SEX in the Net!
A social and ethical essay task designed to provide students with a broader insight into both the Internet and computer ethics.
Since the beginning of time, men and women have fantasised over naked bodies. Pornography has always been a part of life and yet it has never been so readily available as what it is now. Erotic stories, explicit pictures, XXX-rated films and modern day magazines, are all part of the stimulus material which is known as "pornography" or as it is legally put, "obscenity." Is it ethically right for our children to be looking at this erotic material at such an early age? Do we have a twisted sense of morals if we support pornography? Or is it just a natural part of life that should be nurtured and encouraged?
These questions and more are springing to people's lips as we enter the technological age. The age of the Internet. Never before has pornography been so readily available. Through mail-order, at secret places around the schoolyard, or simply down at the local newsagent or video store, pornography can be purchased in any form or media. I know children, some as young as ten years, who have an unlimited supply of pornography. They have been exposed to it from an early age and it has become an addiction like smoking or drinking. Part of the problem is that censorship laws are not enforced. Some newsagents will sell a twelve-year-old, pornography, (legal age of 18) but will not sell them a packet of cigarettes (legal age of 16 until June 1994). The obvious derivative from this statement is that fines and punishments for selling pornography to underage persons are not high enough. So why don't we raise them? The answer to this question can be found on the screen of every computer in the world. The Internet, or as one person put it, "The closest thing to true anarchy that has ever existed."
How is one to censor the Internet when it is literally impossible? What is the use of placing fines for copying pornography when it is impossible to tell the age of the user. How can one even trace the user when there are twenty-five billion members and it is impossible to follow them all. How can we delete the pornography when a new batch arrives every day and it is impossible to stop it.
Another point, which makes censorship difficult, is the fact that censorship laws have only recently being required. In England for instance, censorship laws have, for hundreds of years, concentrated on heretic materials, where as now, they are finding that the only offence censorship is needed to prevent, is pornography. The US also want to put strict censorship on all obscene material, however the first amendment of their constitution states that,
"their shall be no law abridging the freedom of speech or press," and so they are finding it difficult to "step around," the law.
It is obvious that people are putting an effort in to censor the pornography, however when it comes to censoring material which goes all over the world, a balance must be found between the censorship laws of all the countries that are hooked into the net. Here a problem arises, because Denmark has no censorship of pornography, so obviously they are going to be somewhat annoyed if it is banned from the Internet since their laws state that it is perfectly legal. So an argument occurs. How is the world to censor the Internet without causing discrepancies between the different countries? Indeed, some people say, "Why bother?"
So far, you have seen that there would be a great difficulty involved in censoring the Internet. So the other side of the argument, presented by the economists and pornography fanatics, is that, why should we censor the Internet when perhaps it is not needed. There are many people in the world who will tell you that pornography is a harmless part of life. Artists will tell you that the naked body is a picture of beauty, grace and style. Authorities in Denmark will say that pornography is a valued part of their society and psychologists will tell you that pornography reduces the rate of sexual abuse and rape. Indeed, the human body is a natural part of life in all of it's forms, so why do we regard the naked body as been obscene. Is it not stated in the bible that wisdom told us to where clothes? And did it not also state that God did not want us to have wisdom? So can it not also be said, that God did not want us to wear clothes and so therefore, he was encouraging pornography? This argument seems to demolish the religious fanatics who say that we will burn in hell for looking at obscene materials.
After looking at both sides of the argument, it is obvious to see that some middle point must be reached between the two. Pornography on the Internet cannot be totally band and yet it cannot be accessed by any user as our society's ethics are against children looking at pornography. A set of ethics or laws must be devised that will satisfy each and every country which is on the Internet. It must be devised by a governing party such as the United Nations, or by a committee which has representatives from each country.
My evaluation of the argument and my recommendations are as follows, Pornography which is stored on the Internet must be placed in an area which can be accessed only be a password, as well as identification which proves that the user is over eighteen. (e.g. A drivers license number.) Pornography, which is found on public bulletin boards, must be deleted immediately. This is the responsibility of not only the governing committee, but also the user. Files, which are identified as pornography, are to be traced and any under eighteen users are to be fined accordingly. Viewers of pornography who are over eighteen are to remain strictly confidential. No personal data is to be released unless it is required for National Security ecetera.
The above recommendations, if carried out on the Internet, would provide the world with a pornography-safe network, one that could be used by children and adults alike across the globe.
1) The Electronic Encyclopedia, Grolier Electronic Publishing, Inc, 1990
2) Times Magazine, James Button, December 13th, 1993
3) Times Magazine, Philip Elmer-Dewitt, July 25th, 1994
4) Pornography and Silence, Susan Griffin, 1981
5) Literature, Obcenity and the Law, Felix Lewis, 1976
6) The End of Obscenity, Charles Rembar, 1968
7) Pornography, Obscenity and the Law, Lester Sobel, 1978