(Gluyas Williams “The Censor”)
There are people, convinced that they know, on the ground of their own morality and beliefs, what is nefaste for me when I visit sex, porno, violence sado-maso sites on the Internet. And if so, why should I not benefit from their gratuitous intervention by passing for me a censorship bill , to hold me and my ‘little childrens’ on the right track of their ‘obvious’ superior morality.
Actually (Feb 28, 2008), this is what is now happening in Israel: ” Knesset okays Internet censorship bill”. I quote,..”The Internet porn bill – authored by MK Amnon Cohen (Shas, the ultra-orthodox Sephardi and Mizrahi Judaism political party), strongly supported by Communications Minister Ariel Attias (Shas) and spiritually endorsed by party mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef – ..[requiring] Internet users to specifically request full access to pornography. Those requesting such access would have to prove they were adults.”…see here
What I like in their bill, is the ‘Good for the Children’ argument. I quote ..”about 47 percent of Israeli children have a computer in their room and can surf privately, while in most cases parents are unaware they may be exposed to harmful websites.”… “an enlightened country should also safeguard the rights of its children as well as the important value of “protecting minors.” see here.
And I ask myself: ” I and you, as the father of children or as future fathers, don’t we want to protect our children from ‘sex…etc”? Or perhaps are we so dumb that we need the supervising of the omnipotent spiritual Fathers of Shas, the ultra-orthodox Sephardi and Mizrahi Judaism political party” or of any regulative bigotry machinery.
Now, this is not only an Israeli issue. In many countries, like the Smoke Ban, there is the Porno Ban under the central auspice of the authorities. In principle I don’t object the need of regulation, surely not if done by the parents.
But look how slippery it may be if done by the state. Here are excerpts from the article:…”Finland censors anti-censorship site”. ..”Finnish police are blocking more than 1,000 legal websites, including one belonging to a well-known Internet activist, under a secretive system designed to prevent access to foreign sites that contain child pornography..”….”..What’s more, the censorship system threatens sites that offer all kinds of content, including political forums blogs and message boards. That’s because it requires Finnish Internet service providers (ISPs) to block entire web servers, so a single user posting a single inappropriate link has the ability to get an entire service shut out. As a result, plenty of legitimate sites based in the US, Europe and elsewhere, are blocked solely because they share space with a bad actor.”…see the full article
Anyway, is it possible to hold an effective censorship on the whole Internet?
Look at this article: “Censorship on the web isn’t rewarding, yet”. Here are some excerpts …”The Californian court ruling to cut off Wikileaks.org from the Internet has shocked the blogosphere. “…” Wikileaks is a rather controversial websites that gives whistle-blowers an anonymous stage for their revealed secrets.”.. ” Turns out… they’ve posted.. several hundred documents about the offshore activities of a Swiss bank. The bank has send in an army of lawyers who managed to convince the court to order that Dynadot, the company that hosts the domain name, should remove all traces of Wikileaks.org from its servers.”…”Good news for the dissidents and journalists: the site is still accessible via 220.127.116.11/wiki/Wikileaks. It’s hosted in Sweden…. Duncan Riley from TechCrunch correctly stated that “unfortunately for Bank Julius Baer, the legal action will probably result in more people reading the documents in question”….See here for the full article.
Now, a possible answer to “effective censorship on the whole Internet” is here, I quote …”Canadian software tool blows away Net censorship, wins global award”…” Psiphon – designed by the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab – is the first recipient of a new award for digital pioneers chosen by an international group of specialists and awarded in Paris this month, 2/25/2008″..” Psiphon evades such censorship through an encrypted connection between the user’s computer (in the country with Internet censorship) and another piece of software – essentially a Web proxy – on a volunteer’s computer in a country where Internet access is not controlled.”..the full interesting article is here.
So is there a solution? Sincerely I don’t know. But Dr Hetsroni, a senior communication lecturer at the Jezreel Valley College (Israel), wrote, I quote ..”So where do pornographic websites lead to? The common answer, which many adolescents are familiar with, is sexual arousal and self-induced sexual relief. Indeed, masturbation constitutes spilling sperm in vain according to Judaism, yet it is doubtful whether even in a religious state there would be laws that limit a person’s right to masturbate in front of the computer at his own home.”.. see here.
I suppose that adolescents and others will find their ways to the Canadian Psiphon or any other software to beat any state censorship in the vein of the following motto by John Gilmore “”The Internet treats censorship as though it were a malfunction and routes around it.”
BTW, if you want an additional view on what people think about internet porn censorship look here at “Porn filter may slow internet” and the 145 comments, published by the Australian ‘HeralSun’.
I published this story on NowPublic
and add here the comments by NowPublic editors and contributing members.
jordan at 15:11 on March 2nd, 2008
good stuff: “Think of the children!” is the rallying cry behind many a misguided legislative effort.
korzac at 18:20 on March 2nd, 2008
In a review of the book ..”.“Indecency,” Censorship, and the Innocence of Youth, Marjorie Heins, New York: Hill and Wang, 2001, 402 pages, I found the following passage … “Heins insists, should First Amendment rights not begin at eighteen. Instead, she demands that young Americans be given the right to intellectual freedom. Heins supports that cause by arguing that young people have the skills to assess information in a thoughtful manner. She also refutes policies rooted in notions that the young are simply putty in the hands pornographers and others who would corrupt them. She thus questions assumptions of intellectual immaturity as a legitimate basis for the denial of First Amendment rights. Her faith in children to act as competently as adults gives additional meaning to her contentions that no evidence exists about the actual harm inflicted on minors by obscene and violent behavior. Instead, she advances her own version of children as victims: boys and girls who are deprived of information they need by over zealous protectors who refuse to recognize their intelligence, competence, and actual needs. This, Not In Front of the Children makes clear, is the real harm to minors. As Heins explains in her own words:
‘The argument here is not that commercial pornography, mindless media violence, or other dubious forms of entertainment are good for youngsters or should be foisted on them. Rather, it is that, given the overwhelming difficulty in even defining what it is we want to censor, and the significant costs of censorship to society and to youngsters themselves, we ought to be sure that real, and not just symbolic harm results from youthful pursuit of disapproved pleasures and messages
before mandating indecency laws, Internet filters, and other restrictive regimes. (p. 11)’ “.
The reviewer was Michael Grossberg, Sally M. Reahard Professor of History and Adjunct Professor of Law.
The PDF (Does Censorship Really Protect Children?) of the above quote is on this Google page
jordan, thanks for the comment and the flag.
cynthia yoo at 17:19 on March 2nd, 2008
good stuff: korzac, I like this story. It’s good stuff.
korzac at 18:22 on March 2nd, 2008
cynthia yoo, thanks for the flag.
BigT at 18:47 on March 2nd, 2008
How about preventing children from buying liquor or smoking? What about forcing children to go to school?
Doing something “for the children” is usually a slogan used by the left to bludgeon their opponents into submitting to their socialist agenda. I know this because the it’s “for the children” argument has been used against me by leftist family members.
I know that this is Israel but if something like this were done in the United States I’m not sure I would be against it – with one stipulation. The federal government cannot be the one to originate this regulation. If a state wants to restrict access on the web they should have that power.
The government has hundreds of thousands of regulations. We all have to wear seatbelts, companies have to get clearance from the EPA to expand, OSHA, and many, many more. If the people want this regulation; so what? We are talking about a democracy after all.
PEP at 21:52 on March 2nd, 2008
Good points, Big T.
We very rarely see five-year-old, or even 10-year-old children allowed into strip clubs, as one example.
The marketplace “in real life” has some restrictions on it–just try, say setting up a strip club in a family neighborhood. So why shouldn’t the Internet?
If someone really wants to visit hard core porn and even SM sites, and is a consenting, informed adult–that’s a personal choice. But that personal choice shouldn’t dictate what is made readily available to children.
We are all related–and so I think that in essence, we all bear some degree of responsibility for children. If I decided to become a stripper (which pays much more than a writer’s pittance), that would be my personal choice. But that doesn’t give me the right to demand that I be allowed to show up at my neighbor’s birthday party for the young girl there (she’s now six!) and as a birthday gift, perform a strip show and offer lap dances. :)
It’s all about making appropriate choices for a community. But that’s just one person’s opinion. The issue of what is and is not censorship has been around for a long time, and will continue to be. The essential thing is to continue dialogue and also share an understanding that choices made will reverberate well beyond ourselves as individuals.
korzac at 03:04 on March 3rd, 2008
pep, thanks for the comment.
korzac at 02:59 on March 3rd, 2008
BigT, in the Israeli case the Internet porn bill was authored by the radical rigth wing clerical party “Shas”. PM Olmert needs them to maintain his governmental coalition and for this he has to pay.. . This sort of political extortion biased the whole thing and prevent any rational discussion because under the modern words and phraseology are hiding the Bible Scriptures.
I quote here the words of the Israeli Dr. Yitzhak Kadman,( himself a religious person), head of the National Council for the Child,…” ‘said he opposed the bill’,,,” warned minister Attias that the present wording of the bill would cause a scare among liberal-minded Israelis who do not want the state to tell them what to do,” Kadman said.”.. “I propose that Internet suppliers be obligated to provide parents with a variety of Internet filters free of charge. And if the parents choose to block content, they can do so in accordance with their sensibilities,” he said. “But I oppose a centrally controlled censorship of the Internet.”
Thanks for the comment.
samg at 22:49 on March 2nd, 2008
good stuff: Our country is becoming one big Nanny State, and a nanny always knows what is best for you!
It’s really a slippery slope when we allow other people to decide what we can and can not read. They always start with things that everyone would agree is bad but then, slowly but surely, move on to things that are just not PC. Take the First American series (http://podblanc.com/?q=node/14093) which
First Americans out of Europe
It is my intention that these videos promote the frank and open
discussion of the ancient history of the Americas. Identity politics
has no place here. I simply wish to connect the dots of research
findings which now tells a very different story than we were taught as
This is about our history, should we allow it to be censored because some find it objectionable? And if we do, who gets to decide what is appropriate to censor?
korzac at 03:20 on March 3rd, 2008
samg, he proverb ‘The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions’ fit in here.
Thanks for the comment and the flag.