Just a little while ago a few of us were sat in a restaurant discussing the mandatory internet filter which is being proposed by our government here in the UK. Basically, another conservative, moral scare driven, “save the children!” thing focussing on that portal to hell, the internet.
This would essentially put an automatic adult content filter on the UK internet, and to access adult content from your household you would have to opt in to view porn, and be identified as such. It would be extremely naive to imagine that only pornography would be hit by this. Even with things as they stand, I had to opt in as a confirmed adult to access “gay” sites via my mobile phone through Virgin Mobile, even though I was trying to access a news site. I tried accessing a particularly salacious, gutter journalism online paper (whose paper edition carries heterosexual soft porn as a matter of tradition) – no problem. Try to access an LGBT newspaper that carries stories of concern to the community, as well as articles of a health educational nature, and no porn at all – blocked.
There have been rumours that this filter would hit other areas, such as esoteric content, and while the targeting of occult subjects has not been confirmed, I think it is inevitable that some areas of esoteric information will be hit by this.
The essential premise to this seems to be that the internet should be turned into a nursery, though of course approved content will get through. Something tells me that depictions of war will be fine, and pictures and stories about half naked men being tortured and nailed to pieces of wood will be available, complete with crown of thorns.
But let’s get this straight. The internet is not a nursery, and it’s not here to do the job of regulating your kids’ access to it. That would be the job of the parents, right? And if your kids are smart enough to circumvent your control of them (and likely they are and you know it), and they choose to access things you don’t want them to see, maybe it’s you that needs to talk to them about it, rather than expecting the whole of the rest of the world to compensate for your paranoid lack of communication with your children. Or have things changed so much since we were kids, and did what our parents didn’t want us to do, and survived all the same?
Oh and one other thing. That predatory danger to our children. We should all have our kids thoroughly street wise and internet wise. But let’s not forget, the predatory, seedy (always male) stranger is a convenient image, a stereotype, most often a myth. Most abused children, tragically, are abused by people they know, often people in their own families, and it isn’t always a man. That real problem is not coming down the internet, it’s not a “danger stranger” perv, and pretending that turning the adult world into a nursery, with all the porn viewers tagged, is going to deal with the real problem is frankly pathetic.
Rather than segregating those who wants to access content that isn’t designed for children, does it not make more sense to have the fence around the nursery area, and control who and what gets into that?
Or do we want an infantilized world, where everything is about kids and their morally obsessed, kiddie obsessed guardians, and the grown ups are all either suspect, or mother superior. Where everything is about control, and insurance, and endangered childhood, and no one gets to grow up to be anything other than a chastened survivor of childhood’s end.
What is that all about?