First Amendment Flags
… should go up when you hear about a bill like Senate Resolution 439. It would express the sense of the Senate “that Village Voice Media Holdings, LLC should eliminate the ‘adult entertainment’ section of the classified advertising website Backpage.com.” [Update: There is now a House counterpart: H. Res. 646.]
Backpage.com looks a little bit like craigslist.org. And like craigslist, it’s got sections where grown-ups talk about some very grown-up things. They might even be arranging, um … adult transactions that are illegal in most states.
BUT if people are arranging illegal adult transactions, is it right to censor the communications among them? Or should the illegality itself be addressed?
Our First Amendment—you’ve heard of it: part of the Constitution—provides that Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech. That’s supposed to leave lots of room for people to say what they want.
Of course, this is a “sense of Congress” resolution. Were it to pass, it wouldn’t have any legal effect on anyone or anything. But it’s not Congress’s job to go around disapproving what people say. Not when Congress has, oh, a budget to balance.
The good news is that the whole incident provides us a chance to review a comedy clip that makes use of the Village Voice, which is the object of this resolution.
The video clip you can watch here deals with adult subject matter. Don’t play the video if you’re offended by adult themes. But if you’re not offended by that kind of thing, you might find it kind of funny.