Thursday, December 6, 2012

We will let internet censorship happen

Take any mode of communication and the history is the same. Someone has a great idea to improve communication for what they consider a higher purpose such as religion, education, or military. A wise entrepreneur sees its potential and invests in improving the mode of communication. It improves and improves until it's accessible by a significant percent of the public.

At some point, an even wiser entrepreneur sees the possible entertainment value. This new mode of communication is not only educating, but entertaining a good chunk of the public. Then, the powers that be realize the "danger" of spreading knowledge and entertainment and they do their best to either shut it down or regulate it. Some of these efforts have been more gruesome than others. This has happened to everything from simple reading and writing all the way up to the television.

Thankfully, as Alfred Whitney Griswold says, "In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have lost."  Unfortunately, usually lives get lost in the process. While the censor and inquisitor may have lost the majority of their power, they still have some. The United States is a great example. Yes, the constitution clearly states, "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;" but anyone who thinks we really have free speech, or ever had it for that matter, is fooling themselves.

How did it happen? We let it. Bit by bit, piece by piece, they just took a little more and we let them. The constitution was ratified in 1778, the Comstock Act was enacted in 1873. It only took 100 years for the "free state" to stick its nose in everybody's business, tell them what could and could not be said or writ and take away their freedom.

It was just things sent through the post office. That's all. Just a few naughty words and pictures couldn't be sent through the mail. Of course, a lot of those "naughty" words and pictures were informative and educational, but no government has ever been invested in a truly educated public. So they took away just a little.

Then it was just a little more.
Then a little more.
Then a little more.

Now we have a large, powerful, government agency that cost the taxpayers $335 million this year, whose only job is to sit around and make sure nobody says fuck or shows tits on daytime TV. Because, you know, daytime TV tits would be one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. 

Shall not abridge the freedom of speech, indeed. Of course, they got away with it first because we let them, second because of a loophole. After all, it's not CONGRESS sitting around with a giant curse jar that you have to drop a couple thousand dollars into if you should happen to say, "cunt" before 10pm. So I guess that means it's okay. 

Of course, it's for our own safety, right? No one has yet to explain how naughty words and pictures will damage society thus forcing us to set up community standards of decency that we don't even stand by. For example, Howard Stern had millions of people in his community tuning in to his radio show daily. To me that seems to imply that the community approved of his loose standards of decency or millions of them wouldn't be tuning in. Yet, for some reason, the FCC fined him a total of $2.5 for "indecency."

Stroke yourselves all you want, internet censorship is going to happen and we're going to let it because we've all been lulled into complacency. People know that revolutions cost lives and nobody wants to be the sacrificial lamb. So, we trade a little freedom for the empty promise of security. Who cares if the government wiretaps your phonecalls? You've got nothing to hide and it might make us safer, right? Look anyone in the eye and try not to laugh when you claim that America is safer than it was before the Patriot Act.

Secondly, we're lazy and they know that. In the internet's case, I predict they're going to use one of their favorite scapegoats on us: The Children. And it will work because the parent's mind is easily manipulated by fear.

You don't want YOUR CHILDREN seeing this on the internet.
You don't want YOUR CHILDREN hearing this on the internet.
You don't want YOUR CHILDREN learning this on the internet.
You don't want YOUR CHILDREN to mimic this stuff on the internet.
We have to protect YOUR CHILDREN from these things.
Just give us a little bit, no one will mind and it will keep YOUR CHILDREN safer.

Notice the shift of responsibility. You know that there are things you don't want your children doing, leave it up to Uncle Sam Big Brother to monitor. That'll just make life easier for you and safer for your children.

It's going to be so easy to sell and you're going to buy it.

To be fair, the argument that children shouldn't be watching/listening to/mimicking things they see on the internet is one that actually has a tiny iota of merit. When you consider that children as young as 8 have internet porn addictions it's not unreasonable to take a look at the source. Not to mention that porn has completely ruined sexuality for at least a generation or two, but that's another blog for another time. 

We all know that 8 year olds don't need to be watching porn, but making sure your own 8 year old doesn't takes work; work that you don't want to do. Work that you'll freely give to the government to do for you because you "don't have" the time or energy. You can't be watching what your kids do every second of the day, so why don't you just trade away a tiny bit of MY freedom to keep YOUR kids safe. You're sure I won't mind. It's just a little bit. It's for THE CHILDREN!

It's always just a little bit, isn't it? Until shit like this happens and we all wonder, "How did it come to this?" We don't notice we're being slowly pushed up the mountain until we see the bodies piling up in the canyon. All because you wanted to be safer and it was, "Just a little bit."

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