Pleasant Surprises

by J.D. Tuccille

Say it ainít so! A positive week? A week with more on the up side than the down side? A week ... mmmm ... but wait, my paycheck hasnít cleared yet.

But positive it has been. Not one, not two, but three notes of cheer in the news to put a spring in our steps and a sweet thang in our beds. Clearly, weíre due for a plague of biblical scope. Still, until the cosmic joker balances the scales we might as well enjoy the good times.

First off, we were blessed with the tensely awaited ruling on the Communications Decency Act. Now, this initial decision isnít the final word -- nine ornery geriatrics get to weigh-in if they so choose. But the three-judge panel issued a decision that could barely have been more encouraging had it been written by a free-speech attorney, and the dicta (non-binding rationale) revealed three new converts to the cause of cyber-liberty. In probably the most widely quoted statement in the case, U.S. District Judge Stewart Dalzell wrote: ďAs the most participatory form of mass speech yet developed, the Internet deserves the highest protection from government intrusion.Ē Since the high court has a rather strong track record when it comes to First Amendment issues -- recently strengthening some protections for commercial expression, which is generally considered the red-headed step child of speech -- the panelís decision is an excellent portent for the future of speech online.

Of course, I feel just a bit deprived of that slightly samizdat feeling that came every time I wrote ďfuck.Ē

Excellent occurrence number two was the exodus of the rather inaptly named ďFreemenĒ from their ranch-republic in Montana without the discharge of a single round of ammunition. Despite the mutual back-patting of Louis Freeh and Jackboot Janet, I credit this peaceful turn of events less to changes in FBI policy than to the public outrage over Waco and Ruby Ridge that forced the policy changes. If ďfringeĒ groups across America hadnít promised to put every federal action from now until doomsday under a microscope we might very well have tuned in to the evening news to hear about the traditional after-the-fact gathering of expended brass and post-mortem over a smoking hole in the prairie. Hell, the armored cars were already in place.

Now, I donít want to get hopes up, and I do want to keep the spotlight in place, but maybe the FBI is learning just a wee bit of humility. Uh oh ... jinx!

And our last, but by no means least, uplifting event of the week saw the FBIís Louis Freeh dive back into the press conference feeding frenzy to avoid sacrificial lamb status. Ya see, about this time last week, the Clinton administration found itself groping for a patsy after the inopportune revelation that 330 ... no make that 340 ... no, itís really 408 inappropriately obtained FBI files on Republican political figures had been sort of lying around the White House. Bernie Nussbaum was the first choice, but you donít really want to throw your attorney -- and his files -- to the wolves. Next was some poor Army employee named Anthony Marceca. Who? R-i-i-i-ght -- thatís the problem. And that left ... well, it left FBI Director Louis Freeh calling a preemptive press conference to say: ďThe prior system of providing files to the White House relied on good faith and honor. Unfortunately, the FBI and I were victimized. I promise the American people that it will not happen again on my watch.Ē

Themís fightiní words, Bubba! Oh, the wagons are a-circling.

So forgive me if I feel just a bit tense after such a week. I just canít help feeling that so much good canít help but be followed by ... damn. I just ran out of beer.

Ah well. Iíll enjoy what I have while itís here. So, Senator Exon, fuck you! Really, Senator, I mean fuck you! And that goes twice for you pedophilic little circle jerks in the Christian Coalition. Add that to my FBI file.

Now I feel much better.

Ah well, and so much for the power of argument. So back you go to Full Automatic or to my home page.

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