OK, this… is mindboggling. I’m copying the whole thing from J. Michael Straczynski’s public profile on Fb.
The original is here: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=328321530536050&id=139652459402959

Group participation: what's wrong with this picture?

I ordered some video-editing software from Hitfilm in the UK which also comes with some instructional videos. So a few days later I get a call from FedEx saying that the DVDs were being held at U.S. Customs until I filled out a Video Declaration Form, which she said was now standard practice. Now, I'd never heard of this before, so I called back to ensure that this was indeed FedEx and not someone phishing for information. Had them email me the form.

This is what the form said: "I/we declare the the films/videos contain no obscene or immoral matter, nor any matter advocating or urging treason or insurrection against the United States, nor any threat to take the life of or inflict bodily harm upon any person in the United States."

Now, the first clause I can kinda see, though "immoral" is weird and there's no standard definition of obscenity in the US, but let that go...what made my eyebrows go up my forehead and down the other side was clause two. So I called back the nice lady at FedEx -- who was only following instructions given to her by Customs -- and asked what this was all about.

Apparently -- and this is only her understanding of the situation -- this is a new thing being done by Customs and Homeland Security with FedEx, UPS, and other carriers to make sure that films and videos with ideas or stories that were at odds with the United States Government didn't get into the country, as it was a form of terrorism (as further elaborated upon in the third and final clause.) She added that some DVDs showing Occupy events in London and elsewhere had gotten bounced because of the concern that these were being used to coordinate activities here (as if with the internet people actually need physical DVDs for that sort of thing but that's neither here nor there).

Under this new stipulation, if V for Vendetta had, for instance, been produced in the UK (instead of just filmed there), importing it into the US would be considered subject matter "advocating or urging treason or insurrection." And if you lied about it on the form, you could be held liable for this.

So there are now very literally guardians at the gate ensuring that the wrong sorts of ideas, movies or DVDs are not allowed into the country without investigation and/or prosecution. And most pernicious of all, they don't actually define what they mean by advocating treason or insurrection, any more than they define what "immoral" means, it's whatever they decide it means, so you could be breaking the law without knowing you're doing it, until they decide you're doing it.
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11 comments
 
Hey, and now they can strip you of US citizenship if you do that. But it's fine, really! :)
 
It is amazing how many times we will walk the same path:

"During the McCarthy era, thousands of Americans were accused of being Communists or communist sympathizers and became the subject of aggressive investigations and questioning before government or private-industry panels, committees and agencies. The primary targets of such suspicions were government employees, those in the entertainment industry, educators and union activists. Suspicions were often given credence despite inconclusive or questionable evidence, and the level of threat posed by a person's real or supposed leftist associations or beliefs was often greatly exaggerated. Many people suffered loss of employment and/or destruction of their careers; some even suffered imprisonment. Most of these punishments came about through trial verdicts later overturned,[1] laws that would be declared unconstitutional,[2] dismissals for reasons later declared illegal[3] or actionable,[4] or extra-legal procedures that would come into general disrepute."
Thanks to Wikipedia for the quote.
 
+Piotr Mikołajski We are normally only as free as the government allows us. In general, unless directly affected, most people do not care about "freedom". This is why things like this happen and will continue to happen.
 
I think we all need to post this to the White House here on Google+. Yes, they'll probably take it down, but if they have to take down a few hundred thousand they may get the picture.
 
This form affirms that the recipient is in compliance with an amendment to the Tarriff Act of 1930. It isn't really a new thing.
 
+Tony Berno I am confused. I looked up the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930. It seems to deal more with classes of imports than whether it is subversive or immoral. Are you sure about this?
 
first amendment rights? pfff, who needs those anymore
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