By Brian Johnsrud
Freedom of speech has been a resounding factor in the Constitution. Numerous times the first amendment has been referred to for the freedom of speech and the freedom of press. Originally written to protect us of our initial rights that the government can not take away. However, in certain cases, should the government step in if it concerns the safety of others?
This is the subject at hand in a current issue of Internet freedom. A website, www.date-rape.org, was recently shut down by its sponsor, MyInternet.com for offensive material. The site claimed to be a "one-stop shop for all your date rape needs," and boasted for being the number one
site for teaching men to drug and rape women. The homepage stately claims, "DateRape.org vows to bring you the latest and greatest in date raping techniques."
They also sell "DateRape in a Box" kits. These packages price at $49.99 and contain: "Medical Prescription Guide" to inform about doses and side effects of commonly used drugs, the sites "Quick and Easy Cookbook", listing recipes for drugged brownies and pina coloda's, "How-to Date Rape Properly Manual", and "Shut-the-Hell-Up-B***** Duct Tape. However, because of the first amendment, MyInternet .com must put the site back up for viewing. On the other hand, because of the sites harmful intent, prosecutors might be able to fight it. A 1999 Ninth Circuit case that involved anti-abortion web sites broadened a concept called the "true threats" doctrine. It discusses whether a reasonable person would see the information a serious expression of harm or assault to the who the statement is communicated to.
Although, the Ninth Circuit ruling hasn't been upheld by the Supreme Court, yet. So, because of their contract, MyInternet has to give the creators of daterape.com the ability to re-post their website. And, they intend to do just that. Once re-connected, the site will be running with a better interface, more information, and some new video clips.
Marianne Schnall, President of Feminists.com, is one of the most active critics of this sight. "It's the most shocking and disgusting thing I have ever seen on the Internet," she said. Once she viewed the sight, Schnall immediately contacted other feminists and the MyInternet.com to unveil her repugnance toward all aspects of the sight. In response, the creators of the sight clamed it was simply a test of their rights, and the sight was meant to be a joke, that no one would take seriously. They claimed the "Date-rape in a Box," was also part of the humor. But, out of the many page views, there has been no incidences of daterape that have pointed to the website as a source.
"Law enforcement may not be able to do anything until they can establish a link between an actual rape and the site," Schnall added.