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Who's afraid of the big, bad internet?

Here we go again. This article recently appeared in the generally reputable Age newspaper. I get an online-newspaper/gossip sheet (as I have heard it referred to), Crikey delivered. An otherwise generally enjoyable read is quite freqeuntly hampered by phrases such as "s*xual discrimination" "bre*st cancer" etc. because they have to bypass the various filters people might have which would otherwise block the email from being delivered.

I've been using the internet for over ten years. In that time, I have never come across any porn, accidently or otherwise. I'm sure it is out there, but the thing which need to be remembered is: Porn is an industry, a business; it is not given away I'd imagine that to access it, kids need a credit card, which they shouldn't be able to access without parental permission, anyway.

While I am not accusing either Senator Barnett or those conducting the survey of any misleading or deceptive conduct, I'd be amazed if you could find 93% of anyone in favour of anything. You could probably just about find 7% of parents who would happily SHOW their kids pornography. In particular, I'd be amazed if you could find 93% of parents wanting to spend $43 million and $33 million on anything. Similarly, I'd suggest the amazaingly high proportions of boys who have been accidentally exposed implies that either the question or the definition of porn are somewhat off.

It needs to be remembered that porn is in the eye of the beholder. Is a shot of a woman who is naked but with her arm hiding her breasts porn? What about if her breasts are showing? Nipples? What about a topless man? A man in speedos? A woman in a bikini? In a sleeveless top? In a mini-skirt? With hair exposed? Not wearing a chador? Where one person draws the line is different to where another draws it. What about a couple kissing? Fully clothed but engaging in "relations"? Given that Senator Barnett has raised this issue, I'd imagine that he draws the line much sooner than I do.

When I was working in Switzerland, the group leader for the group I was working with was going to teach me to use a typesetting program, LaTeX. We did a search hoping to come up with something a little more risque than a computer program. We never did. I should point out that we weren't actually interested in seeing anything, just the idea of breaking a rule "accidentally" was quite appealing. Google and most other search engines have various modes of net-nannies to stop people coming across sexually explicit material.

And more than that, where do we draw the line as far as what we don't block? Do we remove anything with the word "breast" in it? Sex? Vagina? How many women, how many mothers, dying of breast cancer because they don't get adequate access to information from the now blocked websites is acceptable to rescue children from porn? How many people should be denied information about their rights on sexual discrimination because an equal opportunity website is accidentally caught in the net, rather than available on the net?

Besides, it is a little disingenuous to link "have been accidentally exposed" to "a link between prolonged exposure to this material and tolerance of sexual aggression". I'm sure links between long working hours leading to a lack of parental supervision and all sorts of juvenile misdemeanors have been found. I look forward to Senator Barnett introducing a private member's bill capping the number of hours a person can work to a France-style 35 hours/week. With respect, I'll get a rabbinic interpretation on the kashrut of flying pork before Kevin Andrews does something like that for either the workers or the unemployed of this country.

Why suggest a net-nanny to provide surrogate parental supervision when we can get parents doing the real thing?

Finally, it is hardly a liberal solution to force this on all people. Making protection available as a choice is fine; it already exists. Forcing it on everyone isn't. Why is a Liberal senator suggesting we become a net-nanny state?

Response to above entry by Senator Guy Barnett after being sent invitation to respond


Response by Alex Lubansky to Senator Barnett's non-response

I appreciate that Senator Barnett is busy and in the scheme of things, my blog is not the most important forum he needs to address. On the other hand, having been sent a personal invitation to respond, common courtesy dictates that he can at least reply with a "thanks but no thanks letter." I have been sent several of those, because I run to a rule that if I quote or respond to someone's external statements I will invite them to respond and will leave their response unedited (except for putting in html tags). That seems to me to be in the spirit of both a fair go and politeness.


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Please feel free to comment. I value dialogue and want other people's involvement. Please put your email address in. I will publish pretty much any comment which is made, but if you do not give your email address, I reserve the right not to publish your comment. I will not pass on or publish an email address (unless you specifically ask me to), but I may want to verify details, and cannot do this without an email address. Besides, its polite. Also, feel free to put in html tags. If you don't, I will stick them in, but I will just stick in simple ones. If you want anything more, you'll have to do it yourself.

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