Patterico's Pontifications


In Support of Section 230 of 1996’s Communications Decency Act

Filed under: Law — DRJ @ 1:27 pm

[Headline from DRJ]

Tech critics on both sides have it wrong: Section 230 is not a special privilege:

Recently, both Republicans and Democrats have publicly questioned the future of one of the most important laws underpinning the explosion of the internet: Section 230 of 1996’s Communications Decency Act. Policymakers including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) have both called the law, which protects internet providers and platforms from liability for the content their users generate, an unfair and special privilege for tech companies.

But in a new Mercatus Center at George Mason University working paper, we discuss why Section 230 is about accelerating sound legal precedent and free speech protection, not special privilege. It emerged as the codification of a pro-speech legal principle that had been developing since the 1930s: Media distributors should very rarely be liable for the content they transmit.

Starting with earlier technologies like newswire services and radio, courts began to recognize that free speech norms and a need for pragmatic rules should outweigh arguments for holding what are essentially conduits of information liable for that information. One early case found that a radio station should not be subject to strict liability for a host remarking that a certain establishment was a “rotten hotel.” As information technology expanded, so did this norm to include new mediums and address concerns such as newsstands and libraries

The rest is at the link.


50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:43 am

On July 20, 1969, my parents sat me, an infant not yet quite a year old, in front of our cathode-ray tube television set in Park Ridge, Illinois to watch history be made. Here’s Buzz Aldrin’s description of what it was like inside the lunar lander module:

Time was running out. The Apollo 11 lunar module was on its historic descent to the moon’s crater-pocked surface on 20 July 1969 when a fuel light blinked on. Still 100ft (30 metres) above the ground, it was not what the astronauts needed. The Eagle’s tank was nearly dry.

In a new video interview about the momentous first landing on the moon, Buzz Aldrin, the mission’s lunar module pilot, describes how he held his tongue when the warning light appeared and Charlie Duke, Nasa’s capsule communicator, came on the line from Houston to inform Aldrin and Neil Armstrong they had only 60 seconds left to make it down.

“OK. One hundred feet. Sixty seconds. We’d better ease down,” Aldrin recalls thinking. But he thought better of telling Armstrong to get a move on. Dressed in a jacket and “Destination Mars” T-shirt, his fingers adazzle with rings, Aldrin’s contorted face conveys how dicey the moment was. “But I don’t want to disturb Neil by saying: ‘Hurry up, hurry up!’” he says, leaning in and dropping his voice.

Armstrong had enough on his mind. From an altitude of about 500 ft he had taken control of the lunar module and was carefully steering the craft down. Nobody knew how the module would handle and there in front of the descending craft loomed a large crater that would have spelled disaster for the men and the mission.

The astronauts had already had to contend with program alarms going off in the module, which themselves could have forced the mission to abort. The glitch was eventually resolved, leading to a “go” from Houston, but as Aldrin concedes: “it tended to distract a little bit.”

The Eagle dropped 90 ft over the next 30 seconds, leaving the crew a further half minute of fuel to navigate the final 10 ft to the lunar surface. In the interview recorded at the Science Museum in London in 2016, but released on Thursday for the first time, Aldrin says it was only at that late stage that he felt more confident about the landing. “I figured, ah, we got it made,” he recalls.

It was a feat that succeeded by the finest of margins. “We touched down, and I think the estimate, not because somebody put a dipstick in the fuel to see how much was left, but it was calculations and information onboard, we probably had about 15 seconds of fuel left.”

Here’s the video interview:

Here is restored footage of the original moonwalk:

And the classic photo of Buzz Aldrin:

Buzz Aldrin on Moon

Ten thousand years from today, if man has not destroyed himself, very few names will be remembered. But one name is certain to stay in man’s memory, after almost all other names have faded away: that of Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon.

Breaking News & Off Topic Links (7/20/2019)

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 9:00 am

[From DRJ]

Let’s try something new. If this works out, I will do similar posts in the future.

This post is for everyone who wants to share a link to a breaking news story or to an interesting news story/blog post that is not related to a current post. Put your link in the comments and, if you want, a brief discussion of why it is important or interesting. Discussion about any links is welcome here, too.

Please use this post for breaking news and off topic links so they will be easier to find, instead of leaving them in the comments of other posts.


Trump: I Disagree With That ‘Send Her Back’ Nonsense. Also Trump: Those ‘Send Her Back’ Supporters Are Incredible Patriots

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:26 am

[guest post by Dana]

One day after his supporters chanted “send her back” at this week’s rally in North Carolina, and after taking heat from Melania and Ivanka Trump about it,
President Trump sought to distance himself from the supporters :

“I was not happy with it. I disagree with it,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

He also told reporters that he “felt badly” about the chanting.

Yet, the following day, Trump reversed course, and touted the chanting supporters:

Trump also praised his supporters who chanted at a rally, “Send her back!,” a refrain directed at one of the lawmakers, Somali-born Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). The president called the campaign crowd “incredible patriots” — a day after saying he disagreed with the chant.

Those are incredible people. Those are incredible patriots,” the president said…

“She’s lucky to be where she is, let me tell you,” he said. “And the things that she has said are a disgrace to our country.”

Asked about his unhappiness with the rally chant, Trump said: “You know what I’m unhappy with? I’m unhappy with the fact that a congresswoman can hate our country. I’m unhappy with the fact that a congresswoman can say anti-Semitic things.”

Reporters asked Trump if he believed that the “Send her back!” chant was racist.

“No, you know what’s racist to me? When somebody goes out and says the horrible things about our country, the people of our country, that are anti-Semitic, who hate everybody, who speak with scorn and hate,” Trump said. “ . . . We’re dealing with people who hate our country.”

Here is video of the president sharing with reporters his complete list of things that he is unhappy about with regard to the Democratic congresswomen:

Trump also bizarrely warned about criticizing the United States on his watch:

Trump said Friday that criticism of the United States is unacceptable and that the four congresswomen “can’t get away with” it.

“I can tell you this, you can’t talk that way about our country, not when I’m the president,” he told reporters outside the White House.

Every American has the right of free speech under the First Amendment of the Constitution, a reporter pointed out — and the president acknowledged that.

“We have First Amendment rights also ­— we can . . . say what we want,” Trump said. It was unclear who he was referring to as “we.”

As is standard practice, the media was also targeted by Trump:

In tweets earlier Friday, Trump characterized media coverage of his rally in Greenville, N.C., as “crazed” and complained that the media was “totally calm & accepting” of what he said were “vile and disgusting statements” made by Omar and the three other minority congresswomen whom he has repeatedly criticized in recent days.

Trump also complained that the media covered the return of Omar to her home state Thursday. She was greeted at the Minneapolis−St. Paul International Airport by a crowd chanting, “Welcome home, Ilhan!”

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


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