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Freedom of speech

  • From: Anders Andersson < >
  • Date: Fri, 27 Jul 2001 04:55:01 +0200 (MET DST)

John Sloan sloanj@localhost wrote:
>Freedom of speech is net applicable all the time.  Advertisers are limited
>in what they can say on billboards and on TV adverts.  Why should
>advertising by email not also have rules?

Advertising has rules, but those rules aren't relevant to defend
your property rights.  Freedom of speech (as I understand the
concept) is about the _content_ of said speech, not about the
method of its distribution.  As the Swedish constitution outlines
a special procedure to be followed when freedom of speech is to
be restricted, it has to define what _constitutes_ a restriction,
and as one paragraph points out:

   (3) The issuing of rules and regulations which govern in detail a
   particular manner of disseminating or receiving information without
   regard to its content shall not be deemed to restrict freedom of
   expression or freedom of information.

Instrument of Government, Chapter 2, Article 13, Paragraph 3.

The key phrase here is "without regard to its content".  As long
as you don't _care_ whether a message contains nudity or a quote
from the Bible, it's quite ok to make rules regarding the medium
of the message, what ink has to be used, who it can be sent to,
and so on.  Pay attention to the content, and it's no longer ok.

As a potential recipient, I can of course pay attention to what I
like in discriminating between wanted and unwanted mail, including
the content.  I just can't ask the government to do that screening
for me.  The government should stick to protecting my property by
letting _me_ decide who can use it, not make that decision for me
by legislating who may use my property under what circumstances.

This is why I consider it a waste of time to argue the contents of
spam with spammers or with anybody else, and politicians looking
at the individual ads for clues regarding what content to ban will
never solve my problem.  I want the spammers to simply shut up, not
spam me with strictly legal ads and ever so polite excuses for the

The ideal example of spam to show to a politician is a white sheet
of paper, in 42,000 copies.  If they can't ban that, increase the
number of copies as needed.

Anders Andersson, Dept. of Computer Systems, Uppsala University
Paper Mail: Box 325, S-751 05 UPPSALA, Sweden
Phone: +46 18 4713170   EMail: andersa@localhost

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