1997-05-23 - Re: Forgeries are your Friend

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From: frissell@panix.com
To: Mark Grant <tcmay@got.net>
Message Hash: 4c45b96b62818f8dda152f624b683a243c96111f08221e0d0f26e358a3e88615
Message ID: <>
Reply To: <v03007802afaa392f215b@[]>
UTC Datetime: 1997-05-23 00:53:59 UTC
Raw Date: Fri, 23 May 1997 08:53:59 +0800

Raw message

From: frissell@panix.com
Date: Fri, 23 May 1997 08:53:59 +0800
To: Mark Grant <tcmay@got.net>
Subject: Re: Forgeries are your Friend
In-Reply-To: <v03007802afaa392f215b@[]>
Message-ID: <>
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At 10:09 AM 5/22/97 -0700, Mark Grant wrote:
>Sure, I was talking in general; my point only applies to those who make
>more 'government approved' posts than 'dangerous' ones. Of course there's
>still no guarantee that next year I won't be presented with an old signed
>post about something which was innocuous and is now hideously illegal.

So far in my close observation of the history of American jurisprudence I 
haven't seen too many written things that were legal at one point and later 
became (criminally) illegal.  I've never seen someone punished criminally (in 
violation of the Constitution's ban on ex post facto laws) for past speech 
that became retroactively illegal.

Some people have been sued and suffered financially for speech or writing that 
had been "legal" and became "illegal" at some indeterminate time (racism, 
sexism, bigotry, and homophobia par exaple) but examples of criminal 
prosecution are much harder to think of.

There is the "hate speech" sentence enhancement to other crimes (beat up an 
old lady for kicks and serve time for assault beat up an old lady while saying 
unkind things about women and serve time for assault + hate speech).  Certain 
kiddie porn definitions changed as well but I didn't see any ex post facto 
repeals in there.  As long as you said/published stuff before it was illegal, 
you were OK.

On the other hand, I've seen loads of things that used to be illegal to 
say/publish legalized over the years though most of them were civil rather 
than criminal matters to begin with.

I've also seen plenty of cases (Jake Baker, Phil Zimmerman, the SEC vs the 
Financial Newsletters, the CDA) in which I knew in advance that the case was 
dead meat as soon as it got to an appeals court (or before).  Those pure 
speech cases (in the absence of filthy pictures) are the easiest ones to win.

I always encourage those arrested in such cases to take a hard line and abuse 
the prosecutors with the unwinnability of their cases.  If you've got it, 
flaunt it.

Jim Bell may do some time for tax evasion but they could have got him on that 
at any time.  He won't be doing any time for publishing AP.  

And we won't be doing any time for what we say on this list.


"I win $20 if the CDA vote is 8-1 or 9-0."
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