God of Thunder and Rock'n'Roll (archmage) wrote,
God of Thunder and Rock'n'Roll

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Those Wacky Mormons Vs. Internet Porn

Seems the Utah Senate has approved legislation that will force ISPs to ban certain web sites that are defined as 'harmful to children'. My favourite part of this bill? "Supporters of the Utah bill, such as advocacy group Citizens Against Pornography, have called for this type of censorship to 'give parents more control of their home Internet connections.'" Because, you know, no actual parent can take the time to do this for themselves and make the choice as to what will and will not be allowed for themselves...it takes the cold, hard fist of government to do this sort of thing.

So, a little more digging. In an article in the Salt lake Tribune, it tells us that House Bill 260 would require Utah Internet service providers to rate porn Web sites for users, block access to some sites and make blocking software available. The bill also would set aside $100,000 for public service announcements, another $50,000 for a research project and $100,000 to establish an "adult content registry." OK, first off, most ISP's already DO provide blocking options (which they don't have to do), and there are numerous proggies out there that do an even better job). PSA's aren't so bad, I guess, except for the fact that we're not talking drugs here...porn sites are not illegal or a safety risk; the onus is once again on the individual to make the choice or do their duty as a parent. No clue what the 'research project' is, but I'll take the money to look up porn all day, if they need a researcher. And a "registry"? What is this, Nazi Germany?

Now, the upside here is that it's not all of Utah thinking this way...and this isn't going to go anywhere, anyway. Check out this editorial in the Daily Herald, which brings up the relevant points. The first and obvious point is that this would only apply to porn sites created and run in Utah, and ISP's in Utah...and that's not exactly the hotbed of 'Net porn. Add to that the fact that the bill only actually refers to things that are "harmful to minors", which is a very wide-ranging criterium...and who decides just what is "harmful"? And this registry, what's the good of it? According to the bill, if a site refuses to rate their content, they'll be automatically put on them, even if they have no actual adult content. And, let's not gloss over the biggest problem here: the high likelihood of unconstitutionality. This bill is putting the government in charge of filtering what may be expressed before that expression takes place...a clear First Amendment violation, the kind that the Supreme Court has repeatedly frowned upon. The best line in that has to be this: "Creating a registry of Utah-based adult sites will not stop anybody from accessing online sex any more than standing chest deep in the Colorado River will stop its rush toward the Gulf of California."

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that children should be exposed to hardcore pornography. I'm saying that this should be left to the individual parent to choose what is right for their child. Making a fascist move may make you look tough on porn, but the net effect is negligible, at best. This isn't one of those cases where "Think Globally, Act Locally" is gonna work...looks more like "Think Globally, Act Stupidly".

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