ACLU At Odds With Lieberman Violence Bill

By | April 30, 2001 at 12:00 AM

The American Civil Liberties Union last week criticized proposed legislation that would give the government added regulatory power over the entertainment industry.

In so doing, the ACLU called the move a serious threat to America’s constitutional freedoms.

“At the end of the day, parents must have the ultimate say in what children see, hear and read,” said Marvin Johnson, an ACLU Legislative Counsel, in a prepared statement. “If allowed to become law, this bill would place such a responsibility in the hands of Congress and the executive branch. The government must not be turned into a dormitory matron policing America’s choice of entertainment.”

The ACLU’s statement follows Sen. Joe Lieberman’s proposed legislation, which would give government the power to prosecute members of the entertainment industry who market mature-oriented material to children.

The implications of this bill, Johnson said, would entail having the Federal Trade Commission pass judgment on advertisements based upon highly subjective criteria. “By giving the context of an ad greater import than its content-which invariably contains a parental warning that the material is inappropriate-Sen. Lieberman would force the FTC to deem something false and deceptive that is, in reality, entirely truthful,” Johnson said. “As silly and scary as it sounds, the FTC would become a strange sort of lie-detector.”

Lieberman’s planned legislation came in response to recent findings by the FTC that, while significant improvements had been made in the industry’s self-regulation, certain types of mature-oriented material were still being marketed to children, particularly by the music industry.

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