Internet Censorship: Pro & Con

In favour of CENSORSHIP

Practical Concerns:

Pornography is widely available on the Internet. It is unhealty to expose children to this harmful and obscene material.

In order to be "exposed" to this material, children must be

a) unsupervised, and
b) veiw it of their own free will. Furthermore, the vast majority of adult sites are commercial, or "pay" sites, which require a credit card in order to gain access.

Hate speech is illegal everywhere else, it should also be on the internet.

The internet is the first, last and only bastion of true freedom - anyone can say anything they want to. It's the choice of the individual whether or not to veiw that material.

People can get schematics/recipies for bombs on the internet.

They can get the same with any basic knowledge of chemistry (mix chemical A with chemical B, and BOOM!). Should we not then cease to teach chemistry in schools?

Pedophiles use the internet to prey on children.

If parents are worried about things like this, then they need to supervise their child's use of the internet. It's not the job of everyone else to parent your children. And if they think that their children are not mature enough to know such "advances" for what they are, perhaps they should tell them.

Precedent:

Miller v. California clearly defines the current standard of obscenity as "matter, taken as a whole, the predominant appeal of which to the average person, applying contemporary standards, is to prurient interest, i. e., a shameful or morbid interest in nudity, sex, or excretion; and is matter which taken as a whole goes substantially beyond customary limits of candor in description or representation of such matters; and is matter which taken as a whole is utterly without redeeming social importance," and some of the material presented on the Internet clearly falls under this standard.

The Miller standard states the "average person applying contemporary standards." In this case, that means the average browser of the Internet. Given the vast amount of pornography available online, the "contemorary standard" seems to be that porn is "okay." Furthermore, Miller draws a distinction between porn and obscenity - the former is allowed, the latter is not.

In Schnek v. U.S., it was stated that in order to be restricted, speech must represent a "clear and present danger." The presence of instructions for the construction of bombs obviously presents a clear and present danger of people using that knowledge to perform a terroristic action, or other similar activity.

The fact that the knowledge exists in a publicly accessible forum does not in and of itself present a clear and present danger. As previously stated, the same knowledge may be come about by a careful perusing of a highschool chemistry textbook.

Constitution:

The First Amendment was never intended to protect obscene, defamatory, or threatening speech.

If this standard were to be applied on a global scale - as it would be on the Internet - then the websites of people who advocate "nuking 'em [Al-Qaeda or whoever] back to the stone age" would not be allowed. The websites that say "Hitler was the evilest person who ever lived" would not be allowed. The websites that say "I think President Bush is an incompetant boob, who only won because he rigged the Florida thing" would not be allowed. Even, "fuck authority" would not be allowed, for fear that it might, possibly offend someone.


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