Thursday, July 25, 2013

Law, Legislation and Liberty - Say no to Internet Censorship

This was written in response to policy suggestions related to adult content on the internet.

The internet is a reflection of humanity at large; if what you find there is offensive, it is us you’re looking at. The full spectrum of humanity is represented there, tolerance is required. The prospect of the government choosing what is moral or immoral on my behalf is a grossly offensive prospect. At what point does government stop this sort of intervention into the private lives of the populace; it may be “pornography” today and depictions of gluttony tomorrow, a sin after all, is a sin, no one is enthusiastic about a child eating themselves to obesity. These sorts of technical interventions have proven dangerous, China’s persecution of Fallen Gong for example. Once an institution starts down the path of dropping a blanket of judgment over the populace at large, the society becomes a dull and indistinguishable place of being. Cultural or life modality variance, is healthy; government is very ineffective at managing the personal lives of people; information is what defines people.

We do have the obligation to keep the PUBLIC SQUARE as influence natural as possible, I should be able to walk down the street with my child and have them arrive at the other end unaffected morally; they should remain in the state of morality I as a parent have provided.  The family is the only appropriate mechanism for the delivery of moral concern or organizations that parents voluntarily choose to expose their children to.  

The presence of adult content available for access by one’s own discretion is only accessed as an act of freewill, parents have the option to exercise that freewill in the interestes of their children. For the government to intervene in that process in a manner that forces one to identify themself, puts information in the hands of government that could in some way subject these individuals to discrimination or be accessed illegitimately as a filter for other societal endeavors. By way of example, Safeway in the US once sold pharmaceutical data to insurance companies absent that knowledge of the person’s concerned; there are thousands of examples of data abuse, not the least of which was the recent breach of Revenue Canada’s data.

There are elements of widely held taboo, child pornography is illegal and is wholly offensive. Subjection of a child to sexual abuse has a clear harm, physically and mentally, and the full weight of government, of all of us, must come to bear on protecting children. Prior to the internet this element of society was embedded and dispersed. As a result of the Internet, the perpetrators of this type of conduct congregated and gave authorities a means by which to detect and locate them. Had the system blocked the traffic related to this subject matter, this despicable element of society would have remained undetectable. As a Toronto policemen said “I can’t walk down the street and ask if someone if they are a pedophile, but I can on the internet.” The Toronto Police were able to identify groups of pedophiles the world over and where able to safe and guard  children as a result. As grossly offensive as this subject matter is, it offered resolution to the challenge for police and provided an observable target. Clearly, child pornography is a scourge, to know its point of origin we need to know its there.

Adult content is at the discretion of adults to access. As adults we need to protect our children’s innocence so they can grow to adults with the full spectrum of choice in life modality. When government puts a blanket filler on adult content and forces one to identify themself to access it, is a breach of their personal liberty for reasons stated above and no different than forcing me to give my name to access the United Church website. The only practical means to filter content is at the point of consumption. The government should be working at provisioning tools for parents to filter content on personal devices, the government should invest in the enabling of parents to control minors access to content.  

The world of entertainment is full of depiction of evil, by seeing evil we become acquainted with it – we come to understand it. Only by exposure to it can we gain the insight we need to wage war against it. There are just too many instances where government has been the evil, or religious institutions have burnt people at the stake for “adult content”. There is no clear distinction between censorship and good old fashioned book burning, curtailing information in anyway curtails progress. Evil has always been with us, it raises its head as often at the hands of the ostensibly righteous as it does the sinister; the only thing that has ever stopped evil is the good judgment of a an enlightened individual.  

The exploitation of women is a concern, to attach exploitation of women to adult content in general is an errant path of thought, it carries inherent in it 2000 years of distortion around the perception of female sexuality and the dumping of a distorted perception of virtue in women’s laps. We are all eager to protect women in vulnerable circumstance from exploitation.  It is my sense that the physiological coupling of violence and sexuality is a dangerous path. I believe violent depictions of adult activity is most often associated with female exploitation, if women are being forced into these circumstances it requires functionality on the ground to address it, internet censorship has no means to determine the presence or absence of coercion. To presume a woman is being exploited because she is shown in adult entertainment is a product of a prevalent bias, a bias I believe feminists are fighting to eradicate.

My personal use of the internet and the content and information I garner as a resource there, no one could have imagined just a few years ago. The openness of the information highway has facilitated the distribution of information to so many and has democratized almost every element of modern life. There is both promise and peril in openness, openness regardless of the risks is the only path to enlightenment and may the enlightenment continue.   
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