Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Let's talk about the First Amendment today. Well, a part of it, anyway.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

I have the right to say anything I want to, as long as it isn't libelous, about anyone I want to. On my homebrewing blog I wrote that I didn't like Shiner 98. Someone bravely posted a comment accusing me of having no taste and of being a talentless hack. And they bravely posted it as "Anonymous". While I don't dispute his assessment of my skills, that person's definition of Freedom of Speech is that no one should say anything that disagrees with him.

He's not alone. There are people who want the government to stop Fox News. There are people who are boycotting the advertisers of Fox News to stop them from talking. People want to silence Rush Limbaugh and Anne Coulter. That's the new "Freedom of Speech?"

I use Firefox. I also use the Adblocker add-on. AdBlocker allows me to filter the ads on websites so that I don't have to see them. Advertisers are beginning to get angry at this technology, because apparently I am infringing of their Freedom of Speech, and will probably begin litigation to eliminate these filters.

Since when has Freedom of Speech become the Right to be Heard?

Don't like Fox News? Don't fucking watch it. Some people like it, and by silencing Fox News you are imposing your morality on them.

Don't like ads? I don't want to see ads for Cialis and Viagra on every web page I visit. By configuring my adblocker to block ads from, am I doing anything wrong? No. I do not have to listen or see those ads, and should be allowed to block them. Essentailly, I turn off the ads on one computer. I'm not stopping my neighbor from seeing them on his machine.

Mike Zanis, the Interactive Advertising Bureau's vice president of public policy said, "People are free to ignore ads, and they often do that, but when you have a third party blocking those ads, that's the real problem."

No, Mike. AdBlocker blocks nothing by default. I have to add something to the block list. AdBlocker lets me decide what I want to see. It is the Internet version of the V-chip. you know, that Clinton-era panacea for the crime problem and solution for busy parents everywhere? You make have a right to advertise on the Internet. I have the right not to see it.



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