>> At least you are allow to read whatever you like in the States. Not
>> something understood down here.
>Yes, I've wondered about that. Is that a carryover from being subjects under
>the British Commonwealth, or merely because the original founders were mostly
I think its simply that if there isn't a strong constitutional guarantee then government is likely to want to control speech as much as any other thing. There is a strong feeling within society that words can hurt and that people have a right to be protected against that.
Its an argument taught in first year psychology: Our society views the rights of the individual as important (very libertarian!), but at the same feels that it has a duty of care for individuals within it (very non-libertarian). So with those who are mentally ill you have to weigh up their rights of freedom with a duty of care to them (and to a lesser extent to others within society affected by them). Now I have some sympathy with the argument that someone who is feeling depressed and likely to suicide should be protected from themself (esp. if they are likely to get happy again soon - I know not very libertarian), but it is a slippery slope. Exactly the same kind of thinking comes in when drugs are discussed: we must protect the users from themselves (in Australia drugs are seen predominantly as a health issue). So it makes perfect sense when you come to reading that you protect the individual from information that might hurt them or society (for instance information on drug use - the book "E is for Ecstacy" - or "dangerous" sexual practices or other anti-social activity). The government even passed an anti-racial vilification law recently. The road to hell is paved with good intentions!
Patrick Wilken http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~patrickw/ Editor: PSYCHE: An International Journal of Research on Consciousness Secretary: The Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness http://psyche.cs.monash.edu.au/ http://www.phil.vt.edu/ASSC/