Once more the government has decided that it’s everybody’s duty to attend to the welfare of everybody else’s children, by dragging out – again – its unfeasible plans to make ISPs filter porn (there’ll be an opt-in for perverts, or people who believe in freedom, not censorship, as they’re known outside of Cameron’s very strange and putrescent mind). The porn industry is just a part of the World Wide Web, just as it’s a part of, say, W H Smith’s and a million other newsagents’ businesses – so why is the Internet singled out?
I hold no brief, pro or con, regarding online porn (if you don’t like it stay away from it, and definitely keep your kids away – use Parental Control apps or a big stick – whatever works), but I sure as hell resent the interference of this prodnose government into areas which don’t concern them. Because porn is just the excuse, to divert attention from the real aim which, as ever, is censorship and control.
They’ve succeeded in imposing their will on much of the press, and, most obviously, on the BBC, which has become the Cameron Broadcasting Corporation, now they want to control the Internet as well, but because most of the content originates in countries where their writ doesn’t run, they’re trying to impose their will on ISPs. What they tend to forget, of course, is that no-one forces anybody to look at anything at all online, it’s their choice.
The responsibility for keeping kids away from potentially damaging material, however, lies with the parents and, to a degree, with schools – it’s their job to monitor and control what their kids watch online. It’s not the task of ISPs.
Just as parents have the responsibility to keep their children away from unsuitable TV after the watershed (though from what I’ve seen the most intellectually damaging programmes are on much earlier), so it’s their responsibility to keep them away from unsuitable areas of the Internet. There’s a case in the Daily Mail, today, of an 11-year-old kid, bought a laptop and Internet service by his parents, who was allowed to spend all his time, in his bedroom, totally unsupervised – and got hooked on porn. When his parents discovered this they went bitching and whining to the Mail (with zero regard for what effect this might have on the kid), blaming everyone in the known universe – except themselves, of course. Never even occurred to them that they might have most of the blame to shoulder here – no point in, effectively, giving a child the keys to the kingdom, and then being totally bemused when he heads for the more unsavoury parts of it.
Porn has pretty much always existed, and kids being kids, they’ve always sought it out. When I was a child it was grubby, much-handled, copies of Health & Efficiency (a generation of kids probably thought women’s genitalia were beach-balls), then along came Playboy. Now it’s the Internet. More extreme, it’s true, but a clip round the ear has always been the remedy, not interfering government. That, and don’t leave 11-year-olds alone with laptops!
A thought. Many years ago, after decades of dedicated study, Lord Longford pronounced on the corrupting effects of pornography – an effect which applied to everybody but him, apparently. That level of hypocrisy is still with us today.
And it’s not just porn. What’s at stake here is freedom of thought, as government want to move in on other areas of the Internet as well.
The Twitterati, for example, have seriously pissed off Cameron and company by driving a coach and horses through the law and blatantly discussing injuncted cases online. But so what? That’s something everybody does, in work, on the bus/train, in the pub, at home, by emails and text – wherever people gather, or are in contact, they will discuss subjects that the law would rather they didn’t. So why are the “authorities” – for which read “Cameron, with his latest obsession” – getting their knickers in a twist over Twitter? Or BBM, or FB, or anywhere that ideas are freely discussed? The claim is the such media are used by “criminals,” and last year’s riots are trotted out in support of that claim. However, when people do exactly the same thing in other countries, it’s lauded – by this very same government – as using technology to overcome oppression. Can you say “Hypocritical bastards!”?
If the government get their way on this – and they haven’t so far – what’s the betting that anyone who opts into porn, or, to put it another way, opts into not being censored on principle, whether or not they have the slightest interest in porn, will pretty soon find themselves subject to scrutiny by the Thought Police, and placed on some “Dodgy Person of Interest” watch list?
Be very careful if you get an invitation to visit Room 101 at the Ministry of Love…