augusta free press news

Winners and Losers: Sept. 12, 2008

Compiled by Chris Graham

SPAM-A-LOT: Seriously, ACLU, we don’t want no more of this spam stuff

The ACLU sent out a press release today to tout its work on a case that led to a decision from the Supreme Court of Virginia striking down the state law banning spam on grounds that the law as written is overly broad.

The ACLU of Virginia filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of Jeremy Jaynes, whose lawyer argued that the statute violates the First Amendment’s protection of anonymous speech.

Jaynes received a nine-year prison sentence for sending 10,000 e-mails with false sender information. The Virginia law, passed in 2003, makes it a felony to disguise the source and routing information of unsolicited bulk e-mail.

“We believed that the critical flaw in the law was that it failed to make the distinction between commercial and non-commercial speech, and the court has now agreed with us,” said ACLU of Virginia executive director Kent Willis.

“The internet is a uniquely democratizing public forum that provides ordinary people with an outlet to express a wide variety of opinions,” Willis said. “Some of those views may be controversial, making anonymity or the use of pseudonyms essential for giving those ideas fair consideration in public debates. Speech on the Internet deserves no less First Amendment protection than in any other medium.”

If it wasn’t that the ideas that are so often promulgated in these e-mails have to do with porn and hair loss …



Presumptive Sen.-elect Mark Warner picked up a couple of key endorsements this week – from the Fraternal Order of Police of Virginia and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The FOP-VA endorsement was the first for a Democratic statewide candidate since the organization began making endorsements in 1985. “Gov. Warner worked with us in a responsible and honest way as he grappled with the revenue shortfalls that Virginia faced when he took office in 2002, and most of us in law enforcement were pleased to join Governor Warner’s 2004 bipartisan coalition to support budget and tax reform to give public safety professionals the resources we needed to effectively do our jobs. We are confident that Governor Warner will demonstrate this same leadership and common sense approach to problem solving as he serves the people of Virginia in the U.S. Senate,” said Chesterfield County Police Lt. Thomas E. Stiles, the immediate past president of the FOP-VA.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce gave the nod to Warner and praised his support for the state’s business community. “Gov. Warner has been a champion for the people of Virginia and an invaluable leader on important business issues,” said Bill Miller, the U.S. Chamber’s senior vice president and political director. “The Chamber believes that as Senator, Warner will continue to be an effective legislator and supporter of businesses of every size if elected.”


FACT CHECK: Another McCain-Palin ad distorts the truth

A new McCain-Palin TV ad takes words out of context to make it sound like the Obama-Biden campaign is belittling Sarah Palin. This ain’t me talking. It’s

“The new McCain-Palin ad “Lashing Out” begins like an earlier ad we criticized, with its reference to Barack Obama’s celebrity, but then goes down new paths of deception. It takes quotes from news organizations and uses them out of context in an effort to portray Obama and his running mate, Joe Biden, as unfairly attacking Sarah Palin and making sexist remarks. We’ve long been a critic of candidates (Obama included) usurping the credibility of independent news organizations and peddling false quotes, and this ad is particularly egregious. We found it airing in Denver, as recorded by the Campaign Media Analysis Group, a unit of TNS Media Intelligence.”

You can view the ad below.

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