Game talkChild Online Protection Act Overturned

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Jul 232008
 

COPA, the Child Online Protection Act, has been overturned by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. This is actually upholding a lower court ruling from a while ago.

It will be interesting to see what effect this might have on virtual worlds, given the parental pressure for safe worlds and the ongoing political crusades, and the continued rise in kids’ worlds (and in kids who try out worlds not meant for them).

Edit: since there is some confusion about this, here’s a link that points out the differences between COPA and COPPA. In short, COPA is the replacement to the Communications Decency Act, and has to do with publishing adult material on sites minors can get to. COPPA is the Children’s Online Protection & Privacy Act, and has to do with collecting personal data from kids.

  60 Responses to “Child Online Protection Act Overturned”

  1. This is not good. Without COPA there is no standard for people in the virtual world industry. It is no longer a federal issue, and instead is a civil tort problem. Translation: a whole lot more lawsuits and a whole lot less protection for kids.

  2. This is wonderful news.

  3. @economic mip: The protection this would have possibly provided to kids would have stifled free speech to the point where games like GTA IV would not be possible. Games with adult themes are just begining to surface with real stories in them and you can bet the politicians would have used COPA as a springboard to make sure all games ever became were Mario and Zelda clones.

    It is about time this 10 year old law was put out to pasture. The courts have ruled time and time again that it is unconstitutional and overly broad. Unfortunately, the only winners here are the ACLU lawyers that might get tax-payer funded attorney’s fees. The entire bill needed to be VETOed from day one but no president would do that because of the bad press they’d receive from the “Save the Children” folks.

    Good parenting solves everything COPA was intending to accomplish without burdening online content purveyors(web sites, games, …) with overly restrictive regulation in the name of protecting kids.

  4. “Overly restrictive” is right. COPPA (when did they drop that extra “P”?) is the online equivalent of a mafia boss offering your site “protection”. Don’t get me started on CARU’s (Children’s Advertising Review Unit) Safe Harbor program.

    i worked on a few COPPA-compliant MMOs, and was amazed at the time + money that went into adhering to the Act’s guidelines.

    Mind you, i’m not a big fan of online predators, and i disagree that we should let it all rest on the shoulders of “parents”. Many people who have kids shouldn’t, and i don’t like the idea of punishing those kids just for losing the baby lottery and being born to a couple of ne’er-do-wells.

    But there’s gotta be a better plan than COPPA …

  5. AH – i see the problem. COPA and COPPA are two different things. Clear as mud.

  6. [...] Child Online Protection Act Overturned [...]

  7. It is also important to note that COPPA compliance gives companies a legal safe harbor for meeting its requirements. This is GOOD NEWS for businesses. (As usual, check with your own lawyers)

  8. Derek said:
    @economic mip: The protection this would have possibly provided to kids would have stifled free speech to the point where games like GTA IV would not be possible. Games with adult themes are just begining to surface with real stories in them and you can bet the politicians would have used COPA as a springboard to make sure all games ever became were Mario and Zelda clones.

    Why is that? I thought GTA4 was only marketed to 17 and above, in which case this doesn’t matter.

  9. Amaranthar is quite correct. COPA only applied to the Internet anyway, and GTA4 is decidedly not a website.

    And I’ll second Morgan on this one, wonderful news. We do need to work on providing better content control mechanism for the net though, but those need to come from an end-user software basis and not a federal mandate. You cannot deny content to adults for the sake of protecting children.

  10. @Amaranthar,

    Once you have a law that allows the categorization of content in an effort to asses fines against violators, it’s a simple extension of that to try and make the case that if GTA IV is merely available to a child then it is a violation. Up until now, all this sort of regulation has been shot down by court after court wasting tax payer’s dollars but if COPA ever came into law and survived appeals it would be have a large impact on adult-oriented content in games. (Note I’m talking about mature themes and not pr0n)

    This has already been argued by the RIAA and MPAA in the piracy cases. They assert that the mere availability of a file on a public share is a violation of copyright. It’s not hard to see some enterprising politician taking the same stance against mature themed games. The fact that GTA IV is sold right next to Mario Kart Wii in the same store with the same oggling children staring at the merchandise is enough to convict.

    COPA specifically provides that a person shall be considered to make a communication for commercial purposes “only if such person is engaged in the business of making such communication.” 47 U.S.C. 231(e)(2)(A). A person will be deemed to be “engaged in the business” if theperson who makes a communication, or offers to make a communication, by means of the World Wide Web, that includes any material that is harmful to minors, devotes time, attention, or labor to such activities, as a regular course of such person’s trade or business, with the objective of earning a profit as a result of such activities (although it is not necessary that the person make a profit or that the making or offering to make such communications be the person’s sole or principal business or source of income). A person may be considered to be engaged in the business of making, by means of the World Wide Web, communications for commercial purposes that include material that is harmful to minors, only if the person knowingly causes the material that is harmful to minors to be posted on the World Wide Web or knowingly solicits such material to be posted on the World Wide Web

    http://www.aclu.org/freespeech/internet/27131res20061020.html

    That is from the law itself. It’s very ambiguous. Is the mere discusion of the sex in GTA IV on a blog of a site that also sells E rated games a violation? Children might go to this site and buy but view the blog before doing so. Kids get gift cards that can be used at BestBuy.com without parental approval or a valid credit card. How does that change the above rule? Credit card purchases are listed as an affirmative defense but gift cards and gift certificates are not. Is BestBuy.com at fault if GTA IV is purchased by a minor using a gift card?

    It’s simply too broad of a law to have any hope at protecting the children like it purports. The only thing it will accomplish is to have a chilling effect on content creation over the web and in online games. That and it will create fines in so many places that the result will make business owners feel like the guy getting a speeding ticket on the highway while everyone else speeds past the scene.

  11. Derek, I see Eolirin’s post was just before yours so I might have an unfair advantage here, but the internet issue is pretty important.

    I see that clause as being very specific as opposed to vague. Also, specifics are very much a requirement in laws, since any omissions can lead to abuse, or sidetracks, of the intent.

    You ask “Is the mere discusion of the sex in GTA IV on a blog of a site that also sells E rated games a violation?”
    The answer appears to me to be clearly “no”, according to what you posted. Unless the poster is trying to convince someone underage to buy the game, and they work for that game producer, and it’s in the regular course of the persons business or trade.

    There might be wording that does strike fear in game makers, but this isn’t it.

    Also, kids mostly are not ready for mature themes either. There might be some content that would be handled exceptionally well, and most people might say “hey, that’s ok”. But as soon as you open the door, there will be a jackass rushing through it to do the worst they can get away with.

  12. Adding to “and they work for that game producer”, I should add “or sell that game over the internet”. But you get my drift.

  13. “It is no longer a federal issue, and instead is a civil tort problem. ”
    Good, the less power the feds have the better off we all are.

    “a whole lot more lawsuits and a whole lot less protection for kids.”
    Less protection for kids? Give me a break.

    The best way to protect your kid is good parenting. You should know what games they play. Teach them to protect themselves and report creeps as needed (to you or using in game features). Not letting them play these massively multiplayer games that include chat features is a good start.

  14. Its the ambiguity of the so called community standards that makes me glad this law keeps getting shot down. Consider the following article.

    http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080724-opinion-what-the-dark-knight-teaches-us-about-game-ratings.html

    Even the different ratings boards view content differently. How is there any possible way that a law like this wouldn’t be abused for political ends?

  15. Derek, ambiguity is a loophole, not a noose. At least in free societies.
    And the pursuit of perfection is always a good thing, but in the end, we’re never going to find it. Except maybe in a bottle of Jack Daniels. :)

    jayp, good parenting? Would it be good parenting to lock your kids inside the walls of your home? You have to let your kids out, and what is out there when you do is also a concern. Not just for your own kids, but for society in general. I’d propose that a society full of “street wise” kids isn’t the right goal to pursue. Unless you like the kinds of problems that are abundant in the inner cities.

  16. While COPA may be a real problem, it is also a concern that local communities may impose their local community standards on online businesses in other jurisdictions. There have been some cases of this sort, but I haven’t seen how they were settled. Balkanized community standards for obscenity and other topics could be a serious hindrance to the growth of interesting online games, virtual worlds, social networks, etc.

  17. Amaranthar, bah, that’s hardly fair. The “kinds of problems that are abundant in the inner cities” have more to do with poverty and hopelessness than they do with anything else. The games kids are playing and the media they’re exposed to has vastly less to do with it than their socio-economic situations and the immense social injustices that we allow in this country. You want to deal with those issues you start dealing with how crappy their lives are there.

    Taking games away from middle class kids isn’t going to change a bloody thing.

  18. Oh, btw, the quoted bit from the law itself basically means that providing access to a user review or blogging system (which would be grounds for “knowingly solicits”), or selling both M rated and E rated games, could potentially be an issue. So there’s nothing specific about that. You cannot have community features. You cannot have a review system. You cannot cater to a wider market place than just kids. And it doesn’t matter if it’s tangental to what you were doing to make money, if it’s on the web and it’s deemed inappropiate by inconsistent community values, then you’re liable for very large fees. (And the net needs to be considered international space really, since the viewership is international. This immediately destroys any ability for community standards to be drawn up by any single nation, or rather, it *should*.)

    Any solutions need to be driven by the user, not by a mandate from a governmental body. Otherwise you end up censoring adults for the sake of children, and that’s not something that’s compatible with any conception of a society of free ideas or free speech.

  19. Not true, Eolirin.
    ” A person may be considered to be engaged in the business of making, by means of the World Wide Web, communications for commercial purposes that include material that is harmful to minors, only if the person knowingly causes the material that is harmful to minors to be posted on the World Wide Web or knowingly solicits such material to be posted on the World Wide Web.

    A review or a blogging system link does neither of these, unless they post the material that is harmful to minors themselves.

  20. PlayNoEvil said:
    While COPA may be a real problem, it is also a concern that local communities may impose their local community standards on online businesses in other jurisdictions. There have been some cases of this sort, but I haven’t seen how they were settled. Balkanized community standards for obscenity and other topics could be a serious hindrance to the growth of interesting online games, virtual worlds, social networks, etc.

    This isn’t true either.
    Here’s the pertinent section:

    (6) Material that is harmful to minors

    The term “material that is harmful to minors” means any communication, picture, image, graphic image file, article, recording, writing, or other matter of any kind that is obscene or that–

    (A) the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find, taking the material as a whole and with respect to minors, is designed to appeal to, or is designed to pander to, the prurient interest;

    (B) depicts, describes, or represents, in a manner patently offensive with respect to minors, an actual or simulated sexual act or sexual contact, an actual or simulated normal or perverted sexual act, or a lewd exhibition of the genitals or post-pubescent female breast; and

    (C) taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors.

  21. Nah the “knowingly solicits” covers employer-employee relationships, solicitations for comments to your blog. One could argue that Raph is soliciting content on his site by merely making the Leave a Reply for available on his blog posts. A CEO that hands down the authority to publish content on the site is soliciting material to be posted to the web. A company that pays a writer or a graphic designer solicits them to write content. There’s plenty of ways to request or build content for a web site that can get you in trouble under this law.

    “… knowingly causes …” is as simple as telling an employee to put the stuff on your web site which is equivalent to doing it yourself. Registering a domain name might even make you liable. Afterall, you’re the registered contact for the domain, therefore you must have knowingly put stuff up on your site even if you were not the one to physically push the send button.

    I think you’re a bit off base on this one Amaranthar. The law would be a bad thing no matter how you look at it.

  22. But it’s not just “knowingly solicits”.
    It’s “knowingly solicits such material to be posted on the World Wide Web“.

    And the same for “knowingly causes”, “to be posted on the World Wide Web”.

    I think you’re a bit off base on this one Amaranthar. The law would be a bad thing no matter how you look at it.

    No, as I’m clearly showing you, I am not off base. You can’t take bits and pieces out of context and make an argument on that.

  23. Eolirin said:
    Amaranthar, bah, that’s hardly fair. The “kinds of problems that are abundant in the inner cities” have more to do with poverty and hopelessness than they do with anything else. The games kids are playing and the media they’re exposed to has vastly less to do with it than their socio-economic situations and the immense social injustices that we allow in this country. You want to deal with those issues you start dealing with how crappy their lives are there.

    Taking games away from middle class kids isn’t going to change a bloody thing.

    The underlying cause may be poverty and hopelessness, but my point is that it’s the decline of morals that is a cause.

    And these laws are not about taking games or internet access away from kids. They are about taking objectionable material away from kids.

  24. Pretty much, if you let people post pictures anonymously then sooner or later someone will post a picture that other people will find objectionable. Some will even do it on purpose.

    Am I reading section six right, is it a), b) and c)?

  25. Actually, Rik, the law went like so: “The term “material that is harmful to minors” means any communication, picture, image, graphic image file, article, recording, writing, or other matter of any kind that is obscene” OR that A, B, and C.

    The law was intended to restrict access by minors to any material deemed “obscene” or considered “harmful to minors” using “contemporary community standards.” The law was not intended to only restrict access by minors to sexual material. In the section where the law was specific with regards to sexual material, the law failed to account for the use of such sexual material in education.

    My problems with the law were the ambiguity of the language and the flagging of “contemporary community standards” as authoritative. Why not restrict access to material deemed “harmful to minors” through rigorous scientific research? Why should, say, uninformed prejudices prevail over science?

    That “contemporary community standards” was applied further supports indications that the law was merely a talking point to curry the favor of “protect the children” constituents. (Note that the law itself did not, however, use such language. There is no mention of “protecting the children” in the actual text of the law.)

  26. The underlying cause may be poverty and hopelessness, but my point is that it’s the decline of morals that is a cause.

    This is insane. I’m sorry. We’ve been having the same “inner city issues” practically since there were cities. If anything violent crime rates are down in the last 10 years. No, the problem is not a decline in “morals”, though you are right that it’s a problem with morals. I just disagree that they’ve actually declined, more like leveled out, and they’re not the same morals you’re talking about. Robert Kennedy railed against the conditions and treatment of the poor 40 years ago. It’s not any different now. The internet wasn’t even a gleam in anyone’s eye yet! Video games? Hell, personal computers weren’t even around yet. What “inappropriate” material would you like to blame what was going on back then on? It’s not any worse now than it was then.

    But it’s definitely not any better, because we haven’t been trying to improve the conditions of the less fortunate. We’ve been too busy railing against media and games and the internet as destroying our youth. Or just plain ignoring it. We’re good at that too.

    What “streetwise” youth are you trying to prevent? The ones that speak in slang and listen to rap music and play violent games? Or the ones that go to sleep in rat infested houses that barely meet code, that have no future and no prospects, the ones that have to worry about whether or not they’ll be getting any food tomorrow and what they need to steal to feed their starving bellies, the ones that watch their friends and family succumb to guns and overdoses and know nothing else, the ones who have no idea what it means to be *worth* something, that have no sense of self worth? I’m sorry, your kids will never know what it even remotely means to be “streetwise”.

    You want to know what moral issue results in poverty and hopelessness and crime in this country? The lack of morality that lets us turn away from those in need, that lets us ignore the impoverished that are so malnourished that they’ve suffered severe brain damage by the age of 3, that let us turn a blind eye to the Native Americans that live in shacks and have a suicide rate three times higher than the average population, that let us walk away from the decay in the inner cities and ignore the plight of the people there, people who need food, need decent educations, need a sense of worth, that need hope. The lack of morality that lets us tilt at windmills because they can’t fight back and require nothing but impotent and useless grandstanding against things that are barely issues at all while we turn away from the real challenges that face us, the challenges that demand work from us. You want to know what’s wrong with this country, with it’s people? The better off like you and me. And our consistent lack of courage in helping each other even when it’s unpleasant. Our consistent lack of compassion for those in need. Our utter and complete willingness to ignore those outside our circles; to “share a city, but not a community”.

    You want to make a better world for your children? Instead of spending so much energy trying to keep them safe from foreign ideas and “inappropriate content”, instead inspire them, by example, to leave the world in just a little bit of a better state than they got it. Show them just how *horrible* things can be and how to make them *better*. Trust that if they’re old enough to be looking, that they’re also old enough to be capable of dealing with it. And if you can’t do that, then yeah, you should lock them in a room. Because they’re not going to listen to you anyway, and why should they? You’re only offering them a prison and the first obligation of a prisoner is to escape. (And before I get in trouble here, preteens are less capable of dealing with complex abstract thought, so I’m not including them in this statement. They’re not likely to be looking though, so you just need to make sure they don’t stumble into something their still somewhat unformed psyches can’t deal with.)

  27. Let’s just put it this way. Amazon has a link that says “REVIEW THIS!” on an M rated game. This constitutes knowing solicitation of someone reviewing a game that’s got an M rating. If the game itself is deemed to be innappropriate for children, that means that any responses posted are knowingly going to contain references to material that’s innappropriate for children. You know in advance, that the information in that review is likely going to be inappropriate, the game itself is, afterall. That’s grounds to run afoul of this, if M rated games were ever classified as such. Not for selling the game, but for adverstising it online, or having community features, reviews, or other content for a website.

    But it’s dead, so this is mostly a non-issue now.

  28. @Morgan, doesn’t C) take into account educational value with the whole “scientific value” bit? But yes, the use of the word OR was highly troubling really, as is everything else you brought up.

  29. Eolirin, remember Harlem? It’s in much better shape now than it was in the 60′s, and that’s due to massive help from the government that you want to blame.

    And those Native Americans would be much better off if they used their assets, won in the courts of the very government of the people you seem to detest so much, to promote industry for themselves outside of casinos, build pride among themselves, and get off the damn booze. Oh, wait, many do just that. It’s only the instances that don’t that you want to point at in your zeal to degrade a great government that you evidently have no faith in, despite all the proof that you should.

    And yes, “scientific value” is in there to allow for education, if that education actually has scientific value, and isn’t just some porn site “educating” children.

  30. Morgan, that law was all about minors. I don’t know how you can say that it’s not.

  31. Amaranthar wrote:

    Morgan, that law was all about minors. I don’t know how you can say that it’s not.

    I never said that. *shrugs*

  32. You can read the actual opinion of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals here.

  33. I never said that. *shrugs*

    Then can you translate this to English for me, please?

    That “contemporary community standards” was applied further supports indications that the law was merely a talking point to curry the favor of “protect the children” constituents. (Note that the law itself did not, however, use such language. There is no mention of “protecting the children” in the actual text of the law.)

    I don’t speak any Orkan, other than “na-nu na-nu”.

  34. Amaranthar wrote:

    Then can you translate this to English for me, please?

    “…was not intended to only restrict access[,] by minors[,] to sexual material.”

    Does that help?

  35. Amaranthar, for every community that we’ve helped, there are 10 more that we’ve turned away from. The work is never done. It’ll never be done as long as we keep focusing on stuff that has nothing to do with actually uplifting the suffering but instead has everything to do with pandering to special interests that don’t improve quality of life in the slightest, for anyone.

    You yourself are blaming crime on declining morals, and then implying that those declining morals are a result of media and corruptive “content”. That kind of thinking is nonsensical at best, and dangerous at worst. You make comments that having these elements will turn what would be otherwise well adjusted kids into some sort of street gang, and then attempt to dissamble by pointing out that there have been some minor improvements in one or two areas? Please.

    (You will, however, note that the crime rates drop significantly when you start talking about those communities with improved conditions. And I thought it was that gosh darned “decline of morals” that resulted from our media that was a cause of crime? As much if not more than the poverty and hopelessness issues, right? Right?)

    And more importantly Amaranthar, I’m not blaming the government, nor did I mention the government at all. I’m blaming every person that turns a blind eye, and every person that could do more to ease the suffering of others but doesn’t. I’m blaming you. And I’m blaming me. But I’m not blaming the goverment. Our responsibility is not twice removed to our elected officials and law making bodies. It’s personal.

    And another thing I’m not blaming is GTAIV, or porn on the internet, or other things that could constitute “objectionable material”. And you really seem to be trying to. And it’s tilting at windmills while real problems are causing people to be suffering.

  36. @Morgan, perhaps you should try restating it like this:

    The law was written almost as if it were trying to hit a talking point on someone’s agenda rather than legitimately address a need. It avoids using the obvious phrase associated with that talking point, “protecting the children”, but it is quite obvious that the intent is to placate people that use loaded phrases like that.

    I mean, it is pretty obvious that you weren’t trying to say it didn’t apply to minors, since you reference the fact that it does more than once in the preceeding sentences. But you could be a little more clear in that you’re identifing “protecting the children” as a loaded catch phrase that reflects a talking point, as that seems to be the cause of confusion.

  37. And another thing I’m not blaming is GTAIV, or porn on the internet, or other things that could constitute “objectionable material”. And you really seem to be trying to. And it’s tilting at windmills while real problems are causing people to be suffering.

    Yes, I am. But only to a degree, still an important issue. It’s like building blocks, and these are at the foundation. But as soon as I say something, the exagerations come into play.

    Do you really think that this kind of material doesn’t matter to young minds? Then let me ask you this.
    Do you think that cigarette commercials are ok?
    Do you think that subliminal messages and propaganda don’t work?
    Do you think this whole “change the world through games” is a waste of time?

    Morgan…

    “…was not intended to only restrict access[,] by minors[,] to sexual material.”

    That’s a ludicrous statement. I’ll agree that the real issue here is that adults with every right to access have that access restricted under this law, but it’s purely by unavoidable circumstances due to the very public nature of the internet. But to say that it’s intended and to insinuate that it’s an intentional assault on adult rights is just way out there.

  38. Amaranthar wrote:

    But to say that it’s intended and to insinuate that it’s an intentional assault on adult rights is just way out there.

    That’s not what I said at all.

    “…was not intended to only restrict access[,] by minors[,] to sexual material.”

    The law went beyond restricting access by minors to sexual material to restricting access by minors to a wide range of material that is not necessarily sexual.

    The 3rd U.S Circuit Court of Appeals held as much:

    Because we view such a statute, construed as its own text unquestionably requires, as pertaining only to single individual exhibits, COPA endangers a wide range of communications, exhibits, and speakers whose messages do not comport with the type of harmful materials legitimately targeted under COPA

    while COPA penalizes publishers for making available improper material for minors, at the same time it impermissibly burdens a wide range of speech and exhibits otherwise protected for adults.

    we read COPA to apply to Web publishers who have posted any material that is ‘harmful to minors’ on their Web sites, even if they do not make a profit from such material itself or do not post such material as the principal part of their business. Under the plain language of COPA, a Web publisher will be subjected to liability if even a small part of his or her Web site displays material ‘harmful to minors.’

    We concluded that “[t]he effect of the affirmative defenses, as they burden ‘material harmful to minors’ which is constitutionally protected for adults, is to drive this protected speech from the marketplace of ideas on the Internet. This type of regulation is prohibited under the First Amendment.”

    By the way, COPA was never enforceable. The federal government has been enjoined from enforcing COPA since 1998, when the Act was passed. The Act has been struck down as unconstitutional several times since then.

    I’m not saying anything that the courts have not already said.

  39. No, that’s not what you said Morgan. You explicitly said that
    -”The law was not intended to only restrict access by minors to sexual material.”
    -”That “contemporary community standards” was applied further supports indications that the law was merely a talking point to curry the favor of “protect the children” constituents.”
    and
    -”There is no mention of “protecting the children” in the actual text of the law.”

    As to the ruling of the court, this is the entire crux of the ever ongoing battle.

    We concluded that “[t]he effect of the affirmative defenses, as they burden ‘material harmful to minors’ which is constitutionally protected for adults, is to drive this protected speech from the marketplace of ideas on the Internet. This type of regulation is prohibited under the First Amendment.

    This battle has been fought before, many times.
    -Stripper joints in neighborhoods (and entrance, as a separate issue including x-rated movies)
    -Playboy magazines on store shelves
    -sales of cigarettes and tobacco
    -sales of alcohol
    and others

    Note that in all cases the protection of children has won, in the end. It will again.

    By the way, one of your big arguments is proof of the danger to children.

    Because we view such a statute, construed as its own text unquestionably requires, as pertaining only to single individual exhibits, COPA endangers a wide range of communications, exhibits, and speakers whose messages do not comport with the type of harmful materials legitimately targeted under COPA

    That seems to be a moot point now.

  40. Amaranthar wrote:

    No, that’s not what you said Morgan.

    What I write and what you read are separate issues.

    COPA was never intended to “protect” children from prurient material. You’re twisting the facts to suit your agenda. COPA was intended to “restrict access, by minors, to obscene” or prurient material. That intention is explicit in the text of the Act and is further supported by the courts’ striking of the Act as overbroad.

    In addition, the Act defined “minors” as “anyone under age 17″ which the courts also found to deviate from the standard, furthering the courts’ conclusions. Restricting the rights of minors and “protecting” children are also separate issues. There is no mention of “protecting the children” in the actual text of the Act.

    The idea of “protecting the children” is highly politicized. Those who have not reached the Age of Majority are not “protected” by restricting their rights. They are only “protected” when their rights are unrestricted and the people around them, including their parents, assist them with learning to use, not abuse, their rights.

    Note that in all cases the protection of children has won, in the end. It will again.

    Any attack on our civil liberties, for whatever purpose, is an attack on all of us. The courts understand this well, and so contrary to your claim, the courts have struck down COPA as unconstitutional several times since enforcement of COPA was first enjoined in 1998. The “it’s for the children” agenda does not prevail over the United States Constitution, regardless of the weight of your crocodile tears.

  41. COPA was never intended to “protect” children from prurient material. You’re twisting the facts to suit your agenda. COPA was intended to “restrict access, by minors, to obscene” or prurient material.

    Yes, of course. It’s very similar to the movie ratings.

    “An NC-17 rated motion picture is one that, in the view of the Rating Board, most parents would consider patently too adult for their children 17 and under. No children will be admitted. NC-17 does not mean “obscene” or “pornographic” in the common or legal meaning of those words, and should not be construed as a negative judgment in any sense. The rating simply signals that the content is appropriate only for an adult audience. An NC-17 rating can be based on violence, sex, aberrational behavior, drug abuse or any other element that most parents would consider too strong and therefore off-limits for viewing by their children.”

    In addition, the Act defined “minors” as “anyone under age 17″ which the courts also found to deviate from the standard, furthering the courts’ conclusions.

    They didn’t find it deviant from any standard. Here’s what they said:
    …applies in a literal sense to an infant, a five-year old, or a person
    just shy of age seventeen.” ACLU II, 322 F.3d at 254. We
    reasoned that “Web publishers would face great uncertainty in
    deciding what minor could be exposed to its publication, so that
    a publisher could predict, and guard against, potential liability.”
    Id. at 255. We explicitly rejected the Government’s argument
    that the term “should be read to apply only to normal, older
    adolescents,” id. at 254, and stated that under either our
    definition or the Government’s proffered definition, “the term
    ‘minor,’ viewed in conjunction with the ‘material harmful to
    minors’ test, is not tailored narrowly enough to satisfy the First
    Amendment’s requirements,” id. at 255.

    I never realized that a clear definition for “under the age of 17″ would be so difficult.

    Restricting the rights of minors and “protecting” children are also separate issues. There is no mention of “protecting the children” in the actual text of the Act.

    They can be, but the implications of restricting access to minors to harmful materials implies that, without doubt, it’s to protect them from harm.

    The idea of “protecting the children” is highly politicized. Those who have not reached the Age of Majority are not “protected” by restricting their rights. They are only “protected” when their rights are unrestricted and the people around them, including their parents, assist them with learning to use, not abuse, their rights.

    uh huh.
    Besides the fact that many responsible parents work on the 2nd shift, parents have to:
    Do laundry
    Do dishes
    Sweep
    Dust
    Cook
    Lawn care
    Drive kids to various destinations and sometimes stay
    Shop
    Repairs
    and on and on with what seems like a never ending list of “things to do”.
    Meanwhile, harmful material on the internet is just a click away.

    And that’s just the responsible parents.

    Any attack on our civil liberties, for whatever purpose, is an attack on all of us. The courts understand this well, and so contrary to your claim, the courts have struck down COPA as unconstitutional several times since enforcement of COPA was first enjoined in 1998. The “it’s for the children” agenda does not prevail over the United States Constitution, regardless of the weight of your crocodile tears.

    First of all, I haven’t made any claims that the courts haven’t done so.
    Secondly, this law was pretty specific in restricting access to only minors, and used the only means available to do so effectively.
    “Crocodile tears”? What’s next…”Whiner”? “Some cheese”?

  42. Amaranthar wrote:

    Yes, of course. It’s very similar to the movie ratings.

    Under COPA, people would have been liable for allowing, regardless of intention, “any persons under 17 years of age” to view R-rated movies, and subject to a $50,000 fine, up to 6 months in prison, or both. So, no, nothing like movie ratings.

    Amaranthar wrote:

    They didn’t find it deviant from any standard.

    3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wrote:

    We also explained why we found that “COPA’s definition of the term ‘minor,’ viewed in conjunction with the ‘material harmful to minors’ test, is not tailored narrowly enough to satisfy the First Amendment’s requirements.”

    Amaranthar wrote:

    They can be, but the implications of restricting access to minors to harmful materials implies that, without doubt, it’s to protect them from harm.

    Inferences are not facts. Inferences can always be doubted. Assumptions based on inferences are uncritical assertions that have no basis in fact.

    Amaranthar wrote:

    and on and on with what seems like a never ending list of “things to do”.

    You chose to be a parent. You chose the life. Legislating “good parenting practices” is not a solution. Being an effective parent is your responsibility. Don’t try to brush your responsibility off onto 300,000,000+ other people.

    Amaranthar wrote:

    Secondly, this law was pretty specific in restricting access to only minors, and used the only means available to do so effectively.

    3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wrote:

    In addition to failing the strict scrutiny test because it is not narrowly tailored, COPA does not employ the least restrictive alternative to advance the Government’s compelling interest in its purpose, the third prong of the three-prong strict scrutiny test. “A statute that ‘effectively suppresses a large amount of speech that adults have a constitutional right to receive and to address to one another . . . is unacceptable if less restrictive alternatives would be at least as effective in achieving the legitimate purpose that the statute was enacted to serve.’”

    The court provided 16 pages of text that crushes your claim. I like this part:

    At oral argument, the Government made much of a study that found that only 54 percent of parents use filters. But the Government has neglected the fact that this figure represents a 65 percent increase from a prior study done four years earlier, which indicates that significantly more families are using filters. App. at 159-60.

    Furthermore, the circumstance that some parents choose not to use filters does not mean that filters are not an effective alternative to COPA. Though we recognize that some of those parents may be indifferent to what their children see, others may have decided to use other methods to protect their children – such as by placing the family computer in the living room, instead of their children’s bedroom – or trust that their children will voluntarily avoid harmful material on the Internet.

    Studies have shown that the primary reason that parents do not use filters is that they think they are unnecessary because they trust their children and do not see a need to block content. Id. at 160, 164, 278, 1567. The Government simply has not carried its burden of showing that COPA is a more effective method than filters in advancing the Government’s compelling interest as evidenced in COPA.

    It is apparent that COPA, like the Communications Decency Act before it, “effectively suppresses a large amount of speech that adults have a constitutional right to receive and to address to one another,” Reno, 521 U.S. at 874, 117 S.Ct. at 2346, and thus is overbroad. For this reason, COPA violates the First Amendment.

  43. Under COPA, people would have been liable for allowing, regardless of intention, “any persons under 17 years of age” to view R-rated movies, and subject to a $50,000 fine, up to 6 months in prison, or both. So, no, nothing like movie ratings.

    Those are the maximum penalties. There is no minimum.

    “Deviant” vs. “not tailored narrowly enough to satisfy”?

    Amaranthar wrote:

    “and on and on with what seems like a never ending list of “things to do”.

    You chose to be a parent. You chose the life. Legislating “good parenting practices” is not a solution. Being an effective parent is your responsibility. Don’t try to brush your responsibility off onto 300,000,000+ other people.

    You want to place unreasonable demands on parents. In effect you want to force parents to limit their kids access to the good parts of the internet to the times that they can be there to watch them. So where are the kids rights to what is good for them? Under this industry’s cries for “rights”, they are restricted.
    When they claim that COPA isn’t shown to be more effective than filters based on their assumptions, which they pick and choose to give weight to.

    You also want to ignore all the kids out there who don’t have good parenting, for whatever reason.

    Yada yada yada

    Excuse me if I have a bit of a difference of opinion with this particular court.
    They can’t figure out what “under the age of 17″ means, having to ask:
    “applies in a literal sense to an infant, a five-year old, or a person
    just shy of age seventeen”
    ?
    Having assumed that the growth in filter use will continue, when elsewhere they would not make any assumptions when that would have added weight to the governments side.
    When they recognize that “some of those parents may be indifferent to what their children see”, and don’t care about those kids.
    And when they claim that this law would restrict access to adults, when in fact all it does is require proof of age.

  44. Yes, I am. But only to a degree, still an important issue. It’s like building blocks, and these are at the foundation. But as soon as I say something, the exagerations come into play.

    Do you really think that this kind of material doesn’t matter to young minds? Then let me ask you this.
    Do you think that cigarette commercials are ok?
    Do you think that subliminal messages and propaganda don’t work?
    Do you think this whole “change the world through games” is a waste of time?

    In order:

    No, because cigarettes are provably harmful, and they’re being targeted at children who’s brains have not yet developed sufficiently to make sound judgements. Note here that they were also occurring through mediums that cannot be filtered, like billboards and prime time tv commercials, and deliberately targeting children; things that do not apply to the majority of the internet, and most definitely do not apply to games like GTA.

    No, but there’s nothing subliminal about the things we’re talking about either, so this is a straw man argument. The methods for subliminal messages and propaganda are very specific, and very narrow, and they do not appear in any of the things you’re railing against.

    And lastly, no, it’s not a waste of time, but thus far, we haven’t even remotely come close to succeeding at making any games that give sufficient context that they can change the world to any real extent. We may never succeed, who knows. The potential is there, but there’s still almost no emotional background and without that you cannot make any real inroads. You can currently use them to convey information, but not much better than you could with a text-book and an instructor. It’ll stick better, and it may be faster, but the lessons you can currently teach aren’t any different than what you get in a classroom. We don’t have a strong enough control over emotion in gameplay yet. Without that, “games to change the world” are hopelessly impotent.

    But even beyond that, if you create a game that puts players into a difficult emotion situation, the sort that could result in them becoming social degenerates, the vast majority of people will instead, turn the game off, because the game will be causing them severe emotional pain. Most people aren’t sufficiently masochistic to hurt themselves in the ways that would be necessary for the gameplay to make them more likely to go out and hurt people. The traumas that you need to go through to go from well balanced and grounded to crazed psychopath are pretty severe. That’s why you see almost all serial killers having had extremely traumatic childhoods, or suffering from abuse in some way or other. And why pretty much all of the school shootings that have happened have been done by disenfranchised kids that have suffered from bullying, or have been ostracized by their peers. The people most likely to lash out at others are those who are hurting, or are afraid, or are angry. And games have not demonstrated any capability for generating those feelings in any long term sense.

    Generally well adjusted people don’t turn into killers so easily.

    So none of this is even remotely at the foundation of social issues. Poverty, Mental Illness, Hopelessness, and Abuse provably are though. And not a one of those has anything to do with media. If games are in anyway responsible for society’s ills it’s in that they’ve failed to use the great power that they have; that the industry has shied away too much from making a statement and instead has said nothing. We could be doing so much more, yet we do so little, and that, in itself, is a crime. But being an accomplice in silence, while no less rephrensible, is not the same as causing the problem.

  45. Whoe there, Eolirin. There’s very, very few people who think that any of this will turn anyone into a crazed psychopath or serial killer. But can it turn people into cheaters, RMTers, etc., with a total lack of respect for other players and the game?

    Respect, honor, dignity, these are the kinds of things that are at the foundations.

    Don’t fool yourself. If kids can be taught that “Marlboro Man” or “Joe Cool” is cool, they can be taught that respect, honor, dignity, mean nothing.

  46. No, I think it’d be very hard for this stuff to turn people into cheaters and RMTers, etc. Because those are not strategies that you’d come up with if you stay within the game rules; you need to ignore the game before you’d even think of using them. Cheating at, or disrespecting the other players of, these games is not institutionalized by the games. I’ve yet to see a single game that’s mechanically set up to encourage a lack of respect of your fellow players. It’s just not there, even in the competative ones. The lack of respect, the cheating, all that stuff, it’s coming from *outside* of the game, and it often reacts poorly, making it it more optimal to play that way perhaps, but this is no different than cheating on a test being more optimal than spending time studying. This is where I think it’s pretty safe to blame bad parenting.

    My generation has grown up in an increasingly cynical world where we’re taught not to trust other people. Where political affiliation, sexual orientation, or religious leanings are increasingly large dividing lines between groups of people, and there’s more and more resistence to crossing them. It’s not the media that we consume though, it’s the fact that we’re so willing to pull away from people with “differences”. And when you get online, this doesn’t go away, it only worsens. Because now you can’t get punched in the face for being a jerk, but also, your communites are *even smaller* now that many things that we’d typically use to judge whether someone is “in” or “out” are missing. But you see the same cliquish behaviors, the same pulling away from other people, the same lack of respect that exists deep in the hearts of far too many people. And it’s not because they were exposed to something that made them this way, but because they weren’t exposed to something that widened the borders of their heart. We’re turning into communities of one, and it’s more from our sense of entitlement and lack of responsibility than it is to our blowing off steam by knocking over what are little more than cardboard cut outs in some game.

    And Morgan’s quite right here, removing access to content that you find disagreeable only worsens the situation. People need tools to better explore, to learn, to find out that though we have differences that we’re more alike than we are not. And this can only be achieved by exposure tempered with explanation.

    And I’m sorry I overreacted, but “inner city issues” reads to me as “violent crime”, so perhaps I overreached in thinking that was what you were talking about. Because honestly, no game, book, movie, tv show, or website that’s been created at this point, could *ever* result in the same sort of issues that you get in the inner cities. Because the issues you get there are much worse than simple disrespect.

  47. In effect you want to force parents to limit their kids access to the good parts of the internet to the times that they can be there to watch them.

    Not to put words in Amaranthar mouth, but I think his postion would match close to mine, which would be that the parent should let the children have a lot of unsupervised time unless they feel that child is old enough to make reasonably good choices during that time. No firewall to XXX rated sites or sites about birth control will stop someone from going to the forums at Worlds of Warcraft and posting something that should not be posted, like his home address or expressing racist hate statments.

    To put it another way, we shouldn’t try to child-proof the internet, but world-proof the child.

  48. Amaranthar wrote:

    “Deviant” vs. “not tailored narrowly enough to satisfy”?

    The requirements for a law to not violate the First Amendment are a set of legal rules, a set of standards. Laws that deviate from these standards are said to be unconstitutional, as in the case of COPA.

    You want to place unreasonable demands on parents.

    Actually, that’s what parents do to themselves. That’s part of their jobs.

    And when they claim that this law would restrict access to adults, when in fact all it does is require proof of age.

    That’s not the conclusion. The conclusion of the courts is that the COPA would have a chilling effect on First Amendment rights and would violate the Fifth Amendment.

    “Chilling effect” is a legal term. Familiarize yourself with the various legal tests that the courts conducted to determine the constitutionality of COPA, and just maybe you’ll understand why COPA was struck down.

    But can it turn people into cheaters, RMTers, etc., with a total lack of respect for other players and the game?

    “RMTing” isn’t necessarily cheating. Heck, cheating isn’t necessarily cheating. I have an idea for an online game that would be designed for the people labelled cheaters, “RMTers,” “twinkers,” etc., making all those “bad elements” a part of the game.

  49. @Morgan, hmm, that sounds kinda interesting, but you aren’t going to use those labels are you? That’d be a bad idea I think, since they almost all have negative connotations built up around them. RMT is the closest to neutral but… even that’s iffy.

    However, I think the more interesting thing to worry about, rather than these “bad elements” like RMT, and giving higher level loot to lower level characters (I refuse to use the word twink, it’s got too much baggage attached to it from other areas), is instead looking at what strict class and singular guild structures do to the social make up of the game.

    Because Amaranthar’s statement about games making people disrespect each other more isn’t really right, but in this case, having a strict class structure allows pre-existing issues to maintain themselves in the game. How many level 70 Hunters in WoW have any idea what it’s like to play, say, a level 70 Warlock? Judging by the extreme amount of partianship that you see on the forums in terms of how balance issues should be dealt with, I’d have to guess not many. Rather than having a system that’s conductive to open communication and increased understanding of how groups other than our own function, we’ve got a system that makes it *very* hard to know what anyone outside your group is like. The tendecy for only allowing one guild per character does the same thing really.

    I think that designing a game that makes use of an inclusive social structure for it’s mechanics rather than one that fosters isolation into specific groups would be a big step forward, not because the types of social structures we have now are bad per se, but because they don’t do anything to help teach people how to interact with all sorts of different types of people. Doing this well is pretty tricky though, as it touches almost all aspects of the game design. You need people to be able to not just cross over into other fields of experience easily, but actually *want* to. Which is a tall order if you’re trying to make a game that’s also enjoyable.

  50. But can it turn people into cheaters, RMTers, etc., with a total lack of respect for other players and the game?

    Hey now. Just because designers appear incapable of producing games that do a proper manipulation on its participants doesn’t mean that we should legislate cheating into a crime.

    Respect, honor, dignity, these are the kinds of things that are at the foundations.

    Totally untrue. Understanding one’s personal capabilities combined with understanding that agon to another’s capabilities are what produce actual respect and dignity, if deserved. Self-knowledge; a grip on reality; an agenda-less curiosity of the minds of others; and the ability to assess others without egotism.

    Teach your kids that; the rest will follow naturally.

  51. @Michael, er. You left out empathy and compassion for those less capable or fortunate than you. But otherwise, yes.

  52. Self-knowledge; a grip on reality; an agenda-less curiosity of the minds of others; and the ability to assess others without egotism.

    Sounds like Raph. I’m more of a Sartrean existentialist myself. The core lesson I’d like people to learn? “Think critically. Act rationally.” My personal motto? “To succeed, strive; to empower, inspire; to live, entertain.”

  53. Why is everyone leaving out empathy? :P

    Critical thought and rational action are perfect justifications for mass murder if they’re not tempered by a foundation of empathy; rational action depends upon what the individual finds to be important; self-centeredness and utter disregard for life can easily make “manipulate and/or kill people to get what I want” the most rational action in a particular situation. Especially if the chance of being caught is much lower than the reward for the action.

    Similarly, knowing yourself, and being able to examine other people without having an agenda for doing so, and being able to assess others without egotism doesn’t necessarily result in you acting in a way that betters both their lot and yours; it may result in you coming to the, quite accurate conclusion, that they are a dead weight, and that dead weight should be removed. It’s mechanically more efficient to remove something that’s never going to perform up to snuff rather than futily attempt to bring it into better standing. You don’t need to have an agenda going into it in order to come to that conclusion either. And the scary thing is that the conclusion isn’t wrong per se, it’s just entirely devoid of empathy and compassion.

    You’ve taken the emotion out of the equation; the sense of the importance of life. We’re down to mathematics now, and the numbers don’t care about feeling; the pain that something would bring, the happiness that it could create, none of that matters anymore. Understanding of functionality is insufficient; you need to have the right basis for acting as well, and that means intrinsicly caring about other people, especially people that you’d otherwise be willing to ignore.

  54. Eolirin wrote:

    Why is everyone leaving out empathy?

    …because, in my opinion, critical thinking necessitates empathy, as well as forethought. Empathy, however, as an absolute sharing of experiences is impossible and exists only as an ideal, like perfection, to which people can only aspire.

    Forethought is similar in that the future is unknown and therefore can only be known by transcending time and space as we do from minute to minute, day to day, and place to place. Forethought is predictive, requiring an analytical mind to identify and evaluate the most likely consequences of behavior.

  55. I meant “traverse,” not “transcend.” ;)

  56. Heck, cheating isn’t necessarily cheating.

    When you do it, it’s cheating, a violation of everything the game designers and other players intended. When I do it, it’s just “Thinking Outside The Box.”

  57. When I do it, it’s just “Thinking Outside The Box.”

    That’s the way — uh huh, uh huh — I like it, yeah. ;)

  58. I don’t believe compassion nor sympathy can be taught. They are, like the other foundational bits, something that grows out.

    1) Generally speaking, there don’t actually exist people who are less fortunate or less capable. There merely exist people who were not given as many and as quality lessons–whether by parent-teachers or by the environment in general. Yes, there are people who actually are less capable, but such a tiny percentage of the human population actually hits this wall that vast, sweeping statements like the ones I made above don’t rightly apply to them.

    2) Compassion consists of four things: (a) self-understanding, (b) reality-based self-respect, (c) the revelation that other people are worth understanding and (d) thus worth respecting for the same reasons you are: a common humanity.

    You will notice that the these four things are basically restating the four things I outlined in my last comment, but reframed into a conclusion.

    (Also, if Raph’s dangnabit parser actually turns my c-in-parentheses into a copyright symbol, I am going to throw a private tantrum and be very sad.)

  59. Sorry, I should have responded to your big long thing as well. It’s been a long week and gotta be ready for Lunch 2.0 tomorrow, so I got distracted. To make up for it, I’ll spend oodles of time writing this.

    Critical thought and rational action are perfect justifications for mass murder if they’re not tempered by a foundation of empathy

    Mass murder is not wrong. It’s merely stupid. There are very few situations in which it would be the smart thing to do to kill thousands or millions or billions of people. But in those few situations, you should do it.

    Turning your back on possible alternatives just because they make you squeamish makes your less radical decisions weigh less. You need to choose, intentionally, deliberately, intelligently, that dropping a nuke on New York City is not the correct solution to the problem before you. You need to choose, rationally and weighing the principles you live by against one another, not to loose a virus that would wipe out all but a few remote pockets of humanity.

    Discarding the option simply because it makes you emotionally sad is no different from choosing it because it makes you maniacally gleeful. If someone commits mass murder and regrets every life they take, I don’t expect you to say that’s right.

    Of course, mass murder is wrong if stupidity is wrong. If you want to say that stupidity is a moral wrong, I’m not going to object.

    Similarly, knowing yourself, and being able to examine other people without having an agenda for doing so, and being able to assess others without egotism doesn’t necessarily result in you acting in a way that betters both their lot and yours

    Of course not. My list only covered interpersonal relations. Additionally, you need a curiosity about the world itself (and, of course, the means to grok it) and its mechanisms.

    And the scary thing is that the conclusion isn’t wrong per se, it’s just entirely devoid of empathy and compassion.

    By now, I expect you’ve seen The Dark Knight. Think about how the ferry scenario ended. I’m going to ROT-13 my response because I don’t expect WordPress to handle CSS correctly. Gur gnxrnjnl sebz gur fpranevb vfa’g zreryl Ongzna’f “uhznavgl vf jbegu univat snvgu va”. Vg’f gung vs fbzrbar ryfr vfa’g npghnyyl gelvat gb xvyy lbh, lbh qba’g yrg fvyyl guvatf yvxr rzbgvbaf trg va gur jnl bs ABG xvyyvat gurz lbhefrys.

    Jung jbhyq rzcngul arg lbh? Bu lrf, gurl’er npghnyyl pbafvqrevat xvyyvat lbh, gbb. Gurl’er fdhrnzvfu nobhg vg, gbb. Gura gur dhrfgvba vf jurgure be abg lbh unir gur fgeratgu bs punenpgre, gur engvbanyvgl, gb erpbtavmr gung lbh ner abg va snpg qrnq lrg. Gung, ab znggre ubj nagfl gurl ner nobhg vg, lbh ner fgvyy nyvir orpnhfr gurl unir abg xvyyrq lbh.

    You can decipher that at http://rot13.com/

    You’ve taken the emotion out of the equation; the sense of the importance of life.

    Contribute to the furthering of life, from your personal possessions, to your friends and family, to the cities you live in, to nations, to the planetary environment, to the universe, and thus live yourself. This is natural, and readily apparent to anyone who understands herself as a living being: the purpose of life is to live, and the method of living is to grow through the expansion of borders–mental, physical, societal, geographical, abstract–into complexity. Anything else is death.

    Nattering about the importance of life is good for posturing, and iconifies a dead philosophy. If you couldn’t tell, I’m pro-choice. :p (And here, we salute George Carlin.)

    especially people that you’d otherwise be willing to ignore

    Someone who is curious about the minds of others isn’t going to ignore them. They may prioritize: choosing to listen to one thing over another: but they won’t merely ignore them. They will privately regret the lack of time in the world to do absolutely everything imaginable, then remember that there is time enough to do enough if they don’t dawdle on regrets.

    You’re folding a lot of what I’ve said into your own expectations, Eolirin. I never said that we should be restricted to functionality; indeed, that I specifically named the minds of others as an important piece is by itself a direct refutation of your presumptions.

    I did not say “ability to examine”; I said “a curiosity [to understand]“. One is, as you may expect, mechanical. That’s yours. The other is much deeper. It encompasses interest, desire. It is the reason we wish to grok, and the drive through which we are motivated to drink deeply of others, to learn of them in progressive intimacy and richness.

    This is not an “ability to examine”. This is friendship. Sex. Memory. Anticipation. Awareness. Confidence. Courage. Desire. Discovery.

    You would be perfectly correct, however, in saying that I have not covered morals at all. I largely prefer people to work out their own moral systems, because I neither accept those I have seen prescribed nor do I yet have the capacity to construct my own. Like anyone else in my position, I pick and choose from the carcasses of other systems to stitch together my own ramshackle pretense; with that, I get by. My philosophy is far from complete; there are issues that need tackling; but using empathy or compassion as axioms seems ridiculous to me. They should follow, naturally; they should not be applied artificially.

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