Consider the recent massacre at Columbine High School. Teenagers accessed information on how to build bombs on the Internet. It was discovered that they regularly engaged in violent computer games that simulate killing other human beings. Their appetite for destruction seemed to be exacerbated by content they were readily able to access on the Internet.

I picked up a copy of "George" magazine the other day. One of the feature stories was about a man known as "Uncle Fester." The title of the article is, "The Most Dangerous Man in America." Uncle Fester is considered to be a genius-type that publishes books on how to build your own bombs, make your own vest proof bullets and manufacture your own drugs. The publishing house that sold his books came under fire for selling destructive information. They discontinued the sales of his books. But, that doesn’t bother Uncle Fester. He currently sells his books on the Internet. He stated, "That means more profits for me!" (George XX).

Another recent development in hate crimes seems to stem from the Anti-abortionists posting of personal information on the Internet relating to the doctors who perform abortions. In January 1997, Neal Horsley created the "Nuremberg Files" Web site fashioned after the Nuremberg Files in which nazi war criminals were put on trial. This information included want- ad style posters listing the names of these doctors, their home addresses and automobile license plate numbers, the names of their family members including their children. Some of these doctors were murdered and a strike was placed through their names on the web site. Planned Parenthood sued the defendants, who included the American Coalition of Life Activists, stating that the web site encouraged a campaign of terror and intimidation against the doctors named and their families. These families now share how they wear bulletproof vests and rarely go anywhere (Rovner 303). The following web site lists the violent attacks on abortion clinics and those who work there. Is posting personal information on the Internet for the purposes of exposing hate and violence protected by the First Amendment?

The judge found for the plaintiffs and awarded them $100 million. It is interesting to note that the Judge ruled that the Court did not have the jurisdiction to close down the site. However, the ISP housing the site, MindSpring, did refuse service for the site. Should society reasonable expect to have government intervention on web sites containing information that may be harmful to even one person if not many others? How does government balance its moral interest in protecting society without trampling over other personal rights like freedom of speech?

<=Prior     Next=>