I’ve been on the ‘net a lot longer than you.
Well, that won’t apply to all readers. This blog is aggregated at Planet Apache, so is likely to cross the feeds of some true veterans. But I’m sure I’ve been online far longer than any of the politicians or journalists who are getting into another frenzy about online porn and ‘protecting’ the children. Without getting into the nitty-gritty of what counts as an ancestor of the modern ‘net, I first accessed a computer remotely in 1983, subscribed from home and saw my first online pics (of sorts) in 1987, and got my first access over a ‘net using today’s protocols in 1990.
And in all that time, I’ve never encountered anything I’d describe with any certainty as porn. The most dodgy material I’ve seen is at the sites of trashy newspapers: specifically the Daily Mail (to which I occasionally follow a link) and Pravda (which I use as a test site when developing internationalisation software like mod_xml2enc). Both of those seem to bombard me with lots of pics of scantily-clad young people, predominantly female.
And violence? I don’t read novels online, though I might indulge in occasional dodgy media. Far and away the most violent content I’ve encountered is music from less politically-correct times, setting words from that ultra-violent text, the Bible. Blessed is he that taketh the children of the heathen, and casts them upon the stone.
So how is this relevant? I think it firmly gives the lie to the myth that you can stumble inadvertently on anything nastier than you’d see in your local newsagent or bookshop. If you want porn, you have to seek it out proactively. And if you seek proactively I expect you’ll find it, regardless of anything idiot politicians do to try and stop you.
We already have the censor blocking a widening range of contents. Now apparently we’re to have a whole new raft of Big Brother legislation. So as a very minor protest, I just googled for contents that will become explicitly illegal. Tizian’s Rape of Lucretia looks pretty unambiguous: it’s not merely a representation of rape (enough to make it illegal), but true, violent rape!
In fact, I think today’s news just prompted me to seek out the nastiest image I’ve seen in 30 years online. The further they go in the direction of book-burning and aggressive censorship, the more I shall feel inclined to opt out. I certainly won’t accept filtering of my ‘net contents while I have any choice, and if choosing Shakespeare over Bowdler puts me under suspicion from Big Brother then so be it.
I have no interest in porn (and 30 years to prove it), but now legislating to make it ‘impossible’ introduces an element of interest. How might I go about finding it? A search for “Rape of Lucrece” finds the soon-to-be illegal image here, but what search term might find something more modern? Maybe I can get a handle on some search terms by looking at the spam appearing on – and more usefully being filtered from – this blog. Here’s a sample, though those particular search terms are probably long-since outdated. I’ll leave the details as an exercise for the reader, but if you start a blog at WordPress.com you’ll have access to an akismet log containing lots of clues, likely to be more current than any stupid block-list.
 Unless our governments were to do something genuinely useful and take serious action against spam.
 At least, logically speaking. I expect they’ll find a loophole for anything that can get itself classified as art.
Posted on July 22, 2013, in free speech, internet, politics, porn, rants, uk, web. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.
Of course, and it gets worse from footnote#2 onwards: what makes you think this has anything to do with porn except abusing child-protection as a means to introduce censorship and then start adding terms they don’t like from other fields? And of course anything my ISP does is likely trivial to circumvent anyway, so all it means is the innocent won’t even know what they’re suffering and perpetrators will get away with it.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t there two quite separate arguments going on in this arena?
One is the longstanding wish of the puritanical to ban ‘extreme porn’, such as the filth you depict above, in its entirity, so that hosting or distributing such images becomes a crime.
The other is the “think of the children” brigade, who are behind the current brouhaha about ISPs filtering content.
The key difference being: you can still tell your ISP “I am a pervert, let me have my porn!”, and it’s then perfectly legal for you to view the vanilla stuff, whereas the “extreme porn” is banned outright.
It seems to me these are two quite separate debates. If I lived in the UK, I’d quite like to be able to opt in to porn filtering at ISP level, because that’s a service that might be useful. (I’d like to add a few caveats about access to information about subscribers, but that’s quibbling.)
However, I’d bitterly resent “extreme porn” censorship at the national level, because that’s not a service, that’s just a rule – imposed for no very coherent reason that I can fathom.
The forces of censorship are indeed seeking to confuse multiple issues, and they appear to have just scored a victory by making us take an active “I am a pervert” choice if we want to opt out of censorship.
Then you look at the detail, and it turns out that what you’re opting out of includes a whole raft of material that isn’t remotely pornographic or violent. It may be a fair set of options for an ISP presenting itself as ‘family-friendly’ to offer, but not for government to impose on everyone under the moral pressure of “accept this or declare yourself a pervert”.
Here’s another take on it (including the observation I omitted about the coincidence with a royal birth: distract people before they notice what it’s about).
Oh, and as for the ‘filth’ above, does that comment apply also to Shakespeare? I hadn’t seen that picture before I searched on the term, but I think it’s rather good. One might almost argue a case that it’s feminist, based on looking at the man. Just look at his eyes, and see the demonic possession without which he would never have embarked on so terrible a deed!
Oh lookee, they’ve censored Shakespeare. Sadly no mention of whether Bowdler’s family-friendly alternative is sufficiently toned down for today’s sensibilities.
It seems Dilbert implemented this technology the best part of 20 years ago …
Surely you remember the stories, from the mid 90s, about the V-chip, which was supposed to block (censor) programs based on their ratings (i.e. content)? THat’s what this is about.
In the Land of the Free, so Wikipedia tells me: “Televisions manufactured for the United States market since 1999 and all units as of January 2000 are required to have the V-chip technology.”
And they sneer at our censorship…
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