Statement of the National Writers Union

March 19, 1997

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts: Jonathan Tasini, President, 212/254-0279 
Robert Chatelle, Political Issues Co-Chair, kip@world.std.com 

On August 5, 1995, before Congress passed the unconstitutional Communications Decency Act, the Delegates of the National Writers Union - without a dissenting vote - passed a resolution supporting free speech and privacy in cyberspace. We stated that: 

  • We oppose any and all federal, state, or local legislation that 
restricts or penalizes the content of communication among consenting parties...Electronic communication should have no less protection than print or any other form of speech. 

  • We assert that censoring information about sexuality both violates the right to free expression and exacerbates serious social problems, such as AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted teen pregnancies, misogyny, and prejudice against sexual minorities.  
  • We affirm the free-expression rights of minors, including their right to obtain information about sex and sexual identity. We also recognize the rights of parents and legal guardians to limit information access by their children, especially when those children are very young. Parents and children should decide among themselves what literature, art, entertainment, or information is appropriate without state or third-party intervention.  
  • We assert that internet-access and online- service providers that do not censor their subscribers' posts should be treated as common carriers free of liability if illegal material is transmitted via their systems. 

By our constitution, "The National Writers Union is committed to freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and freedom of expression in all media, including print, film, and electronic media of any sort." Among writers organizations, we were the first to recognize the power and promise of electronic communication. 

For the first time in history a truly free marketplace of ideas is possible. Such freedom poses a threat to existing power strongholds - oppressive governments and the international corporations that control print and broadcast media. We are not surprised that every government in the world, including our own, strives to limit what we can say in cyberspace. 

Fortunately, as Americans we have the protection of the First Amendment, and have recourse when elected officials infringe fundamental inalienable rights. The National Writers Union is proud to be a plaintiff in this historic suit to preserve our freedom. 

The National Writers Union represents 4,500 freelance writers nationwide. We are journalists, book authors, poets, writers of short fiction, business and technical writers, academics, cartoonists, and workers in all genres. Our membership comprises some of the most distinguished names in American letters. We abhor the abuse of both state and corporate power to crush freedom of expression. 

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