THE SLIPPERY SLOPE OF CENSORSHIP
I have a 7 year-old son that’s enthralled by the internet. He likes to download free games, peruse Nickelodeon and Google things like, “Poop Jokes” (yes, it was in the search history). His favorite thing to do is watch “How To” videos on YouTube. He’s learned how to draw Stick Army men and origami airplanes. It’s very sweet, really. However, he must be strictly supervised because we all know that one “Stick Man” search cue could turn into something, well, very different. Today, I wish I had the same watch-dog over my shoulder.
While searching for photos to spruce-up pitch sheets, I typed two innocuous words into the Google Image browser. Hundreds of photos appeared on the results page – getting less and less accurate as I scanned downward. On page one, were photos that had nothing to do with what I wanted, but my interest was piqued. (If you typed in “puppy” and a skateboarding dog appeared, you’d click on it too!) But what happened to me was much more disturbing.
I clicked on a picture and it whisked me to a website that will scar my brain forever. I won’t go into detail, but three emotions ran through me: 1.) Horror, 2.) Relief that someone was shedding light on the egregious crime, and 3.) Anger – I was mad that I had so easily stumbled upon it.
The recent uproar over the piracy legislation of Senate 968 (PIPA) and HR 3261 (SOPA) got me to thinking about other government filters and Internet security. I’m against the government telling us what we can share due to copyright infringement or big corporate profits. I’m just not sure I agree that anyone can post (enter fuddy-duddy rant) anything they want on the internet. Settle down, folks – here’s an example….
Remember “Faces Of Death“, the cult tapes from the ’80’s that were whispered about but actually only viewed by, what my teacher called, the “fringe” kids? If I’d wanted nightmares, it would’ve taken a lot of work for me to get my hands on a tape and watch it when my parents weren’t around. And that intentional act would’ve have been on me. But clicking on a picture that links back to something I didn’t want to see? I feel duped.
So I ask you… although it’s the same amendment that allows my family to be blessed with the Poop Jokes For Kids site, should there be general regulation as to what images and information can be posted to the internet? Or is that censorship slope just too darn slippery?