I had a slight disagreement with him here over his vote to bar federal contracts to universities that “ban or impede” military recruiting on campus (as noted here), though it is understandable why he voted the way he did given his service record.
However, as reported by Brian Scheid in the Bucks County Courier Times today (no link available yet), Patrick has pledged to support the Deleting Online Predators Act of 2007; it was introduced by Congressman Mark Kirk, R-IL on Feb. 16th, and Patrick signed on as a cosponsor on March 26th.
This is a mistake; I know Patrick flip-flopped a bit on this during the campaign, but he was right to originally oppose it (as he did here).
We all want to protect our kids; that’s a no-brainer. However, we have to be smart about it, and what Patrick proposed last June was a greater emphasis on prevention and funding for increased law enforcement online. We need to teach our kids how to be smart about using community networking sites and that it’s inappropriate to reveal personal information, including personal financial information also.
I believe that kids, for the most part, are smart about this stuff (call me naïve, I guess, but that’s based on my own experience). If we teach them the dos and don’ts online, I think that, for the most part, that will do the trick, again, combined with an increased presence of law enforcement and notification to schools and agencies that provide for children’s safety.
Another thing - as Patrick originally noted last June…
Under laws signed by President Clinton, libraries are already required to block sites deemed harmful to minors; these social networking sites are no exception. In fact, all schools and libraries in Bucks County already block these networking sites.Also, laws such as the Delete Online Predators Act (which, the way Mike Fitzpatrick originally proposed it, was more of a Provide Legal Immunity For Libraries And Schools In The Event Something Terrible Happens To One Of Our Kids Act) never stand up to court challenges anyway, losing on free speech grounds (as noted here), and as far as I’m concerned, that’s as it should be (though I have a feeling this issue will all end up in the laps of The Supremes one day, and how that will turn out is anyone's guess).
I suppose this is another example of Patrick’s fealty to the Blue Dogs, but if really intends to back this legislation (which is something of a “canine” in its own right as far as I’m concerned), then he should ensure that it emphasizes what he discussed when he was campaigning and doesn’t end up as a total sap to the Repugs.
(So…we determine that community web sites are harmful and thus shut them down, but even though many more people have died as a result of gun violence, we NEVER regulate that in this state?).
One more thing – there were some great letters rightly supporting Patrick in the Courier Times today, as well as Patrick’s Guest Opinion on his recent vote against the Democratic budget, and I’ll try to get to them as soon as I can.
Update 2/24/09: As I went back and read this post, I realized that it contained the rather pinheaded observation that guns aren’t regulated in Pennsylvania, which is definitely not true; this provides more information on the regulations that exist, imperfect and loophole-ridden though they may be.