Category: ‘Personal Liberty’

Why Is Our Logo Censored?

November 29, 2011 Posted by zachary

You may have noticed that our logo is censored with a link pointing to American Censorship. There is an interesting story about it.

What is happening is the US government at the behest of a number of media companies such as the RIAA, MPAA and the ESA are working to pass some of the worst copyright legislation in US history. These two bills are titled “Stop Online Piracy Act” in the House and “Protect Intellectual Property Act” in the Senate. What these bills hope to accomplish is a reduction in movie, music, game and software piracy as well as reduce counterfeit goods from entering the US.

They hope to achieve these goals by giving sweeping power to the US Attorney General and copyright holders the ability to prevent ad providers, credit card processing firms and DNS providers from working with websites that are “dedicated to infringing activities”. These bills would also make it illegal to stream or upload any video or song that is covered by copyright that you do not have rights to.

Sadly, these bills will be used to censor a lot more than copyright infringement. Under these bills, sites like YouTube, Twitter, Flicker, Facebook  and any other site that allows users to upload content will be liable if anyone uploads copyrighted materials without permission. That means that if someone uploads a video to YouTube that infringes a copyright, movie studios would be able to have all of YouTubes services cut off and whole swaths of legal content will be censored as a result.

That isn’t even the worst of it. Currently under the DMCA, copyright holders can only ask for certain content to be removed. If the site owner removes said content they maintain what is called “safe harbor” protections. This prevents the site owner from being sued for copyright infringement for something a user of the site did. This is a good thing for sites like YouTube because safe harbors have allowed it to continue to operate and be a vessel of free speech for millions of people.

Under SOPA, all that goes away. Now, it doesn’t matter what the site owner does, they will have no safe harbor to protect them. If only one person uploads a copyrighted song or video, the whole site is gone even if the rest of the millions of videos are perfectly legal.

Additionally, SOPA and PROTECT-IP have no punishment for false accusations. A copyright holder can have a site removed and if it turns out to be a completely legal site, there is no punishment for the false takedown. Nothing happens to that copyright holder. That is beyond bad. There should be some kind of punishment such as a fine of $150,000 per false takedown. But no. They can get away with it.

One last thing I would like to share is that under these laws there is also no court involved. Copyright holders can just fire off letters at will to ISPs, DNS providers, Credit card companies and ad companies and those companies have to follow the law or they can be prosecuted for copyright infringement that had ZERO to do with them. This is absurd on a major level. These companies are completely neutral in all this but they run the risk of being prosecuted themselves if they don’t comply. Not with a court order, but with a letter from some random person or company. If a court were involved, these copyright holders would have to prove that the site is actually infringing before anything could happen, but the content industries don’t want to have to get a court order. They feel it is too much work.

In the end, these laws are not about stopping piracy. These laws are about unloading the burden of policing the content of copyright holders like those under the RIAA, MPAA and ESA onto third parties that have absolutely no power to control what users of the internet do. They don’t want to have to do the work themselves.

These bills need to stop now before they can be voted into law. Using the link provided at the beginning of this post and that can be found by clicking the black bar over our logo, you can contact your Senators and Congressman and tell them not to vote for this legislation. Tell them that you like our internet as it is.

You can find more information about these bills at the following location:

The Definitive Post On Why SOPA And Protect IP Are Bad, Bad Ideas
Congress considers anti-piracy bills that could cripple Internet industries

Quality Entertainment: Video Games and Beyond

June 28, 2011 Posted by zachary

If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things. (Articles of Faith: 13)

I find the circumstances around two separate events between the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Supreme Court of the United States to be so compelling, it requires some comments from me on this blog.

The first event I want to emphasize is the ruling from the Supreme Court on the issue of violent video games. In this ruling, the Supreme Court ruled that video games of all types, not just violent ones, are protected by the first Amendment. They ruled that a law that would restrict the sales of violent video games was an unconstitutional violation of our rights to free speech.

I liked this ruling as it exercises a very libertarian view of the First Amendment in that the protection of that part of the Constitution is absolute. You can read more of my thoughts on this ruling on my personal blog.

The other event that I find interesting is an article in the New Era, a monthly publication from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints aimed toward the youth in the world. This article poses the question “Is the Church against all video games or just the violent ones?” Now this question may have been posed because of recent events, as this edition of the New Era was written with full knowledge of the coming ruling from the Supreme Court. Aside from that, the actual answer is pretty good advice. I want to emphasize a few points. (more…)

Immigration: The Church Speaks

June 13, 2011 Posted by zachary

This past Friday, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a statement on immigration law. They clarify the position they took recently in Utah and made it more general for application in other states and federally.

I want to look at a few key points and expound upon them.

As a matter of policy, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints discourages its members from entering any country without legal documentation, and from deliberately overstaying legal travel visas.

As members of the church, we are bound to obey the laws of the land as outlined in the Twelfth Article of Faith. However, we still hold the right to change laws we consider unjust or over broad. Often, this requires people to deliberately disobey them. I would think that in the case of immigration law, there is some room for civil disobedience. (more…)

Prohibition and a Word of Wisdom

June 1, 2011 Posted by zachary

A Word of Wisdom, for the benefit of the council of high priests, assembled in Kirtland, and the church, and also the saints in Zion—

To be sent greeting; not by commandment or constraint, but by revelation and the word of wisdom, showing forth the order and will of God in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days—

Given for a principle with promise, adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints, who are or can be called saints. (Doctrine and Covenants 89:1-3)

In the early days of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Prophet Joseph Smith was led to inquire of God on the use of tobacco and alcohol by members of the church. This inquiry led to the revelation Latter-day Saints call the “Word of Wisdom.”

This revelation has 3 key parts: A proscription on the use of strong drinks, wine, tobacco and “hot drinks” (later decreed by the leaders of the church to refer to coffee and tea); A listing of food fit for the use of man and beast; And a promise to those who follow this word of wisdom.

At the time of this revelation, it was given as strong suggestion rather than a commandment. It wasn’t until much later during the time Brigham Young was prophet that the leaders of the church were inspired to make the proscription portion a requirement for temple access.

As Latter-day Saints we have a duty to live by this Word of Wisdom. However, we do not have a right to force others to do the same. (more…)

Abortion and the Right to Life

May 11, 2011 Posted by zachary

About a month ago, a man I admire, Danny Ledonne, wrote a blog post about why libertarians should support a woman’s right to seek an abortion under any circumstance. As he points out, this is a contentious issue that the Libertarian Party has punted on.

Recognizing that abortion is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good-faith views on all sides, we believe that government should be kept out of the matter, leaving the question to each person for their conscientious consideration. (Libertarian Platform 1.4)

In Danny’s defense of a woman’s right to seek an abortion, he uses what he admits to being an imperfect analogy of an unwelcome house guest:

If I am the owner of a property, I decide who is welcome and who is not.  If an unwelcome person persists in remaining on my property (an “intruder”), I have the right to use every means up to and including deadly force to remove this person from my property.  Naturally, I am going to seek out non-violent means to resolve this conflict first, however at some point if the person refuses to leave my property (“like it or not, I am living in your dining room for the next nine months”), I may choose to use physical confrontation to remove this person.  You see where I am going with this; if a woman has self-ownership over her body, then clearly she is the sole decision-maker as to whom is welcome inside her body.

Now I have a problem with this. This analogy, while written in good faith, is not an accurate representation of pregnancy or abortion. (more…)

Seek an Education That Glorifies God

May 9, 2011 Posted by zachary

O, remember, my son, and learn wisdom in thy youth; yea, learn in thy youth to keep the commandments of God. (Alma 37:35; Book of Mormon)

And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and by faith. (Doctrine and Covenants 88:118)

Latter-day Saints are commanded to learn wisdom and gain an education. We are to seek out the best institutions of education available to us. Not only are we to seek an education, we are to seek one that glorifies God and builds on our faith in him. (more…)

Agency Is the Source of Liberty

May 6, 2011 Posted by zachary

As Libertarians, we seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others.

These are the words that begin the Libertarian Platform. The words describe the ideal of everything it means to be a Libertarian. We are free to live our own lives and govern what we do within it.

As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons as we are commonly called, we have a very similar belief.

“Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; … And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil;” (2 Nephi 2:27 The Book of Mormon) (more…)