What a difference a decade makes. Shortly before the
House Commerce Committee approved hiking
indecency fines to a $500,000 maximum, Republicans on the committee recalled a
time when they opposed such heavy-handed rules.
Indiana's Steve Buyer reminded
committee colleagues that he, like 80% of House Republicans, rejected the
government's last attempt to shield children from sex and violence in 1995:
the V-chip requirement.
At the time, the channel-blocking technology was viewed as the least
restrictive of free speech—without all the chilling effect of a fine—since
it gave parents a choice. “Republicans who had a libertarian view back then
were saying, 'You've got an on/off switch,'” he said. “Now all of
sudden we're saying, 'How far is indecency going, and what type of
proactive move should we take?'”
Committee Chairman Joe Barton, who also
voted against the V-chip, thanked Buyer, then quickly chose another lawmaker to
Other Commerce Committee Republicans who voted against the V-chip: New
Hampshire's Charles Bass, Georgia's
Nathan Deal and Charlie
Norwood, Arizona's John Shadegg,
Florida's Michael Bilirakis and
Cliff Stearns, and Kentucky's
Ed Whitfield. Each voted for the higher
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