is what is needed to create effective and powerful coalitions to win the big battles. In other words, there is a need to break out of the traditional liberal-academic bloc in fighting censorship. We shouldn't be afraid to ally with those whom we may disagree with on other issue if it helps us when this battle.