Spam, Pornography, Fertility and the American Way
Got an email address? Check. Had it for longer than one month? Double check. Got spam? Uh, 100 checks. Spam is a crippling curse not only on personal email communication but also on business communication. It bogs you down, it is nearly always unwanted, and is often morally offensive. You hate to be liberal about it, but where’s your government when you need it?
Well, you’ll be happy to know that the Federal Government of the United States has intervened with the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. In addition, 36 of the 50 states in that country have enacted legislation that, in one form or another, prohibits the sending of unsolicited email. For full coverage of SPAM laws both in the US and abroad, visit www.spamlaws.com.
For right now I’ll avoid mentioning—OK, I’ll go ahead and mention it—these laws have done NOTHING. I get more spam than ever before. My friends, neighbors and relatives get more. The SPAM is no less obnoxious, there is no less pornography, and there are no disclaimers in the subject line about what the message contains.
The Problem with Spam Laws
In short, with rare exception these anti-SPAM laws, in overall effectiveness and often in the manner in which they are drafted, are no more than eye candy designed to make naïve voters happy and keep politicians in office.
Perhaps one of the states that you would expect to be included on this list as having enacted an effective anti-SPAM law dealing specifically with pornography is the state of Utah. Viewed by most as being a traditionally conservative state with a high Mormon population (app. 69%), high fertility rate, etc., we expect these kinds of developments from Utah.
Utah did have a spam law, a fairly specific one that made it very prohibitive to send unsolicited email, particularly with sexual content, to any Utah resident. The statute was in force from 2002 - 2004, when it was repealed for a variety of reasons—one of which (allegedly) is that the courts were swamped with SPAM related lawsuits. Some claimed that the law was too vaguely written. After the CAN-SPAM act was enacted in January 2004, effectively trumping the local state laws, there really wasn’t any need to put up state funds to enforce a federal bill.
Recently, new legislation was passed in Utah to help its citizens, demanding that Internet Service Providers block or provide filtering for a list of sites designated to be pornographic by the state. Now Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff has halted efforts to implement the law while he waits for a coalition of attorneys to present a legal challenge. The attorneys are associated with the Center for Democracy and Technology, the American Civil Liberties Union, and lawyer Michael Bamberger who has previously represented various pornography publishers including Playboy.
Things Aren’t Looking Up
For all Catholics (and anyone else) who are hopeful that legislation will end their inbox or browser nightmares, I advise you to curb your enthusiasm. First of all, I am highly skeptical that any state or federal legislation can be effective enough to stand up against the specter of First Amendment and Commerce Clause based lawsuits. Efforts to ban or limit pornography in other mediums have met with similar problems.
Second, I just don’t think that a majority of lawmakers in the United States view it as being in the state or country’s best interests. It is always nice to earn credit by voting for such a bill when you are confident that it will be vetoed, or abolished or significantly amended under pressure from the judiciary branch that we all know and love so well.
Third, this is a global problem that at least right now is simply out of control, and current legislation is virtually unenforceable due to lack of funding, lack of courtroom space, and jurisdictional issues.
What Fertility Has To Do with SPAM and Politics
So now that I’ve crippled your dreams, am I going to shed some positive light on the moral future of our country? OK. There is one thing to ponder that relates to our future hope and the wellbeing of morality in the United States and elsewhere. I touched on it earlier: fertility rates.
During the last two presidential elections here in the US, but particularly the most recent one, we started to hear a little bit more about how the Christian, and particularly Catholic, vote affected the Bush victory. Something that got a little less coverage is how religious attitude relates to fertility rates. So here are some facts for you to consider:
- 47% of people who attend church weekly say that their ideal family size is three or more children.
- Only 27% of those who seldom attend Church want as many children.
- Of the top 10 most fertile states, only one did not vote Republican (Bush) in the 2000 presidential election.
- Of the 17 states that have children at population replacement levels, only two did not vote for Bush.
- The least fertile states voted overwhelmingly for Al Gore.
(Figures drawn from a Phillip Longman article published September 2, 2004 in the Washington Post.)
And general population statistics, election results and exit polls indicate strongly that similar figures were at play in Bush’s 2004 defeat of John Kerry.
You’ll Go a Long Way, Baby
My point is only that the religious will be the inheritors of this country. If you live in Utah, and contribute to the highest fertility rate in the country, consider yourself a winner. Your children will most likely follow in your shoes.
If you live in Vermont, and are a socialist contributing to the lowest fertility rate in the country, your days are numbered.
If these statistics continue to increase in disparity rather than decrease, and if you are relatively young right now, your children will be living in a more conservative America than you do, and your grandchildren will really start to see the rewards in increased common sense, decency, and family values.
Today, legislation isn’t the answer. But it turns out that you can fight pornographic SPAM, and other social ills, simply by being a faithful, fertile Catholic.
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