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For the children

If patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels, that implies that there are others; god is a common one, since no one can gainsay you if you claim that an invisible inaudible superbeing told you what to do. But the very worst, the most contemptible, the most cowardly hiding place for rascals and swindlers and liars is ducking down behind the backs of children.

David Cameron, the UK Prime Minister, has announced sweeping new censorship rules applied by default to the internet in the UK. I had no idea you people on the other side of the pond were electing such sanctimonious prigs. But he dredged out all the familiar pretexts and buzz words for imposing “family-friendly filters” on everyone. (Warning to everyone: when a politician uses the word “family”, they always mean their version of family, which is usually white, middle-class or better, and patriarchal. A single black woman raising three kids, or a pair of homosexual men with a child, or a whole clan of an extended family raising sons, daughters, nephews and nieces under one roof do not count as “family”, but are instead aberrations that must be remolded into a conventional form.)

He said: “I want to talk about the internet, the impact it is having on the innocence of our children, how online pornography is corroding childhood.

“And how, in the darkest corners of the internet, there are things going on that are a direct danger to our children, and that must be stamped out.

“I’m not making this speech because I want to moralise or scaremonger, but because I feel profoundly as a politician, and as a father, that the time for action has come. This is, quite simply, about how we protect our children and their innocence.”

You are a moralizing scaremonger, you ass.

I am so tired of hearing “innocence” touted as a virtue; it’s always used as a synonym for ignorance. These people treat experiences and novelty and adventure as “corroding childhood”, when that’s what childhood is — exposure to a great big complicated world where everything is new and the unusual is to be savored and the forbidden is begging to be exposed. Every kid’s goal is to be “corrupted”…that is, to become an adult and to have exciting new opportunities. Some of that involves sex. If you really want to skew children’s views of the sexual world, bring them up with the idea that it’s a filthy, dangerous horror that needs to be walled away from curious minds.

I’m sure Cameron remembers growing up in a world without the internet; I know I do. Does he remember buddies smuggling pages torn out of Playboy so school, and everyone huddling over them at recess? How about the myths about sex kids told each other on street corners? Reading National Geographic for the photos that showed exotic women with bare breasts? We weren’t innocent then, and we were struggling frantically to lose what little innocence we had.

With my kids, who grew up with the internet, we were totally open: they all got hand-me-down computers from me as soon as they were old enough to type, and one year I gave my oldest boy the present of a big spool of CAT-5 and connectors and a crimping tool, and he wired up all the household computers so everyone could get the internet in their bedrooms (this was before wi-fi was commonplace). We had no restrictions on their access, and we also respected their privacy; we didn’t snoop, we didn’t ask, we didn’t monitor, we didn’t control. I suspect they all ran across porn intentionally or accidentally, yet somehow, they all grew up to be decent, moral, sensible human beings.

Yet, when these bluenoses decide to protect children from “direct danger”, they go after the internet. Hey, how about doing something about the fact that one in six children lives in poverty, or that thousands of London children are malnourished, or that 5% have been victims of child sexual abuse? Or how about the fact that American drone strikes are causing horrific civilian casualties, killing children as well as terrorists? Those are stories that really corrode childhood, that demolish innocence and trust.

But maybe that’s the next step. After you’ve established that you can censor breasts and penises from the internet, it’s an easy transition to eliminating stories about priests raping children (that’s pornographic, after all), and then cutting out those embarrassing stories about starving children with neglect, and then government policies that lead to the murder of children? Why, horrors, we can’t let the kiddies know about those! It’ll give them nightmares!

If you’re really serious about protecting children, the formula is to foster their creativity, encourage them to be independent, teach them to explore and learn, and also provide them with security so they have a refuge they can voluntarily enter when they need to. Children brought up in a dark box learn to live in a dark box. Children brought up in the light learn to illuminate the world.

Comments

  1. fredbloggs says

    I think Cameron really, really has mis-gauged public feeling on this one. I wouldn’t be surprised if they do a u-turn.

  2. Dunc says

    I seem to recall that the previous Labour government had similar ideas, which foundered on the rocky shores of practicality…

  3. Hairhead, whose head is entirely filled with Too Much Stuff says

    For 99.9% of human history, 99.9% of children slept communally with their parents and others, and grew up exposed to sexual intercourse.

    One of the worst bits is Cameron saying that exposure to sex “corrodes childhood”. It’s old, puritanical trope that “Sex is Evil” in and of itself. It’s tiresome and untrue, and ironic, in that inculcating hatred and fear of sex into childhood does, in fact, corrode their adult sex lives.

  4. raven says

    About a decade ago, the fundies stormed a city council meeting demanding that the library put in Nanny filters on their internet computers. So the kids wouldn’t surf the net for porn. (Which BTW, they did often.)

    1. The library pointed out that it wasn’t their job to raise the kids of fundie xians.

    2. They did compromise and set up some computers with Nanny filters in the kids and teenager areas, a a few adult computers.

    I use them often. They are always the last computers anyone chooses and usually open.

    This is IIRC, a federal law anyway for public libraries.

    3. And it is all irrelevant. Internet access is now everywhere and you can get it off your smart phones.

  5. says

    All these efforts to “protect the children” are actually meant to protect the parents from the horror of having to talk about sex with their children. However, I am of the opinion that if you’re not mature enough to talk about sex, you shouldn’t be having any, and you shouldn’t be having kids.

    (As an aside, this seems to me where a lot of opposition to gay marriage comes from: parents who don’t want to have to explain homosexuality to their kids).

  6. raven says

    I remember one of the first things I had to find out around kindergarten.

    Where do babies come from? It’s an obvious and important question for kids.

    It wasn’t hard to answer. Many other kids already knew.

    And how does knowing how humans and most living things reproduce, reduce your “innocence”, whatever that is. What it does is reduce your…ignorance.

  7. drummer25 says

    As I understand it, the filters will be on as a default position. If you want to watch porn, or want your kids to watch porn, you’d be able to opt in. The only material definitely illegal will be child pornography and actual rape.

  8. says

    Here’s the thing: you want to “protect childhood innocence”? Fine, whatever. Best way to do that is to support parents, not censor shit that you don’t like. Even if we were to solve the problems of childhood poverty, hunger, and violence, there still needs to be a support structure in place for parents and caregivers– everything from flex schedules at work/on-site daycare to parenting classes to access to mental healthcare. Those things will protect children far better than any sort of censorship campaign.

    But, silly me, this would mean giving something back to the taxpayers and we can’t have that in this era of austerity, now can we?

  9. magistramarla says

    “Children brought up in a dark box learn to live in a dark box. Children brought up in the light learn to illuminate the world”.

    Wow! I love this quote!
    When our kids were growing up, we also had free access for everyone to the internet and no parental controls on the TV. Our attitude was that the entire family could watch films together and if the kids had questions, they could ask us.
    Personally, I had more problems with watching the blood and gore of the extremely violent movies than the explicitly sexy ones. As I told the kids, I didn’t have problems with them seeing sexual situations, since I hoped that someday they would experience good sex. As for the extreme violence, I hoped that they would never experience anything like that.

    Remember “The Clan of the Cave Bear”? When my oldest girl was 10 years old, we adults had just read it and were raving about it, so she wanted to read it on our road trip to Florida. There are some very explicit sex scenes in that book, so when we handed it to her, we told her that we could talk about it each evening when we stopped for the night and had the younger kids in bed. She finished reading it by the end of the trip, and we used it for some teachable moments for a pretty thorough sex education.

    PZ, we raised our kids with the same philosophy that you did, but you have done a great job of putting that philosophy into words.

  10. Pen says

    Mynah, you might want to look a bit more into what he’s actually proposing. A ban on porn depicting activities which are already illegal? Rape and child sex? I can see where it might go wrong, hey it might ban streaming of clockwork Orange. But it doesn’t seem totally heinous as a goal, especially since some of the kiddie porn I’ve accidentally stumbled on most definitely involved real kiddies, not young women in pigtails.

    Also, while Cameron’s the last person I’d choose as a poster boy for inclusivity, I don’t think ‘family’ in Britain means what you think it means. It’s very widely used to mean ‘you’d go there with your kids’.

  11. says

    @raven in #7: and from what I’ve heard, those nanny filters in UK libraries are more effective at blocking access to genuine sex ed and health info than at blocking the user determined to get access to more exciting online nudity. I doubt they’re going to let that slow down these plans though.

  12. fredbloggs says

    Pen, the issue is a complete red-herring. The activities which are problematic are ALREADY illegal and don’t require legislation, they just need the police to do their job.

    Software already exists to prevent children having access to porn – it’s just down to parents to accept responsibility for what their children access.

  13. coelsblog says

    You’re being somewhat unfair on several counts. First “family”, as used by a politican, doesn’t have the same connotations in the UK as in the US. Second, it’s not “censorship” if the filters have an easy opt-in (as proposed) . Third, as for Cameron’s view on the family, he has recently pushed through gay marriage in the UK, personally backing it against substantial opposition. Fourth, the ban is on pornography, not on information about sex.

  14. sbuh says

    I thought Europeans as a whole were more tolerant toward sex and less tolerant toward violence than the US…sort of an inversion. Is this just the Continentals though?

  15. jose says

    I’m all for it and I can’t help but grin from ear to ear at the thought of all the desperate men. What will they do if they can’t have their daily dosis of a woman on her knees and a bunch of men grabbing her by the neck and spitting (or equivalent) on her face? They might have to spend their time doing something else!

    It probably won’t be enforced at all, so I’m enjoying the moment while I can. It amuses me to no end to see men tiptoeing around their obvious point (“I want my porn!”) and trying to look dignified when they share petitions on facebook in the name of freedom and liberty and shit.

  16. unbound says

    Pfft. You expect the self-righteous to actually support children? Don’t you know that that would cost time and money?

    All that money they donate to their churches is needed to support the clubhouse (er, church and staff)…and a few scraps can be thrown at the poor to make themselves feel better. All that money paid for goods and services needs to be funneled to the top executives of the corporations, not spent on paying the workers for getting it all done allowing the corporation to make the money it makes. Tax money is to be spent on the war machine and the energy conglomerates, not used to make sure everyone gets equal opportunity.

    This is about the golden rules. He who makes the gold, makes the rules. And what is owned by the rich is theirs, and what is owned by you is theirs.

    See, that was simple.

  17. says

    @Pen in #11:

    Mynah, you might want to look a bit more into what he’s actually proposing.

    I think it’s you who might want to read a little bit more carefully. Yes, bans on rape porn are part of the proposal (and not the part people here have been arguing about), but the general porn filters “to protect the children” are definitely part of the proposal as well.
    @coelsblog in #15:

    Second, it’s not “censorship” if the filters have an easy opt-in (as proposed) .

    Actually, the proposal calls for opt-out. It will be enabled by default.

  18. says

    @Jose in #17:

    It probably won’t be enforced at all, so I’m enjoying the moment while I can.

    Until the filter blocks a site you regularly read because at some point, somewhere on that site, there was some nudity on it:

    When Boing Boing, the website I co-own, was blocked by one censorware site, it was on the grounds that we were a “nudity” site. That was because, among the tens of thousands of posts we’d made, a few were accompanied by (non-prurient, strictly anatomical) small images showing some nudity.

  19. coelsblog says

    14. Fredblogs:

    The activities which are problematic are ALREADY illegal and don’t require legislation, they just need the police to do their job.

    But getting the internet companies to cooperate with the police on this would surely help them? Anyhow, the only legislation being considered is: “Mr Cameron said possession of online pornography depicting rape would be made illegal.” Is that a bad thing?

    19. Deen

    Actually, the proposal calls for opt-out.

    Yes, by “opt-in” I meant opt-in to porn, or opt-out of the filter.

  20. ambulocetacean says

    I agree with your anti-censorship sentiment, PZ, but not with all your arguments.
    .

    I fondly remember being 16 years old and paying $1 a photo for clippings from a Penthouse magazine that one of my friends had shoplifted from the local newsagent’s. I can still see some of those pictures in my mind right now, 25 years later.
    .

    That, though, seems to me to be very different from a 7/8/9/10/12-year-old watching child pornography or even consensual adult choking/gagging/anal/rape pornography. If trends in pornography do place pressure on children/adolescents/young adults to acquiesce to sex acts with which they are not comfortable, that’s not a good thing. And that’s leaving aside the fact that modern pornography is to no small degree focused on the denigration and discomfort of the women involved.
    .

    As someone concerned about contemporary rape culture, do you not think it beneficial to delay children’s access to rape/abuse pornography?
    .

    I’m not convinced by your slippery-slope argument about Cameron’s proposed opt-in porn filter leading to censorship of news reports of sex abuse by Catholic clergy. Nor do I think that drone strikes or child poverty have anything to do with the issue.
    .
    I have read, admired and learned from your posts almost daily for several years. I rarely comment because I usually have nothing to add that hasn’t already been brought up by other commenters. On this issue, though, I’m at a loss to know what to think. I expect that you and your many thoughtful, erudite commenters will give me plenty of food.
    .
    Ugh. And as much as I would like to stick around for the conversation, I must now hit the old fart sack for eight hours or so…

  21. says

    The Mail isn’t a Murdoch rag.

    Yeah it’s opt-out, as in if I want to watch porn I have to opt out of the filters. And because we *all trust the government so much* the list of everyone who’s opted out will *never* get into the hands of anyone it shouldn’t will it?

    Further, I do not trust this government (or any) to use the filters only for their stated purpose.

  22. ajbjasus says

    24 I’m pretty much with you on this – with the addition of the observationt hat there is also an element of grandstanding about this, to give the impression that “stuff is being done” whilst the difficult stuff is swept under the carpet.

    Having said that there is some extremely brutal female-demeaning legal porn out there, and I don’t have problem that people have to make a positive decision to let it into their home. You simply could not have got hold of this as a child in the past – in fact I’m not sure it even existed, certainly not in the volume that’s around now,

  23. says

    #27 ajbjasus:

    So… because children couldn’t have got hold of (some kinds of) porn in the past (a doubtful assertion but let it slide) childless households have to jump through hoops for unfettered net access because…?

  24. fredbloggs says

    coelsblog – I’m fairly sure the ISP’s already cooperate fully with the police. But the Internet is a medium. To me, it’s as if 50 years ago the government of the day placed an obligation on the manufacturers of paper to ensure it wasn’t used to produce illegal pornography.

    Re rape porn – rape is illegal. If porn depicts actual rape then a crime has been committed. I think the proposals make SIMULATED rape illegal, and while I personally find such repellant we’re treading a fine line.

    Regardless, what issues are these measures intended to address? Possession of child abuse images is already illegal. The images are not the CAUSE of paedophilia, they are a symptom of it. It’s my understanding that the former head of CEOPS thinks that such images are primarily shared peer-to-peer, so this measure is a red-herring.

  25. TGAP Dad says

    It seems weird that the same country that produces such great, edgy shows as Shameless, Skins, and Coupling would institute measures that could potentially ban them.

  26. says

    @ambulocetacean in #24: I agree that a lot of porn is problematic, but blocking access is a piss-poor substitute for sitting down and teaching your child about healthy sexuality. Your example of buying clippings from a shoplifter already shows why blocking access won’t work. Imagine how much easier it would be to find a kid whose parents opted out of the filters, or with enough tech savvy to circumvent the filters, than it would be to find a kid willing to actually break the law and personally steal a magazine. Like I said, laws like these don’t protect the children, they protect parents who aren’t willing to talk to their kids about sexuality.

  27. drummer25 says

    Opting to view porn with a couple of mouse clicks is hardly jumping through hoops.

  28. fourtytwo says

    I don’t see it as censorship as the material is still there to view if you opt in. I see it as measured and necessary action. It’s putting a small and admittedly imperfect barrier between violent and sexually explicit material and children. It’s not a perfect barrier, but it is a small step. It’s not much different to ratings on movies, or watersheds on television. I’m not prudish by any means, but I think children should be protected from seeing some of the more extreme misogynistic and violent content that exists in abundance on the net. I think this trumps the censorship argument (in the same way as the free-speech argument is often rightly trumped by not giving a platform to sexist/racist/homophobic comments).

  29. coelsblog says

    30 fredbloggs:

    I’m fairly sure the ISP’s already cooperate fully with the police. … what issues are these measures intended to address? Possession of child abuse images is already illegal.

    Yes, the ISPs cooperate in the sense that every time the police ask them to remove an illegal image then they do. But, the images are proliferating faster than the police can remove them. Thus the idea is for the ISPs to put in place technology filters to reduce the proliferation in the first place. I find it hard to see what’s so wrong with this (given that anyone wanting *legal* porn can opt-in as simply as clicking on a web-page on their ISP account).

  30. daibhidhpiobair says

    It’s likely that this is merely being proposed to try and win back votes from UKIP, it’s unlikely to actually be put into practice.

  31. coelsblog says

    32 Deen

    Your example of buying clippings from a shoplifter already shows why blocking access won’t work.

    Yes, the barrier won’t fully work, kids will get round it. But a kid getting round it at an age when they go looking for porn is different from a kid stumbling across the stuff when several years younger.

  32. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    @jose

    Nope, sorry, you don’t get to legislate your own personal morality because you find the thought of them being frustrated funny. I don’t like “rough sex” porn, but in the absence of hard evidence that it fosters abuse then banning it is draconian. The more serious point is that this isn’t banning “rough sex” porn, it’s banning porn just in general. It furthers the ridiculous idea that sex and being exposed to sex is detrimental to society, which is just stupid.

  33. ajbjasus says

    29 Please tell me where in my childhood,(70s and 80s) I could have obtained, for free, high quality video of women being shackled, hogtied, whipped, gang banged and experiencing simulated rape? You will still be able to get it, you just have to make a positive decision, and make a couple of mouse clicks, but its a bit easier than heading down the adult shop and handing over 20 quid ?

  34. says

    If the only ‘porn’ kids were going to find was sex between consenting adults or women splayed out like they’re having a gyno exam or men waving their dick around like a magic wand, I’d say let the little buggers look and giggle to their heart’s content. Unfortunately, I’ve come across a lot of things I don’t think an 8 to 14 year old should really be processing as part of acceptable sexual behavior. For example, I’ve seen a site (which was either Russian or somewhere in the UK) where two very obviously mentally/physically challenged people were posed in varying positions (the male had been castrated – not freshly or anything – but was probably not a willing partner to a blow job, and the look on the woman’s face left no doubt that she was not a willing participant, plus she had been physically removed from a wheelchair and placed on the man); I’ve seen S-M sites with bondage and implements of a, shall we say, sinister-looking nature being used or ready to be used. I’ve never run across kiddie porn, but I know it’s out there. My point being, if I stumbled across this stuff without even searching for it, so could any kid. Granted, I never have any kind of filters activated, but even if all your household computers have parental controls activated kids have friends and can surf the web on damn near anything nowadays.

    I really don’t know the answer here. Censorship of any kind makes me extremely nervous, but so does the normalization of images depicting women chained and bleeding and being raped – whether it’s staged or not is irrelevant. OTOH, you can see dead, bloody, sexually assaulted women (mostly clothed though, with basic cable) on almost any cop show on TV.

    The comments section below the article bring up my main concern with censorship – where does it stop? Once the government decides it has the authority to screen what’s acceptable for the public to see there’s no stuffing that genie back in the bottle, and any issue that is considered inflammatory or ‘harmful’ to the public good could very well be blocked.

    Final point: I would think online kiddie porn would be a boon for law enforcement agencies. It seems like it would be much, much easier to trace the sources and customers of that crap online than if they’re forced back underground and using the postal system. I could be wrong on that.

  35. ambulocetacean says

    #29 markw

    The doubtful assertion is yours. As a child in 1982 where could I have possibly obtained video of a painfully bound woman whose nipples had been freshly pierced with sewing needles choking on an enormous penis?

    “childless households have to jump through hoops for unfettered net access”

    Ticking a box is a small hoop through which to jump. I take it that you’re not Australian. If you were, as a child-free person you would probably be much more concerned with how much you are forced to subsidise the fetishised reproductive lifestyle choices of the majority through taxpayer-funded maternity leave, baby bonuses, tax credits, childcare rebates, religious schools and IVF, not to mention the random pork-barrel lump-sums constantly dished out by both parties in an attempt to secure the votes of apathetic outer-suburbanites.

  36. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Opting to view porn with a couple of mouse clicks is hardly jumping through hoops.

    WEll then, opting to have filters placed to prevent your kids from watching porn isn’t too difficult then either, not is it?

  37. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    @fourtytwo

    I’m not prudish by any means, but I think children should be protected from seeing some of the more extreme misogynistic and violent content that exists in abundance on the net. I think this trumps the censorship argument (in the same way as the free-speech argument is often rightly trumped by not giving a platform to sexist/racist/homophobic comments).

    “Not giving a platform to sexist/racist/homophobic comments” referrs to the idea that private citizens, companies and organisations are not required to give a platform to such views. To compare that to a Government deliberately restricting access to something through legislation is a false equivalency.

  38. ajbjasus says

    @44 I’m not sure I follow this – should it be “required not to give a platform to such views” ?

  39. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    @Ambulocetacean

    Ticking a box is a small hoop through which to jump.

    So why aren’t you using the existing filters which come with every computer?

  40. Donnie says

    How the hell do you determine if something on the internet is “rape”? Hell, we cannot even prosecute rapists in court with evidence, but England is going to try and prevent the images of “rape” on the internet? How the hell to you do that? What are the mechinism for forcing this via a filter?

    The reason that I ask is that a lot of BDSM porn would probably be consider “rape” or “sexual abuse” by vanila types. Of course, the difference is that in a BDSM scene there is negotiated limits, safe words and after care. The purpose of BDSM is to push the limits of the sub and dom in areas of pain, control, and …….

    How about England focus its effort on human trafficing. I am not naive enough to know that there men and women who participate in online porn that are not willing to participate but are coerced. The solution is to provide those individuals (humans) a resource to go to in order to escape the siutation, and prosecute human trafficers with strong prison sentences and other legal deterents.

    As was previously stated, its like trying to stop pornographic images in magazines. Now, the Internet makes it more accessbile, so us kids no longer have to search the woods for porn staches.

  41. anuran says

    H/T to Mark Twain

    “Censorship is telling a man he can’t have a steak just because a baby can’t chew it.”

  42. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    @ajbjasus

    No. I’m referring to the idea that free speech means that the government does not have the right to restrict your speech, but it does not require private citizens, companies and organisations to broadcast the views which you are legally entitled to hold and broadcast. Requiring (presumably by law) private citizens, companies and organisations not to broadcast such views would breach freedom of speech.

  43. ambulocetacean says

    #32 Deen, I agree that any ban would be imperfect, and that any child who set their mind to finding extreme porn could find it.

    “blocking access is a piss-poor substitute for sitting down and teaching your child about healthy sexuality.”

    You really think that a heartfelt conversation about respecting one’s lover (at what age? 6? 8? 10? 12?) will entirely negate all the pernicious effects of all the extreme pornography that they will eventually stumble across or seek out?

    And (I don’t know whether you have kids) it’s not just your kids. It’s everybody else’s kids as well. It’s everybody else’s kids who will be demanding headjobs and anal from your little angels at surprisingly tender ages. In my (thankfully childless) experience, parental advice about sexual behaviour tends to have about as much weight as parental advice about drinking alcohol and smoking dope — ie, next to nada. The agenda is set by the peer group. If the peer group thinks that the “in” thing is choking and/or anal, what do you think will happen?

  44. fourtytwo says

    #44

    Nothing has been banned. It’s only a small barrier, like putting magazines on the top shelf.

    I was comparing to free speech as I am strongly in favor of it, but I accept there are cases where other factors take priority. It’s the same for censorship – I’m against it, but a small opt-in barrier seems pretty reasonable.

  45. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    What a brilliant idea–rely on technology to protect our little kiddies! What could possibly go wrong? I’m sure the filters will be every bit as effective and elegant as the spam filter at my workplace, which regularly sends my colleagues’ emails to the junk pile. And I’m sure there will be absolutely no pressure from “fambly frendlly” groups to censor information about homosexuality or transgender help/discussion groups…never mind that the technology will already be in place and it will only take typing a few URLs or key phrases. And I’m sure no librarians would tamper with the filter to impose their own personal beliefs. And it will be so much easier and better to rely on technology than to talk to your kids and try to get them to understand all the complicated things one needs to understand to be a sexual being and still a decent human being.

    And Ambulocetacean, no offense, but dude, where are you even finding sick shit like that. Is it seriously your contention that one could not avoid content that degrades women if one set out to do so? Or are you contending that all young adolescent males will seek out such content if left to their own devices. IMHO, if you have a 13 year old kid seeking out that sort of material, the least of your problems is that he’s doing it on the Internet!

  46. ambulocetacean says

    #47, I don’t need filters. I don’t have kids.

    #48, Absolutely, governments should do much more to fight sex slavery in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas and Australia. That is an extremely important issue, but it is not the topic of this post.

  47. fourtytwo says

    #55

    First attempt at block quotes. Sorry if this goes wrong…

    <blockquote cite="Is it seriously your contention that one could not avoid content that degrades women if one set out to do so?"

    Seriously? You don't think that a simple search for porn videos would bring back anything degrading to women?

  48. ambulocetacean says

    #48, And eliminating sex slavery would not eliminate rape pornography, nor would it eliminate all the other myriad varieties of pornography that normalise bad treatment of women.

  49. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    @fourtytwo

    I didn’t say banned, I said restricting access. Which they are; they are deliberately making it more difficult.

    An example everyone here should get: “Pro-life” nutters in the US want to make abortion illegal. They know they can’t get away with doing this, so they settle for making it more difficult to obtain. These measures are known as “restricting abortion”. Same thing here. They are not banning it, but they are restricting it. And they do not have the right to do that. A least, not in my view.

    The anti-choice analogy actually helps to explain my long term fears here. As I understand it, access to abortion, contraception and family planning was reasonably good in the US during the 70s/80s, and has slowly been more and more restricted until you end up with the current dire situation. Given that there is a reasonably strong and vocal anti-porn lobby in the UK (by European standards, at least), how long is it before they achieve the same thing here with porn as the anti-choice lobby did with abortion in the US?

    I would also point out that the UK already regulates pornography to a far greater extent than the US and the rest of Europe, and that “extreme pornographic images” have been illegal here since 2008, and is punishable by up to 3 years in prison.

    Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008; Section 63, “Extreme Pornographic Images”.

    An image is deemed to be extreme if it “is grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character” and “it portrays, in an explicit and realistic way, any of the following— (a) an act which threatens a person’s life, (b) an act which results, or is likely to result, in serious injury to a person’s anus, breasts or genitals, (c) an act which involves sexual interference with a human corpse, or (d) a person performing an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal (whether dead or alive), and a reasonable person looking at the image would think that any such person or animal was real.”

  50. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    fourtytwo,
    Note that I said, “if one set out to avoid such material”. Frankly, I wouldn’t even have the foggiest idea of where to look for such stuff, and I have no interest in knowing.

    You and ambulocetacean seem to be contending that the mere fact that people film such crap in some what legitimizes it. It does not. It could be filmed, broadcast, trumpeted from the towers, and it would still be flat wrong. What is more, you are talking about regulating a broad class of expression because a tiny portion of it bothers you (and me). It seems to me that there might be more effective ways of swatting this fly than using a shotgun.

  51. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    @ajbjasus

    Cool :)

    @ambulocetacean

    Apologies for assuming; but my point still stands with people who are parents.

    @fourtytwo

    (blockquote) insert quote here (/blockquote)

    But with the triangular brackets you were using :)

    @a_ray_dilbert_in_space

    What a brilliant idea–rely on technology to protect our little kiddies! What could possibly go wrong? I’m sure the filters will be every bit as effective and elegant as the spam filter at my workplace, which regularly sends my colleagues’ emails to the junk pile. And I’m sure there will be absolutely no pressure from “fambly frendlly” groups to censor information about homosexuality or transgender help/discussion groups…never mind that the technology will already be in place and it will only take typing a few URLs or key phrases. And I’m sure no librarians would tamper with the filter to impose their own personal beliefs. And it will be so much easier and better to rely on technology than to talk to your kids and try to get them to understand all the complicated things one needs to understand to be a sexual being and still a decent human being.

    [Emphasis mine]

    Quoted for mother-fuckin’ truth!

  52. ambulocetacean says

    #54, I think that all children should get all the food, clothing, shelter, health care and education that they need. I am more than happy to contribute to that. And I would like the Australian government to spend more on foreign aid.

    I do resent, however, Australian governments dolloping out huge electoral bribes only to those people who have children. I resent having to contribute to baby bonuses that go to pay for the gigantic European SUVs that people who make more money than I ever will drive to drop their kids off at religious schools — which I am also forced to fund. Is that OK with you? I mean, I already have to pay for it. Do I have to be happy about it too?

    I also think it immoral in the extreme that the Australian government spends untold millions subsidising IVF for well-off Australians when there are millions of perfectly good children rotting away in orphanages from Russia to Uganda to Cambodia to Colombia.

  53. badgersdaughter says

    I work in IT software support. If this technology works as well as any other technology I’ve supported, it will be badly managed, wrongly applied, both exceed and miss its scope in laughably inappropriate ways, and frequently crash or otherwise malfunction in ways that make the underlying tech (in this case, computer access to the Internet) impossible to use. It will be exploited to do things contrary to the initial intent and to the guiding principles of the enterprise that implemented it. Nothing will be done to correct the abuses and malfunctions, despite the protests of users who are directly harmed, until enough important people are inconvenienced.

  54. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    It’s only a small barrier, like putting magazines on the top shelf.

    That’s not a justification for the censorship. Just your inane opinion that censorship is good. It never is.

  55. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    badgersdaughter,
    Here in the ebil gummint, we have adopted the strategy that computers should be utterly harmless and safe–even at the expense of turning them into doorstops. So, in addition to all of our firewall, spam filter, etc., we have no admin priveleges–none. We also recently had some dimwit get his computer stolen when it had all sorts of personally identifiable info. Now we have encryption on every computer! Let’s just say that I have plenty of time for breakfast while my computer boots up. I actually know one person (a damned good scientist) who opted to retire this year, partly due to the crappy IT service we have!

  56. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    a_ray_in_dilbert_space (#55) and badgersdaughter (#66),
    All seconded.

  57. Draken says

    Does anyone playing down these measures (“It’s just a simple opt-in”) really think it stops here? Of course not. This is just a first step to get a foothold in provider land. Starts with optional opt-out, adding more sites, no opt-out, adding more sites, adding nonpornographic ‘indecent’ pictures, secret blacklists, mores sites, subversive political prosa. More sites.

    Ask the Australians.

  58. John Phillips, FCD says

    .
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought (#69), a_ray_in_dilbert_space (#55) and badgersdaughter (#66),

    thirded.

    One place I looked after insisted on using such a poorly designed and implemented system that I spent more time tweaking the filters to allow genuine research access than I did on other IT support work. I packed it in after three months and found a better employer.

  59. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    I’m all for it and I can’t help but grin from ear to ear at the thought of all the desperate men. What will they do if they can’t have their daily dosis of a woman on her knees and a bunch of men grabbing her by the neck and spitting (or equivalent) on her face? They might have to spend their time doing something else!

    About that….

  60. says

    As a librarian opposed to censorship or mandatory filters, and as an advocate of free speech, I’m interested in this topic in a general sort of way, so I read the OP and started to make my way through the (mostly informative and thoughtful) comments. I had to stop reading and skip to the comment box… I sure wish that a trigger warning had been on this comment thread (I know, that’s not practical in advance; discussions develop in unpredictable directions, and that’s usually a good thing.). The detailed descriptions of violent and misogynist porn have left me shaking and feeling sick. I’m a speed reader, and I can’t help reading entire paragraphs at a time; as soon as I sensed that a comment might include a description of something disturing (to me), I tried to skip immediately, but even in the act of noticing, my eye takes in the entire paragraph. I am now fighting off nightmarishly disturbing (to me) images that have brought back a whole host of horrible memories.
    .
    The discussion on filtering and censorship is important and interesting. I recognize that for some (most?) people, these particular descriptions would not be disturbing or objectionable. It’s possible to dislike porn (as I do), but still support others’ rights to produce and/or consume it responsibly (as I do).
    .
    Dr Myers, I wonder if you could add a trigger warning at the end of your post, relative to the comments?
    .
    Sorry if this is out of line.

  61. says

    @ambulocetacean in #52:

    You really think that a heartfelt conversation about respecting one’s lover (at what age? 6? 8? 10? 12?) will entirely negate all the pernicious effects of all the extreme pornography that they will eventually stumble across or seek out?

    I would hope that children would get a little bit more sex ed than just “respect your lover”. I would hope it includes education on consent, self-worth, the difference between fantasy and reality, and of course safe sex. And yes, I do think that this would help kids deal with the porn that you admit they’ll eventually come across. Will it solve all problems? Of course not, but what else is there? Shaming kids away from it? Forbidding it? Do you think that’ll work any better? If you have any better suggestions, I’d like to hear it.

    In my (thankfully childless) experience, parental advice about sexual behaviour tends to have about as much weight as parental advice about drinking alcohol and smoking dope — ie, next to nada. The agenda is set by the peer group.

    I don’t have kids either, but like most people, I used to be one. And yes, parental advice (and parental example) can definitely have a positive influence. It just has been my experience that it works better to teach responsible drinking or responsible sexual behavior than to try and stop it from happening altogether.

    The agenda is set by the peer group. If the peer group thinks that the “in” thing is choking and/or anal, what do you think will happen?

    Neither choking or anal should be an issue if all parties involved understand the risks, and both fully consent. Sure, we can’t count on all parents to teach kids the lessons about safe sex and consent and such, but that is why I heartily support comprehensive sex ed in public education. Also, I think parents and public education should give children the tools and support to stand up to peer pressure.

  62. dgel says

    Apart from the simulated rape legislation, which I think could be troublesome to implement, and leave too much open to censor normal films with disturbing scenes, I would not have cared at all about this, if this had been an automatic opt-out (of the filter) that you could ignore. I.E., you could go to some panel in your isp’s account and find a tickbox to filter out porn.

    However as it stands, what if the filter doesn’t work properly and filters out normal content? If you opt out of the filter, this is an active choice you made, and when the list of people who opted out gets leaked (as it inevitably will), people in certain professions will get in trouble with their employers over this. I find especially for teachers, people set very strict, prudish rules on what is acceptable behaviour that is otherwise on display in every street.

    For example, teachers are urged not to drink alcohol, even in their free time, because this would set a bad example. Never mind that half of Britain is in the pub after working hours.

    I’m sure this whole thing will cause people lots of trouble if it goes through.

  63. ambulocetacean says

    @A Ray In Dilbert Space

    “dude, where are you even finding sick shit like that”

    It’s hard to avoid, even if you’re just looking for relatively vanilla porn (which I do, not all that infrequently). If you simply google “free porn” or whatever and click on any of the first few links you will almost certainly wind up at a site that is a smorgasbord of practically anything you can think of (and lots of things you haven’t). Once there, even if you type something relatively innocuous, such as “blonde”, into the search box you will get a screen full of photos/video stills of all sorts of wild stuff, often including women in sexual torture scenarios.

    I personally don’t watch sex-torture stuff. But I think it’s good that you and I are having this conversation, because (hopefully) it’s giving you a sense of how easy it is for children to stumble across this seriously mind-fucking kind of stuff. As an adult I can ignore it (and try not to think about why the women involved take part in it), but I don’t know what sort of effect it might have had on me had I had access to it when I was, say 13 or 14, become infatuated with it and watched it daily. I would like to think it would ultimately have had no effect on me, but I can’t speak for my hypothetical self, nor for anyone else.

    If you’ve never googled free porn you’re probably better off for never having done so. But if you’re sceptical about how quickly you can get in to seriously unsettling stuff, just spend five minutes clicking links for research purposes (no scare quotes). I really don’t want to dirty up your mind but, as all teens and tweens know, it’s right there if you want to look at it.

    “ambulocetacean seem(s) to be contending that the mere fact that people film such crap in some what legitimizes it.”

    I am not in favour of anything in which anybody has been forced or coerced. And I don’t like consensual stuff that normalises degradation and bad treatment of women. And I certainly don’t like the idea of children watching it.

  64. jose says

    38 – “in the absence of hard evidence that it fosters abuse “

    Sometimes I don’t understand internet feminists. You people can’t wait to label everything as “problematic and not ok” because of the depiction of women in comics/games/whatever subtly makes the audience internalize and perpetuate certain assumptions yadda yadda – except when the women are on their knees, constantly insulted and choked: which is fine and has no influence whatsoever on anybody as long as they’re also naked.

  65. davem says

    I had no idea you people on the other side of the pond were electing such sanctimonious prigs.

    They’re called politicians. Unfortunately, we can’t vote for any othr sort of person.

    Passed to me today: go to google.images and enter ‘david cameron side view’.

    Succinct, and accurate.

  66. ambulocetacean says

    Quodlibet, I am so sorry that my description so upset you. I should have thought to put a trigger warning at the start of my comment. My only intent was to convey an impression of the kind of extreme pornography that children are viewing daily. Again, I am very sorry.

  67. says

    ambulocetacean, thank you very much. I have no idea if your comment was one of them. But thanks; that means a lot.

    I recognize the importance of this discussion, and I konw that sometimes the discussion needs to include examples and decriptions. I’ll opt out of those particular discussions when I can see them coming. :-)

    Carry on, all; I’m off to read elsewhere, so as not to dampen the conversation here.

  68. Donnie says

    Everyone, you want to put in place internet filters to remove ‘rape’ and ‘abuse’ in porn. Please, define what is ‘porn’ and how are you goingto distinguish what it porn?

    Sure, put filters on, if England thinks that it is a good idea, but why not just offer ‘Net Nanny’ and the such if it is so important for the family security. However, it needs to be an opt-in and not an opt-out. Familiies that wish to use it instead of monitoring their kids internet usage like a parent would when watching a TV show with their kids than let the families decide, themselves.

    Do not mandate an ‘opt-out’ policy for everyone. Mandate an ‘opt-in’, like the V-chip, for families that are incapable of discussing sexuality with their kids. You know, the kids who do not understand maturbation, human sexual interactions, STDs and limits on how to interact with the opposite, or same, sex.

    First, it all starts with, ‘how do you define porn?’ short of, ‘I know it when I see it’.

  69. ambulocetacean says

    #74 Deen, I agree that the more sex education and parental concern and advice the better. But do you not think it helpful in any way to try to limit, even in an imperfect and ultimately futile manner, children’s access to extreme pornography?

    “Neither choking or anal should be an issue if all parties involved understand the risks, and both fully consent.”

    Sure, but I was talking about children. I don’t know how ideal it is for kids to be sexually active at what age, but maybe they should leave the high-degree-of-difficulty stuff for later. What do you think?

  70. ambulocetacean says

    Quodlibet, Happy reading =)

    Don’t feel obliged to leave for fear of being a wet blanket. But you know what’s best for you. And thanks for alerting me to the effect of my thoughtlessness.

    It’s long past my bedtime. Goodnight all.

  71. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    It would seem that ambulocetacean and Jose have a much easier time of finding really sick shit on the Intertubes than I do. Might I suggest that your problem could be resolved by refining your searching and browsing techniques rather than imposing a clumsy, one-size-fits-all technological solution? Rule 34 applies. That doesn’t mean that if you can think of it, you have to search for it.

  72. emilybites says

    As a UK citizen and resident, I don’t think this filter thingy is going to make it into reality – how technically impossible will it be?! The filter would have to be so draconian that I couldn’t read any of my fave feminist sites because porn, nudity, naughty words, etc. come up A LOT in radical feminist and atheist spaces.

    Having said that, I think it’s about bloody time the issue of violent porn was addressed and I’m glad it’s being talked about. The internet isn’t some magical space where the normal rules of social acceptability and harm shouldn’t apply, and we have publishing, broadcasting and behavioural laws that govern what can be said and done in public and even private spaces. Rape porn = depictions of rape designed for people’s enjoyment. That’s gross, folks. Orgasming at the sight of someone’s sexual assault (real or fake – you have little and often no way of knowing) is fucked right up. Consent is not a panacea either, because the current mainstream heterosexual paradigm of sex is pretty misogynistic and young women especially consent to all kinds of painful and intentionally degrading things.

    This stupid filter idea is coming from a place of prudery, creeping censorship and it won’t actually be possible to create it in practical terms, but not all objections to porn are based in conservative ideology. I don’t want to ally with the sexist, protectionist conservatives in the UK, and I won’t. But porn isn’t the same thing as sex, and you can be anti- the first and in favour of kids (and everyone else!) knowing as much as possible about the second.

  73. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    You know, the fact that kink-phobes are in favor of this legislation is a pretty damning indictment all on its own.

    or even consensual adult choking/gagging/anal/rape pornography.

    You really think these are all basically the same thing?

    Really?

  74. ambulocetacean says

    “That doesn’t mean that if you can think of it, you have to search for it.”

    Didn’t think of it. Didn’t search for it. Stumbled across it, just like children do. That was my point.

  75. ambulocetacean says

    “You really think these are all basically the same thing?”

    No, I don’t. I shouldn’t have used commas rather than slashes to make that clear.

  76. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    You know, one sign that this isn’t about the children is the fact that the proponents of the filter draw an equivalency of all adult online content with the most disgusting and vile of online content. They seek to build support for banning the former by arousing emotions about the latter. It’s a very common fundie ploy.

  77. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    The reason that I ask is that a lot of BDSM porn would probably be consider “rape” or “sexual abuse” by vanila types. Of course, the difference is that in a BDSM scene there is negotiated limits, safe words and after care. The purpose of BDSM is to push the limits of the sub and dom in areas of pain, control, and …….

    In fact, deliberately conflating the two is about 50% of the arguments in this thread.

  78. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    “You really think these are all basically the same thing?”

    No, I don’t. I shouldn’t have used commas rather than slashes to make that clear.

    Then why present them as if connected?

  79. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    or even consensual adult choking/gagging/anal/rape pornography

    t’s everybody else’s kids who will be demanding headjobs and anal from your little angels

    If the peer group thinks that the “in” thing is choking and/or anal, what do you think will happen?

    ….what is it with you and anal, anyway?

  80. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Ambulocetacean: “Didn’t think of it. Didn’t search for it. Stumbled across it, just like children do. That was my point.”

    OK. Let us imagine you are a parent, and you either find your child looking at such material or they come to tell you they found something disturbing. Do you a)punish them, b) tell them to go away, c)install filters so it never happens again, d) talk to them and use the experience as a teaching moment.

    I contend it is quite possible to surf the web, even the more adult portion thereof without coming across such stuff. I’d think you might want to foster those skills in your child–and in yourself for that matter.

  81. jose says

    85 – Really? Because that’s the mainstream.

    I’m telling you, I have no hope this will matter anyway. It’s like trying to tackle the oil industry. Just too powerful. Just like microsoft succeeded in their dream of getting a PC on every home, porn has for the most part succeeded in making people think porn, sex and the human body are the same thing. Look at PZ in this very post saying watching porn is awesome sex-ed and thoroughly equating porn and sex.

    “If you really want to skew children’s views of the sexual world, bring them up with the idea that it’s a filthy, dangerous horror that needs to be walled away from curious minds.”

    Teaching children the wonders of the sexual world by getting them Cum Dumpsters #16 and a monthly subscription to My Stepdaughter Is A Little Slut.

    You know what’s funny, people will agree with Dawkins when he says taking kids to mass is child abuse because they’re heads will be gradually filled with shit. Yet the daily routine of women insulted and brutalized before dinner is fine.

    “I suspect they all ran across porn intentionally or accidentally, yet somehow, they all grew up to be decent, moral, sensible human beings.”

    Hey PZ, I know lots of decent christians. So stop saying christianity is harmful, will you? No, of course you won’t. But you will continue using these abysmal arguments because those are the arguments of porn-positive feminism.

  82. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Sure, put filters on, if England thinks that it is a good idea, but why not just offer ‘Net Nanny’ and the such if it is so important for the family security. However, it needs to be an opt-in and not an opt-out. Familiies that wish to use it instead of monitoring their kids internet usage like a parent would when watching a TV show with their kids than let the families decide, themselves.

    …actually, if the government’s so concerned, why don’t they just offer to subsidize the cost of blocking software for all households?

  83. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Also: I think I’ve finally stopped being surprised that I have to keep linking to this.

  84. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Jose,
    Might I suggest you might be more effective without the Reefer-Madness Hysteria.

  85. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Jose,
    Might I suggest you might be more effective without the Reefer-Madness Hysteria.

    Just jose?

  86. Happiestsadist, opener of the Crack of Doom says

    I’m really not comfortable with the idea of kids using porn as sex ed. For a lot of really good reasons, obvious to anyone upon watching any mainstream porn. And I hate that this is coming down to libertarians and uncritical sex-positive types vs. porn abolitionists.

    I don’t think the censorship is a good idea in the slightest. Illegal porn is uh, already illegal, and adults have a right to view the legal stuff. Including kinky stuff, because kink is not immoral, even though some of the more popular companies are. The idea itself is both unenforceable, and will likely be as homophobic and shitty as every other effort to eliminate Teh Obscenity for the children.

    And the dudes fondly remembering their first porn are not exactly winning here either.

  87. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    I’m really not comfortable with the idea of kids using porn as sex ed.

    Did anyone actually suggest this?

  88. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Happiestsadist, I’m sorry. Could you maybe be a little more vague. I mean there’s a danger that someone might think you had a point in amongst all the vague undefined terms like “mainstream” and “uncritical”.

  89. Happiestsadist, opener of the Crack of Doom says

    Azky: PZ did.

    A-ray: Fine, let’s talk about how for example, kink.com hired much of Insex’s staff when the latter was shut down. That is fucking sketchy, and they’re held up as the gold standard of happy safe kink porn. That shit is fucked.

    HOWEVER: abolitionism will only serve to drive porn further into the hands of organized crime.

    a-ray: You’re also welcome to kindly go fuck yourself. That too vague for you?

  90. David Marjanović says

    For 99.9% of human history, 99.9% of children slept communally with their parents and others,

    yep, still do in places

    and grew up exposed to sexual intercourse.

    [citation needed]

    But it doesn’t seem totally heinous as a goal

    Well, no – but it greases a slippery slope really hard.

    I thought Europeans as a whole were more tolerant toward sex and less tolerant toward violence than the US…sort of an inversion. Is this just the Continentals though?

    What’s going on is that Cameron belongs to a quite conservative party. It might actually even be a bit to the right of Obama on some topics, though I need more data on this.

    Until the filter blocks a site you regularly read because at some point, somewhere on that site, there was some nudity on it:

    Aaaaand down the slippery slope we go. Wheeeeee!!!

    See also comment 55.

    Yeah it’s opt-out, as in if I want to watch porn I have to opt out of the filters. And because we *all trust the government so much* the list of everyone who’s opted out will *never* get into the hands of anyone it shouldn’t will it?

    But surely you don’t have anything to hide? From anyone? </sarc> See also comment 75.

    I think children should be protected from seeing some of the more extreme misogynistic and violent content that exists in abundance on the net

    …most of it, I’m sure, isn’t porn.

    I’m not taking parenting advice from somebody who left his own kid in the pub.

    Oh snap.

    First attempt at block quotes.

    The “cite” part doesn’t even work here, it lets you acknowledge authors of quotes in some forums. The quote goes between <blockquote> and </blockquote> (…I had to use an HTML trick to prevent these from being parsed). And <b> makes boldface.

    Passed to me today: go to google.images and enter ‘david cameron side view’.

    Succinct, and accurate.

    X-)

    It would seem that ambulocetacean and Jose have a much easier time of finding really sick shit on the Intertubes than I do.

    Google taking search history into account to put results on page 1 instead of 15?

  91. David Marjanović says

    PZ did.

    I can’t find where. The closest is “teach them to explore and learn”, but the context of that is too vague to tell that it wasn’t meant much, much more generally.

  92. says

    Imma just leave a link here, because she says it better than almost anyone else I’ve ever read. To (over)simplify: (1) women expressing their own sexual desires is a feminist act by definition, and (2) the solution to terrible porn is to demand better porn. (IMHO that might mean e.g. consent would be apparent and explicit.) The solution is not goverment censorship, which if history is any guide – and it is – will extend beyond porn to anything deemed subversive by the state.

    http://eroticaforall.co.uk/guest-blogs/guest-blog-greta-christina/

  93. Walton says

    a_ray, Happiestsadist is not wrong to point out that much mainstream porn is misogynistic and nasty, and that it’s not exactly the best way to learn about consent and sexual ethics. That doesn’t mean all porn is inherently evil – it certainly isn’t – and I certainly don’t think that we should tolerate more curbs on internet freedom in the name of “protecting children” (and at no point did HS or anyone else suggest that we should). But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be able to have a discussion about the problems with the porn industry, exploitation of sex workers, and what we can do to change things for the better.

    I really wish there were a middle ground in the political discourse. All too often, it feels like discussions about porn (I see this over and over again on The Guardian’s Comment is Free, for instance) are polemically divided between abolitionists who say “ALL PORN IS DISGUSTING AND EVIL AND SHOULD BE BANNED!!!” and libertarians who say “PORN IS THE BEST THING EVER AND ANYONE WHO DOESN’T LIKE IT IS A REPRESSED PRUDE!!!!” I’d argue that it is more complicated than that.

  94. Happiestsadist, opener of the Crack of Doom says

    What Walton said.

    It is possible to have criticisms about the porn industry and to criticize porn itself because that’s what you do with media, and the rights of people who work in the industry should be a concern to people.

    And yet nowhere did I say “therefore we must censor all teh pornz”. In fact, I said pretty unambiguously that the censorship rules are terrible, unworkable, and if they’re like any other ones, they’re going to fuck over a lot of people seeking educational material, and queer people who want any sexual material (if Canada’s history is anything to guess from).

    In fact, the discussion about media criticism of porn doesn’t especially have a place in the discussions of why adults should be allowed to freely access legal erotic material and that people should be expected to parent their own kids instead of falling back on state filters to make sure they’re as ignora- oops! innocent as possible.

  95. A Surprise to Many says

    I got rid of nanny filters on my kids’ computers when I could not get it to allow the New York Times reliably, without constant parental adjustment. IIRC, I even had it set for “Mature Teen.” The nanny filters at my local library have filtered out feminist, but not anti-feminist sites, as well as sex advice sites for teens (Scarleteen, Dan Savage). Nanny software often filters out secular/atheist sites as “new age spirituality”, while leaving evangelical or Catholic sites alone. Given the appalling lack of competence I’ve observed in commercially available filtering software, I shudder at the thought that entire nations deploy filtering software on their internet systems.

    If David Cameron actually wanted to protect children from the ill effects of porn, he’d advocate for policies that meant that a parent or caregiver could be home with children after school, that kids use computers in public spaces (my son did not use porn, or at least not visual porn, with me in the living room, even if I wasn’t busily watching what he was clicking on), implement programs to provide factually correct and age appropriate sex education, and maybe even education programs to give parents tools for discussing sex with their kids. He’d push for improvements to police response to and prosecution of sexual assault, for parity in wages and opportunity for women, for access to birth control, and for prevention and treatment of both sexual violence and PTSD. Since he’s not doing these things, I can only assume that he’s posturing for political gain.

  96. billgascoyne says

    “In Dr. Johnson’s famous dictionary patriotism is defined as the last resort of the scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer I beg to submit that it is the first.”
    Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?)

  97. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    It is possible to have criticisms about the porn industry and to criticize porn itself because that’s what you do with

    Except that isn’t the topic. The topic is the Government requiring the internet to be censored by fiat without proving harm, bad software, and opt-out (need to click a box to turn it off) instead of opt-in (need to click a box to make it work).

  98. Gregory Greenwood says

    With regard to the various people on the thread who seem to be of the opinion that this policy is not really all that bad and that it simply amounts to some kind of prudent safeguard – I can see why you might feel that way. A lot of porn is highly toxic and misogynistic, and there are legitimate concerns about the harm the worst examples of it might be causing in society…

    … And that is where Cameron has been so devious here. He is presenting this as an act aimed at protecting children from the most harmful classes of images, and as part of a drive to tackle the scourge of child pornography. But in the process he is wilfuly conflating pornography in general with the worst extremes of images of child abuse and violent rape. There is also the fact that his proposals would not create easy access for concerned parents to filters that would block access to sexually explicit material, but is instead putting in place a system were the content filters would be automatically on in all cases – including where there are no children in a household – unless a person choose to disbale them; an act that you can bet would be recorded, and that this information would not remain confidential for long. Given how poorly our society still handles pretty much all aspects of sexuality, that information could be very damaging indeed to people’s careers, and would make an ideal ready made means to discredit someone. The potential for abuse is huge. Claims that ‘you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide’ ring hollow as usual when these kind of sweeping powers are being discussed.

    Then there are the practical issues; what of the principle of net neutraility? Who defines when nude or sexual images that are present for artistic reasons or as part of a political or social activism site cross the line into pornography that would be effectively censored under these provisions? What happens when the filters start to malfinction and effect completely unrelated material, as they inevitably will? None of these issues seem to have been given much consideration in Cameron’s anti-porn provisions

    It is also worth remembering that this is David Cameron we are talking about. He is one of the most authoritarian Prime Ministers of recent years, and I for one am very uncomfortable about him flexing his censorship muscles. I know that ‘slippery slope’ arguments tend to be frowned upon, and with good reasson, but I think that in this case they cannot be avoided. Cameron has been very cunning in that few of the potential opponents of government censorship are going to want to stand up publicly and argue in favour of access to porn due to the social stigma attached to it. This has the potential to allow Cameron a relatively easy victory that he can present as part of his campaign to ‘protect children’ from the supposed ‘corrosion’ of their childhood (whatever that means). If he succeeds there, it seems quite possible that he will emboldened to go further. Perhaps he will expand the law to entirely remove the option to opt out or disdable the filters (afterall, what good, moral-as-defined-by-the-Conservatives reason could you have for accessing that kind of material), making any attempt to do so illegal. He could them expand the definition of ‘porn’ to cover any erotic material, visual or literary. Then he could move on to tackle violent imagry on the same ‘won’t someone think of the children!’ basis, before finally reaching the true goal of restricting ‘harmful’ political speech and social activism that runs counter to his nasty, draconian ideology.

    He claims this is about protecting children, but if he is so worried about the wellbeing and saftey of children with regard to child pronography, then why did he apply cuts to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre’s funding? Such an act seems inconsistent with his stated goals with regard to these new laws, to say the least.

    Perhaps I am being unduly paranoid, but I don’t trust Cameron or any of his right wing privileged cronies an inch. I consider it likely that this is less about protecting children, and more about controlling the behaviour of adults, and what we are seeing here is very likely to be the thin end of the wedge.

  99. Happiestsadist, opener of the Crack of Doom says

    Exactly, Nerd, that’s what I was saying.

  100. David Marjanović says

    then why did he apply cuts to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre’s funding?

    Oh snap!!!

  101. CobaltSky says

    This is a case where the “slippery slope” argument is not only valid but we have direct evidence of it happening in the UK. There is already mandatory filtering for child pornography in the UK. The mechanisms used to enable that blocking have been co-opted to block torrent search engines. We already started sliding down it.

  102. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Happiestsadist, so I see you have only two speeds–vague accusation and innuendo and crude and anatomically impractical insults?

    If you have a criticism, come out and fricking say it. Quote the offending passage.

    I am not a big fan of the fricking passive voice. It doesn’t move the conversation along.

    Use the damned language.

  103. Rich Woods says

    There were a number of posts by people whom I respect which I was going to respond to, and then I saw the one by Walton #110:

    I’d argue that it is more complicated than that.

    I think that’s what’s been missing from much of this discussion so far. Thankfully Gregory Greenwood #115 has, to my mind at least, re-laid the basics in this case. Cheers, Gregory, for saving me a bit of typing.

    I can’t begin to stress how much David Cameron is nothing but a PR man wanting to survive his current woes (press regulation, lobbying, cigarette packaging, alcohol pricing, shitty economy — let’s not forget his Chancellor’s latest attempt to fuck with the shitty economy) by some suitable distraction, and what better than a conflation of “won’t someone please think of the children” issues which creates a swamp many people will be wary of wading into.

  104. Happiestsadist, opener of the Crack of Doom says

    Not my fault you’re terrible at reading comprehension, a_ray. And no, I don’t think you get to tell me how to write. Well, you can, but it will have about as much effect as my telling you to go fall in a fucking hole.

    Anyway, especially with regards to the censorship of erotic material, it really is worth considering the intensely terrible attitude Britain has toward kink between happily consenting adults. (Operation Spanner comes to mind, for example.) It is not unreasonable also to point out that there was not just a little homophobia in that case, as there also tends to be in obscenity cases in Canada. So even people who are 100% anti-porn but who are not also massive homophobes really should not be backing this. But then, people who support this think “for the children!” is a great argument.

  105. says

    Closed circuit cameras of every view of every street corner, monitoring the whole population – and have been proven ineffective, but they are welcomed anyway.

    I was watching Mock the Week or something a couple of weeks ago and the NSA/Snowden topic came up and the attitude among the panelists could be summed up as “why are some Americans complaining about such a GOOD THING their government is doing for them?!”

    It’s almost like a different culture over there.

  106. says

    Jafafa, the Mock the Week show I remember had mostly jokes about how rubbish it is to spy on people via their FaceBook page and the like. The clue is in the title, though: Mock the Week. It’s a comedy show, and those were just the easiest jokes to crack.

  107. says

    Feh, should have checked that the u tag worked.

    Anyhow, I think the point of the lack of stress is how impossible it is to track all the data that the security services are hoovering up. As you say, we know that the cameras don’t do much, the data mining probably won’t work much better for the services than it does for the marketeers, and we know that this crackpot idea of Cameron’s will probably fade from the political consciousness after the summer recess (the UK politico’s annual holiday).

  108. omnicrom says

    I don’t really remember the people on Mock the Week coming out in favor of Domestic spying actually. They spun it off into talking about aggregate data from Facebook, and make a crack asking what Facebook was for if not to spy on people you don’t know. There have been a couple of jokes I’ve been iffy on over the years on Mock the Week, but I still think they do excellent humor and I certainly don’t think they were pro-spying especially considering how much they rag on the British government for every stupid thing they do.

  109. kevin norman says

    It won’t happen, he’s already had to back down as people have pointed various situations out to him. Tories of various ilks have tried this over the year in various “family” value campaigns – normally just before the said Minister is found with his under-crackers around his ankles. Then it goes quite quiet for a bit. A bit of shuffling about and then orf we jolly go again in another direction.

    No one seems to mention the obvious solution – have one computer sited in the living room and take the TVs out of the kids’ bedrooms. Problem solved – it is called “family” supervision.

  110. vaiyt says

    And I’m sure there will be absolutely no pressure from “fambly frendlly” groups to censor information about homosexuality or transgender help/discussion groups…never mind that the technology will already be in place and it will only take typing a few URLs or key phrases. And I’m sure no librarians would tamper with the filter to impose their own personal beliefs.

    Yeah, the question people should have been asking about porn censorship is “Who gets to determine what is porn”?

    The nanny filters at my local library have filtered out feminist, but not anti-feminist sites, as well as sex advice sites for teens (Scarleteen, Dan Savage). Nanny software often filters out secular/atheist sites as “new age spirituality”, while leaving evangelical or Catholic sites alone. Given the appalling lack of competence I’ve observed in commercially available filtering software, I shudder at the thought that entire nations deploy filtering software on their internet systems.

    I had a similar experience with the filters at my college – the old version used to filter keywords related to violence, which included discussions about same and even Wikipedia articles. They were eventually removed, but the porn-related filters remained, which meant constant requests to unblock sites that discussed sexuality. They also blocked Facebook, Twitter and a couple popular blog hosts, which was nothing but a hassle to Journalism students.

  111. vaiyt says

    jose:

    Sometimes I don’t understand internet feminists. You people can’t wait to label everything as “problematic and not ok” because of the depiction of women in comics/games/whatever subtly makes the audience internalize and perpetuate certain assumptions yadda yadda – except when the women are on their knees, constantly insulted and choked: which is fine and has no influence whatsoever on anybody as long as they’re also naked.

    It just shows that you don’t understand feminists at all.
    Two things to consider:
    1. the problematic shit is the symptom, not the problem itself.
    2. bans and censorship do nothing to change the underlying attitudes.

    You seem to be confusing shaming and criticism of the problematic attitudes with a desire to prohibit the expression of same. There’s a world of difference between “This is problematic and not OK” and “BAN THIS SICK FILTH”.

  112. Al Dente says

    The first net-nanny software we had at my company had to be removed because it blocked the Human Resources section of the internal company website. It objected to HR talking about sexual harassment. The next net-nanny software blocked the employee feedback section as a social network site. The next net-nanny software sent about half the employees’ internal emails to /null/dev. This included the CEO’s and CIO’s emails. None of these pieces of software were cheap but all of them were buggy.

    Sure, I have loads of confidence in net-nannyware. /snark

  113. says

    /null/dev

    /dev/null. (That sounds about as wrong as having fastbreak in the morning if you understand the Unix file structure.)

    But, yeah. Net nanny companies block what they are paid to block, or often whatever they will: many customers don’t even care.

  114. jose says

    100 – I’m ugly, too. You have totally knocked me out with that one. Well done. No, really.

    vaiyt – why do you criticize chainmail bikinis? Why are webs like Escher Girls or Women In Reasonable Armor good at all? Further, why is a “tits-and-ass” pose in a comic “problematic” but actual violence against actual women is just fine in terms of the message sent to—and internalized by—the audience?

    As for the folks saying violence against women recorded for men’s enjoyment is okay if we just call it kink – using another word doesn’t change the thing. Call it whatever you like.

  115. says

    we know that the cameras don’t do much, the data mining probably won’t work much better

    You do understand the difference between a camera that has to have an observer (one observer for many cameras actually) and data mining and storage for years that is searchable, don’t you?

    Just because you know the security camera at the supermarket doesn’t have a staffer watching the feed doesn’t mean Google is impossible tech.

  116. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    As for the folks saying violence against women recorded for men’s enjoyment is okay if we just call it kink – using another word doesn’t change the thing.

    You’re really quite epically dishonest, aren’t you?

  117. John Phillips, FCD says

    Jose

    freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2013/07/22/on-being-a-feminist-writing-dirty-kinky-porn/

  118. Old At Heart says

    Yeesh… You kids… Speaking as someone probably half most of your ages, I feel like an old man needing to say “Yeesh, you kids”, but… Yeesh, you progeny of prior homo sapiens.

    This post contains descriptions of porn videos. Trigger warning possibly but I’m keeping it clinical.

    Big news: I’ve been exposed to porn in the past. Shocking, I know. For science, I went to YouPorn, the “youtube” of pornography, hence the name, (and very popular by Alexa statistics) and clicked on the first five videos that came up, regardless of rating (though I’m sure even most younger audiences know high %’s are good and would pick the green-rated 90% stuff).

    1st: Woman masturbating, no sound, smooth jazz background.
    2nd: Middle-aged woman and man, 69 primarily, no music, lots of moaning, some requests for faster or harder..
    3rd: younger (early 20′s) woman and man, licking each others asses. A quick scroll says that’s all they do for 6 minutes.
    4th: male POV teen sex movie, seems amateur, vaginal and anal intercourse, some dirty talk but mostly instructions from both sides much like #2 (“look at me” “keep that up” “don’t stop” “slow/hurry” etc)
    5th: late-20′s heterosexual couple, cheeziest porn music in existence, first 30 seconds were of a fireplace and two whiskey glasses, just sitting there… got my hopes up for a story, but just generic oral scene-vaginal-oral again. Only objectionable possible thing would be the “facial” at the end, though it was done more gracefully (I know, an odd adjective) than usual ones. Lots of “yes!” yelling throughout it. Notably the only one with both male and female moaning.

    And that was random sampling. Convenience sampling, sure, but it was random. All 5 were from different sources, different ratings of videos (though they were all “Green” rated).

    The following things were objectionable: Lack of condoms (though I know as professionals they can be more harmful to them while filming, they could have made passing mention to being clean or on the pill, some do)… Being my age I don’t enjoy porn featuring people my parents age, but that’s taste, not truly objectionable. Other than #5, and /maybe/ #1, they were clearly catered towards men, and none catered towards women exclusively. And I suppose they were all the -ists in the book: No handiapped people, no non-white people, no fat people, or heck, no ugly people even. (Id say no homosexual, but the site defaults its “mode” to “Straight”, and I wanted as accurate a “kid comes across the site and clicks the first pictures” as possible, so no drop-down menu changing to “Gay” or “Tranny”, the other two categories).

    …But I saw no spitting into faces, no degradation porn, no underage stuff, no simulated rape, and I picked, to remind once more, the very first five videos listed, from different sources, on the biggest site of the biggest free porn video network I could remember off-hand. All 5 videos were probably actually clean enough that you COULD use them as sex-ed for a teenager, were it legal to do so. And if someone younger came across it in a fit of gross parental neglect, I’d say it wouldn’t be scarring and the situation could be used as a learning tool to avoid certain websites etc (because no one 8 or 10 likes the opposite gender, that’s the “girls are icky” years, they would be grossed out as opposed to aroused, we’re applying armchair expert analysis with our own non-experiences, so use it to teach the kids that dark sides of the internet exist, and to avoid them until they can legally access it).

    Final note: I agree with censoring all the implied child stuff. George RR Martin should be behind bars, and his Game of Thrones child abuse should be expunged from existence. And that 50 Shades author, that’s implied rape. On that note, Harry Potter had a woman raped by centaurs, ban her too. Oh, and cartoons from Japan, those cartoon figures sometimes are portrayed sexually, so lets just sanction all data from Japan entirely… And didn’t Socrates say something about that kinda stuff? Axe that Greek pederast too.

  119. pigdowndog says

    Pee Zed. That’s just to let you know I’m British.
    You’ve read this one wrong. He isn’t trying to ban pornography, he’s introducing an opt in system.
    What he is trying to stop is the exploitation of children in pornographic videos and I’m sure your just as vehemently against that vile crime as the majority of normal people.
    You accuse Ray Comfort of skewing facts, don’t fall into the same trap.

  120. Rip Steakface says

    @138

    I was thinking the exact same thing. I’m wondering where the hell the other commenters have been to regularly see rough sex porn along with stuff like “video of a painfully bound woman whose nipples had been freshly pierced with sewing needles choking on an enormous penis.”

    I have simple, extremely normative tastes for a straight man. Stuff like Playboy and Maxim caters to my preferences – so I understand that many people may not like the “boring” stuff I like. My best friend prefers hentai (which I cannot understand). But seriously, what you’re likely to find on a typical, popular porn site, beyond the standard of vaginal sex, oral sex and [mutual] masturbation is:

    - Anal
    - Lesbians (because Girl on Girl is Hot)
    - “Facials” (not very pleasant, but it’s bizarrely common in the porn industry)
    - Lack of condom use (mostly)
    - Lots of terrible music
    - Group sex, and sometimes bukkake (again, I find the latter extremely unpleasant). I’ll note that usually the female participant in bukkake is very much willing – I actually know of a video (non-bukkake, just typical oral-vaginal-oral-facial) where the female participant is talking beforehand about how she wants to eventually do a bukkake video because she finds the idea very appealing.

    If you simply search “porn” on Google, you’ll come to Pornhub as the first result. You can probably find most anything you want, but anyone under the age of roughly 11 or 12 is still in the “boys/girls are icky” phase and aren’t going to deliberately look for porn. Over that age, they’re most likely not to look for anything too weird (based on my own experiences as a kid with mostly unrestricted access to the Internet). More than likely, they won’t even look for actual sex, instead opting for solo videos, because parts of the same gender may gross them out.

  121. says

    Jose:
    I know nothing about kink or those who take interest in it. As such, I won’t go around drawing a link between violence against women and kink.

    Why are you doing that?
    What do you know about kink that leads you to believe violence against women is part of kink culture?

  122. says

    What is significant is that the proposed meassure would not address any of the legitimate concerns raised, like the misogyny, rape culture, consent, the industry, the fact that apparently most people who watch kinky porn have no idea about how it works…
    Actually, one of the most troubling things I find in porn is that nobody is ever wearing a condom. WTF?
    Protect the children? So, what about the children whose parents would like to watch porn once in a while? Are they now automatically at danger, are their parents now automatically under suspicion?
    I’m yeah, really, just trust a pretty authoritarian government with a sexual morality that fits the Victorian era with your data on whether you want to watch porn or not. I mean, I’m training to be a teacher, what could possibly go wrong?

    Full disclosure: i have no intent to let my children run wild on the internet without supervision. the internet is a dangerous place, not mainly because they might run into porn, but because of stalking, bullying and yes, actual pedophiles masking as peers. But I also don’t hide the fact that I’m a sexual being and that there’s something called sex.
    I guess some people will now need their selling salts but condoms, lube and vibrators are lying around openly on our nightstand. If the kids want to know they can ask. And you’d better believe that I’m going to explain to my daughters what a vibrator is and offer to get them a good one once they’re old enough.
    That’s called “parenting”.

    What he is trying to stop is the exploitation of children in pornographic videos and I’m sure your just as vehemently against that vile crime as the majority of normal people.

    Are you aware that this is already illegal and that if he wanted to do something about that he should fund the police task force that deals with those things?

  123. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    @jose #78

    Aplogies for the long wait before my reply.

    38 – “in the absence of hard evidence that it fosters abuse “

    Sometimes I don’t understand internet feminists. You people can’t wait to label everything as “problematic and not ok” because of the depiction of women in comics/games/whatever subtly makes the audience internalize and perpetuate certain assumptions yadda yadda – except when the women are on their knees, constantly insulted and choked: which is fine and has no influence whatsoever on anybody as long as they’re also naked.

    1- At what point did I say I was a feminist?
    2- Feminists are not monolith, so statements like “You people can’t wait to label everything as “problematic and not ok” because of the depiction of women in comics/games/whatever subtly makes the audience internalize and perpetuate certain assumptions yadda yadda…” are utterly fucking ridculous.

    Now, as it happens I do identify as a feminist, just to clear that up; but if you could stop generalising, stereotyping, and having a go at straw-feminists and actually answer my fucking post, that’d be great.

  124. John Morales says

    [meta]

    Thumper, the reference was to “internet feminists”, not to feminists.

  125. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    John, he assumed I was an “internet feminist” when I did not say so, and he treated all “internet feminists” (whatever the fuck that means. Are people only feminists when they’re on the internet?) as monolith, so my point still stands.

  126. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    @pigdowndog

    What he is trying to stop is the exploitation of children in pornographic videos and I’m sure your just as vehemently against that vile crime as the majority of normal people.

    No he isn’t, what he is trying to do is make it more difficult to access porn of all types. please explain to me how this will, in any way, decrease the number of children being abused? Think about it for a second, and then come back and explain how that will help.

  127. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    What do you know about kink that leads you to believe violence against women is part of kink culture?

    Fetlife is a specific kink community that’s been called out by others in it (Cliff Pervocracy, for instance, I believe) for having a problematic culture with regards to enthusiastic consent. Jose’s just doing some dishonest sleight of hand here.

  128. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    I was thinking the exact same thing. I’m wondering where the hell the other commenters have been to regularly see rough sex porn along with stuff like “video of a painfully bound woman whose nipples had been freshly pierced with sewing needles choking on an enormous penis.”

    My assumption is they haven’t, but they’ve read about it, with the very strong implication that it’s representative of porn generally and with reckless disregard for the existence of consensual kink culture, on their pet moral panic websites, and it fits their prejudices, so they’re here regurgitating it. Same as “there are no transitional fossils,” really.

    Thumper, the reference was to “internet feminists”, not to feminists.

    This is what “a distinction without a difference” wants to be when it grows up.

  129. gc12847 says

    Hey PZ,
    I’ve been reading this blog for a few years now and never commented but thought I may as well start somewhere.

    Anyway, I often agree with you on most things but I think your rather off the mark here. First off all, it’s not censorship. The default position will be to filter out adult material unless the adult of the residence decides to turn it off, and therefore allow adult material to be downloaded. Therefore it is a parental decision.

    I don’t agree with censorship and I have no problem with children seeing nudity or talking openly about sex. However, it is incredibly easy on the internet to stumble across very unsavoury material which I don’t think are appropriate for children, as well as many which are degrading to women. If parents decide not to allow there children to view these things then that is there decision, and this policy merely makes this parental guidance easier. It’s not censuring or making sex taboo but merely recognising that there are things which children maybe should not view. I mean, in my opinion, a don’t think young children should be viewing, say, rape porn. I mean, we’re not talking about a few nude pictures from PlayBoy, there are some awful things on the Internet which can easily be stumbled onto. Furthermore, the illegalising of rape porn and working with Internet companies to stop child porn can only be seen as a good thing.

    Also, the word family doesn’t have have the same restricting meaning that it does in the US. And, although I’m no fan of the conservatives or David Camron, he is the man, who against much opposition from many of his party, pushed through gay marriage and he has frequently said his is committed to inclusivity. Furthermore, we didn’t elect him in, he got in because the Liberal Democrats formed a coalition with the Conservatives. So please don’t make inaccurate comments about things without researching first. Don’t forget UK is very different from USA.

    Basically, I’m indifferent to it but if you’re going to comment you make you know what you’re talking about. Anyway, hope you’re well and would like to know what your response would be.

  130. gc12847 says

    Just to add in defence of David Cameron (which I just realised I misspellt). I don’t like him but he is actually quite liberal for a conservative, and he is not a sanctimonious prigg.

    As I said before this is not the case in the UK where civil partnerships and now now full gay marriage, as well as gay adoption are legal, and many types of family setups are socially accepted and we (including David Cameron) are supportive of diversity. I do think David Cameron is being somewhat genuine, even if you think he is misguided.

  131. gc12847 says

    “(Warning to everyone: when a politician uses the word “family”, they always mean their version of family, which is usually white, middle-class or better, and patriarchal. A single black woman raising three kids, or a pair of homosexual men with a child, or a whole clan of an extended family raising sons, daughters, nephews and nieces under one roof do not count as “family”, but are instead aberrations that must be remolded into a conventional form.”

    For my above comment I was quoting this. The thing in the quote was what I wrote. Sorry about that.

  132. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    ….did it ever occur to you that any of this might have been discussed already in the 149 comments preceding yours?

  133. gc12847 says

    Bit rude. I have a right to say what I want. It’s something I felt that I wanted to comment on. Yes I’ve most likely repeated what someone else has said but there are a load of comments on here which are just the same or similar views expressed by several different people.

  134. poose says

    This whole thing reminds me of something…OH-YEAH!

    Stephen Conroy, Minister of Communications wanted to impose the same sort of nonsense on Oz (Australia).

    Went over like an audible fart in Church.

    I still have a copy of the Blacklist he proposed (which was to be secret-THANK YOU WIKILEAKS!)

    Funniest part? None of the sights I perused at the time were part of the Blacklist, and I have rather tastes…

  135. David Marjanović says

    David Cameron [...] is actually quite liberal for a conservative

    *stomach cramps*

    Bit rude.

    Waltzing in and assuming nobody could possibly have mentioned what you wanted to say, let alone refuted it – that’s rude. Assuming you don’t even need to care is even worse.

    I have a right to say what I want.

    This blog is private property of PZ Myers and Chris Clarke.

  136. chigau (I don't like this eternal 'nym thing, either) says

    This blog is private property of PZ Myers and Chris Clarke.

    …and they have powers you haven’t even dreamed of…

  137. gc12847 says

    Actually I know that other people have already said what I said. I admitted it when I replied. I didn’t waltz in and assume that nobody else said or it or refuted it. It’s just I wanted to contribute and it’s something I felt I wanted to write about. Exactly how is that rude? I apologise if I have come across as rude, but I wasn’t trying to. I feel it is rude however, to treat my comment with complete condescension. However, obviously that is their right to say that, I just found it a little bit rude. Maybe I was wrong, but that is how it felt to me. And surely the point is that people can post their opinions, what ever they are and whoever they are. We all have a right to say anything as long as we abide by the blog rules, which I have. And if PZ Meyers wishes to delete my comment that is his right.

    Also, althought I am no supporter of Cameron or the Conservitives (as I said), considering he pushed for gay marriage, that makes him liberal compared to many Conservative who were against it.

  138. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    It’s just I wanted to contribute and it’s something I felt I wanted to write about.

    In what sense is repeating shallow, credulous boilerplate which has already been dissected and rebutted “contributing?”

  139. says

    The default position will be to filter out adult material unless the adult of the residence decides to turn it off, and therefore allow adult material to be downloaded. Therefore it is a parental decision.

    So how’s that different to the current situation where parents decide what their children are allowed to watch and what not?
    I can tell you how it is different: It paints all parents who choose to opt out because they might still enjoy some sexytimes even though they already reproduced as irresponsible and endangering children because they just disabled the Best Way to Protect Children Ever™

  140. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Exactly. It doesn’t give parents any more control even if you believe the PR bullshit, it just makes the sensible ones out-able.

  141. charlessoto says

    I only recently “tightened up” my 10 year old’s Internet access because of the threat of downloading malware unintentionally. Otherwise, he’s free to hear potty language and see boobies, if he is so inclined (though he’s too into Pokemon to really be bothered).

  142. says

    Jafafa, I know what selective quoting to change the sense of the quote is, and so do all the regular commenters here. Please don’t do that, it doesn’t make you look good.

    To answer the point you may have been trying to make, every day that passes increases the amount of data that has to be mined, whereas CCTV records generally get wiped after a period. That’s one difference. Data mining tends to be more automated than CCTV watching; this does not increase its usefulness or reliability. That’s another difference.

    One similarity is that I and many others not going to be scared into hysteria about data mining, either. In my case, it’ll be down to the SSRIs I take, in part. For everyone else, I suspect it’s as I said, and British people won’t believe that the tech works based on their daily experience of the reliability of computer software.

  143. David Marjanović says

    In what sense is repeating shallow, credulous boilerplate which has already been dissected and rebutted “contributing?”

    That’s a rude but accurate way to put it. :-)

  144. John Phillips, FCD says

    NelC, part of the problem, and part of the worry, is that it won’t work as planned. If the experience of myself and many other IT professional working with Internet filtering software is anything to go by, the filtering lists and algorithms used will be so unwieldy and inefficient that anyone doing anything more than basic browsing will need to opt out. The other worry is it not working properly is part of the design allied with logging of those who opt out.

    Even if it does work properly, it does nothing that decent net nanny software already does. Everything else Cameron is supposedly worried about is already covered by existing law. However, he can’t be that worried considering that his government has significantly reduced funding of organisations investigating such crimes as kiddy porn

    For a government thar routinely denigrates the ‘nanny state’ while talking about personal responsibility, why should others have to be inconvenienced because parent can’t be bothered to enable filter software on their kids computers if they are that worried. Also many of the major ISPs appear to offer some kind of net nanny software for free.

  145. pigdowndog says

    @Thumper; Atheist mate
    Kill the market and sales drop. Simple
    No one’s suggesting that it will stop the exploitation of children but if he can reduce it all well and good
    Don’t let your dislike of Cameron colour your views. He’s not trying to stop internet porn so stop putting up straw men.
    Any scheme that potentially makes children safer has got to be tried and as a father I applaud him for it..

  146. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Any scheme that potentially makes children safer has got to be tried and as a father I applaud him for it..

    Citation needed that it really makes in the internet safer. Which is what some of us have been arguing. Nothing but smoke and mirrors.

  147. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    @gc12847 #150

    However, it is incredibly easy on the internet to stumble across very unsavoury material which I don’t think are appropriate for children…

    Which you don’t think is suitable for children. What about everyone else?

    If parents decide not to allow there children to view these things then that is there decision…

    Precisely, that is their decision. Not yours. Not the Government’s. Theirs. And if they choose not to allow their precious, sheltered little darlings to view said material, they can use the existing and perfectly suitable parental controls which come with every operating system and almost all ISPs to ensure said little darlings don’t view such material. The problem here is that the Government is mandating what is and is not good and moral, and what is and is not suitable for children. That is not their responsibility. It is the parent’s. More so, it is not the Government’s right.

    I guarantee you now, this will not end here. Government’s worldwide have been trying for decades to censor the internet, and the only reason they have not succeeded in our enlightened, Democratic little part of the world is because of strong public opposition to such breaches of freedom. They will introduce measures which seem small and, to some people, sensible; then they will wait until the Overton window shifts, and they will introduce more such measures. It’s the way every Police State, every Dictatorship, every Totalitarian State ever has occurred. Start small, end big.

    In the long run this is not about porn. It is not about children. It is about control. It is about social conservatives legislating their own personal morality and forcing it on the rest of us. Don’t get me wrong, this is not some insidious, conscious plot. I have no doubt that the designers and supporters of the bill really mean it when they say they believe it is for the best. They don’t see it as controlling others, they see it as doing what’s best for others; but no one who does evil ever believes they are evil. They believe it is for the best because their own personal morality says it is; and they fail, as ever, to take into account that other people have moral frameworks which don’t coincide with theirs. By brushing aside those peoples’ concerns and pushing ahead with their own agenda, they are edging towards totalitarianism. The way forward is to increase freedom and allow people to choose what they wish to indulge in. It is not to take away options under the guise of morality.

  148. zenlike says

    Kill the market and sales drop. Simple

    Yeah, that worked wonders for drugs, didn’t it?

    No one’s suggesting that it will stop the exploitation of children but if he can reduce it all well and good
    Don’t let your dislike of Cameron colour your views. He’s not trying to stop internet porn so stop putting up straw men.

    Except that this p^roposal not only blocks kiddyporn, but also but hoops into place for every other type of porn,

    Any scheme that potentially makes children safer has got to be tried and as a father I applaud him for it..

  149. zenlike says

    Damn, hit enter by mistake, disregard the above,

    Kill the market and sales drop. Simple

    Yeah, that worked wonders for drugs, didn’t it?

    No one’s suggesting that it will stop the exploitation of children but if he can reduce it all well and good
    Don’t let your dislike of Cameron colour your views. He’s not trying to stop internet porn so stop putting up straw men.

    Except that this proposal not only blocks kiddyporn (which is already illegal!), but also puts hoops into place for every other type of porn, and even speaks about banning certain types of images like bondage etc. So this clearly goes beyond the scope of only ‘exploitation of children’. This is not a strawman, this is reality, own up to it.

    What is a strawman is the insistence that this is because of dislike of Cameron. Personally, I don’t live in the UK, and couldn’t give two damns about him, I would be against this coming from anyone, left or right.

    Any scheme that potentially makes children safer has got to be tried and as a father I applaud him for it..

    Bullshit, you don’t really believe this. I would bet big money that more children are harmed by traffic then by porn. If you really belief that ‘any scheme that potentially makes children safer has got to be tried’, you would be demanding that all children should by law be kept indoors, right?

  150. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    @pigdowndog

    Sales? How do you think paedophile rings work, exactly? You think it occurrs in a well lit studio and the DVDs are sold off down the local market? Child abuse films are home-filmed and shared between paedophiles. Not sold, shared. They swap videos. There is no “market”. There is a network of like-minded people sharing videos.

    More importantly, you are conflating two separate issues. This bill will force Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block certain search terms which are connected to child pornography. This will make it harder to find child porn and make it harder for paedophiles to share videos. All well and good. It will also make “rape porn” illegal. OK, good. It will also force all ISPs to impose filters which are turned on by default which block all adult, erotic and pornagraphic materials in every home. That’s the bit we have an issue with.

    The filters are opt-out. You have to ask to have them turned off. Depending on the ISP, this could be as simple as visiting a web page and unticking a box, or it could involve ringing up your ISP and requesting it. And obviously the information about who has the filters turned on and off has to be stored somewhere, which people will be really happy about, obviously. That will not help children in any way what so ever. At all. Not even a bit.

    And I never said he was trying to stop internet porn. I said he is restricting it. Which he is. Learn the difference.

    And when did I say I disliked Cameron? I didn’t, did I? I dislike this Bill; my like or dislike of him as a person has no bearing on it.