Badpuppy Gay Today

Monday, 06 April 1998


By Carter Burnette


In the movie Philadelphia, Tom Hanks' character says, "Once in awhile, not very often, a person has a chance to play a role in seeing that justice is done."

Obviously this character never met Kiyoshi Kuromiya who appears to have a recurring role in the pursuit of justice. His most recent efforts led him to the Supreme Court where he emerged victorious in the recent landmark CDA decision.

The Communications Decency Act of 1995 would have made it illegal for online discussions of safe sex practices, birth control methods and/or AIDS prevention methods. Although the First Amendment clearly protects printed materials, the same protection would not apply to online communications.

Kiyoshi along with the ACLU and other litigants, wrote an 170 page brief in June of 1996, forcing an injunction against the enforcement of the law until The Supreme Court could rule on its constitutionality. On June 26, 1997, the Supreme Court issued it's decision and ruled the CDA unconstitutional.

When asked why he felt it was so important to challenge the CDA, Kiyoshi replied, "Because communications over the Internet is so important although most people don't realize it now." Kiyoshi compares this time period with that of the 35 years it took before 50% of Americans had telephones.

He continues, "We now find it indispensable. We're going to reach 50% of US households in under FIVE years. It's important to ensure that over the next 100-500 years we have the same protection that we do with the phone, mail, books and newspapers."

But this is one of many in his long list of accomplishments. Maybe his birth right as a Japanese-American prisoner in a US concentration camp is enough to constantly give him a voice to speak out against what is wrong in our society. During the 60's he was an aid to Martin Luther King. Around this time, he also had his first experience protecting First Amendment rights.

In 1968 he was arrested by Federal marshals for "using the US Mail to distribute lewd, indecent, and crime inciting materials," for distributing a poster of a guy burning a draft card with the inscription, "FUCK THE DRAFT!"

The poster was printed in Penn's The Daily Pennsylvania which earned Kiyoshi "persona non grata" on Penn's campus by then Dean Gaylord P. Harnwell. The DP ran Harnwell's letter which forced an immediate retraction from the Dean.

Kiyoshi seems to be indefatigable, constantly working to champion human rights. He is the publisher of the Critical Path AIDS Project, a newsletter that provides treatment information to people living with AIDS. He runs a 24-hour telephone hot line that distributes AIDS information, and he is the founder of the Critical Path BBS which has grown to Critical Path AIDS Project online.

At no cost to the consumer, Critical Path services over 75 AIDS service organizations, their staff and constituents. Servicing almost 700 users with e-mail accounts and access to the Internet, Critical Path also supports 20 mailing lists from the AIDS activist community with each list having approximately 200 users.

Critical Path hosts web pages for 40 of the AIDS service organizations, the server gets over 500,000 hits per month from 50,000 unique domain names.

When I first walked into his office for our interview, he was fielding a technical support phone call, from a user in the United Kingdom who had forgotten his password. "I want to develop an infrastructure for better communications among the AIDS service organizations and PWAs not only in here in Philly, but around the world", says Kuromiya.

"We host communications for the ACT UP network. We host the AIDS activists lists which is an outgrowth of the Vancouver lists. We have all the activists around the country discussing issues and methodologies as well as specific actions on a daily basis, without the need for expensive conference calls or face-to-face meetings." He explained that a one hour conference call costs more than $1,000.

"Critical Path Project is a demonstration project that shows what is possible. What's important to us is that we have created a system that where the majority of users are people of color which mirrors the demographics of the epidemic".

He is constantly fighting the stigma of what most people perceive under served communities deserve. "We find the Internet to be quite appropriate for these communities, including IV drug users and the homeless. I have some users that don't have a forwarding address for their (snail) mail, but can walk in any library and get their e-mail."

In 1978, until the time of his death, Kiyoshi worked with Buckminster Fuller as his adjuvant. According to Kiyoshi, adjuvant is a medical term specifically used in immunology to describe something that provides a superior immune response.

Fuller is known for his concept of ephermeralization, that is, "doing more with less" which mirror Kiyoshi's next remarks:

"Technology ensures that there is enough to go around, it's just that things are badly distributed," he reflected. "Technology ensures that everyone get's their fair share especially in times of shrinking resources and budgets. We also know that with technology we can do more with less."

Doing more for less seems to be Critical Path's philosophy. They currently service over 15,000 people a day with only one full time and one part time employee.

"The Internet is such a wonderful facility and we want to share it with everyone and make sure that everyone has fast communications. We know that speed is important in an age when our closest friends are here today, and gone tomorrow, and we know that development is as important as getting information out about services."

1998 BEI; All Rights Reserved.
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