3 sides of the same coin

This section of verbosity is here to let our editors blow off a little steam about the issue's topic. Each editor generally holds a totally different viewpoint about every subject (it's amazing they haven't already throttled one another), so this should be interesting. This issue's topic is censorship. Feel free to write the editors with your own opinions.

side 1

So, you've put up a blue ribbon on yr homepage, but don't really know what it is? Perhaps you've heard about EFF, but just glanced over it, because it didn't have a .com domain? This, then, will be a quick primer for yr mind. Why?

Because it should be YOUR decision.

With the latest to-do over the censorship bill, it's easy to get lost. Basically, a few Republicans in congress decided they should be the ones to decide what should and shouldn't be allowed online, based on it "decency", or lack thereof. But whose decision should it be?

I do not support the bill, but what must be realized is the notion that 'freedom' is like energy; It can't be created or destroyed. You can pass a law to prohibit the senseless slaughter of hundreds of people through handgun laws, but then you've taken away the "god-given" rights to their assault weapons. You could incarcerate someone for killing another human, but if you come down to it, you are taking away their freedoms. Every freedom granted takes away another. Controversy occurs on issues of freedom because there are strong feelings on both sides of the issue -- you won't find many people lobbying congress for the right to kill, but at the same time, millions dollars are spent on the gun lobby every year.

This decision, therefore, should be left up to the citizens. With all the controversy over this issue, a bipartisan legislation, with its members looking merely to satisfy his or her constituents (in effect, getting re-elected) is not the right way to go in finding a solution. Rallying for a national vote is.

Corey is an unofficial member of the libertarian party, and, as a matter of fact, loves controversy.

side 2

Censorship--around the World Wide Web it's considered a dirty word. What is it about censorship that makes it so terrible? Is censorship wrong? Yes, censorship is wrong, but something still needs to be done about the accessibility of indecent materials on the Internet.

It is natural to look to the First Amendment in situations like this. As the Constitution clearly states, "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press." Simple enough, right? Wrong. When people began complaining about obscene materials on the Internet, Congress' immediate response was, "Regulate it!" Thus, the Communications Act of 1996. This act was meant to bar the display of indecent materials on the Internet and World Wide Web. Primarily, the bill was a catch-all for child pornography and other such "deviant materials." Needless to say, the response was not positive.

Internet blackouts and annoying blue ribbon campaigns began to pop up on every site across the Web. Newsgroups were flooded with angry messages. It wasn't long before the act was already overturned. So, the government's master plan to make the Internet safe for little kids was foiled. The question is: Was this a good thing?

Censorship of any kind is wrong. The existence (or lack thereof, rather) of censorship is what separates the United States from police-states all around the world. Big Brother is not watching at the moment. He's busy trying to figure out where to go with his next junket. However, something should be done to make sure that little five-year-old Billy can't get a glance at a stray breast while surfing across the Web. Who, then, does this responsibility fall to if the government won't take it? The answer is: the parents.

It is the parents who should be looking out for their children on the Internet. In my opinion, a child under the age of twelve has no business on the Net in the first place. However, it happens. The parents need to make sure their children don't access the indecent material through whatever means possible. Already, there are several "SurfWatch" programs that are available to help bar porn sites from a browser that would help the efforts immensly.

Responsible parents can stop children from reaching the wrong kind of website or ending up on the wrong kind of chat line. Just like it is a parent's responsibility to keep children out of R-rated movies and off 1-900 sex lines, it is their job to keep kids away from indecent Net materials. The people who post these materials have every right to do so. Personally, I might not like to see it, but it is their business to do so. Anyway, when a child ends up on a site entitled "Celebrity Nude Pics," it's probably not an accident in the first place. If you're a parent who is concerned about your child gaining access to pornographic material, it's your job to make sure he or she doesn't. Don't demand the government to do something that you are too irresponsible to do yourself.

Jess has sworn never to include a blue ribbon on any of his pages.

side 3

Censorship is not a topic that should be approached lightly. It is what my Econ professor would call a 'normative question,' meaning there is no right or wrong answer. Virtually everyone believes in some form of censorship; whether it is parents wh o want the web censored or Bill Clinton who wants to censor all the info about his illegal activities from the news broadcasts. I think that there is definitely good in some censorship. I think that it is a good idea to censor bomb-making information from the general public. Call me crazy, call me a prude, but that's what I think.

Ben Franklin once said "All things in moderation" or something to that effect. So it is with censorship. A ‘Big Brother’ type of society from George Orwell’s 1984 is definitely too far one way, and total anarchy too far the other. In order to maintain a free society, we must decide what should and should not be censored, as contradictory as that sounds.

The founders of our country declared in the First Amendment that "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom...of speech, or of the press." Many people see this as a license to say or print whatever they want. However, the point of our Constitution is to "insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity." This takes precedence over the First Amendment when the freedom of the press is abused to spread information that has strong potential to cause harm to "the general welfare."

It is whether or not the material has potential to cause harm that should be debated. Take the CDA for example; pornography does not have the potential to cause serious harm. I feel it is fully appropriate to restrict sales to those over 18, but the CDA is a joke. The Internet is the purest medium of communication that has ever existed. If a parent doesn’t want their children to look at porn on-line, then they should be parenting! A computer is not a baby-sitter. They need to spend more time with their children, and get a program such as Net Nanny or Surf Watch. There are dozens of alternatives to protect your children from smut on-line, rather than turn to legislation.

Seth knows how bad 1984 scares Jess.

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