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"Protect the children" as passphrase to Constitution

I was reminded the other night by someone of the "'National security' is
the root passphrase of the Constitution." The idea being that the normal
Constitutional protections are bypassed by invocation of "national

But it occurs to me that we are seeing a new variant of this: "Protect the

Some recent examples:

- Clinton's Executive Order today which limits advertising of cigarettes,
limits the display of tobacco-related symbols and words on t-shirts,
baseball caps, billboards, and publically-visible signs at sports events.
(There were all kinds of details, most of them blatantly in violation of
the First Amendment. I half-watched the Clinton announcement, but didn't
take notes...consult your newspaper or the Web.)

The critical phrase: "We have to protect the children."

(Oh, and one amazing detail: the possible issuance of I.D. cards to all of
those under the age of 18. Besides being useful for things like curfews,
video tape rental prohibitions, and the cigarette ban, it would lead to
I.D. cards for those over 18. naturally (if those over 18 don't have to
carry them, then all a child less than 18 has to do is to claim not to have
to carry one because he's 18!)

- The whole Exon and V-chip debates, now likely to be passed by Congress,
are about "protecting children."

- and the Oklahoma City bombing, not that I supported it in any way, was
seen as especially horrific because of the children that were killed. This
means that restrictive legislation, such as bans on explosives information,
guns, etc., can be justified as measures to "protect children."

And so on.

Now clearly this strategy will be welcomed by many. It's hard to argue
against children and against the "protection of children." Arguing the
Constitutional side is tough when "the children" are at issue.

More speculatively, I think Clinton has hit on this strategy as a way to
line up support from the Republican majority in Congress on many key
issues. There may even be repercussions for welfare and health care issues
(which Clinton can also cast as "protect the children" issues).

The potential crypto relevance? Look for arguments about limiting access to
strong crypto to be more heavily focussed on "pedophiles" and
"pornographers." Look for calls to have a national I.D. card--which serves
many State-needed purposes (and I don't mean in terms of Revelations). A
national I.D. card could then be tied in to GAK/escrow systems.

"We have to protect the children."

--Tim May

Special note: My ISP has changed its domain name from "sensemedia.net" to
"got.net" (as in "got milk?"), so I have to again ask you all to bear with
me and use my new e-mail address, "[email protected]".
Timothy C. May            | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
[email protected] (Got net?)  | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
408-728-0152              | knowledge, reputations, information markets,
Corralitos, CA            | black markets, collapse of governments.
Higher Power: 2^756839    | Public Key: PGP and MailSafe available.
"National borders are just speed bumps on the information superhighway."