I have never believed in censorship by government. I didn't like the banning of books such as Mao's Little Red Book, Portnoy's Complaint, Lady Chatterly's Lover or more recently Noddy because he and Big Ears apparently are not in a healthy heterosexual relationship yet there's something totally normal about Tellytubbies?
I cry when I see that Nazi footage of books being burned in the street or knowing that some children will never know the joy of Dr Seuss because it is written by an American Infidel or lament that children will not enjoy the genius of Harry Potter because it's deemed un-Christian. Similarly with movies and internet, I've closely monitored, advised but never actually 'banned' content let alone tolerated a government that might want to censor my access without a fight!
I haven't exactly played porn or realistically violent stuff in front of my kids but they've seen movies over their suggested age rating but only with me and after discussing the pros and cons, the content etc. Polanski's Macbeth was necessarily brutal but they were studying it in year 10 and it had an R rating, where's the sense in that! Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't have Sharon Stone uncrossing her legs in front of a 9 year old (not that I saw anything anyway it was such a fleeting glimpse) but I haven't been precious.
Internet is different, I've wanted to know where they are, what they're looking at and access times were limited. In fact I didn't even get it connected until Clare was 17 and needed an online Biology text. With the advent of MSN and IM (and my ability to locate their 'history' files if I need to but never have) I've been careful with how they access the net. Mine to my knowledge, have never been subjected to bullying or predatory behaviour. Unlike Skype where some guy called Arun from Iran is convinced his member is large enough to satisfy me if only I'll just say 'hello'.
I find the violence of some computer games confronting and it irks me sometimes to see the adeptness of my 8 year old nephew blowing beasties to bits with a variety of weapons but who knows, the kid might end up being a fighter pilot, games designer, systems analyst or working in an abattoir and will need the skills.
The Rudd Government are going to mandate internet censorship. Moves are afoot to implement compulsory cyber-safety that will require ISPs to offer a clean feed Internet service to all homes, schools and public Internet points accessible by children. Now I do not want any children to become the victims of bullying or paedophiles or any type of predatory behaviour but this is the world in which we live. We need to educate children to 'deal' with this, much like 'stranger danger', to draw it to the attention of a responsible grown up and catch the bastards at it. But mandatory? Please. It's a parent's responsibility to monitor their children's internet, reading material. And a school's responsibility to ensure that access to unacceptable sites is monitored. The erosion of parent's rights is really beginning to bug me and I think responsible for much of the undisciplined behaviour we see in young adults. Then I did go through a period where I felt parents should be licensed to breed and I guess that's the strongest regulation there is.
I remember finding some of the most disgusting porn under Adam's mattress when he was about 10. It had been left by builders across the road and biker boy had found it whilst conquering their massive sand dump with his BMX. Not your glossy FHM or Penthouse revelations but "My girlfriend in her S & M gear" tacky and ugly stuff. Clever boy hid it under the mattress because she who must be obeyed would never have the gaul to look there despite changing this sheets every week. It was even more clever than that, he hid three magazines under the mattress on the top bunk in clear view! Wicked smaht he was! We ended up looking at it together and talking about how inappropriate it was and he admitted that it was curiosity about the female anatomy that had him interested. Should have bought him the Joy of Sex much earlier!
Seriously though. The Howard Government made free software available to parents as a disk nanny but to actually force ISP's to vet content? This won't cover chat rooms and much international content where kids are indeed predated upon and is as likely to be as successful as the 'nuisance call' list (just received a call from someone wanting me to do a survey who just unceremoniously hung up when I said I had no children of school age and I'm supposed to be 'on the list'). I'm getting my phone disconnected soon. Only my Mother in Law rings me on it anyway.
Now much as I like my slightly left of centre views, I am not a communist or a full blown socialist and I don't want to be censored or over-regulated. (Ces, you didn't hear that, I'm a full blown Stalinist and don't you forget it!)
I don't want my internet mandatorily controlled any more than I want literature banned or Heinz Mayonnaise and Fair Trade Coffee removed from the shelves of Coles, which they did and I'm not happy Jan. Do you think my boycott of Coles will affect their buying policy?
Not only that but blanket vetting will kill upload and download speeds as if it isn't slow enough. Do it for schools, (why kids need access to anything other than academic sites I have no idea) do it for public internet cafes on delegated machines used by under 15's but homes are the domain of individuals and the responsibility of parental guidance (sigh).
You know? I think much of it has to do with the ineptitude policy makers (and dare I say some teachers and parents) in understanding the net. For me, Facebook has been something of a revalation . . I know more about what my kids get up to through following their photo tags and comments than when I'm asleep whilst they're running amok in the pool room (that is definitely my word this week I've used it a few times, amok, amok, amok!)
Of all the regulations in all of the world, why this infringement on freedom when we berated the Chinese so hard for vetting internet access during the Olympics, there's an unacceptable double standard here and my letter to government is already in the post (yep, I had to do a written submission on internet censorship - go figure!). Censorship doesn't work. The most censored nations, remain the most ignorant. And whether you like it or not, kids are smart, way smarter than policy makers and they will find a way to access what they want.
Having said that, I wouldn't mind the Government preventing that Russian woman from emailing me on a daily basis because she wants to marry me or tackling the bank with whom I do not bank, constantly asking me to 'confirm' my account details! Nah, that would be too productive.