Dam the Environmentalists

Dam the Environmentalists

Dam the Environmentalists

Recent posts from our readers forum.
Sept. 20 2000 11:30 PM

Dam the Environmentalists

Subject: Would Censoring Movie Trailers Be Unconstitutional?

Re:
"Dialogues: Marketing Hollywood to Children"

From:
Dilan Esper

Date:
Fri Sept 15  11:54 a.m. PT

Advertisement

Both Culturebox and Press Box appeal to constitutional lawyers to resolve their dispute over what the Supreme Court would do with a restriction on the marketing of R-rated entertainment to children. I am a First Amendment lawyer (I am currently counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union in challenging California's "Son of Sam" law before the California Supreme Court, among other things); here's my take.

While Culturebox is correct to point to the Central Hudson case as setting out the four-part test that is used to determine the constitutionality of regulations of commercial speech, it is important to understand that while the Supreme Court still invokes the Central Hudson test, it is increasingly finding commercial speech restrictions unconstitutional under that test. For instance, the court recently struck down a prohibition on advertising for state lotteries in neighboring states where gambling is prohibited. Recent cases emphasize not whether the product is lawful but whether the advertising is not misleading.

Second, as Press Box notes, children are permitted to obtain these products (R-rated movies) with the permission of their parents. As Culturebox notes, there is a pragmatic concern over letting them see the advertisements, because it is hard to say "no" to a child who has seen a trailer. But it is still the parent's decision. And there is a strong argument that ads encouraging kids to ask their parents for products are protected under the First Amendment. Or can the government ban all advertising for toys on Saturday-morning cartoons?

Third, the ratings system itself is not a law but a voluntary industry policy. This is tremendously important. In fact, I believe that it would be unconstitutional for the government to require the industry to rate its programs and products. (This would create a tremendous chill on expression, would be vague, and would be a form of compelled speech that even Culturebox admits is unconstitutional.) But since the ratings system itself is not law, it is not illegal to sell a kid an R-rated movie ticket or CD or video game in the first place. And if stores and Cineplexes are not prohibited from selling these materials to children (unlike, for instance, cigarettes or alcohol), how can they be prohibited from marketing them to children? To do so would be content-based censorship.

Advertisement

[To read an unedited version of this post, or to reply, click here.]

Subject: Kinsley's Selective Rapier



Re:
"Readme: You Disagree With the GOP? So Does the GOP"



From:
Publius



Date:
Tue Sept 12  9:58 a.m. PT

The tendency toward a disingenuous embrace of extreme political positions is as pronounced among Democrats as among Republicans—it's just that the former bothers Kinsley less. For example, surely Kinsley doesn't really think that among Democrats only Joe Lieberman thinks that school vouchers are a worthy idea to help transform a brain-dead public education system. But the teachers' unions are not only a "core constituency" for Democrats, they are also one of the best-organized lobbies in the nation, able to defeat "unsuitable" Democrats in primaries and to send hordes of their apparatchiks as delegates to national conventions. Sure, Republicans have to kowtow to their core constituencies on such matters as gay rights. But, as a strong supporter of gay rights since before the Stonewall uprising, I'm not at all sure that the right of a few thousands gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military is more important than the right of millions of minority children to a decent education. Of course, the nation can have both; but it comes with ill grace to knock Republicans' cant on the one hand without even recognizing that Democratic cant on the other has paralyzed the public policy of urban schools for decades.

[To read an unedited version of this post, or to reply, click here.]

Advertisement

Subject: Why Bush Isn't Necessarily Toast



Re:
"Frame Game: Why Bush Is Toast"



From:
Joseph Britt



Date:
Mon Sept 18  9:25 a.m. PT

Saletan answers both of the key questions about this race—"Can Bush come back?" and "Will Bush come back?"—in the negative. He may yet prove correct about the second question. His writing off of Bush's chances, though, makes some daring assumptions. The most obvious is Saletan's assumption that Gore will make no more mistakes, and is immune to the impact of new negative information. I'd accept this as valid if Clinton were the Democratic candidate, but the public's view of Gore is not nearly as settled. (For something like Gore's raising money using the promise of a presidential veto as a quid pro quo, of course, the Bush campaign would have to explain what happened, and why it was wrong. Up to now their ads have assumed that everyone knew all about Gore's history and agreed with the Republicans' view of it.)

The second assumption is that a conservative campaign is necessarily unappealing. Absent calls for cutting domestic spending programs, or indeed for doing anything else that is remotely unpopular, the way is clear for Bush to campaign optimistically on the theme that the American people can do for themselves much of what Gore wants the government to do for them. This is a long way from the frustrated and ideologically incoherent flailing of Congressional Republicans since 1995. Gore has pandered and made promises to every interest group: The trees are attractive, but the forest is an incomprehensible mess.

Finally, Saletan assumes that the public's picture of Bush's record is set. It isn't—and the record is demonstrably better than Gore's on one key issue. Bush in Texas has prioritized well and worked with both parties to enact a clear and reasonably successful agenda. Gore in Washington is regarded as untrustworthy by nearly all Republicans, a permanent campaigner—and his principal campaign tactic at the moment is demonizing everyone who disagrees with him. Gore looks more like a leader than he used to, but he really has never been one. Bush has. Bush was criticized recently for claiming status as the underdog in this race. It's probably the truest thing he's said all year—any challenger to an incumbent vice president during a time of peace and prosperity is always an underdog until the votes are counted, regardless of what the polls may say on any given day. The odds are against Bush right now—if history means anything they always have been. But he's not done yet.

[To reply, click here.]

Subject: Texas Air Ain't Dubya's Fault



Re:
"Ballot Box: Bush Goes Fishing"



From:
Mark



Date:
Thu Sept 14  11:02 a.m. PT

The hydroelectric energy that the Pacific Northwest enjoys is not only low cost, as Ballot Box states, but clean. Unless he knows that solar cells or wind turbines will replace the dams—which are defended by George W. Bush and attacked by environmentalists—it's hard to judge the environmental impact that a dam breech would have. Moreover, you criticize Bush's plan for "voluntary compliance" with pollution rules by pointing to pollution problems in Texas. Well then, what specific regulations should Texas pass to clean up its environment? Perhaps Texas's environmental problems have more to do with geology and the kind of companies drawn to that geology than with Jim Hightower, Ann Richards, and Dubya combined.

[To reply, click here.]