Dept. of truly bad ideas

“Republican Californian Congressman Duncan Hunter has introduced a bill titled the ‘Parents’ Empowerment Act,’ which would allow the parent or guardian of a minor to sue (in federal court) anyone who knowingly disseminates any media which contains ‘material that is harmful to minors.'” The bill would apply in cases where “a reasonable person would expect a substantial number of minors to be exposed to the material” and “the minor as a result of exposure to that material is likely to suffer personal or emotional injury or injury to mental or moral welfare.” “Compensatory damages under the bill would start at no less than $10,000 for any instance a minor is exposed to harmful entertainment products”, and liability would apparently extend to original publishers, final retailers, and everyone in between. (“House Bill Threatens Retailers”, News, May 21; Jonah Weiland, “CBLDF: New Censorship Bill Turns Parents Into Prosecutors”, May 21; Alan Connor, “The Parents’ Empowerment Act: finding the porn in Harry Potter”, London Review of Books, May 20)(text of H.R. 4239, introduced Apr. 28, courtesy Focus on the Family, the religious-right group, likes the idea (Keith Peters, “Congress Considers Parents’ Empowerment Act”, Family News in Focus, May 3)(more on free speech and media law).

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